If you or a loved one has recently started using a wheelchair for easier mobility, one of the first things you probably discovered was the importance of a reliable and sturdy wheelchair ramp.
A ramp is vital not only for gaining entry into your home, but also the home of other family or even friends. They are also used within the home at certain door thresholds.
There are several types of wheelchair ramps and a variety of specifications depending on the need. The right choice can save you money while providing safe passage.
Let’s break down the information you need to know in making the best decision.
Determining Your Wheelchair Ramp Needs
The first step is to access the current need. Do you require a permanent ramp attached to the outside of the home? Is it only a temporary need that will come down soon?
Are there doorways inside the home or patio that need to be wheelchair friendly? Some people need a portable ramp for entry into a friend or relative’s home, or even a public facility.
Do you need a short ramp to span just a few steps into your home, or a winding walkway with a long slope and possibly one or more turns?
After you have determined where and how the ramp will be used, you then need to factor in the size and weight of the wheelchair or mobility device. This information can be found in the owner’s manual.
Understanding the specifics will aid in making the best decision for a safe and cost-effective ramp.
Terms to Understand
In order to pick the best wheelchair ramp for your needs, it is a good idea to understand the terminology.
The rise is the vertical height of the ramp. This is measured from the ground up to the highest part of the stairway or threshold.
The wheelchair ramp slope refers to how steep the ramp is. This is usually measured as the ratio from the rise needed to the length. A slope of 1:12 says that for each inch of rise, there are 12 inches of length to the ramp.
The steeper the ramp, the less it costs, but that is not particularly the safest or best way to go. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) recommends the slope be 1:12 with a width of 36 inches.
Types of Ramps
Depending on the need and the type of building or entryway, there are a variety of ramp styles. Choosing the right one will increase the safety and ease of use.
This is a one-piece, often short ramp. It is usually laid over a couple of steps for a short incline that is used with a wheelchair or walker. The single-piece style makes it quick to install.
This is a ramp with multiple pieces that join together. This is used where there are more than just a couple of steps that need to be covered and with a longer slope.
This is also called an entry ramp, and is used where there are not actual steps, but when the door itself creates a bump or incline that stops progress.
This type of ramp is usually rubber and almost looks like a mat. It lays across the bump and creates a flat, smooth surface to slide over. Some doors may need to be modified to use this type of ramp.
Materials for Wheelchair Ramps
Wheelchair ramps are also made from different types of material. The choice can be made for economic or ease of use.
The most common type of ramp is made of wood. They are easy to build and repair using material and tools found at a local hardware store.
Aluminum ramps are also quite popular. They fit together with ease and can be designed to work in almost any home.
You can also install concrete wheelchair ramps. These are not as popular due to the higher cost and more work involved in the installation.
These ramps hold up very well in the weather but are used more for commercial applications and not a popular choice for most homeowners.
There are multiple surfaces available for the right kind of traction and some ramps also come with handrails for extra assistance.
Portable Wheelchair Ramps
The portable ramp is becoming highly popular. This option can be used by those who only need a temporary solution for a short time period, or someone needing an inexpensive but reliable choice.
These ramps can be broken down and folded. They fit into most vehicles and come with handles for easier transport.
They are typically made from aluminum and more economical. They can be ordered in a variety of widths and lengths and can be used for almost any application.
Additional Facts to Consider
Once you have decided on the type of ramp you need, there are a few other things to consider.
Please make sure the base or platform where the ramp will be attached is level, stable, and solid. This is vital for the safety of those using it. Once installed, the ramp should also be routinely checked to make sure it stays level and secure.
You should determine how much weight the ramp will need to support. You must choose one that will safely handle not only the weight of the device and the user but also any caregivers that are there for assistance.
The width of the ramp is also important. A general guideline is 36“, but more might be needed for comfort or to maneuver that particular area.
Another obstacle for many is the cost involved in not only the ramp but the wheelchair itself. Here is a helpful guide on what Medicare covers.
The Right Choice for your Wheelchair Ramp
Having to use a wheelchair does cause some limitations, and in some cases, the need can arise quickly. In addition to the purchase of the chair, the issue of ease of travel comes up. The right wheelchair ramp makes getting in and out of your home, vehicle, and other buildings a breeze.
With the variety of materials and styles available, there is an option to fit any budget. From pre-made portable ramps to custom-installed permanent fixtures, there is a solution to all of your wheelchair ramp needs.
For more information on an in-home assessment or how we can help you keep your freedom and mobility, Contact one of our experts..