While able bodied people often don’t spare a thought when hopping in and out of your car, if you’re one of the thousands of people relying on a wheelchair for day-to-day living, using a car becomes a challenge. While there are a lot of options these days when it comes to choosing wheelchair friendly cars – including sedans and SUV’s – choosing the right car is critical your health and wellbeing. Its effects stretch far further than simply getting you from A to B, it will impact your health, finances and lifestyle. This guide will point out all the things you need to keep in mind when shopping for a new wheelchair vehicle.
Your own abilities
Obviously, there are certain mobility issues coming into play – otherwise you wouldn’t be shopping for a wheelchair vehicle. However, it’s important that you consider the extent of your mobility, as that will play a huge role in the vehicle you end up purchasing. For instance, some may be able and willing to hoist themselves in and out of the seat, and have the chair folded up on the back seat or in the boot. Others may be looking for a vehicle that they can simply wheel their chair into, and then reverse out when they reach their destination. Financially, if you’re able to sit in a car seat then you’ll have more options when it comes to buying a car. Yet if you’re baulking at the thought of hoisting yourself in and out, potentially multiple times a day, then getting a specifically designed wheelchair vehicle may be the better choice for you.
Keep practicality in mind
Whilst many of us dream about that sleek, European car with a sunroof and all the added features, sometimes this isn’t the most practical choice, especially when trying to fit a wheelchair into the car. Though not as aesthetically pleasing, when it comes to wheelchair vehicles,it doesn’t get any easier than a van – simply add a ramp to the side or rear, and wheel yourself in. There’s no need to spend time folding down your chair either, as it will already be ready to go. This is the ideal choice for both the driver and the passenger, so if you’ve got a wheelchair user in your family, as getting in and out of the car will be less of an effort.
Think of your future self
We don’t often want to spend time thinking about our future needs, but when it comes to a big purchase like this, it can be a good idea to take them into consideration. Many disabilities that leave you needing a wheelchair vehicle also deteriorate over time. If you’re living with this kind disability, then while the smaller car may be manageable now, it might not be so easy a few years down the track. Your strength and energy are finite, and you don’t want waste them on using a car. Even if your disability isn’t degenerative, constantly transferring from your car to your chair can cause unnecessary strain and even serious injury to your upper body.
How we transport ourselves throughout our communities can be difficult when you’re living with a disability. From making your way down the footpath to driving from city to city, simple acts that able bodied people take for granted are challenging. However, with the right wheelchair vehicles, you can ease a lot of the effort. Before making any final decisions, speak with the experts – in particular, your OT and your family who will be using the vehicle with you.