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How should children in wheelchairs travel by car?

How should children in wheelchairs travel by car?

17/05/2017

Many children with special needs need to use a wheelchair in their daily life. Depending on their condition, the wheelchair may or may not be of a specific type, however, when traveling by car, there are a number of difficulties to take into account and certain instructions that should be followed in order to accommodate the seat and make it comfortable for the child.

Logically, we refer, above all, to cases in which the child needs to use the wheelchair on a regular basis. In such cases, it may be necessary to carry out adaptations to the car in order to accommodate the chair and the child, and such modifications can be rather important.

Adapting the car

In theory, it is possible to adapt any car, up to a certain point, to accommodate a wheelchair in its rear section, but ideally it should be a large car with a rear or side door (taking into account that the side door should be wide enough to easily allow for any maneuvers required). The rear or side door makes it much easier to access the interior of the car. It is sometimes necessary to lower the car floor in order to make more room inside.

In order to get the wheelchair in and out of the car easily a raised platform should be installed, or if not, a ramp can be used. To secure the wheelchair in place inside the car, guide rails or anchors are placed on the floor, in order to be able to easily secure the wheelchair. At this point we should differentiate between the anchorage for the wheelchair and the restraint systems for the passenger: in the first case they can be either flexible or rigid, and in the second case they will be the car's seat belts in the case of adults or a child restraint system for children.

With regard to the Child Restraint System, we should choose the one best adapted to the physical situation of the child and to the particular illness he or she has  “Types of chair for children with special needs”.

How to prepare a trip by car with a child in a wheelchair

A trip with a child who uses a wheelchair does not have to be especially complicated, other than the need to place the wheelchair in the car and to put the child in a CRS, above all if we are prepared for any eventuality. It is vitally important to prepare the child before placing him or her in the car, and above all to ensure that the position in which we place the child is as comfortable as possible so that the journey is a pleasant one for them.

We should take with us everything the child might need during the trip, both for leisure activities and for any other purposes such as their safety, their comfort, or any medicine they may need for their specific treatment.

Moreover, it is very useful to carry a kit with any items that could be useful, such as, for example: wet wipes to wash our hands, sterilized wipes, toilet paper, or, again, wet wipes for hygienic purposes, as well as certain tools in case we need to repair any part of the wheelchair or its anchorage in the car: multipurpose oil, duct tape, and any tool we think might be useful at any point, such as a cutter in case we need to cut the seat belts (in an accident, for example).


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