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Thread: Van, car, SUV??????

  1. #1
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    Van, car, SUV??????

    Question about transportation and wheelchairs. My son is C4 complete but will be able to get into a manual chair because he has good arm and should strength---and hopefully those triceps keep trying to fire!!! We currently have a used adaptive van I bought but he doesn't want to drive that when he is able to drive again (16yrs old- 10 days of driving with license, then accident). I hear many people talk about having a power chair and a manual chair. What do you drive? Anyway to get away from a van? I know I should let insurance buy him a powerchair (still in a loaner) and we will have to buy a manual. Can you share your experience???

  2. #2
    There are quite a few discussions here about Van (Standard or Mini) vs Car vs SUV. While the search feature doesn't work very well, I did find a few threads more or less on the topic.

    Having good arm and shoulder strength is a relative thing. Being able to get into a manual chair and living with a manual chair day in day out, pushing on varying surfaces and elevations, pressure shifts, transferring multiple times, and dragging a manual chair in and out of a vehicle several times a day is another thing altogether. Living life will take its toll on arms, shoulders, elbows and wrists. Your son at 16 or 17 today has potentially 60 or more years to live as a quad. Ask any of us old quad guys what we would do differently when we were young, and most all of us would say preserve shoulder function...take care of our shoulders.

    While a manual chair may work for your son when he is in your wheelchair friendly home or his own place, he has to ask himself how will I hold up to manual wheeling across a high school or college campus and beyond.

    I am a c6/7 complete, 37 years post injury, and used a light weight (for the era) manual chair for 17 years. Ive been using a power chair since and have never missed the grueling grind that living in a manual chair was/is. I don't drive, but I do have a Honda Odyssey VMI conversion for my transportation. Hey is a minivan sexy...no, but it is practical and preserves energy for things that really count.


    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...-Door-Vehicles

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...Accessible-SUV

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...-go-for-or-not

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...263160-minivan

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...VMI-Pacifica-v

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...driving-issues

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...Cars-for-quads

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...ecommendations
    Last edited by gjnl; 03-03-2019 at 04:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Kulea's Avatar
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    I agree that a car is a bit of a stretch. When I was young, we put hand controls in my Dad's station wagon and a few solo trips convinced me of that folly. Maybe you can rent a car w/hand controls for him to try out for a week, that will convince him. One of the first things he is going to have to get over to survive and thrive is the vanity thing, appearance over functionality. I lived quite functionally in a manual chair for over 10 years until my shoulder started wearing out. However, if he is NOT independently functional in the manual chair, it doesn't matter how he looks, he is going to be seen as someone who needs to get pushed around to go anywhere. Whereas, in a proper power chair, he will not only be independent, he might even be badass for the greater functionality and freedom. Likewise with a vehicle. If getting in/out takes too much time and energy, he won't be so anxious to use it all the time, regardless of how it looks. My rehab doctor gave some of the best advice. He said that as a quad, you have a limited supply of energy (and time) every day, not enough to accomplish all that you would wish, definitely not enough to live a normal life within normal time frames. You have to prioritize how you want to spend your limited supply of energy. Spend it all on pushing and getting in/out of cars and you have less to spend on dressing yourself, living independently, and having fun. Now, that isn't to say that you shouldn't reach, stretching yourself is how you increase that pot of energy. Just know the difference between stretching to improve, and needless energy sucking for the sake of vanity.

    Every quad has to go through this journey their own way, on their own terms and reaching conclusions through their own experience. All I know is that switching from the manual to power chair was the best decision ever, I had freedom I never realized I was missing. In the manual chair I lived life timidly. In the power chair, I have confidence, because I am capable. But, by that time in my life, I had stopped caring about how I looked to other people. I realized that it didn't matter which chair I used, I was still going to be seen as disabled.
    C-6/7 incomplete

  4. #4
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    The power chair Connor is in is almost 450 lbs. This limits his ability to go places due to limited accessibility. This is frustrating to him and he wants out of this power chair which is a loaner. This chair tilts back which he likes, but if I am not mistaken this is half the reason the thing weighs as much as it does. What about manual chairs with power assist wheels? Would that be worthwhile?

