There are several accessibility aids around the home that can vastly improve your standard of living when you are a wheelchair user. In addition to the excellent stairlift and another form of automated stair climbing that is perfect for wheelchair users is the wheelchair stair lift. This is a device that works along similar lines to the home stair lift but instead of utilizing a chair for the user to ride up and down the stairs on, there is a horizontal platform for the wheelchair to be placed upon.
How Does the Wheelchair Stair Lift Work?
The wheel chair stair lift operates in a similar way to a regular stair chair lift but without the chair and a wheelchair platform in its place. The platform is driven up and down the stairs along a steel rail that is fixed to the stair risers along the wall side of the stairs or attached to the wall itself. An electrically powered motor drives the unit which is pulled along the rail by a chain or belt and the platform rests on runners which are in contact with the rail to produce a very smooth ride. The unit is controlled by a simple lever.
When the wheelchair stairlift is at rest at the foot (or top) of the stairs, the platform folds up in a vertical position so that other people can use the stairs normally without obstruction. To operate the lift, the platform is swung into its operational horizontal position and the wheelchair is rolled onto it and locked in place. Then the user operates the lever to go up (or down). This is where a big difference lies between the wheelchair lift and stair chair lift. The latter has its chair swivel around ninety degrees so that the back of the chair faces the wall. The unit then travels along the length of the rail and when the lift reaches the top (or bottom) of the stair case, the chair swivels a further ninety degrees so that the chair is now facing the exit point at the top (or bottom) of the stairway.
Not so with the wheelchair lift. The platform remains static and does not swivel, as this allows the wheelchair to roll on and roll off in a forward direction whether travelling from bottom to top or top to bottom. This is so that the user can travel up or down the stairs in comfort and safety while avoiding having to run backwards for maximum safety.
Installing a Wheelchair Stair Lift
The installation of a wheelchair stair lift in the home is a job for qualified fitters who are typically employed by the company or manufacturer. It is inadvisable to have unqualified personnel install the device as safety procedures may be circumvented and the warranty invalidated. It may cost more to have qualified people install the device but it is worth the extra cost for peace of mind and to ensure that the warrantee is valid in case there is any reason to have to call for repairs later.
Maintenance of a wheelchair stairlift is relatively low, while cleaning is simple to do. The device will, if looked after properly and used as per the manufacturer's instructions, last for many years without need of repair or upgrade. This means that it should only be used for what it is designed for, which is to transport a wheelchair and its user up and down the stairs and should not be used as a hoist for lifting heavy furniture or other items up and down the stairs.
When you have a wheelchair stair lift installed in your home, the freedom and full access to those parts of your home that may have been denied to you before are well worth the investment in time and money and the minor disruption that installation causes. With it, you will no longer have to rely on helpers to go up or down the stairs in your own home and will be able to enjoy greater freedom of movement and access in the place that you deserve to have it the most, your home.
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