Monday, 29 September 2008

Information About An Inclined Wheelchair Stair Lift

A stair lift can be the solution to getting up and down stairs and there are many on the market. However, nearly all require that the person using one lift be able to lift themselves on and off it. For the wheelchair bound this is not always viable. An inclined wheelchair stair lift might be the answer.

A chair stair lift operates by means of pulling a chair along a rack - usually by a rack and pinion system. They are two types; straight and curved. The price of a curved stair lift is much more expensive than a straight model as it is custom made for a particular staircase. The rack on which it moves is not mounted on the wall, rather it is fixed to the stair treads. This makes installation somewhat straight forward.

However, for someone who is wheelchair bound and cannot lift themselves on to a chair these types of chair lifts are inappropriate. A wheelchair lift is required. There are two types available; vertical wheelchair lifts and inclined wheelchair stair lifts.

Vertical models are really elevators to give the user access to floors. For many domestic homes this is simply not an option, due to cost and space requirements.

Inclined wheelchair stair lifts look more like conventional units, inasmuch as one travels up and down a flight of stairs. However, inclined units are much more problematic to install than a regular one.

Space is always an issue with inclined units. The width of the stairs have to be wide enough to accommodate the platform, which will be a little large than the 'footprint' of the wheelchair. Also, the landing area at both the top and bottom of the stairs has to be sufficient to allow the user to get on and off the ramp. Another installation issue is that the rack is wall mounted, therefore the stairs must be hard against a load bearing wall. Both of these limitations make the installation of this type of lift impossible in most domestic homes.

However, if your stairs are wide enough and are against a load bearing wall a wheelchair stair lift might be the answer to your mobility problems.

There are a number of suppliers of wheelchair stair lifts. National Wheel-O-Vator and Stannah Stairiser Wheelchair Stair Lift both make excellent versions for wheelchairs. Both companies products come with the following features: bi-directional safety platform sensors not only provide protection for the user but for others who might be using the stairs; safety barrier arms and access ramps are mechanically locked during travel; the platform can be accessed from both front and side - the side ramps rise to secure the wheelchair when the platform is in motion.

Also both companies' units can be mounted on straight and curved stairways with both inside (positive) and outside (negative) turns. The platform of the National Wheel-O-Vator is custom made whereas the platform of the Stairiser CR wheelchair stair lift from Stannah comes in a number of sizes that the buyer can choose. Finally, the platform folds up leaving a protrusion of only about 12 inches.

The cost of these specialized lifts is expensive and the price can only be determined after a site inspection. But, if you can afford one and the structure of your stairs can accommodate a wheelchair stair lift, the degree of independence such a stair lift gives you can't be underestimated.