Limited neck mobility can present significant challenges in daily life, particularly when it comes to transportation. The ability to turn one’s head safely to see oncoming traffic in an intersection and conduct regular safety checks, like checking blind spots when changing lanes and maneuvering through traffic, can be profoundly impacted, transforming a simple journey into a dangerous and frightening experience.
Thankfully, the wheelchair van industry has developed a number of assistive features to address these challenges so that you can enjoy a more secure and comfortable ride. Read on to learn more about these advanced technologies and how they can help you drive with confidence.
Understanding Limited Neck Mobility
Limited neck flexion is described as a restricted range of motion in the neck, which makes turning your head from side to side, moving it up or down, and bending your neck more difficult and painful. There are several potential causes for limited neck mobility, including:
- Aging: Research shows that as we age, the cervical spine degenerates, which can lead to arthritis and other structural changes in the spine which may affect neck mobility.
- Poor Posture: Poor posture, often due to extensive computer work, looking down at your phone for extended periods, or sedentary lifestyles, can lead to a forward head position, which can cause muscle strain and limit neck movement.
- Injuries: Accidents, especially whiplash from car accidents, can cause ligament damage and muscle strain. Research explains that this can lead to life-altering neck fractures, among other issues. WebMD notes that sudden movements or impact to the head, which often happens during contact sports such as football, rugby, or wrestling, can also cause a cervical sprain, damaging bones, muscles, and nerves.
- Medical Conditions: Certain conditions such as osteoarthritis, cervical dystonia, herniated disks, scoliosis, muscle inflammation, and pinched nerves may also affect neck mobility.
Limited neck mobility can significantly impact an individual’s ability to perform their day-to-day activities. Simple tasks like gazing at the sky, looking over your shoulder, or even nodding in agreement can prove to be difficult.
When it comes to driving a traditional vehicle, having full neck mobility is crucial. Drivers need to check their blind spots, look in rear-view mirrors, and observe all areas of the road regularly. For someone with limited neck mobility, these necessary actions can prove to be a dangerous struggle. Limited neck mobility not only increases the risk of accidents but also impacts the individual’s confidence and self-esteem.
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Breakthroughs in Wheelchair Van Technology for Limited Neck Mobility
Below are some of the significant wheelchair van tech advancements that have improved the quality of life for individuals with limited neck mobility:
Wheelchair Securement Systems
If you have limited neck mobility and drive from your wheelchair, a wheelchair securement system is a must. The system consists of five straps that are used to securely anchor the occupant’s wheelchair to the van floor. This prevents your chair from moving around during transit, thus reducing the risk of injury.
Most wheelchair vans feature self-locking one-handed hookups and automatic docking systems that utilize advanced mechanisms like retractors and tensioners, allowing you to slide the wheelchair into place without manual assistance.
Automated Lifts and Ramps
Another wheelchair van technology that helps reduce physical exertion and makes your travel experience easier is an automated lift and ramp. These invaluable tools allow you to enter and exit the van without assistance, making it possible for you to travel independently.
You can also use lifts and ramps to load your luggage and other items into your van when you’re ready to hit the road. This can be especially important for people that may be dealing with limited mobility due to accidents where excessive strain may worsen their condition.
There are plenty of different ramp vans available on the market, with either in-floor or fold-out ramps. In-floor ramps slide into a compartment within the vehicle’s floor, keeping the doorway clear. Fold-out ramps usually fold in half and swing out from the vehicle when needed.
Both of these ramps can be set up in different configurations depending on the size of the van and your seating needs—and a Clock Mobility specialist can help you determine which van and ramp style is right for you.
Alternatively, a wheelchair lift can be installed in various vehicles for easy loading and unloading. Thanks to the technological advancements in the wheelchair-accessible vehicle world, most wheelchair vans already come with automated systems that make it easy to operate ramps and lifts with the push of a button.
Adaptive Seating and Positioning
When you’re suffering from limited neck mobility, sitting up straight can be difficult. Adaptive seating products offer a much easier way to ensure your seat cushion, headrests, and backrests are in the right position. These features make it easier to maintain proper posture while seated, which can help prevent pain and discomfort.
At Clock Mobility, we offer a solution that perfectly fits your needs—the Braun Turny Evo Swivel Seat. With the ability to swivel out of your vehicle’s door and lower to an appropriate level, the Braun Turny Evo Seat offers a comfortable seating experience. Once seated, the Turny seat gently lifts the passenger up and into the driving position.
Even better, this adaptive seating solution comes with a hand-held remote control for seamless operation. And for the technology-savvy, an app installed on your smartphone will do the same job, providing the desired control at your fingertips.
Integrated Technology Systems
Limited neck mobility can pose several challenges while driving, making it difficult for drivers to access controls, monitor their environment, or even see over their steering wheel. To address these challenges, modern wheelchair vans are equipped with integrated technology systems that reduce the risk of accidents and enhance the overall driving experience.
For instance, blind spot assist systems provide audible warnings when another vehicle is approaching from the side or rear. Meanwhile, a lane assist system, backup cameras, and sensors help monitor a car’s position on the road and provide a clear, real-time view of your surroundings, making it easier to maneuver it in tight spaces. This feature reduces the need for constant neck movement, making lane changes easier than ever.
Similarly, parking assist features provide audible warnings regarding gaps between two vehicles and when it’s time to move forward or reverse, making parking a breeze. This feature is especially useful when parallel parking, as it prevents the driver from accidentally hitting an object or another vehicle.
Wheelchair-accessible controls such as hand controls, touchpad systems, and joystick steering offer those with limited neck mobility a more comfortable and accessible driving experience. Since sudden movements can strain the neck excessively, a voice-activated system helps mitigate this issue. These systems allow you to interact with your vehicle’s infotainment and navigation systems using voice commands to do things like change the radio, get directions, and more.
Many wheelchair-accessible vans have connectivity options like Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto that offer seamless smartphone integration, so you can perform all necessary functions without holding your phone or turning your head to view screens.
Transform Your Vehicle with Clock Mobility
At Clock Mobility, we understand that impaired or restricted neck mobility can drastically affect your driving experience. We offer top-of-the-line wheelchair-accessible vehicles with premium features to make your journey safer and more comfortable.
Whether you want to install an easy-access ramp, upgrade your existing vehicle with adaptive features, or simply rent a wheelchair-accessible van for your next trip, we’ve got you covered. For further assistance, call us at (866) 380-3326 or swing by one of our locations in Michigan.