Ramps allow a person to move into the vehicle while seated in their wheelchair, or they can also be used to load a heavy power wheelchair into a high vehicle.
Portable ramps can provide a lot of versatility in inaccessible areas. A problem with ramps is the amount of strength required to push a person up them. They can be dangerous if not correctly secured or the helper is not strong enough to push to the top. It is extremely important to select the correct length of ramp according to the height of the vehicle. The load and the height difference to be negotiated dictate the length and choice of ramp.
Always select the longest possible ramp with a minimum gradient of 1:8 for unassisted access or 1:6 if there is help available to push the person up. These gradients are only suitable for short vehicle ramps, for longer ramps the gradient should be less steep.
Portable ramps usually come in an option of two narrow ramps which may be telescopic to make them easier to transport, or one wide ramp which may fold down the length to make it smaller for transporting e.g. the suitcase ramp.
Most wheelchair suppliers sell a basic telescopic ramp which stores into a compact unit, but pulls out to give a reasonable gradient for most vehicles.
The choice of ramp will depend on the wheel figuration on the wheelchiar. Many chairs have anti-tip wheels that are not in line with the push wheels and these will get stuck on the seperate tracks, in which case the wider ramp will be required.
Sheer Mobility (021 5525563) sell a reasonably priced suitcase ramp which folds down the length.
Solutions Medical (021 592 3370) supply the Swedotech range of portable aluminium ramps, as well as aluminium ramps of any shape and size.
Feather Weight Ramps carbon fibre ramps developed by Andy Smith, a C5 quadpriplegic, weigh an amazing 1.2 kgs and have a length of 83 cms or 105cms. They are available from Segfree (firstname.lastname@example.org) Andy Smith 082 4949745. Although they are not long enough to give vehicle access, they are very useful to have in the car for those frequent steps and pavements. www.featherweightramps.co.za
Shoprider (012 6531817) supply the FEAL range of lightweight aluminium fitted ramps which are easy to use and manually folded in and out of the vehicle.