delta-2In the 1920s, C.C. Crispen, a Pennsylvania innovator and engineer, devised a way to enable his ailing friend to travel from floor to floor. Crispen’s thought was to design a seat that could climb stairs. A self-taught engineer, he built the first prototype of the inclining chair. He called it the Inclin-ator. However in 2009, TV historian Doctor David Starkey uncovered evidence in a list of the possessions of King Henry VIII that attributes the first stair lift invented to the monarch. The 30 stone king, who was injured while jousting, used a chair that was hauled up and down stairs on a block and tackle system by servants at the ancient Whitehall Palace in London.

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The conventional layout for a typical domestic power wheelchair lift is to have the seat at right angles to the rail so the user travels “sidesaddle.” At the top of the staircase, the seat can be swiveled, commonly through around 45 degrees or 90 degrees, and then locked in place to allow the user to alight from it onto a landing. Stair lifts are available with either a manual swivel or a powered swivel, depending on the user’s ability. Most swivel seats have a safety switch so the stair lift won’t move unless the seat is locked into its travel position. Special models with seats facing the bottom of the staircase have been produced for users with spinal or other conditions which prevent use of the conventional seat layout. More room is need on the landing with these special seats.

Many power wheelchair lifts operate by using direct current power, or they can also operate by battery power. Battery operated wheelchair lifts can be used during power outages, in homes without electricity, and even used on outdoor staircases. An investment in a power wheelchair lift is a wise one.


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