Wrangling that wheelchair into the family sedan may not have been so difficult a year or two ago; but each year we put off switching to a handicapped or accessible van, we notice our strength decreases and our pain increases. Is it still practical to stick with the family car when our disabilities are progressing?

Switching to a handicap van now may help keep the function we have and maintain the quality of life we want. Addressing problems when they first arise may prevent them from worsening. It’s preventative maintenance.

Is it time to get a current assessment from your doctor, occupational therapist and an expert in vehicle accessibility to determine trends in your strength, stamina, pain and function?

Causes of pain and fatigue

  • When transferring, getting as close as possible to the car seat is an unnatural position for our bodies and difficult on muscles and joints.
  • The height of the transfer adds extra stress to shoulders and backs.
  • Over time, the damage from many transfers accumulates.

Transfers into and out of a car can result in joint pain, arthritis flare-ups and tendonitis. Those are the body’s way of telling you what you’re doing is causing harm.

Transfer seat bases are available for vans where the seat moves back and forth 20”, raises up and down 6” and swivels 100 degrees.

Decisions about switching to a van affect more than just people with disabilities, especially if someone else is doing the lifting and loading. A van with a lift could be necessary even if your back or shoulders are fine. Wives, husbands and caregivers age too, and should be factored in the decision.

If you, your loved ones or caregivers have difficulty in transferring in and out of your family car, it’s time to consider purchasing an accessible vehicle.

To get help in such a major decision, start at NMEDA and enter your zip code on “Dealer Locator” to find expert help near you.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a Wheelchair accessible vehicle, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.

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