Category Archives: Wheelchair Lifts

New Superior logo with tag line

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.

ADA Celebrates 25 Years – Still a Long Way to Go…

July 26, 1990, George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); a law that paved the way for equal rights and treatment for millions of Americans with disabilities.

ADA 25 Year Anniversary

ADA 25 Year Anniversary

It’s now 25 years later, and yes, a lot has improved; curbs have been reduced and ramps have been built. You’ll even find Braille on  signage and wheelchair lifts on city buses among the thousands of other improvements that have taken place as a result of the ADA. However, as many of the 38 million Americans with a disability can tell you, there is still a long way to go. Not only among the governing bodies of the United States, but among the public and private sector.

Many of the complaints still coming in from disabled Americans continue to revolve around lack of amenities, or amenities that just don’t function. Take for example a hotel chain with accessible rooms. Many of these rooms have what they call a roll-in shower and if you are lucky bars next to the toilet, but what many are still lacking are beds that sit lower to the floor. It’s still to this day far to common to see a business try to be compliant, but fail to wholly deliver, and airlines are not any better.

Don’t even get me started on all the stories circulating around the Internet regarding the experiences disabled travelers have experienced; from blatant disregard of their well-being to  downright humiliation. There are far too many…

As we look forward to celebrating this monumental occasion, we still have come a long way none-the-less.  An American with a disability is far better-off today than prior to the ADA, and things are only to improve as more and more advocates get involved to bring to light the shortcomings of the public and private sector.

If you would like to learn more about the ADA, please visit: http://www.ada.gov/ada_25th_anniversary/

 

BraunAbility Recognizes Superior Van & Mobility with Ralph Braun Signature Award

Ralph Braun Signature Award
BraunAbility recognizes dealers that provide outstanding customer satisfaction

The Braun Corporation, the leading manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles and wheelchair lift systems, recently honored Superior Van & Mobility with an award for customer service excellence in the Midwest region.

Six BraunAbility dealerships, one from each of the company’s sales regions, were honored with the Ralph Braun Signature Award, recognizing outstanding service based on customer satisfaction survey results from 2013.

BraunAbility has over 200 dealer locations nationwide, and each is staffed with mobility experts who are trained to evaluate the individual needs of customers. In addition, most locations offer 24-hour roadside emergency assistance, so customers have the assurance of support and service for their BraunAbility wheelchair accessible vehicle, even in the middle-of-the-night or on a holiday weekend.

“Our customers rely on their dealers to provide a sales and service experience that addresses their unique needs,” says Braun President Nick Gutwein. “These dealers have demonstrated outstanding care for their customers.”

About Superior Van & Mobility
Superior Van & Mobility is family owned by the Cook family of Louisville, KY and currently operates nine locations across Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Beginning as a van conversion company, Superior has grown to one of the nation’s largest mobility dealers providing wheelchair accessible vehicles, lifts and driving aids to the consumer and commercial transportation markets. This is the second year in a row that their location in Indianapolis, IN has won the Braun honor. The company has built a reputation for expertise, caring nature, and providing tremendous customer service. To learn more about Superior Van & Mobility, visit www.superiorvan.com.

 

About The Braun Corporation
The Braun Corporation is the world’s leading manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vans, ramps, and wheelchair lift systems. These products enable persons with physical disabilities to regain mobility and lead active and independent lives. The Indiana-based company was founded by Ralph Braun, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at a young age and unable to walk by age 15. Ralph was motivated by his disability to invent the world’s first electric scooter (the Tri-Wheeler) and wheelchair lift (the Lift-A-Way) in his parents’ garage. Word spread and demand for the product increased, resulting in the birth of Save-A-Step Manufacturing, which ultimately became The Braun Corporation. The company, via the BraunAbility brand, offers the most diverse model lineup in the industry, including the most popular minivan models from Dodge, Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota. For more information about the Braun Corporation or our outstanding line of wheelchair accessible vehicles, please visit www.braunability.com.

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.

Employment Discrimination of the Disabled Still Exists

For many individuals, their career choices and professions make up a large part of their identities. However, people with disabilities might not be this lucky. Despite making up almost one-fourth of the world’s population, it’s been estimated that over 10 percent of people have a physical disability. With so many people with a disability, it comes as a shock that there’s such a disparity between the employment rates of able-bodied individuals versus individuals with a disability. In fact, it’s been shown that only 25 percent of the disabled U.S. population is employed, versus almost 80 percent of the able-bodied population.

