WHEELCHAIR VAN ASSESSMENTS

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You may read about the different types of conversions such as side entry vans, power ramp vans, power kneel, in floor ramps, fold out ramps, full cut conversion, rear entry vans, manual ramp vans and much more. Many client’s start out believing that a wheelchair accessible van is just a regular minivan with a power ramp installed. So they are surprised by the cost of this machine and its capabilities. You could not fit a wheelchair rider through the door of a standard minivan due to the height and width of the door opening.

The fabrication and production of the wheelchair accessible minivan starts with the undercarriage of the vehicle being cut off so the vans are lowered between 11 and 15 inches, depending on the factory and the model. The undercarriage is reinstalled or replaced with a new stainless steel undercarriage, the gas tank is rerouted and modified, the power kneel system (air or hydraulic) is added for the lowest incline, the power ramp is installed, the power outlets are added, the new rubberized flooring and wheelchair secure tracks are installed, the side door floor moldings are trimmed to meet the new floor and undercarriage, the factory seats are installed on pedestals and the side doors are integrated to work with the conversion system on one remote.

The wheelchair vans built in the 21st century have become a sophisticated machine that help ensure safe and reliable transportation for the wheelchair bound rider or driver. The draw back to the production, quality control and Federal NHSTA guidelines is the price increase since the innovation began back in 1966. Some end users refer to these high priced machines as abusive pricing because many depend on disability and or social security as their sole source of income and can't afford a wheelchair van without outside funding. There are many resources that can help pay for wheelchair accessible vans such as : Vocational Rehabilitation, The Veterans Administration, The National MS Society, The Chives Foundation and many more.

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In order to conduct a proper wheelchair van assessment we gather information such as the medical diagnosis of the wheelchair bound rider, the make and model of the manual or power wheelchair, the height in the chair from ground to head. Also, we like to know if the wheelchair bound rider requires a care giver near the rider at all times or can the rider be left unattended while the driver is driving. Will there be long distance travel and does the wheelchair bound rider require feedings, diaper changes or IV infusion? How many able bodied family members will be in the vehicle? Can the care giver bend over to tie and lock down the chair down for transport, or would they need an electronic tie down system that allows the chair to simply “park” in the exact transport position. Would this van be parked in a garage or driveway, because there may be some height and width restrictions for the ramp to deploy? There are different benefits and options to each conversion and that is why we need to gather as much information as possible to replicate the family’s everyday life riding in a wheelchair accessible van.
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