This post brought to you by National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Saving More Than Me.
Getting Around With Multiple Sclerosis: Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
One of the most frustrating aspects of Multiple Sclerosis is its unpredictability. There are days when I can barely walk and days when I’m able to walk into the grocery store. My hand tremors vacillate between not being able to hold a fork to having little difficulty. Fatigue? It’s always there but some days are worse than others. I’ve learned to take it day by day.
Because MS is such a cruel disease, it seems to link its unpredictability to one’s independence. If I’m having difficulty walking, I may be able to get by with a cane or walker. If I’m unable to walk and find myself in a wheelchair, how do I get to the grocery store? My 4 door sedan isn’t wheelchair accessible so I have to rely on others to go to the store for me. There goes my independence. You see how much accessibility and independence are related?
In the last few years, I’ve only been wheelchair bound once or twice each year. This wasn’t the case when I was initially diagnosed with MS. I was in bad shape. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t stay awake, and I was in constant pain. If I needed to go to a doctor’s appointment, I needed a wheelchair and someone to help me in and out of the car. It was a depressing time for me because I could see my independence slipping away. I felt like I was isolated and stuck—-two horrible feelings. I knew there had to be a solution to my mobility issue so I did what any 21st-century gal would do–I searched the internet. When I did, I discovered NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association). NMEDA could help me get me a wheelchair accessible van which meant no more feeling stuck.
Who are these NMEDA guys anyway?
NMEDA is a non-profit association dedicated to expanding opportunities for people with disabilities to safely drive or be transported in vehicles modified with mobility equipment to fit their specific needs. They have more than 600 members which include mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers, driver rehabilitation specialists and other mobility industry professionals based in the United States and Canada.
How NMEDA Helps
1. The NMEDA website helps you locate a mobility dealer in your area.
2. The dealer arranges for a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist to conduct an in-person evaluation to determine what your needs are. Everyone’s different, right?
3. Once your needs are determined, each van conversion is completed using the latest and most advanced mobility technologies available so you can be sure you’re receiving quality. All dealers in the NMEDA association are required to be QAP (quality assurance program) accredited. The NMEDA QAP assures quality, safety, and the electro-mechanical integrity of each product delivered to the consumer (you and me).
4. NMEDA helps you find financing, rebates, and/or government assistance to help you purchase your mobility-adapted vehicle. I was really surprised to learn about the various grants available to me.
5. NMEDA teaches you how to use your new mobility-adapted van/equipment.
6. Your NMEDA dealer offers 24/7 local emergency service. No worries about being stranded on the side of the road.
I have to say that my point of contact at the NMEDA dealer had the patience of a saint. He asked a lot of questions and kept me up to date on a regular basis. He even celebrated when I told him I no longer needed a wheelchair-accessible van. Within months of moving to Virginia, my condition improved significantly and I was no longer wheelchair-bound. A miracle I tell you! Actually, it was a combination of getting out of the Florida heat and advanced medical care. Still, a miracle to me.
Whether you need a wheelchair accessible van or not, you may know someone who does. In celebration of National Mobility Awareness Month, NMEDA is giving away THREE wheelchair accessible vehicles. Between April 20th – May 31, 2016 , you can nominate yourself or someone you know in need. See the National Mobility Awareness Month website for complete details.
Had you heard of NMEDA before this post?