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Adaptive Equipment

Adaptive Equipment - A Driving Force

By Frances Maguire Paist

To those for whom mobility is limited, the ability to move around freely is a gift whose benefit can only be truly understood once it has been taken away. Imagine having to rely upon someone else for everything that you do – each trip to the grocery store, each run by the dry cleaners, each foray to the library or each errand to the pharmacy, doctor’s office or your child’s school. And then imagine how marvelous it would be if this opportunity, sometimes taken away so unexpectedly, could be returned to you through the use of adaptive equipment added to your car, van or truck.

Adaptive equipment is defined as a wide range of appliances, materials and supplies that help those with disabilities accomplish more activities of daily living and become more functionally independent. Adaptive equipment added to cars and vans help drivers and passengers get in and out of their vehicles, use driving controls and store other mobility equipment.

Following is a partial list of adaptive equipment often used in vehicles to help those with disabilities soar to new levels:

  • A Power Door Opener is a device that opens and closes a vehicle door electronically via a remote switch.
  • An Under the Vehicle Lift is a wheelchair lift stored under the frame of the van. An Automatic Lift, not located under the vehicle, permits the raising, lowering, stowing and deploying of the lift to be handled remotely by a power source. A Semi-Automatic Lift allows the raising and lowering of the platform to be handled electronically, but the storage and deployment of the platform to and from a horizontal position is handled manually.
  • A Raised Fiberglass Roof is a separately installed after the vehicle’s original roof has been removed. This permits increased head room in the van.
  • A Raised Door Opening permits additional door entry height for vehicle entry and exit. The manufacturer’s original doors are modified to add the extra height needed.
  • A Center Lowered Floor, also called a Cargo Lowered Floor, means that the floor in the rear passenger area of the vehicle has been lowered. The manufacturer’s original floor is removed and lowered from the rear of the driver/passenger seats to the front of the rear wheel wells.
  • Transfer Bars or Handles assist an individual in movement or balance.
  • Five steering devices (Knob, Tri-Pin, “U” or “V”, Cuff and Amputee) help people with specialized needs hold onto the steering wheel.
  • Low and Zero Effort Steering is a steering system modification in which the effort of steering the vehicle is reduced.
  • Foot Steering permits the steering of the vehicle to be operated by the driver’s foot.
  • Horizontal Steering is the installation of a replacement steering column that permits the steering wheel to be moved to a horizontal plane.
  • A Column Extension is a spacer that brings the steering system closer to the driver.
  • Manual Hand Controls allow the braking and acceleration systems to be controlled manually by the driver’s hand instead of foot.
  • Powered Gas and Brake Systems supplement driver force and motion with vehicle power to control acceleration, speed and braking.
  • Joystick Control is a system that allows operation of multiple functions with a single lever.
  • A Left Foot Accelerator is installed to the left of the brake pedal and allows vehicle acceleration with the driver’s left foot.
  • Low or Minimal Effort Braking is a modification that reduces the braking force.
  • Manual Parking Brake Extension is a handle that allows the parking brake to be set with the driver’s hand. The Electric Parking Brake is a motor or actuator that sets and releases the parking brake electrically.
  • A Power Seat Base is installed beneath the manufacturer’s seat and permits the original seat to be moved in a combination of directions as needed. A Removable Seat Base allows a factory seat to be removed or repositioned while still maintaining equipment specifications.
  • A Gear Shift Extension is a device that attaches to the original gear selector and permits increased leverage.
  • An Adapted Key Holder improves key grip and turning leverage.
  • A Car Top Carrier is an integrated wheelchair lift and storage compartment for a manual wheelchair. With this adaptation, the wheelchair is lifted and stored on the roof of the car.
  • Wheelchair Securement is a manual or electronic tie-down system that holds the wheelchair steady in a moving vehicle.
  • A Scooter Hoist or Lift facilitates the loading and unloading of a scooter into a vehicle.
  • GM’s Sit ‘N Lift Power Seat is a fully motorized, rotating lift and lower passenger seat that makes vehicle entrance and exit much easier.

The GM Mobility Reimbursement Program reimburses customers up to $1,000 off of the cost of any eligible aftermarket adaptive equipment. Making lives better for those whose lives have been drastically altered is a calling well worth pursuing. Adaptive equipment? Think of it as a driving force.


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