Category Archives: Hand Controls

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BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica Power XT


 

Test Drive – BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica Power XT Wheelchair Van

By Paul Erway, Superior Van & Mobility

BraunAbility 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Wheelchair Van

Conversion: BraunAbility Power XT Fold-Out with carpet

Added Options:  B&D 6 way driver seat base, and SureGrip Feather Light push-rock hand-controls

I recently had the honor of driving one of the first BraunAbility Pacifica’s that came off the line. I drove it on vacation and was really blown away at all the new features this vehicle brings to the wheelchair van market. I now drive this vehicle daily for work and personal business, and wanted to share some of the awesome new features and benefits that people may not be aware of.

First, the exterior redesign of the Pacifica incorporates smoother lines much like the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey vans. This is very different from the boxy look of the Dodge vans.

Second, the user-friendly remote control will open any door without hitting any of the buttons on the key fob as long as it is with me. Even the back hatch door is designed so that when you grab the handle, the rear power door engages and opens for you without lifting it as you had to do in the past.

BraunAbility Pacifica handicap van rampTo engage the sliding side ramp door, and deploy the ramp and engage the kneeling cycle, you simply press the key fob two times. Once the ramp is deployed, the kneeling system continues to pull down towards the ground to make the incline as low as possible. I tend to be a little impatient at times and ready to wheel up the ramp as soon as possible, but I was assured by BraunAbility that as long as the ramp is fully deployed, there should not be any issues that affect the full kneeling process, and it is recommended and best to wait so that the incline is as small as possible. Another huge feature of the ramp in the BraunAbility Pacifica is that the weight capacity of the ramp is now 1,000 pounds. Further, if you get the In-Floor Ramp conversion model, the ramp width is 32” wide! For some folks that thought a full size van was their only option, you may want to visit a Superior showroom to see if the new Pacifica will work for you! This is a big difference compared to previous models!

Once inside, you immediately notice the larger interior space. The rear bench seems to be forward a slight bit, but you have ample room for your back chair tires and a large turning radius. The interior changes also allow for a little more back storage space. For me, I often carry my racing wheelchair with me, and it definitely fits in a little easier. The other nice thing about the rear bench is the comfort of the seat. In the past, the seats were square shaped so that they could fold into the floor for Stow-N-Go seating. They are now more ergonomically correct, and have a flip down foot rest, which provides a much more comfortable ride for passengers.

The front seat has also been improved. They feel better, and you can now adjust the angle of the headrest. This was a help to me on the long spans of driving during vacation. I sometimes like to recline the seat back a little more than usual, and can now move the head rest forward to still give me a clear view of the road. Finally, if you need to remove either of the front Pacifica seats in order to remain in your wheelchair as a passenger or driver, the seat base has also been redesigned for easier pop-out/pop-in use.

Here are some other small features that make this vehicle very user friendly. You can start the vehicle with a simple touch of a button as long as you have the key fob inside the vehicle, and the brake is engaged. With key fob placed in my bag and under my chair, I just apply the brake and press the start button. The gear shift is now just a turn dial as well. Once you have the brake engaged, anyone with limited function of the hand or arthritis will find this to be a blessing.

Most of the dash controls are touch screen, allowing the driver to keep their eyes on the road. When in park, the touch screen acts very much like a computer and can be a handy tool to have when in a new city. Touch features are also available through the steering wheel. For example, if the dash light comes on to indicate a low tire, I can use my left hand to touch a button on the steering wheel and it shows exactly how much pressure is in each tire.

The cruise control on the steering wheel has also been improved. When setting the speed, there is a read out on the dash that tells you what the set speed is, and it holds that speed even when going up and down hills.

The electronic improvements overall seem to help get better gas mileage as well. For example, on the previous models of vans that I have driven, MPG hovers around 20 to 21 for my style of driving. The window sticker of this model of Pacifica reads 18 MPG for city and 28 MPG for highway. While on vacation, I actually had an average of 28.2 MPG, and upon returning, I am averaging around 24 MPG (with air conditioning on)! Finally, the system will automatically shut down when you come to an extended stop, like a red light. When you let off the brake and apply the gas, it automatically restarts the vehicle and off you go, thus saving on gas even more. So, even though purchasing a newer vehicle is a larger investment at first, you are going to save in the long run on gas costs alone, while enjoying a more pleasurable ride.