 

What’s worse, these employment numbers have been steadily falling since 2009, when the Great Recession was making its impact known. This means that when economic crises hit, the disabled communities are often the first to suffer. This news may be shocking for some, but not all; many individuals with disabilities often report being subtly discriminated against by potential employers and organizations that aren’t committed to disability rights.

If you’ve been struggling to find work and have been coming up against more than your fair share of obstacles, consider taking the following steps:

• Don’t deal with this discrimination in silence. Instead, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC; www.eeoc.gov) to make a report about any discrimination or harassment you’ve suffered from in the workplace.
• Research employers in your area who are committed to raising disability awareness. Discrimination against the disability community is among one of the remaining taboos in the workplace, which means many individuals still fight against this everyday. Until the day arrives when all people are treated equally, search out employers that are already embracing this progressive attitude.
• Consider turning a hobby into a stay-at-home business. This can often solve the problem of generating income, as you won’t have to worry about going into an office everyday or dealing with workplace discrimination. Plus, working from home makes it more likely that you’ll do something you love.

 

If your disabled, you’re part of a powerful part of the world’s population – and you shouldn’t have to tolerate any kind of discrimination from prospective employers. Speak up when it happens, so more people can follow your example.

 

Article courtesy of themobilityresource.com

Is Equine Therapy Right for You?

For countless years, the use of equine therapy has been a viable method of improving physical and emotional states of numerous individuals. Even by some, considered a handicapped vehicle of sorts, but what is equine therapy?

 

Equine therapy is a therapy program where horses are used to teach individuals how to maneuver horses and perform tricks; all while creating an everlasting bond with their new four-legged friend. However, what makes the program so successful is the experience and emotional fix. Participants not only benefit from receiving the repetitious encouragement from their instructors and parents, but they also gain a valuable sense of accomplishment, which dramatically improves quality of life and self esteem. The emotional connection is strong… The smiles, the laughter, the experience is truly one rewarding experience for all those involved. However, there is more aside from the numerous emotional benefits. Riding therapy also provides physical and fitness gains such as, core strengthening, range of motion, balance, posture, and increased hand-eye coordination.
So, what about the horses, you ask? The horses selected for equine programs are those with special qualities and many years of handling, to ensure these qualities and personalities fit with the program. This is actually a very important step when placing the rider with the right horse. Program instructors work hard to ensure they match up the right horse with the right rider, allowing for a better experience from start to finish. As each rider is different, so is each horse. While many can do tricks, others are to be more patient and tolerant to noise and erratic behavior, but one thing is for sure, these horses are as special as their riders. Great care goes into caring and taking care of their needs, and building of their personalities.
If you would like to learn more about equine therapy and its many benefits, click here.

Happy trails…

Man’s Best Friend Can Do His Own Laundry And Yours Too

Man’s best friend has moved another notch up the list, and if you don’t have a dog, you just might after reading this. This just in! Company in the UK has designed a washing machine that can be operated by dog. That’s right; Fido can now do his own laundry and yours too!

The “Woof to Wash” is the new creation from UK laundry specialist, JTM Service and Miele Professional, but before you get to excited, it wasn’t designed for lazy people to exploit their pooch into doing the choirs. Yet, a good thought… HMMMMM

This innovative design and concept was actually designed to help those with physical challenges; more particularly, those who currently benefit from use of a service dog in their daily lives. The team came up with the design after seeing how mainstream design keeps developing complex digital controls that are never friendly toward the disabled user. They thought there must be something they can do, and that they did; introducing “Woof to Wash”, the revolutionary washing machine that can be operated by Fido.
Here is how it works. Just as these dogs endure rigorous training in learning assistance behaviors, they too learn the steps of operating the machine. Seems simple enough; after all, these dogs are very smart, trained professionals with a PhD. (enter your own acronym here).

