Maintaining Mobility on the Go

People who use wheelchairs or power chairs run the risk of becoming isolated out of fear of not being able to get around beyond their own homes. Ramps, handrails and other accessories in a home make it a safe and easy place to navigate. And some people stay at home rather than risk finding that they can't get where they need to go, or that they can't easily get to an accessible bathroom. Unfortunately, there are many places that still aren't accessible by wheelchairs, and those can prove frustrating for people who can't get around any other way.

Suitcase wheelchair ramps are a good solution to this problem. These are folding ramps that can be purchased in various sizes, depending on the size of the wheelchair or scooter they need to accommodate. While these ramps won't work in every situation, they're suitable for small steps and for getting in and out of a van. Having a suitcase ramp handy can mean getting to places that might prove impossible otherwise.

For someone who does get out and about, a portable ramp used to get in and out of a van is an option. But a more convenient solution might be a lift that will automatically raise wheelchairs, power chairs and scooters into a vehicle. Some lifts are designed for the person to remain in the chair while it's lifted into the vehicle. These platform lifts are the best choice for people who have difficulty getting in and out of a wheelchair to sit in a standard van seat. There are rear-door and side-door models available.

Others, who might be able to get in and out of a vehicle but need the convenience of the chair to go distances, will benefit from a lift designed for just the chair itself. These typically use a boom mechanism to lift the chair into the vehicle. There are even models available for pick-up truck beds, so virtually any vehicle that's big enough to contain a wheelchair or scooter can be adapted to make transporting it easy and convenient.

Options are available for vehicles not large enough to accommodate wheelchairs, too. There are basically 3 types of devices that can help you transport a wheelchair, power chair or scooter on the outside of the vehicle. First, there are attachments that allow you to secure a manual wheelchair to the back of your vehicle, whether it's a small car or a large SUV.

Attachments designed to carry power chairs and scooters are available for almost any sized vehicle, too. They either come with a ramp that allows the chair to be loaded easily or they have a power mechanism that lifts it and locks it into place. Finally, a pull-behind trailer is an option for power chairs and scooters. Even the smallest car can be used to transport a power chair, as long as the vehicle has a standard hitch that can be used to haul the trailer.

With all of these options available, there's no reason for people with restricted mobility to feel like they can't go where they want and need to go.

Brad Brubaker is a technical writer specializing in mobility devices for seniors and the disabled. For more information about wheelchair ramps or vehicle lifts, visit Universal Accessibility (

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