According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability. Of those adults, 13.7% or about 8.4 million Americans have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs, and many rely on scooters and wheelchairs for mobility.
Are you or a family member disabled and want to increase mobility outside the home? Unfortunately, buying a vehicle specifically designed for a mobility device may be impractical as they are difficult to find and often expensive.
Fortunately, there is a way to make unloading and loading your mobility device in your current vehicle, depending on the model, size, make, and year, easy with a boom lift. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about boom-style lifts.
What Is a Boom Lift?
There are three main types of mobility device lifts for vehicles. They are:
- Hitch Mount/Outside Lifts
- Hoist/Boom Lift
- Hybrid Inside and Outside Lifts
The hitch mount/outside lift attaches to the back of your vehicle with a hitch. Your scooter or wheelchair is secured to the platform, raised, and transported outside the vehicle.
Hoists, or boom lifts, are designed to handle a variety of mobility devices, including scooters and wheelchairs. This inside lift features an easy-to-use hoist mechanism that swings outside for loading and lifting.
A hybrid lift is mounted in your cargo area and the platform cantilevers out and down to ground level. This allows you to roll your scooter onto the platform. The lift then raises your mobility device and into the cargo area of the vehicle. You place it on the platform, where it will be lifted when needed.
How Do Boom Lifts Work?
Interior vehicle lifts have become more popular as consumers realize they can transform most vehicles to accommodate mobility devices.
Note: the vehicle’s cargo area will have to be big enough to fit your scooter as well as the boom lift. It is even possible to use a station wagon with some types of compact or foldable mobility devices.
Boom lifts are remarkably easy to operate and eliminate the risk of heavy lifting injuries. Once mounted in the exterior (or inside the side door of a minivan), the typical interior boom lift works like this:
- Swing the boom arm outside the vehicle
- Lower the arm
- Connect the lifting strap to the device
- Engage the motor by switch or remote to lift
- Guide the boom and device into the vehicle
- Lower the device by reversing the motor by switch or remote
There are some disadvantages to the boom lift, however. Boom lifts are not feasible to use without help. Generally speaking, a non-disabled individual is needed to work the controls and secure the scooter. The operator of an inside boom lift will need to be capable of:
- Standing for up to three minutes
- Walking to and from the lift
- Attaching the strap (bending over, kneeling)
- Hand dexterity and strength to apply pressure to controls
- Guiding the mobility device in and out of the vehicle
Additionally, boom lifts are not designed to lift the chair while someone is seated in it.
Considerations Before You Buy
Boom lifts come in various designs and specifications to accommodate different vehicles and mobility devices.
The first important consideration is lifting capacity. Some mobility devices are much heavier than others. Check with the manufacturer for the accurate weight of the mobility device and be sure the lift capacity of the boom lift is compatible.
You will also need to be sure the cargo area of your vehicle will be sufficient. If room is tight, you may need an inside lift with a small or adjustable base like the AL215. An adjustable hoist may also be required if the height of the cargo area is low (headroom). There are boom lifts designed for use in one or more of the following types of vehicles:
- Station Wagon
Check the lift compatibility of your vehicle’s make, model, and year with our handy Vehicle Compatibility Calculator. The calculator will match your vehicle and chair/scooter to appropriate lifts. This will narrow down your options and ensure you get the proper lift for your vehicle and mobility device.
Choosing a Vehicle
If you are considering purchasing or leasing a vehicle, there are several things to think through. Will you be traveling while seated in the chair? A van or SUV with removable seats will allow you to do this.
How big is your mobility device? Can the scooter be folded? The cargo space needs to be big enough for the mobility device and the lift and the car big enough to accommodate other passengers if needed.
Hatchback style SUVs and wagons with fold-down rear seats are a great solution for extra cargo space when transporting the scooter and still have additional seating when not.
Boom Lift for Mobility
An inside boom lift is a more convenient option for loading, storing, and unloading a mobility device without purchasing a specialized vehicle. Take the time to weigh your options so that you buy the best lift solution for your needs.
Shop our extensive line of inside vehicle hoist lifts today and make getting around a little easier.