  5. #5
    Maybe a Whill CI? I have had mine for about 5 months and like it. Gets a lot of comments on being cool. Pivots like a manual. Weighs 130 lbs, breaks into 3 pieces transport. 10 mile range at about 4 mph.
    It has a USB charge point that I used for the lights. It won?t tilt but the back has 3 angle settings.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by dee1843 View Post
    The power chair Connor is in is almost 450 lbs. This limits his ability to go places due to limited accessibility. This is frustrating to him and he wants out of this power chair which is a loaner. This chair tilts back which he likes, but if I am not mistaken this is half the reason the thing weighs as much as it does. What about manual chairs with power assist wheels? Would that be worthwhile?
    I have a Permobil M300. It has tilt/recline and elevate and it weighs 389 pounds including the cushion. That said, what places does he want to go that a manual chair would work better than a power chair, especially given is level of injury. Sure, a manual chair can be stowed in a car after he transfers, which means he could conceivably get into one of his buddies cars (if the doors are wide enough to do a transfer)...but realistically how necessary is that going to be if he has his own vehicle. A power assist device is a good in between solution...I used one for a few years. But, adding a power assist to a manual chair makes it even more difficult to break down and stow the chair in a car.

    Manual and power chair users equally need ramps, elevators (any steps are a barrier), curb cuts, wider doors etc...no getting around that. Actually many power chairs can manage a 4-6 inch step/threshold or curb, where Connor's level of injury would never allow him to "jump" a threshold or curb in a manual chair.

    From another thread you started Connor is fairly recently injured and having trouble with motivation, independent exercise, and caring for himself. Where id he do his rehab?

    Is he back in school?

    Has he been evaluated by his rehab occupational or physical therapist for chairs and other adaptive equipment? Before insurance will fund a chair, power or manual, he will need a prescription written by his physician based on a professional analysis of his needs.

    Has he been evaluated as to his capability to drive? He will need a professional evaluator and driving instructor to make sure he can handle driving a vehicle. Evaluations include vision screening, measuring muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion, reaction time, judgement and decision making, ability to use the hand controls. You can probably find a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist in your area on this website, Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists: https://www.aded.net/default.aspx This website has a forum for drivers with disabilities.
    Last edited by gjnl; 03-03-2019 at 08:29 PM.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Kulea View Post
    Just know the difference between stretching to improve, and needless energy sucking for the sake of vanity.
    Yes. Even a para has this dilemma. You want to remain active in order to maintain strength and stamina. But you don't want to overdo it to the point of injury. After 36 years, I decided to drive a van to spare my shoulders. Still drive a car when I want to, not have to.

  8. #8
    This is off topic but related. The reason our shoulders give out is not just overuse but repetitive use, meaning always doing activities at the same angles, like transferring and accessing desks and counters. I use different height wheelchairs and cushions to break it up. Makes a big difference. Raising your height reduces shoulder stress while reaching counters and the sink. Lowering your height reduces shoulder stress when pushing your wheelchair and most transfers. Some transfers are better done higher, like a tall bed. But for most transfers you want to be lower. In any case, keep changing the angles at which you do stuff if you can so you engage muscles (especially the smaller rotator cuff muscles) differently rather than the same way each time.

  9. #9
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    Connor is not back in school due to PT & OT 3 times a week plus strength training once a week. He goes and visits school periodically, but I have reached out to the school and they have said they would welcome him to be an office aid and stay through lunch to visit with friends on Wednesday his only day off from rehab. He has a teacher come to the house 2x a week for 2 hours to maintain his attendance and grade. He is academically ahead so it was not an issue. He also has to return to inpatient again at the end of this month to be re-evaluated and fitted for a wheelchair. They are also planning on working with him on doing his bowel program independently and also starting to look at driving. When he was at TIRR memorial Herman in Houston where we live they told him it would be about a year before he could drive but they didn't think it would be a problem.

