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A mobility lift is a device that moves an individual through a passageway or into a space that would otherwise be inaccessible. Some mobility lifts use a chair or a sling to transport a user directly. Others accommodate both a user and a mobility aid, such as a power scooter or wheelchair. Common types of mobility lifts include stair lifts, wheelchair lifts, and lift chairs. The choice of mobility lift depends largely on where it is to be used as well as the needs of its user or users.
People who depend on wheelchairs often encounter steps or stairs, both of which are barriers to wheelchair access. If the property or vehicle does not offer an alternative form of disability access, such as a wheelchair ramp, the person using the mobility aid is either prevented from entering or must rely on assistance from others to get where he or she needs to go. The presence of a mobility lift in such situations ensures that those with mobility issues can independently enter and navigate the space. For this reason, many cities now require public transportation companies to install a mobility lift onto buses and trains, making them truly accessible. Automobiles, including vans owned by taxi services, can also be equipped with a wheelchair or scooter lift and ramp.
Specialized mobility lifts can be found in hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care settings. In some cases, these lifts are designed to help a patient raise himself or herself out of the bed and into a standing position. For those patients who are unable to move on their own, sling-based lift systems can transfer patients between their bed and a wheelchair or hospital gurney without taxing the patients and minimizing the risk of injury to both patient and caregiver.
In homes and buildings with stairs, a chair lift can be a good option for someone who is perhaps able to walk on his or her own but cannot manage stairs easily. For those who need to use a wheelchair or scooter, a mobility elevator may be a better option, as it does not require the user to leave the mobility aid. Another type of mobility lift is the lift chair, which resembles a standard living room chair but moves forward and upward, allowing the user to get out of the chair and either walk on independently or move into a wheelchair or scooter.