Switching to a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle
Despite the advantages of a wheelchair accessible vehicle, some people still have misgivings about making the switch to a handicap van. Maybe they want to hold to their sports car, or they don’t want to give up the challenge of transferring, or they don’t want to spend the money yet. Whatever the case, it may become difficult to deny nagging shoulder pain, decreased tolerance for the hassles of car transfers and chair loading, or the simple fact that they don’t have the energy they once did.
Making “the switch” is a decision many individuals with disabilities face at some point. If it’s one that you’re faced with, here are a few things to consider:
Pain and Fatigue
Many rehabilitation specialists encourage the switch from a car to a wheelchair accessible vehicle in order to maintain and preserve physical function. Pain and fatigue are often results of both the distance and height of a transfer, and over time it can take a serious toll. The neck, shoulders, arms and wrists usually bear the brunt of this pain, and therapists often end up treating patients for injuries that could have been prevented if he or she was in a wheelchair van more suitable for his or her condition. Add to that the fatigue that accompanies the pain, and you have a recipe for a lower quality of life and possibly depression.
Many people consider a vehicle to be a reflection of themselves. If you don’t feel like an wheelchair accessible van reflects your personality, making that purchase can be a hard hurdle to cross (even when it’s infinitely more comfortable and accessible).
Another image issue to overcome is the fact that many consider using a wheelchair accessible van a sign of “giving up” or regression. It may seem to represent what you can’t do anymore as opposed to how much more you’re able to do now. Sometimes making that switch is necessary to maintain independence. And in the end, getting there at all is more important than how you get there!
Oftentimes an individual’s caretaker has as much say in whether or not to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle as the customer. If a spouse, parent or caregiver is responsible for transferring an individual and his or her wheelchair or scooter, they will undoubtedly begin to experience some wear and tear on their bodies over time. In that case, a wheelchair van maintains an individual’s independence without sacrificing anyone’s health and wellbeing.
There’s no denying that making the switch to a wheelchair accessible van can come with a cost. Still, long-term wheelchair users would rather spend money on an accessible van than pay the more expensive price of lost quality of life. Many customers find financial help from outside sources, whether Vocational Rehabilitation, the VA, Medicaid Waivers, etc. Charitable organizations are possibilities, and many customers have tremendous luck with local fundraising efforts. Your BraunAbility dealer will have a selection of used mobility products as well.
Finally, remember some excellent advice from our Mobility Experts in the field: think about your mobility needs not today, but five years down the road. What can you expect in terms of your strength, lifestyle, pain-tolerance, and stamina? Is it practical to stay with a car if your strength has been decreasing while your pain increases? Transfers may not be difficult now, but is it realistic to expect the same five years from now?
Mobility equipment helps narrow the gap between how things are and how things could be. More often than not, the decision to switch from a car to a van is one of many decisions that contribute to the lifelong process of adaptation to disability.