Types of Ramps for Narrow Wheelchairs

There are many benefits to owning a narrow wheelchair, including easier operation when navigating tight spaces. While ramps are built with wheelchair users in mind, not all ramps are created equal. Some wheelchair ramps are created for a specific type of need whereas others are more beneficial for a specific mobility device. When it comes to choosing a ramp for your narrow wheelchair, you’ll want to look at where your wheelchair ramp will be primarily used.

Suitcase Ramps for Narrow Wheelchairs

Suitcase ramps are compact and easily transported, making them convenient when you’re on the go. Its name comes from how it’s transported, folding in half to be carried like a suitcase. This type of ramp can support up to 800 pounds and are typically anywhere from two to six feet long. General use of the suitcase ramp involves it being placed over small steps, curbs and raised landings for ease of access. Due to its nature and intended use, this type of ramp does not include handrails. Because suitcase ramps are not ADA-compliant, they are only for personal use.

Folding Ramps for Narrow Wheelchairs

Another option for portability is the folding ramp. Folding ramps for narrow wheelchairs come in two formats: bifold, which have two panels, or trifold, which have four panels. Each panel has hinges between them.

Like the suitcase ramp, this portable ramp does not come with handrails. Another similarity to the suitcase ramp is that the folding ramp should only be used over smaller surfaces, such as wheelchair-accessible vans and small stairs. This ramp is also not ADA-compliant and is not recommended for commercial use.

Threshold Ramps for Narrow Wheelchairs

The threshold ramp is named for its proposed use, snuggled up against the lip of a door threshold, raised landing or curb. It differs from the others in its length and material, being made from rubber or metal, although it is lightweight. Generally, threshold ramps are between half an inch to six inches in height and are good for indoor and outdoor use. Much like the other ramps, it serves best over small barriers.

Modular Ramps for Narrow Wheelchairs

Modular ramps are used for creating ADA-compliant entrances for residential and commercial buildings. This ramp does not require a building permit because it can be built, taken down and reassembled in a different location as many times as needed. It’s a versatile ramp in that it can be used as either a permanent or temporary structure, depending on the needs of the people using the ramp. These ramps are typically constructed of lightweight yet high-strength aluminum because of its properties that preventing it from rusting or warping.

Telescoping Ramps for Narrow Wheelchairs

The telescoping ramp is designed differently than the other ramps on this list. Its biggest difference is that it consists of two separate, narrow channels. These channels are less than 12 inches in width. Like a telescope, its panels can quickly be extended, retracted, adjusted and realigned to fit any accessibility need from getting up small steps to entering an accessible van or even going over a curb.

Permanent Ramps for Narrow Wheelchairs
Edge 3 Stretto Wheelchair driving on a permanent ramp

Permanent ramps are not portable and cannot be adjusted, unlike most of the ramps on this list. Concrete or wood are among some of the materials that make up permanent ramps. It is important to make the distinction that this type of ramp will require a building permit due to its permanence. This type of ramp is typically chosen for its aesthetics, rather than its longevity and code compliance.

Contact your insurance provider to see if your wheelchair ramp qualifies for coverage. If you have Medicare, contact a Medicare representative and ask if wheelchair ramps fall under their policy (Medicare Part B) for durable medical equipment or DME. Most policies require DME to be medically necessary and prescribed by a licensed physician to be considered for coverage.

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