More than 18 million Americans and Canadians have mobility issues with about 6 million being veterans. Many more are seniors who grow into their disability. Just because someone is in a wheelchair or a scooter, getting around town and living an active mobile lifestyle is still a possibility. There are numerous mobility options available for people with disabilities that can make driving and riding in a vehicle a more pleasurable experience.
When learning a new skill or hobby there is often a time of challenge. In the same way, a new wheelchair user, especially one beginning to use a minivan, SUV, or truck that is wheelchair accessible, can experience difficulties. But, with the help of a NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP) dealers and Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (CDRS), you can be on your way to moving forward with ease. Here are some ways you can think about the use of your wheelchair accessible vehicle that will help you.
Consider Your Environment
When shopping for a wheelchair accessible vehicle or mobility equipment, factor in where you will be using your vehicle. This purchase is an investment, so keep in mind the weather conditions you will have to face and the routine maintenance needed for your minivan, SUV, car or truck. Besides your environment, consider your present and potential health changes for future conditions. Transferring into and out of a transfer seat if you are a driver is great for someone with upper body strength but can get tiresome and not possible if your conditions worsen.
A popular mobility solution for those who have a wheelchair accessible vehicle is a transfer or a turning seat that allows a person with a disability to move from their wheelchair and drive or ride in the vehicle. If you are a passenger or a driver, there are also turning seats available that swivel outside the vehicle and down to make the transfer easier.
It is also possible to drive from a wheelchair. There are seat bases that can be removed allowing space for a wheelchair. The removable seat bases can then be stored in the rear of the vehicle. For those who sit higher up in a wheelchair, wheel wells and automatic power pans can be installed to lower the wheelchair, and adjust their line of sight.
Seating restraints are available for securing a person or wheelchair in place in the vehicle. There are restraint options such as chest harnesses and lateral trunk supports to support those with diminished trunk and musculature balance. No matter what type of seat or safety restraint is being used, it is always imperative to use a seatbelt when in a moving vehicle. Do not depend on wheelchair locks alone for safety in the event of an accident.
To learn more about mobility solutions, contact your local NMEDA dealer. One size does not fit all when it comes to auto mobility and our dealer members have the experience and expertise to find the right solution for you or your loved one. Fina a dealer near you: www.nmeda.org/dealerlocator.