Chair lifts, also known as stair chairs or stair lifts, were first manufactured in the 1920′s. The Inclinator Company of America used these innovative lifts in the 1930′s to help with polio victims. They were staples in many wealthy family houses where generations lived under one roof and the homes had several floors. In today’s world, they are still a wonderful way to alter a home to help those who are disabled or aging stay in their multi-level home without worry or aggravation.
What Chair Lifts Are
These mechanical devices are a chair and track system placed on the edge of a staircase. They can be adjustable or fixed, have call stations, seat belts, speed governors, and folding steps, depending on the model selected. These types of chairs have the ailing, disabled, or those with balance problems sit onto the chair which will be located at the base of the stairs. Once in the chair, they can activate a control to have the seat pull up the stairs. Once at the top, the person eases out of the chair and is on the next level of the home. Speeds on these chairs range between 0.16 and 0.34 miles an hour.
History of the Stair Chair
C.C. Crispen designed what may have been the first stair chair in the 1920′s as a way for his friend to be able to travel in homes from floor to floor. The chair, known as an Inclinator, was an inclining chair that powered up and down stairs. However, in 2009 some of King Henry the VIII’s items were thought to have the first stair lift designs. When the King was injured he used these powered chairs to help lift him, a formidably sized man, up and down the staircases using a block and tackle system powered by his servants.
Types of Stair Lifts
There are many different types of stair lifts available for use. They can be used indoors or outdoors. Popular indoor types include the straight rail, curved rail, and the wheelchair platform. Straight rail chair lifts have a straight track and stairs. The chair is hooked to the stairs. Typically, this is one of the cheaper types of chair because it takes less time to install and has less ways to customize the form. Curved rail types will need to be customized to the stairway and go on curved stairs. There is much more work involved in the manufacture of curved rail chair lifts and it will take longer to install. Lastly, the wheelchair platform type is more for public access buildings but can be used in private houses on the outside. They are heavier and sturdier and large enough to put a wheelchair on. These either on a rack and pinion system, a chain, or a steel cable form.
Outdoor Stair Chairs
The outdoor stair chairs are similar to the designs of those used indoor, however they have more weatherproofing to keep it safe and secure outside. These types of chairs will come with platforms or footplates for safety, seats, and perches. There are several different ones and they can be different designs depending on the look and feel you would like to incorporate.
Buying a Chair Lift
Carefully read over all the warranty information and the company’s information. Check out their reviews and ratings, as well as the materials they use to create the chair and track system. While there are mainly reliable companies, there are some scams that give low-quality systems at inflated prices. Check for flexibility and customization of the chair and its design. This way if your situation changes, you will be able to upgrade and redesign the system instead of buying a completely new system. Chair and lift track parts should be made of the highest quality materials to ensure a safe and secure system. Shoddy workmanship of parts, faulty installation, and no warranty can be more apt to hurt the buyer than not having a chair lift at all.
How Chair Lifts Help
The Stair Chair is designed to help those who have difficulty going up and down stairs. This can be due to conditions such as polio, muscular dystrophy, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions that affect walking and balance. Some patients with seizure related disorders can also find them helpful and rely on them to lower their chances of having injuries due to seizure falls on the staircase. They are a great help for the elderly, especially those that are prone to falls. The chairs provide a means of comfort and support, with the ability to continue to use your entire home. Many elderly or disabled who live alone will alter their lives to live only on the main floor of the home or will try and find a new home that is more to their needs. There is no need to abandon a family home after buying a stair lift.
If you or someone you love has limited mobility due to age or a health condition, or if you are looking for ways to fully customize an area to include everyone, a chair lift or stair chair can be a wonderful way to make sure that a home or building remains easily and safely accessible. With a proper design of the chair, full of features, it can be a tremendous weight off the shoulders. Peace of mind can come from knowing you or your loved one will be able to stay in their surroundings, with full use of the entire house, while remaining safe and secure. Many times, the added stress of fearing stairs and staircases and the “what if” of falling can even make a person less healthy. Removing this fear and the stress, while giving you or your loved one peace of mind and security, can give a higher quality of life. This higher quality of life is the goal of everyone who looks at limited mobility solutions and can be had with the designs of a chair lift.