Speaking of gas, at the gas pumps you will notice that the fill hose has a small ring on the nozzle. The gas lid of the Pacifica is press-to-open, and I immediately noticed that there is NOT a gas cap. The hose nozzle fits right in, and is designed so that the ring on the hose clips in place, eliminating the chance of it slipping out and pouring gas everywhere. This also prevents evaporating fumes coming out as the tank fills.

Overall, the Pacifica was impressive enough to make a regular driver of wheelchair vans write a blog and share this story with everyone! Other things that caught my attention were the nice looking tires, the built-in vacuum cleaner, the parking sensors that allow for hands-free parallel parking and the Forward Collision Warning that can be programmed to warn you of any potential collisions. Should you have small children you may want to have the Surround View Camera System upgrade as well. You are able to see right up next to the vehicle, and all around it, to be clear of any toys or children that may be in harm’s way before you start to drive.

The reason vehicle manufacturers keep making vehicle model changes is to improve the vehicles safety, and convenience offerings, in an effort to provide a higher quality of life for people. The conversion companies have the same goal, and it really shows with the new BraunAbility Conversion.

Winter Car Care Tips for Your Mobility Van

Well… that time of the year is upon us, and it’s the perfect time to ensure your mobility vehicle is performing at its best, because there is nothing worst than getting stranded while out in the cold. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss a few simple car care tips to make sure your vehicle is operating at its peak.
1. With the freezing temperatures upon us, freezing doors, windows and locks become a problem for many. To help alleviate this problem there are two things you can do. First, wipe a rubber protectant (such as Armor-All), or silicone on all door and window weather-stripping. DON’T USE an oil based product, like WD-40, because the oil will damage the rubber. This will help alleviate your door sticking to the rubber seals, which is one of the leading causes of damage to the rubber. Second, squirt a little WD-40 inside your door locks. This will help keep moisture out and any moisture from freezing inside your locks.
2. Watch filling up your vehicle if you see a tanker at the station. Not just a winter car care tip, but a good tip for anytime of the year. If you pull into a gas station for fuel, and see a refueling tanker, move on to another location if you can. As the tanks are being filled by the tanker, turbulence is created and that can stir up sediment in the tank. This sediment can then enter your vehicle through the pumps; resulting in clogged fuel filters and fuel injectors. Both of which will cause poor performance/MPG and possibly necessitating repairs. Better to be safe than sorry…
3. Have your battery tested. There is nothing worst than climbing in your vehicle and as you turn the ignition you hear nothing but clicks. The dreaded sign of a battery that has gone bad. The cold weather is the hardest on your vehicle’s battery. If your vehicle”s battery is over two years old, it is recommended you get it tested for viability. Most repair shops will even perform this test FREE of charge. It only takes a moment, and it could save you a lot of heartache. Remember, your mobility vehicle might have two batteries or more, so be sure all of them are tested.
4. During the winter months, there is a good chance you will experience some sort of snow/ice event. For this reason, it is recommended to replace your wiper blades (recommended every 6 months) with winter models. These blades are built heavier to stand up to the snow and ice. It is also recommended to replace or refill your wiper fluid with the de-icing type. This will not only help keep your windshield from freezing during your travels, but it can also help you clear your windows faster if they are covered with a small frost.
5. Watch your tire pressure. During the cold months, your tire pressure will drop, many times resulting in the TPMS sensors on most vehicles to record an unsafe driving pressure. It’s a good idea to ensure your vehicles tires are adjusted to the cooler temps. This will not only ensure safer driving conditions, but it will keep your vehicle from getting a drop in MPG.
6. If it’s been awhile, now is the time to ensure your vehicles lift, or ramp is operating properly and that it is lubed and adjusted because your mobility system takes a lot of abuse. Your system is often exposed to the elements as you enter and exit the vehicle. In the winter, the introduction of salt, snow, sand and ice can easily wreak havoc on your system. To help ensure your mobility system is operating at its peak, we recommend getting a Superior Service at least twice a year, or every 3 months if you are a heavy driver. The service will not only include lubricating all the key parts and door mechanism, it will also entail the following: Thorough cleaning of the door, ramp and tie down rack; Painting of the ramp assembly to help keep rust from forming; Adjustments to the door, ramp and kneel system; Complete undercarriage inspection of fuel & brake lines, as well as the fuel tank; Check of all fluid levels, battery connection, fuses and tire pressure. To get your discount coupon, found in our latest newsletter, click here and make your appointment today.

Which Cushion is the Best fit for Your Wheelchair?

When it comes to choosing comfort for your wheelchair, one of the most important factors is the cushion. Sure, when you’ve just been using a wheelchair, the cushions may not be a priority on the list of concerns. However, the type of cushion you choose can be the deciding factor in a comfortable chair versus a chair that will wreak havoc on your back, so choose your cushions wisely.

