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Thread: Transition from transfer seat to driving from wheelchair

  1. #1
    Senior Member Kulea's Avatar
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    Transition from transfer seat to driving from wheelchair

    I will probably be changing from driving a full-sized van with six-way captains chair to a minivan or similar and driving from my wheelchair. Have any self drivers made this transition? Were there any difficulties in making the switch? What did you have to get used to? Are you still able to get close enough to the wheel? What happens to your footrests? How hard is it to use a more vertical steering wheel? How do you keep your elbows from hitting your armrests? Any problems with stability? Do you end up sitting higher? Any recommendations?
    C-6/7 incomplete

  2. #2
    If you are tall the AMS conversion cuts further forward into firewall and the others are a challenge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kulea View Post
    I will probably be changing from driving a full-sized van with six-way captains chair to a minivan or similar and driving from my wheelchair. Have any self drivers made this transition? Were there any difficulties in making the switch? What did you have to get used to? Are you still able to get close enough to the wheel? What happens to your footrests? How hard is it to use a more vertical steering wheel? How do you keep your elbows from hitting your armrests? Any problems with stability? Do you end up sitting higher? Any recommendations?

  3. #3
    We always had fullsize vans and after I started back driving had rotating driver seat installed.
    Currently we been looking at minivans. I've tried driving from driver position and didn't like it. Might be I'm old and set in my routine.
    So, got them to change and take passenger seat out to try transfering. Due to closeness I could lower driver seat and transfer/slide over from my powerchair to van's driver seat and then raised it up high point to transfer back to my powerchair.
    Done this trying out 3 minivans and it seems like what I will do if can locate a minivan for good price.
    The minivans we tried the steering adjustable both height/angle and out/in adjustment so from the time drove from chair it worked OK. Footboard didn't seem to be a problem on my chair to pull up close enough. It was just odd feeling and alot movement of my chair when driving. Course with powered securement more likely been more secure than the straps used for Demo.
    "Good Luck!"

  4. #4
    Senior Member RoJo's Avatar
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    I'm about the same injury level as you. Spent my first 21 years in a manual chair. I used full sized vans with transfer seats. Do to shoulder issues I had to switch to a power chair. I decided at the time to switch to a minivan because I was tired of road noise, rattles, bad mpg.
    Driving from my power chair took a little getting used to. Van seat felt a little more secure. It is sooo much quicker and easier to accomplish tasks now. In and out of the van is much quicker. Short multiple stop trips to town are no longer a hassle. Toyota minivan is much quieter and gas usage went down by 40%. The Sienna is fairly tight inside compared to a full size van. I am able to spin my my chair 360 degrees in the center area but there is no space to spare. I was able to add an aftermarket console between my chair and the front passenger seat. Couldn't get the factory console to work because it is too wide. Power lift gate is essential and the bumper/floor height in back make loading items in and out super easy.
    I'm on my second minivan. 2016 Toyota Sienna/Braun conversion. I am tall(6'3") and not skinny. I use a Permobil M400. I have no trouble getting close to the steering wheel. Footroom is fine as long as I don't have my footrests expended out too far. There is plenty of headroom even with a sunroof. There is plenty of adjustability in the steering column. Before your hand control is permanently set up make sure your steering column is as low as you need it. Once it is set you won't be able lower the steering wheel do to conflict with the hand control. You will be able to raise the steering wheel. I have my tri-pin and hand control setup so my elbows rest on my armrest when I drive. I feel more stable and my arms are less fatigued on long drives.
    I use the Q'Straint 150 lockdown. I feel very secure in it. The bolt mounted under my chair hangs pretty low. Speaking of low the ground clearance under the van is very low. Lower than in my first Toyota. The exhaust pipe scrapes regularly on some speed bumps and driveway transitions. Not a deal beaker for me but something you must always watch for. I think the VMI conversions have more ground clearance but I don't like the look of their side skirts and definitely don't like how jacked up they look.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Kulea's Avatar
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    Thank you for all of your input. Lots to think about.
    C-6/7 incomplete

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