Having the ability to get out and about can give a disabled person a lot of freedom, so having access to a car is a wonderful way to travel both near and far. With that, may come the need for disability aids for cars.
Whether it’s a trip to the supermarket to save your arms the hard work of carrying your shopping too far, or a long drive to a holiday resort for your long-awaited summer break, being able to drive (or be a passenger) in a car can certainly simplify your life.
However, for disabled people, using a car might not be as simple as it is for non-disabled people. Disabled people and wheelchair users might find that getting in and out of the car is difficult for instance, or that they need assistance when transferring from their chair to the car seat. Thankfully, there are disability aids for cars that can make journeys more comfortable and feasible.
What disability aids are there for cars?
We are going to take a look at some of the items available on the market that could help you to use your car more easily and effectively. Some disability aids that you can use with your car are small and subtle, others are more substantial. As with any accessibility equipment, always consider your own specific needs and look at which pieces of equipment will be best suited to your situation. Occupational therapists or other professionals may be able to suggest items or adaptations that will help your own personal circumstances.
Swivel and non-swivel cushions
Swivel cushions are placed on the seat of the car and make getting in and out of a car more straight forward. It rotates with the person so that anybody who has problems with flexibility or mobility can transfer more easily.
Sometimes, a cushion is needed for extra height or comfort. As well as specially designed car cushions, you can also consider the Matryx Cushion from Invacare, which is designed to give maximum comfort, as well as much-needed skin protection and posture enhancement.
A car caddie is one of those pieces of equipment that is so simple… yet also ingenious! It is a nylon strap that attaches to the car door and can be grabbed and used by a disabled person for stability or balance.
Alternatively, a product called a Handy Bar, also known as a push up bar, can be used to leverage a person who needs extra support with their mobility or balance when getting in and out of a car.
Transfer boards create a bridge between a wheelchair’s seat and a car seat, which is invaluable for wheelchair users who are unable to stand to transfer from one to the other. They may be straight, angled or curved, and they require that the wheelchair user is able to shift their weight to one side so that the board can be placed underneath them.
Fleece seat belt pads
For people who have chronic pain or skin sensitivity, the friction of a seatbelt against the shoulder can cause real trouble. Fleece seat belt pads are simple devices that are attached to the upper part of the seatbelt and protect the skin from being rubbed.
Steering wheel attachments
For people who have difficulty using their hands or arms, a steering wheel attachment can be a life-changing device. These small items enable a driver to have full use of the steering wheel and therefore drive safely, even if they would not have the strength or flexibility to use a regular steering wheel. They come in a range of different shapes and sizes, so consider which would suit your own impairment the best before making a purchase.
Boot (trunk) straps
A simple idea, which can be manufactured by the individual, or by purchasing an official item, is to connect a strap to your vehicle’s boot (trunk). This is particularly helpful if your vehicle does not have an automatic closing boot – and you may be left in a situation where you cannot close the boot independently. The strap in question, will dangle from the boot door, as it’s open, and allow the user to pull on it, thus bringing the boot door closer to them, ready to be closed completely.
Often when driving with hand controls, it can be challenging trying to operate the indicator leaver when also holding the push/pull accelerator and brake, as well as the steering ball. To combat this difficulty, one such disability aid for cars is a little indicator switch which can be positioned at the top of the driver’s push/pull lever. This makes it far easier for the driver to signal with their indicators, whilst not needing to unsafely remove their hands from the steering wheel or the accelerator.
Lifting a wheelchair or mobility scooter into a car can be tough – they are often very heavy products! Hoists can be purchased that make it a very easy job indeed.
When equipment is available that can make our lives easier, getting out and about becomes more accessible and our outlook can receive a boost. Take a look at the disability aids for cars that are on the market and see how simple a trip out could become.
If you’re interested in reading more, why not check out: Wheelchair Vehicles – Top 5 Ways to Adapt Them? As well as a host of other helpful articles on the Passionate People blog site.