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A beginners' guide to types of stairlift

30th October 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

There are several different types of stairlift available that can help people with mobility problems regain their independence at home, but it is of vital importance that you talk to an expert about which one would be best equipped to help you with your specific condition. Read on for a helpful beginners' guide to different types of stairlift and make sure you have the right stairlift at home for you.

Straight stairlifts

One of the most common types of stairlift is the straight stairlift. This involves the fitting of a stairlift chair and a straight track to the stair tread. Because the track is not fitted to the wall, this type of stairlift is often the easiest to fit, will not clash with the decorations of the home and is often the cheapest option.

This kind of stairlift can generally benefit anyone with a mobility difficulty, including those with aching joints, painful joints and those with a disability or condition that affects their mobility, such as multiple sclerosis or osteoarthritis.

Curved stairlifts

The other most common type of stairlift is the curved stairlift, which is designed to provide those with a disability with an easy way of using spiral staircases or staircases that turn corners. The chair of the stairlift will be mostly the same as with a straight stairlift, but the track will instead be curved. This allows the user to enjoy a smooth ride that can handle all kinds of turns, including 90° and 180°.

People with a staircase that is mostly straight with a curved section at the top or bottom may think about having a straight stairlift installed and opt to walk through the discomfort of aching joints for the first or last few curved steps.

A straight stairlift would certainly help make the journey easier, but ignoring the last few steps means that this stairlift solution is not a long term answer to the problem. It is important to keep in mind that a health condition can deteriorate - even if we do all we can to prevent it - so it may be a good idea to choose a curved stairlift that runs from the very top of the stairs to the very bottom to prepare for every eventuality.

[Image credit: PoshSurfside.com (flickr.com)

Slim, standing or perch stairlifts

Based on the foundation of either straight track or curved track, slim, standing or perch stairlifts are all about the design of the chair part of the stairlift. Standing or perch stairlifts allow the user to travel up the stairs from a standing, rather than a seated, position, which could be particularly useful for those who also use riser recliner chairs because of aching joints or painful joints at the knee or hip.

The perch stairlift is the best option for those who find the seated position uncomfortable but equally would find it difficult to stand for a minute or more. The perch seat is very small and sits just below the bottom, allowing the user to have a supportive perch to rest against that enables them to travel in a position close to standing. A standing stairlift would not have the perch seat but would come with similar safety guards and seatbelts. Both are also a good option for small and narrow staircases where a seated stairlift would be impractical.

A slim stairlift is a good compromise for those who want a seated stairlift but have a fairly narrow staircase at home. Whilst essentially the same as a normal seated stairlift, whether curved or straight, the slim stairlift's chair design is slimmer than larger models but can still provide all the necessary comfort and support for aching joints.

Outdoor stairlifts

Being able to use outdoor stairs safely is just as important as using indoor stairs, which is where outdoor stairlifts come in. A sturdier and more durable stairlift enables users to bypass outdoor steps in all kinds of weather, from very hot, dry weather to rainy days with cold temperatures. The nature of being outdoors means that the stairlift will be visible to the public, but no unauthorised use should occur as key systems are in place especially to prevent anyone else but the homeowner from using it.

As outdoor steps can easily become wet and slippery, with the ground surrounding it considerably harder than carpeted indoor areas, an outdoor stairlift is as much about safely getting out of doors as it is about easing aching joints, muscle weakness and other multiple sclerosis symptoms. An outdoor stairlift can be an essential part of remaining independent for many, as it can help people safely move from indoors to outdoors, allowing them to see friends and family, go shopping and find other ways to engage with the wider world.

Image Credit: GoodNCrazy (flickr.com)