Accessibility, Life Care Plan, Medical Consultation, Technology

Deciding On an Adaptive Vehicle

 February 13, 2018

By  Deborah L Weiner Katz, OTR/L, CCM, CLCP

We recently wrote an article entitled Everything You Need to Know about Spinal Cord Injury. Now, we have decided to follow that up by writing about one of the biggest decisions a person will have to make after suffering a spinal cord injury: choosing a vehicle.

Deciding on a vehicle was always a big decision but it just got more complicated. New considerations must be taken into account. Here are some questions you will want to ask yourself.

Who’s driving?

Will you be able to drive? Are you always going to be a passenger? It’s not necessarily one or the other. You might not have the strength to drive at first. If that’s the case, when you buy your first accessible vehicle, you will want to make sure the vehicle you purchase has the capability of converting so that you can transition from being a passenger to being a driver.

How big is the wheelchair?

Not all minivans are the same size. You will not only have to consider the wheelchair size but you must also take into account your own size and how you sit in your chair. If you need more headroom, you might want to take a look at Toyota minivans. Your other option would be to get a full-size van with a raised roof and lowered floor.

Do I have to drive a minivan?

Start by considering the other people in your family. More than five people will not fit comfortably in a minivan. They have a single backseat and two front seats. Meanwhile, a full-size van can fit up to eight people.

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about your feelings on the subject. Your injury will not have affected your sense of style. The soccer mom stigma of driving a minivan is hard to shake. Stop and consider this, however. You may opt for a truck with a conversion. This means you have to rely on the conversion company for future parts. If they go out of business, you will be stuck. There are many reasons why the minivan is considered reliable. One is that you just have less issues with a minivan. They have been converted by manufacturers for over 30 years. This means they are reliable. All the kinks have been ironed out.

How much does the vehicle cost?

Deciding on a vehicle was always a big decision and the chief reason has always been cost. That much has not changed. The cost of an adaptive vehicle, however, is of a bit more concern. A minivan or full-size fan might wind up costing you $20,000 more than a regular vehicle. The cost stems from the lowered floor conversion. Sometimes, the state can help you with the conversion cost. There are vocational rehabilitation programs where financial assistance for the conversion aspects of the vehicle is provided as long as you are working or trying to go back to work.

This list of questions is by no means exhaustive. Ask any question that suits your individual situation. Avoid buying converted vehicles over the internet, especially if you are not able to physically make sure the vehicle is suitable for you and your family. Our passion for adaptive technology extends to adaptive vehicles. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.


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