There are three main types of handicap living aids. There are driving aids, mobility aids and home aids. These are all pretty self explanatory so I won’t insult your intelligence – but one slight confusion which comes up is the different between driving and mobility aids. They’re both aids for handicap people which target assisting movement of some kind, but driving aids are specifically for vehicles whereas mobility aids are for all types of movement not involving a vehicle which has pedals and a steering wheel.
Find out more below about:
- Handicap Driving aids
- Hand Controls
- Steering Wheel Attachments
- Pedal Equipment
- Mobility Aids
- Lightweight Wheelchairs
- Lift Chairs
Handicap Driving Aids
There are three main different category of driving aids. Each category of driving aid will consist of subcategories and then usually products. For example for hand controls there are a few key aspects which are important in the decision making process. These are the hand controls manufacturer, model, installation technique and functional technology. This will all be explained below – but as you can see it can sometimes get a little complicated.
Hand controls are aimed at disabled people who have either no or only partial use of their legs. Generally this means paraplegics and occasionally quadriplegics – but of course there are hundreds of different ailments which can impair one’s leg’s movements. Hand controls operate by allowing the driver to use their hands to operate both (or either) the gas and brakes pedal.
There are different manufacturers of hand controls which target different installation techniques. For example, the Freedom Staff portable hand control is aimed at removable or ‘quick release’ installation. This allows the driver to install and remove the hand controls in a matter of minutes. There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to this type of driving kit and if you want you can see this page on portable hand controls to find out more about portable driving kits.
Whereas a company such as Menox manufacturers a product that requires professional installation and removal. This is classified as a ‘permanent’ model because not just anyone can remove it.
Finally the functional technology is with regards to manual, mechanical, electronic or hydraulic assistance in the operate of the hand controls. Manual and mechanic are the most common followed by electronic and finally hydraulic. I’ll be honest when I say there aren’t many hydraulic hand controls. GuidoSimplex manufacturers many electronic devices – but ultimately most people find manual and mechanical ones to be perfectly fine to use and substantially cheaper.
Steering Wheel Attachments
Using your hands to operate the acceleration and brakes are all good and well but who’s steering the car? You’ve got to remember you only need one hand to operate the driving controls which means you have one hand for steering. For the majority of disabled drivers this isn’t going enough and hence steering wheel attachments (sometimes referred to as steering wheel aids) are a necessity.
Most drivers will utilize a spinner knob or padded foam handle to help turn the steering wheel, and many drivers also choose hand controls which can be positioned very close to the steering wheel. If it’s close enough and there hands are large enough they’re able to have one hand fully on the steering wheel and the other hand operating the pedals with the fingers outstretched and providing support for the wheel too. I would suggest seeing my page on steering wheel aids if you want to find out more about driving whilst using hand controls.
Pedal attachments also play a vital role in the safe and comfortable driving of a vehicle and there are two main different types of equipment. Firstly there are pedal guard attachments which stop accidental engagement of the pedals by both preventing the foot pressing down on it plus stopping it from getting trapped underneath and inhibiting hand controls usage. Secondly there are left foot gas pedals which are perfect for people who have problems using their right leg but can still use their left leg.
There are lots of different types of pedal attachments but the two I’ve mentioned are the most important for the majority of drivers. However there are various types of pedal extensions among the plethora of various equipment on offer which you might find useful. If you’re using hand controls then I would say a pedal guard is a must. You can find out more pedal attachments by vising its specific page and from here you can find out about the various options open to you. This includes the manufacturer, points of purchase, type and technology used.
Handicap Mobility Aids
Mobility aids refer to equipment which assist your body in walking instead of driving aids which do the entire process for you. A good example I use is that you’ll generally use aids in the following order: home living, driving and mobility. You’ll get ready for your trip at home, drive to where you want to go, and then take out your mobility aids to get you out and about.
I would say lightweight wheelchairs tend to be overlooked too much in lieu of the bulkier heavy duty wheelchairs which are endemic among the majority of disabled people. Perhaps in times go by they weren’t as secure but the truth is that nowadays they’re both a secure and cheap alternative to regular wheelchairs. They’re also incredibly useful for use when travelling because you can simply fold them away. Most have detachable parts so that if you know you’re going on a long trip and you’ll be using it a lot you can leave some of the more rarely used features back at home.
They’re perfect to use in the house and for local journeys and long journeys too. Their customization options mean that they’re no longer the drastically inferior option that they used to be.
Walkers are generally aimed at older people who have difficulty walking as well as disabled people with a spinal injury who are learning how to walk again. They provide both stability while standing and walking because you can put your weight against them, but they also have wheels which make walking easier. Most of the better models will feature brakes that allow you to stop the movement of the wheels which makes them safer too.
Just like most handicapped equipment there’s a massive amount of variation upon the price and quality of the different types of mobility equipment available. I would suggest utilizing a cheap website such as Amazon so that you can find the cheapest deals for you. This will allow you to have a look at what people are saying and size up which is best for you without having to bother leaving your home. Getting it delivered straight to your door is pretty darn useful too.
Lift chairs are used by people who have difficulty standing and sitting down. If you want to sit down but want to gently enter into the seat then you can slowly raise the device up so that you just have to lean back on it. The angle of your body will be almost vertical and from here you can press a button which slowly lowers you down into a sitting position. If you want to get up it’s the reverse procedure. Here you can find more about lift chairs if it interests you.
Lift chairs are pretty useful when used in conjunction with walkers because you can lift yourself back into position without needing any outside help whatsoever. Being fully independent is impossible because you’re relying on equipment, but from personal experience I know that it feels much better to have equipment waiting hand and food for you than another human being. But that’s just me.