Here are the three most common types of cushions used today. Which one is best for you!

Foam Cushions
Just like mattresses, there are now wheelchair cushions that are equipped with memory foam. These types of foams can adapt to any shape and provides an even level of support. Another benefit of using foam cushions is that they are, for the most part, relatively inexpensive. You should note, however, that foam cushions tend to wear down faster than some other materials.
Gel Cushions
These cushions are typically comprised of pouches that are filled with gel and attached to a foam base. The purpose of gel cushions is to help with the support of any muscles that have atrophied or are on the verge of atrophy. Gel cushions are widely known for their amazing ability to redistribute pressure along varying areas of the body.

One of the downsides to gel cushions is that they tend to be rather heavy. From time to time, the gel can also separate, leaving you with nothing more than a flat cushion that doesn’t serve its purpose at all. They are also not known for softening any sort of impact.

Air Cushions
These cushions support the body on a literal bed of air. This helps to spread pressure evenly by air as it is shifted out to surrounding balloons. These cushions provide support similar to a gel cushion, but without the risk of thinning out or separating.
There aren’t many downsides to air cushions, although they can be a little less stable for individuals who are constantly on the go.

Need a Prosthesis or a Spare Part? Print One at Home…

The future is here… I have heard about it, but have yet seen an actual application or use. I’m talking about 3D printers, and the ability to make useable items & spare/replacement parts at will in your home. That’s right… I said “print one” at home!

Here’s the buzz… One day soon, every household will have a 3D printer. Instead of going to the store to purchase an item or spare part to fix a broken appliance, etc., you will instead purchase a download online. Once you open this download on your computer, you will then simply hit “Print”, and before you know it, your item will appear.

Seems crazy right? Well… Not as crazy as it sounds. There are individuals who are already using these printers in their daily lives, and with great success. In fact, I ran across this news story recently that I felt I had to share. It was about a boy with a birth defect who didn’t have any fingers on his left hand. Frustrated with the cost of a prosthesis, his father happened to stumble across a design for a 3D printable prosthetic. The rest is history… His son now has a basic prosthetic that has actually changed his life for the better, and the best news for the father is that it only cost a few dollars to make. See the video here.
While this innovation seems very promising in making our lives easier, I can’t seem to get past how it could also further change our lives as we know it for the worst. One of the most fearful aspects that crossed my mind almost immediately, is how will this technology affect jobs in the future. If 3D printers become so mainstream that anyone can basically afford to own or rent one, and if nearly anything can be printed on one, will there be any need to keep factories open? Plus, if there are no factories, won’t the logistic industries be the next to take a huge hit?
To me, there are still a lot of unanswered implications of such a device, which I’m sure will soon come to light, as mainstream has already begun the process of adopting this new technology. Printers are already on the market for consumer use at around $2000. For now, only time will tell how this technology will truly impact life as we know it, but you have to admit… it is pretty neat!

Rob Jones Inspirational 5400 Mile Cross-Country Bike Trip

For many people, Rob Jones is the very definition of determination, however inspiration is definitely another word that comes to mind.

His story starts with intense Marine Corp training, and transitions to stints in Iraq and Afghanistan where he sought out weapon caches and roadside bombs. Unfortunately, it was on one of these tours that resulted in Jones losing both of his legs in a roadside bomb explosion. The explosion forever changed his life, but not his determination and perseverance. In fact, after months of physical therapy and recovery that most would see as a life ending experience, Rob made a decision that would define his existence; he wanted to again ride a bike, and the story goes… Jones did exactly what he set out to do. In fact, he did it so well, he won the bronze medal at the Paralympics in 2012.

Yet, as this accomplishment wasn’t deemed hard enough, Jones decided to add a new chapter to his life—one that may be his most difficult yet. He decided that he will travel 5,400 miles across the country on a bicycle to raise funds and awareness for his cause.

His plans have him traveling 30 miles each day, and will take anywhere between four to seven months to complete. Yet despite as it seems, Rob’s not doing this just to reach some massive goal he has set for himself. As mentioned earlier, he plans to speak at a few schools along the way, and has hopes of raising $1 million that will be donated back to the very programs that helped him during his very challenging times.

In terms of motivation to keep him going, Jones stated: “You remember that what you’re trying to achieve is more important than what you want in the moment. So I might want to stop, but I want to finish more than I want to stop.”