    Although he may never have the strength to jump a curb, a manual chair can be pushed areas by his friends that a manual cannot go at all. Including several friends homes that have multiple steps to get into that even the 6ft portable ramp I bought cannot handle. I just want him to have the best shot at having a happy successful life and I want to facilitate that anyway I can. I am aware he will make his own decisions and make his life as he chooses. I am just doing some "recon" to find out what is out there and others experiences. He is very involved with his injury and has learned to be in control of his body and learn to listen to it and do the right things to take care of himself. He is learning to overcome his reluctance to insist that a caregiver do as he asks and not as they please because "they know better". I am proud of who he is and how well he has handled this injury. I am an overprotective mom that will bite the head off anyone who harms him, but will step back first and allow him to handle the situation to the best of his ability. We are exploring all the options. The initial goal was a manual chair, but as I hear of the pain of wear and tear from years of use I am uncertain the manual is best. Just trying to figure it all out. We are definitely going to go by the recommendations of the PT & OT at TIRR, but I also know those that live this life also have a tremendous amount of real life knowledge to share and I have learned more from this group and facebook groups than I did at rehab. ----Rant over---sorry

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by dee1843 View Post
    Connor is not back in school due to PT & OT 3 times a week plus strength training once a week. He goes and visits school periodically, but I have reached out to the school and they have said they would welcome him to be an office aid and stay through lunch to visit with friends on Wednesday his only day off from rehab. He has a teacher come to the house 2x a week for 2 hours to maintain his attendance and grade. He is academically ahead so it was not an issue. He also has to return to inpatient again at the end of this month to be re-evaluated and fitted for a wheelchair. They are also planning on working with him on doing his bowel program independently and also starting to look at driving. When he was at TIRR memorial Herman in Houston where we live they told him it would be about a year before he could drive but they didn't think it would be a problem.

    Although he may never have the strength to jump a curb, a manual chair can be pushed areas by his friends that a manual cannot go at all. Including several friends homes that have multiple steps to get into that even the 6ft portable ramp I bought cannot handle. I just want him to have the best shot at having a happy successful life and I want to facilitate that anyway I can. I am aware he will make his own decisions and make his life as he chooses. I am just doing some "recon" to find out what is out there and others experiences. He is very involved with his injury and has learned to be in control of his body and learn to listen to it and do the right things to take care of himself. He is learning to overcome his reluctance to insist that a caregiver do as he asks and not as they please because "they know better". I am proud of who he is and how well he has handled this injury. I am an overprotective mom that will bite the head off anyone who harms him, but will step back first and allow him to handle the situation to the best of his ability. We are exploring all the options. The initial goal was a manual chair, but as I hear of the pain of wear and tear from years of use I am uncertain the manual is best. Just trying to figure it all out. We are definitely going to go by the recommendations of the PT & OT at TIRR, but I also know those that live this life also have a tremendous amount of real life knowledge to share and I have learned more from this group and facebook groups than I did at rehab. ----Rant over---sorry

    Dee,
    I don't think any of us who responded to your post meant to goad you into a rant.

    But that said, I've one more observation about the perception that the manual chair may be easier for Connor to deal with socially, i.e., getting into homes of his friends etc. At first blush, having his friends carry him or bump his wheelchair up and down stairs and steps or push his chair when they are out and about may seem to be a good solution. But, eventually his friends will come to view "helping out" as a chore and Connor may start feeling like a burden on his friends.

    Then, and more importantly, it just isn't safe for your son or for his friends to carry him/wheelchair up and down stairs or for that matter to push his chair. Kids will be kids and when they are and don't know what they are doing and maybe get to horsing around, they can injure themselves and Connor. When Connor decides to date, he'll feel a lot better about himself in a power chair rolling beside his date, rather than having her push his wheelchair.

    I'm not trying to talk you out of providing a manual chair for him, around your house, in his neighborhood, a manual chair will allow him to get some exercise, and that is good as long as it doesn't cause him pain or injury. But, for the daily getting around school campuses, going to the mall, attending sporting events, he is going to be able to conserve energy for the important things and be able to enjoy the freedom that power wheels will give him. So, I think it isn't a bad idea, if you can afford it to get a power chair through insurance and self pay a manual chair.

    If he does learn to accept the minivan, there is another consideration to keep in mind. It is highly unlikely that an automatic tie down for the manual chair will accept both the manual and the power chair. Accommodating both chairs is something to discuss with a good conversion company.

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