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How Does a Wheelchair Lift Work?

wheelchair liftA wheelchair lift can make a home, business, school, or other public building accessible to people with limited mobility. Several models are available that can travel up and down any type of staircase or travel vertically and can function both indoors and outside. Wheelchair lifts can operate using several methods.

An inclined wheelchair lift transports a person in a wheelchair up and down along a staircase on a track that follows the stairs. An inclined platform wheelchair lift can be easily installed on a straight staircase. It can also be installed on a curve staircase with rails made to fit the individual design. Rails can be created that allow the wheelchair lift to negotiate 90-degree, 180-degree, and other turns. An inclined wheelchair lift on a staircase folds up when not in use so that others can walk up and down the stairs.

Vertical platform wheelchair lifts can operate in two ways. Some use a screw drive system, which includes a motor, screw shaft, and large nut. The motor spins the screw shaft, which raises or lowers the nut, which is in turn attached to the platform and causes it to move.

A vertical platform wheelchair lift can also operate with a hydraulic system. Hydraulic fluid is pumped out of a reservoir and into the base of a piston, which causes it to rise. To lower the piston, the fluid is released back into the reservoir.

Wheelchair lifts are designed with safety in mind. A vertical platform lift that travels up to six feet is not required to be enclosed with walls around the platform, but it does need to have a locking gate at the upper landing to prevent a fall. If it travels more than six feet, a vertical wheelchair lift must be fully enclosed. It must have a full-height door at the lower landing that closes flush with the interior walls of the lift. A gate or door that closes flush with the walls of the lift must be present at the upper landing. Both must have interlocks so that the enclosure is not accessible if the wheelchair lift is not at the landing.

Providing access to individuals in wheelchairs can allow people to remain in their homes and enable all visitors to have full access to a business, school, or other public building. A wheelchair lift can be the perfect solution if an elevator is not an option.


One comment

  1. I had no idea that this was how wheelchair lifts worked! It sounds like they are really useful for those that are wheelchair bound, especially if they live in a two story home. By getting a lift, it seems like it is a lot like having an elevator to get around. I might suggest this to my aunt, who has been in a wheelchair for a while, and still struggles with getting around everywhere she needs to.

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