How To Climb Stairs Up And Down In A Wheelchair?

Safety is the top priority on this subject.

Experts’ opinions and authorities instruct caregivers and wheelchair users to proceed with extreme caution.


Climbing up or down stars represents a good challenge for some wheelchair users and a real obstacle for many others.


We will focus on general information about safety in this article and emphasize the act of going up or downstairs with assistance or caregivers.


Going Up The Stairs:

Always count on 2 people to assist.

Never try climbing a stair in a wheelchair with only one caregiver assisting.

It is not safe at all.


The stronger of the two helpers must be the one behind the wheelchair. That is where most of the lifting will take place.

Back the wheelchair to the base of the stairs.

One helper on the back assists on the handles.

Always use two steps:

one foot on the step above the chair and the other foot on the next higher step.

The other helper holds the front of the wheelchair, just above the casters

avoid parts that come off easily, like armrests or footrests

Keep one foot close to the wheelchair and the other one slightly behind for a better balance

The helpers must pay close attention to bending knees and correct posture, arching the back, and slowly pushing the wheelchair upstairs.

The helper on the back will control the wheelchair in a tilted position

Both helpers can start pushing (at the same time) the wheelchair to the next higher step

Once the wheelchair is properly placed on the step, both helpers can reposition themselves and slowly start moving the wheelchair again to the next higher step. And repeat the process until the process is finished.

Make sure to keep the wheelchair tilted until the casters (front wheels) clear the top step to avoid accidents.


Going Down The Stairs:

Always count on 2 people to assist. Never only one caregiver. It is not safe at all.

The stronger of the two helpers must be the one behind the wheelchair. That is where most of the lifting will occur at the top step.

One helper gets the handles behind the wheelchair, tilting the wheelchair just enough to lift the front wheels off the ground and make it easier for the other helper.

The other helper holds the front of the wheelchair, just above the casters

Both helpers can start moving the wheelchair to position the back wheels to the very next lower step

Once the wheelchair is properly placed on the step, both helpers can reposition themselves and slowly start moving the wheelchair again to the next lower step.

And repeat the process up to the point where the back wheels touch the floor after leaving the stairs behind.


Very important: This step by step above is simply a “quick picture” to emphasize the safety and the need of always having two people to assist in the process.

I have no intention to make this an instruction manual with technical value, as I cannot claim authority on medical and physical therapy areas.

I am glad to bring awareness to the families with their loved ones in wheelchairs or to the users themselves and contribute by distributing information campaigning for a better quality of life.

Please consult with a medical expert or physician for proper guidance.


What Is A Wheelchair Lift?

When it comes to challenges to your independence, climbing stairs is always a great challenge to overcome.

It can be done to lift either manual or battery-powered wheelchairs (or mobility scooters).

A wheelchair lift is a very handy and adequate option in some cases.

A wheelchair lift is – as the name already makes it clear-, a device designed to raise wheelchairs.

It was created to facilitate the transit through stairs or other so-called vertical obstacles, load the chair to a car (with or without the user), etc.

Such devices can raise the wheelchair by itself or its user seating on.

In theory, a wheelchair lift works pretty much like an elevator (I would say it is indeed a mini-elevator), where you can have it installed at the proper place in your most frequently transited areas.

These areas are not limited to stairs in homes or commercial facilities.

Vehicles and vans, minivans, buses and other transportation means (public or private) can also have wheelchair lifts installed.

The main goal is to provide more freedom to eliminate the barriers caused by these vertical obstacles that wheelchair users encounter daily.

As a result, they have a pleasant feeling of independence in their homes and workplaces or the transit in and out of vehicles in general.


How Much Does a Wheelchair Lift Cost?

A vast array of projects and designs will determine the price range of wheelchair lifts.

The approximate prices of wheelchair lifts cover a large range of costs. Typically, a basic home install project for a wheelchair lift tends to vary between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on the vendor of your choice, possible customization needs, and other aspects.

That could be anywhere from $1,500 – $20,000 or even more, including the installation price.

Most of the vendors do have installation available with the purchase, at a cost usually included.


There are various models of platform lifts in the market with installation kits for cars (usually on Vans and MiniVans):

Outside Lifts

These devices are installed onto the vehicle’s exterior, as the name already suggests. The trailer hitch receiver is the most appropriate spot to support the device.


The advantages are:

It is possible to have it installed in almost every type of car, from Vans, Minivans, SUVs, and even smaller Sedans.

Very easy to operate.

You can carry Wheelchairs or Mobility Scooters.

Extremely easy to operate by the user (caregiver or the wheelchair user)


Hybrid Lifts

Hybrid lifts operate just like the Outside Lift.

