Wheelchair lifts are an ingenious, mechanical device to assist disabled individuals overcome the obstacle of steps and stairs. Usually powered by electricity or hydraulics, lifts allow people whose main source of mobility comes from a wheelchair a better sense of independence. It can allow for easy transportation into a vehicle or around a building. The most common wheelchair lifts can be found in the form of ramps and elevators. Ramps are a manual type of wheelchair lift in which the individual must roll the wheelchair up and down.
The main types of wheelchair lifts include inclined and vertical lifts. Inclined platform lifts can be found in public buildings in the form of ramps or portable devices to make mobility possible. Vertical wheelchair lifts can either be installed or portable. The vertical lift consists of a non-slip platform and a mechanical device to lift the wheelchair up. The platforms can be retractable or fold-up in design. Once on the wheelchair platform, the individual can be lifted vertically by a simple touch of a button.
The vertical platform wheelchair lift, most like a mini elevator, is usually custom built for the building. In some cases, when used in the home, the lift can be customized to fit the needs of the individual. Examples of customized wheelchair lifts are stairs lifts for curved or steep steps.
An inclined platform lift can also be used for steps. These devices allow the platform to move along the length of the steps. They are useful when a vertical lift cannot be used or if the stairway is exceptionally long.
Wheelchair lifts can also accommodate easy access into a vehicle without the need to leave the wheelchair. A portable lift can be used for this purpose. However, those whose standard mode of mobility comes from a wheelchair often have a lift installed into the vehicle to allow for ease of transfers and increased safety. A rotary wheelchair lift, also known as a swing lift, is a device that allows the wheelchair rider to move inside and outside as well as up and down. This lift is commonly found in handicap accessible vans.
A proper wheelchair lift should come with some safety features. Typically, a railing, non-slip platform and safety straps are standard. Usually electric lifts come with a manual backup to be used if there is a loss of power. These lifts are designed to be controlled by the wheelchair dependent or their escort as most come with a movable control box.