Wheelchairs make great 2 dimensional transportation: they move back and forth and left and right very easily¦ as well, the turning radius on a wheelchair has markedly improved over the past few decades making wheelchairs much more able to get into and out of tight spaces. Today, the final frontier in wheelchair accessibility is making the wheelchair easy to move from one level to another¦up and down. Do you need to move your wheelchair from one height to another? You have a few options, which we've outlined below.
A lift is one way to move your wheelchair from the ground into or onto a vehicle. Lifts can be attached internally or externally. Often, they attach to the wheelchair and pick it up off the ground; Sometimes they use a hook method and other times they use a platform method. For example, on an external hitch (which hooks into the trailer hitch of your car), you simply drive your wheelchair onto the platform and then get off the wheelchair and raise the platform. Obviously, this type of lift is for users who do not need to be in the chair all the time or who have someone to assist them. An internal lift may work as a hook (without the user in the chair) or as a platform (with the user in the chair), lifting them into the vehicle.
Wheelchair ramps are another way of getting from one level to another. They can be designed from metal or wood. Often, the metal ones are purchased and although you can purchase a wood one, they are often built right onto the house as a do it yourself project. Municipalities often have recommendations for the height and length ratio (which is sometimes called the slope or the rise) in order to ensure the safety of the user. If you are having yours built, be sure to request traction tape or sand paint to be applied to the surface so that you can be sure you'll be safe when it is snowy, icy, or wet on the ramp.
Of course, these ramps in the above paragraph are permanent. An alternative for some people is to get a portable ramp they can take with them wherever they go. There aren't many truly portable ramps (that can be easily carried by someone in a wheelchair and placed on the ground in front of them) but there are ramps that - if you have an assistant - the ramp can be put in the car and taken out when necessary. This is the perfect solution for when you go to stores or commercial buildings that are not well designed for wheelchairs.
Another way to get from one level to another, if the level is not too big, is to simply use brute rolling force and a little balance. Most wheelchairs actually come with six wheels on them: four primary wheels for the main purpose of motion and two extra wheels¦on some wheelchairs they are in the back and act as supports for when you tip backwards; on other wheelchairs they are on the front and act as "climbers" for when you approach a curb and need to get over.
We're not yet at a place where a wheelchair can go where anyone else can go¦but we're getting there slowly. Until then, here are a few ways to get your wheelchair from point A to a point higher or lower!
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