Wheelchair restraints are a great way to allow people who are confined to a wheelchair to still travel with relative ease. There are many different types of wheelchair restraints such as the ones that attach to the floor and allow you to simply slide in and those that have anchor points on the floor and walls and require a bit more effort. However, in all cases where wheelchair restraints are used, it is important that you have a wheelchair that is compatible with them.
There are a few reasons why your wheelchair might actually not be safe to travel, even when restrained properly. Here are a few things you should think about before buying your wheelchair restraints so that you don't get a nasty surprise on the road.
This might come as a surprise but your wheelchair must have a fitted headrest before you can use it during transport. This makes sense the more you think about it, as regular car seats are required to have a headrest as well, and they prevent you from severe whiplash in the event of an accident. If your wheelchair does not have a headrest, then most wheelchair restraint retailers will advise you to get one installed before they will attach the restraints for you.
Wheelchair restraints are only as strong as the frame on your wheelchair that they attach to. If the undercarriage of your wheelchair is quite weak or made of thinner metal, then it could break during a crash and not offer any protection at all. The best way to tell if your wheelchair is strong enough is to check the warranty or guide that came with it. This will let you know what restraints it is compatible with and what materials the frame is made with.
Very Low Back
Some wheelchairs have a quite deep back that their user finds more comfortable than traditional wheelchairs. While that is certainly fine during normal use, in a car situation this can provide challenges. Many wheelchair restraints actually latch onto the back of a wheelchair and if it is too low then it will not provide any help. To add on to that, a low back during a collision would create even more of a whiplash effect and could cause more damage.
Wheelchair restraints are designed to be used with specific wheelchairs to keep you safe. Don't ask a contractor to install your restraints until you are sure your wheelchair is safe—it could just save your life.