For encouragement and assistance, Rob’s younger brother will be following behind him in a pickup truck, where he will also be sleeping during the trip, as he vows to take absolutely none of the donated money for his own expenses. “It’s going to be work,” Jones says, “but at the same time it’s going to be something that I should enjoy.”

To meet Rob along the way and provide your support, track his progress, or to make a donation to his cause, you can visit his website here http://www.robjonesjourney.com/

Open House 2013 was a Great Success!

Our open house 2013 was a tremendous success, despite weather as an issue at some of our locations. It was good to see old friends, as well as many of the new ones we’ve made this year. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food, company, and of course the tremendous deals being offered on not only wheelchair accessible minivans and pickup trucks, but on wheelchair lifts, and driving aides. The manufacturers really stepped up this year!!
This year Superior Van & Mobility gave away, not one, but two $5000 cash prizes in the second annual Superior Lotto drawing. It was our way of saying thanks! This year’s winners were announced October 22, 2013 with a video of the drawing posted on our website.
The winner from the open houses that were held the week of October 4th and 5th was Karen Bueker of Auburn, Indiana. Karen attended the open house at our Fort Wayne location.
The winner from the open houses that were held the week of October 11th and 12th was Joe Eaton of Louisville, Kentucky. The Eaton’s attended the open house at our Louisville location.
Congratulations to both!
In addition to the two grand prize winners, there were many door prize winners at each of our nine locations, all of which have been notified. These winners won a variety of gift cards, provided by BraunAbility and VMI.
Thanks again for everyone who attended, and all of the manufacturer support we received. We look forward to seeing everyone at our next event.
Thanks again to the following: BraunAbility; VMI; Bruno; B&D Independence; Brandl Lending; Braun Credit.

What is a Driver Evaluation, and Do You Need One?

There are many reasons why an individual might require a driving evaluation, however before we address the reasons why, lets review what exactly is a driver evaluation.
WHAT IS A DRIVER EVALUATION?
A driver evaluation is a comprehensive set of physical and/or cognitive assessments, performed by a Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS). The assessment is designed to evaluate an individual’s cognitive and/or physical limitation related to safely operating a motor vehicle.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM AN EVALUATION?
Any individual that has a physical and/or cognitive limitation or impairment that is interested in regaining their independence by operating a motor vehicle.
Any person where a physician or family member has questioned an individual’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
WHAT CRITERIA IS USED IN THE EVALUATION PROCESS?
When undergoing a driving evaluation, the following skills are addressed and performance must be deemed acceptable by a CDRS.
• Physical Function – Range of motion, strength, coordination, endurance and sensation.
Vision – Visual acuity, depth perception, contrast sensitivity, peripheral and color recognition.
Cognition – Attention, judgment, memory, spatial, perception, problem solving.
• Reaction Time – Ability to respond timely and accurately with regards to driving tasks.
• Self Control – Ability to modulate oneself in response to demands in the environment.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS ORDER OF AN EVALUATION?
A driver evaluation usually consists of the following steps and can last 2 to 3 hours. However, each case being unique results in a variance of time allotted.
Clinical – Portion of evaluation consists of a variety of screening tools, assessments and standardized tests of skill related to physical, cognitive, visual and reaction time.
• Behind the Wheel – Portion of evaluation assesses the clients’ abilities to control the vehicle over various road situations. This step is only performed if the client demonstrated the necessary physical, visual, cognitive and reaction times during the clinical assessment. Use of adaptive equipment will be used and introduced if deemed necessary from the clinical evaluation. Client must have previous drivers license or permit to participate in this part of the evaluation.
• Results/Outcomes – Summary is provided of the evaluation and will detail the clients’ abilities with list of recommendations.
• Equipment Prescription – If warranted, a written prescription that includes the recommendation of adaptive equipment is provided, and referral to an appropriate vendor/vehicle modifier is made.
• Fitting and Inspection – After the vendor modification / Install, a final fitting is conducted to ensure that the prescribed equipment or modification is positioned properly and adjustments are made.
• Driver Rehabilitation Training – If necessary, training begins in the operation of modification / installation of equipment. The duration of this training is determined by the therapist and will vary based on clients needs.
WHAT TYPE OF MODIFICATION/EQUIPMENT MIGHT I BE PRESCRIBED?
Obviously, everyone’s needs and situation are different; however the most popular vehicle modifications and installation of adaptive equipment are as follows:
Lowered floor, wheelchair accessible van
Wheelchair or scooter lift
Hand controls
Transfer seat
High tech, electronic driving systems
• Wheelchair restraints
• Docking systems
DOES INSURANCE PAY FOR THE EVALUATION?
Unfortunately, these services are not often covered by insurance plans. Please make sure you check with your insurance provider to determine your exact coverage.
DOES INSURANCE PAY FOR THE MODIFICATION / INSTALLATION OF ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT?
Most insurance companies do not cover the modification / installation of adaptive equipment, however there are many sources that do provide assistance, and you might qualify. To see if you qualify, you should research the following services for assistance availability as they are the most common:

Vocational Rehabilitation Services (for your state)
Workers Compensation (if qualify and applicable to your situation)
Veteran Administration (if qualify and applicable to your situation)
Insurance Provider
Medical Assistance Programs
As you can see, a driver evaluation is not only very important, but it is a process. A process that is best started as soon as possible in a situation where time is an essence on regaining mobility.
If you think you might be a candidate or just interested in learning more about driver evaluations, please DO YOUR RESEARCH and contact a CDRS in your area. Most rehabilitation facilities will have a list of CDRS in your area and can provide contact information to you. We also work with numerous CDRS in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Louisiana, so feel free to contact any one of the Superior Van and Mobility locations in those markets. You can find a list of our locations on our web site superiorvan.com.

Handicap Van Options Make Transit Easy

Handicap Van Options Make Transit Easy

What Can These Options Do For You?
New or used handicap vans are the main means of transportation for people with disabilities. They can compensate for most disabilities while providing comfort with the available options. Depending on your disability, you can choose which options would best fit your needs.

Here’s a list of customized options. These options will make commuting easier and more comfortable for you and your family.

The Options
The main options for additional handicap van equipment include; Bruno Valet, portable ramps, hand controls, driving aids, lifts, jump seats, wheelchair tie-downs, transfer seats and platform carriers. Here’s a description of each:
• Driving Aids: Driving aids include pedal extensions, wheelchair pulleys and sensors to help drivers maneuver safely.
• Bruno Valets: A Bruno Valet allows someone with limited mobility to get in and out of their vehicle with very little effort and strain.
• Lifts and Platform Carriers: Lifts and platform carriers are probably one of the most useful options for a handicap vans and other accessible vehicles. Lifts and platform carriers for a van can be mounted internally or externally to your vehicle. They can lift a person in a wheelchair in and out of the car or store a mobile scooter during a commute.
• Portable Ramps: A portable ramp is a less expensive option to a lift or carrier. A ramp is portable and can be taken anywhere where there is no accessible ramp for a wheelchair.
• Wheelchair Tie Downs: wheelchair tie-downs can be installed into the floor of a handicap van to secure wheelchairs during transit.
• Hand Controls: In the instance of someone who has limited or no use of their legs, that person can have hand controls installed into their steering column so they can operate their vehicle.
• Jump Seats: Jump seats can be installed into your handicap van to accommodate non-disabled passengers. They can fold down to create more room or fold out to transport more passengers.
• Transfer Seats: A transfer seat works just like a lift and platform carrier. It can lift a wheelchair into a handicap van.
Understanding all of these options will make customizing your handicap van an easier process.

Superior Van and Mobility and Safety, Proud of Our Policy

On of the most common calls we receive at Superior Van and Mobility is about buying or installing a hand control system in someone’s vehicle. Hand controls allow a person with good upper body strength to drive almost any vehicle on the road today while controlling the gas and brake with a hand system. In many states, the actual law does not mandate that a person pass a state driving test to legally drive with hand controls, however, it is a business decision by our own company that requires new drivers or new customers to Superior to take such a test. Why you may ask? Wouldn’t we sell more hand controls if this policy was not in place? The answer is, safety is more important to Superior than profits. What matters to Superior Van and Mobility is the safety of the driver, the safety of those around him or her, and the piece of mind as a company that we have explained the dangers of driving with hand controls to folks. Most people believe that it is very simple to learn to control a moving vehicle with their hands instead of their feet. Sadly, we see too many stories in the news about people being injured or killed because they could not stop quickly enough, or accelerated too fast with new hand control equipment. We take our role in the installation of these products VERY seriously. Further, having certified technicians install this equipment is equally as important to us. Poorly installed equipment is just as dangerous as an inexperienced driver. Many customers express frustration upon hearing about our policy because there is usually a time factor and cost to passing this driving test. More often than not though, people and family members thank us for putting safety in front of profits in a matter this important. If you are unsure about the process for driver training, you can call any of our mobility consultants and we are happy to refer you to someone in your area that can assist you with the process.