Dog operates washing machine

Amazing Animals for Amazing People

First, the dog unlocks the door by pushing a paw against a specially designed footpad which unlocks the door. Then the dog opens the door by pulling on the specially designed handle; opening the front-load washer.
Second, the dog loads the clothes into the washer, by mouth. Being gentle of course…
Third, the dog closes the door and barks as he trots away, so proud of his accomplishment. By the way, the bark signals the washer to begin its wash cycle; no buttons to push, or dials to turn.
Now I know what you’re thinking, how does the dog pour in the detergent? Well, in short they don’t. There is a bottle of detergent above the machine and it automatically prefills the machine prior to use, and again after each use. After all, they don’t have opposable thumbs; yet…, but give them time.
Note to self: Train Fido to fold the laundry.
Seriously, this invention has great potential. Making yet another task that many take for granted, easier and more manageable for those with a physical challenge to accomplish. For that, we salute all those special companions and their trainers for their hard work and dedication; and of course those inventors and designers for thinking outside the box.
If you would like to learn more about this new invention, click here.

GETTING OUT OF TOWN ON AN ACCESSIBLE ADVENTURE

If you could travel ANYWHERE in the world, where would you go? The Grand canyon? Paris France? New York? Disney World? Basically the sky is the limit, because many of these locations are accessible for people who use power chairs and scooters. And take it from me, I know first hand how challenging it can be to travel if you have special needs. I helped my mom who had Parkinson’s Disease for 30 years, and we had many family adventures. We learned to not let a wheelchair, walker, or portable oxygen get in our way. Needless to say, I picked up numerous tricks along the way, and here are a few to share.

Before you go, figure out how you are going to travel to your destination. Sometimes it is easier for people using power chairs or scooters to do a “road trip”. In fact, this option has become quite popular, as most major cities have companies like, Superior Van and Mobility, that rent wheelchair accessible vans by the day or week. However, if your dream destination happens to be to far to drive, there are always air travel and train options.

Some other tips…

1. Plan and pack ahead of time for any trip. Packing should start with a trip to the drug store to get all medications filled, and be sure to pickup duplicate bottles, plastic bags and anything else you may need on your trip. Take pictures of all the medications you take, and make a copy of your insurance card to keep elsewhere off your person. Also, be sure to include EVERYONE in the planning and packing stages of the trip. This will help in making sure nothing of necessity is left behind.

2. If taking a “road trip”, do a test run. This will help everyone involved feel good about the trip and less stressed. I suggest you pack up the vehicle, power chair, and a picnic basket and head to the park. All the while, pay particular attention to how much space and time it takes to get going, and how long everyone holds up in travel. Remember, power chairs and scooters have limited battery power, so work within those limits.

3. Bring food with you. It’s okay to snack on cereal, or even yogurt during a car ride. You should focus on bringing HEALTHY FOOD that EVERYONE CAN EAT and ENJOY! Try to stay away from foods high in sugar as they will aid in increasing drowsiness.

4. If you are driving, remember that it may be important to take breaks. Be creative with the breaks, and have some fun. We once stopped at a gas station because my brother saw a LIVE BEAR sign. We’ve also stopped just to visit the largest McDonalds in the world, many farmers markets, and more mom & pop stores than I can name. Taking breaks during the trip will help keep everyone from getting board, and in a much better mood.

5. Dress for comfort, and take things with you that make you feel comfortable. This may include your favorite slippers, music, videos, pillow, or stuffed animal.

6. Have a back up plan. You never know when someone might fall ill, or if the weather doesn’t want to cooperate. By having some flexibility in the trip you will not feel hard pressed to GO-GO-GO all day and night. Remember, this is a vacation…

7. Finally, remember to take your sense of humor, kindness, and an extra dose of patience with you. Many times people with special needs may need a bit more
time and understanding to enjoy things with you. We always seemed to find many activities that were both accessible, and fun for EVERYONE!

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this. Don’t let the planning of your trip ruin the experience. If overwhelmed, or fearful of leaving your comfort zone, ask for help. The world has so much to see, get out and enjoy every bit you can, but if you find yourself needing help, contact a professional vacation planner. You’ll be glad you did. Once such company is Vacation by V. They specialize in planning vacations for families with members who are physically challenged. They can handle all the details right up to actually planning the outings while at your destination. If you would like more information on Vacation by V, or would like a complimentary 20 minute vacation consultation, you can contact them by visiting www.vacationbyv.com.

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!