When people think of restraints, they may not think of a wheelchair. With regards to a wheelchair, restraints are quite helpful. In fact, the value of wheelchair restraints is that they can give an individual using the wheelchair, potential for a significant amount of freedom that they would otherwise not be able to have.

Wheelchair users can vary quite a lot in their ability to have any movement, in either the upper or lower body. For many people, a wheelchair is their only way of mobility and the only way they can have any type of freedom of movement, either in their home or outside it.

If someone is completely confined to a wheelchair and has no movement independent of it, it can present real problems in terms of being able to travel anywhere outside of their home for any reason. This restricts their ability to work, their ability to travel, their ability to socialise and to have any degree of independence.

Wheelchair restraints

For this reason, there is a large market in different types of cars and vans that can physically fit a wheelchair, and the individual, inside them, normally through a back entrance, and often involving a ramp.

These cars and vans can either accommodate a single wheelchair user or be big enough for several at the same time. The key element in all of these vehicles is the ability to be able to use wheelchair restraints, safely and effectively.

When in transit, the wheelchair and wheelchair user are essentially loose in the vehicle, and it is crucial that proper restraints are used to make sure that they both are completely secure and stable whilst the car or van is being driven.

Many people will decide what type of vehicle to buy or hire depending upon how effectively restraints can be used.

There are two aspects of any restraint system that need to be identified and properly put in place. One is the restraint of the wheelchair itself, and the second is the restraint of the wheelchair user. There may well be legal requirements concerning the suitability of any vehicle used to transport a wheelchair

The car or van carrying the wheelchair needs to have a floor designed to allow wheelchair restraints to be properly used. There are different systems available for this. They usually consist either of some type of tracking that the wheelchair can be slotted into or fixed metal points on the floor that some type of strap or pin system can be used with.

It does not really matter what type of system it is. What is important is that the wheelchair can be fixed in such a way that on its own it cannot be moved or dislodged by the movement of the van. It is also important to remember that whatever system is used, the wheelchair's own system of restraint, i.e. its brakes, should also be on at all times when in a vehicle.

A restraint system for a wheelchair user normally involves some type of seat belt, similar to one used by a driver or passenger in any vehicle. The type of seat belt used may well be already part of the wheelchair. If not, then it is important that the wheelchair user is consulted to find out what type of seat belt feels both safe and secure, and that the system itself is independent of the restraints that are used to secure the wheelchair.