For a wheelchair user, the stairs can be a very difficult to use, if not impossible. Some manual wheelchair users are adept at dealing with staircases with no assistance, but this requires a good deal of skill and presents a risk to the wheelchair user. Instead, of trying to use the stairs in this manner, most wheelchair users choose to either install a wheelchair ramp or a vertical platform lift in their home. Both of these devices can greatly improve accessibility and make it much easier to get around.
The vertical platform lift is a very popular lifting aid, which is in many regards simply a self-contained elevator. It includes an elevator shaft, lifting platform, and lifting system all in one unit. They are placed next to the landing of a staircase and raise vertically from the ground level to the landing of the stairs. A metal platform is provided for users to drive their mobility vehicle onto, which is then raised and lowered by pushing one of the control buttons. Many vertical platform lifts also include wireless remotes, as well as call buttons at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Vertical platform lifts, which are frequently called wheelchair lifts, are usually designed to support at least 500 pounds, with some wheelchair lifts having weight capacities that exceed 700 pounds. They can be used by multiple people or to move goods, providing the weight capacity is not exceeded.
The wheelchair lift itself is quite heavy and requires a strong solid base to support it. The base should be made out of either concrete or wood, which is level and does not wobble. Installing a wheelchair lift is fairly simple, with the hardest part usually being moving the lift in place, as it is quite heavy. The lift is then secured to the base and plugged in.
Most vertical platform lifts cost between $3,400 and $15,000, but this varies by the model, as well as its features. For instance, most wheelchair lifts have a lifting height of 4 feet, which can then be upgraded for a fee to up to 12 feet.
Wheelchair ramps often offer a lower cost alternative to a wheelchair lift. They can be built from scratch using wood and there are usually several local companies that can build the ramp for you.
There are also modular wheelchair ramp kits
available, which come in sections and are made out of metal. Each section arrives separately, then is fit together to form the ramp.
The size and length of the ramp, both modular and custom built, depends on the height of the staircase, although bends can be added to take up less space. However, even when bends are used, wheelchair ramps end up taking up a lot more space than a wheelchair lift would. Some wheelchair users will also find them difficult to use. In cases where there is only a step or two to bridge, smaller single piece threshold ramps are available, which are very affordable.
Deciding whether to go with a wheelchair lift or a wheelchair ramp
is an important decision that should not only take into account cost, but also the needs of the user and where the device will be used.
Robert Dinland, an author, has a strong medical background. Finding a means of increasing accessibility at home is essential for wheelchair users. Many choose to install wheelchair lifts
, as these devices are very, powerful, don't take up much space, and make using the home much easier. Learn more about accessibility tools and wheelchairs at the Wheelchair Guide