The main difference is that the device is designed to accommodate the vehicle.

This is a more robust (consequently more expensive version) as it requires more electronic components to perform all necessary turns and spins to make it possible to put the wheelchair or scooter inside the vehicle.

Hybrid Lifts are installed in the vehicle’s cargo compartments once the wheelchair and scooter go inside the vehicle after being lifted.

For this reason, Vans or larger SUVs with good cargo space are required for a perfect fit.

Not as easy to operate as the Outside lifts due to the extra commands to perform the complete lift and moving the wheelchair or scooter to the vehicle’s cargo compartment.

But, it is doable with a little training.


Inside Lift and Hoist

Like the Hybrid Lift, the Inside Lift and Hoist requires larger cars as they have to be installed in the cargo compartment.

Operating the Inside Lifts devices is not as easy as the hybrid or the Outside lifts as it requires a certain level of skills to brace and secure the wheelchair or scooter before lifting into the car.

Once the wheelchair is all secured and braced, the Inside Lift will work as a mini crane, extending an arm outside the vehicle to reach out to the straps of the “ready to go” wheelchair or scooter.

Advantages: despite not being so friendly, these devices provide more space in the cargo area due to their compact sizes and configuration.

You can see the prices of platform lifts for cars right here. The link can take you to an Amazon page where you can get a good idea of the cost.


Can I Use A Wheelchair Ramp over Stairs?


Removable ramps can be installed over steps and other types of obstacles.

Wheelchair users can use portable ramps for indoor or outdoor transit to roll over stairs, curbs and other bumps on pathways.

These are good solutions for your home, especially if you have small stairs, or single steps everywhere or curbs where you feel the need for an extra “helping hand.”

You can easily find good products in the market in a large price range of cost from $30 to a couple of thousands of dollars.


I will depend on the type of wheelchair ramps you are looking for or the project you have in mind:

Multi or single fold ramps

Rolling wheelchair ramps

Ramps with handrails

Ramps for access in and out of homes

Ramps for access in and out of vehicles… and others

It is very important to choose a reputable vendor if you plan to purchase wheelchair ramps.


Can I Use An Electric Wheelchair To Climb Stairs?

More and more, we see technology improving the devices created to help people with disabilities.

Wheelchairs are a good example.

Despite the prices, you can search options if you plan on being more independent when it comes to climbing stairs.


There are battery-powered wheelchairs in the market designed to make it possible to climb stairs up and down, besides the normal basic mobility functions.

Some of these special wheelchairs (also known as Wheelchair Stair Climber or Climbing Wheelchair) may require the assistance of a helper or caregiver to perform correctly and safely.

Climbing Wheelchairs that do not require external help tend to be more expensive models.

We can clearly understand why these wheelchairs can be like a dream to many wheelchair users, especially older adults, children, or people who face more problems due to the level of disability they endure daily.

Unfortunately, the world is not “disabled people-friendly,” but users can find alternatives to eliminate or minimize such challenges.


How Much Do Electric Climber Wheelchairs Cost?

Electric climbing wheelchairs tend to be more expansive compared to manual wheelchairs or other battery-powered wheelchairs that are not designed to go up and downstairs.

The price of climbing a wheelchair in the market varies greatly from model to model, vendor to vendor.

These devices can be purchased at prices between 2,000 to over 10,000/15,000 or more.

The more technologically advanced, the more expensive it will be.

The beauty of these types of wheelchairs is the fact that they do not simply perform the transit up and downstairs but keep you active and mobile in your daily routines, just like any other battery-powered wheelchair for normal mobility.

Cheaper models of climbing wheelchairs tend to be the ones that require extra help (from caregivers/helpers), so the wheelchair user can go up or down any stairs.

The main idea here is to facilitate the work on helping the wheelchair user, peace of mind to the caregiver, finishing the job with almost no physical effort.

The self-propelled climbing wheelchairs are the most expensive ones. They are equipped with the best technology to make such an extremely easy and without any external help.

These wheelchairs are true state-of-art.

Very nice and intriguing pieces of engineering.

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Mr. Vincent

International Market Director of TOUSDA, Rehabilitation Therapy Products Experts, Son, Husband, and Father.
Passionate about providing high-quality rehabilitation therapy products, especially wheelchair, electric wheelchair, commode wheelchair, commode chair, mobility aids, walking aids, crutch, walking stick, etc., and share the latest news, tips, blogs, advice, knowledge about the medical industry field.
Excited about TOUSDA's mission to become the premier online medical technology platform that empowers caregivers by spotlighting innovative devices and products to achieve optimal patient response and recovery.


Notes: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.
Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

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