Wheelchair Blog from AMS Vans

Welcome! We know there's a reason you're here, and AMS Vans is honored to be part of your world. We hope you'll visit our wheelchair blog often, because we promise to bring you an engaging perspective every day.

A physical disability presents unique challenges for the individual, the family and the caregivers. Our wheelchair blog is here to empower all of you with tips, trends in wheelchair technology, wheelchair news, inspiring stories, insightful interviews, medical breakthroughs, helpful links, the latest in adaptive products, disability news, upcoming events and, of course, information about AMS Vans' wheelchair accessible vehicles. We focus on anything and everything that enriches your life and makes it easier.

Buying a handicap accessible van is a defining moment in the life of an individual who wants manageable mobility beyond the wheelchair. We have handicap vans for sale, and we want to ensure the process—from the moment it begins—is as smooth as possible. When you purchase a wheelchair van from us, the process never truly ends, because you become part of the AMS family. Just like family, we stay in touch and care about your happiness.

We'd love to hear from you—even if it's just to say "hello!" Your thoughts matter, so take time to comment on the articles that interest you, inspire you, or provoke you. Every question, suggestion or concern you share with us helps us make our wheelchair blog better and more useful for all our readers. At AMS Vans, we want to get to know you, and we want you to get to know us!

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Parenting a Specially-abled Child

Disabled boy in wheelchair surrounded by familyBeing a parent of a child that is specially-abled looks a lot like facing hard truths head on, being able to admit those truths to yourself, and finding support.

Jolene Philo, a published author and speaker, wrote an article about 11 things that she found helped her with the role of parenting a specially-abled child.

Here’s our own version of her advice:

Embrace the stress: It’s not going anywhere. And it’s better to acknowledge that it’s there. You don’t let the stress beat you, but you point it out for the sake of doing something about it.

Stress is a symptom of something else, so identify the source: It’s grief. In order to be a parent of a specially-abled child, you have to let yourself grieve. You feel a sense of loss — okay, now grieve. Give yourself the freedom and acceptance to grieve.

Deal with the elephant in the room — guilt: The hand your child was dealt is not your fault, but it feels like it. You are a good parent, even though you constantly blame yourself. Find someone you can trust to counsel you or someone that you can be open with to vent to. Get rid of that guilt!

Start asking for help: Be prepared for people to ask you what they can do for you — make mental notes of the things you know someone else could do without too much trouble, and don’t be afraid to ask them to do it!

You are not the sole caregiver: Step down from the role you’ve given yourself of “sole caregiver.” Although we know that you are probably the best at caring for your child, there are actual “caregivers” that have been trained specifically for taking care of your child. More than that, though, others can be educated more about taking care of specially-abled children and come alongside you to assist you in every day life!

wheelchair ipad attachmentForm a support system: You need people you can reach out to when life is getting hard or when you need a helping hand in the midst of juggling so much; you need a group of people that can encourage you and stay up to date on your life — it will make you feel like you aren’t alone!

Take care of yourself: Whether that’s cutting out space in your day for some you-time or eating well and exercising, it’s important to make sure that you are physically and emotionally healthy when parenting a specially-abled child.

Don’t be too proud for professional help: If you’ve admitted to stress, pinpointed the root of your stress, allowed yourself the freedom and grace to grieve, then admitting that counseling sessions might be a good idea shouldn’t be too hard for you. If these exercises above don’t seem to be enough, then there are always more outlets a therapist could offer you in order to reduce the stress in your life.

Our very own Dallas Crum, head of community relations and business development, opened up about life as a parent to two specially-abled children.

He was honest about the real fears that come with the territory. “I’m most afraid of the unknown. Will my daughter be able to have a relationship and get married? Will my wife and I ever be empty nesters? Will our daughter live that long? What kind of future does my son have? Will he be able to support himself one day? Will he be accepted socially? Will our marriage make it through this? Will I make it through this? No answers. Knowing more than the doctors you see. Endless therapy, unique diets, financial strain, countless visits to every type of “specialist” and every type of doctor you can think of. IEP’s. Fighting to get your child the coverage and services they need with insurance, the school system, Medicaid, doctors, therapy providers, etc…”

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So  we asked him if there’s anything that makes life easier in spite of the fear and struggles: “What makes it easier? There is no ‘what makes it easier.’ What I do have that keeps me going? Faith, Love, Hope. I love those kids. No matter what the outcome for them and our family is, I wouldn’t trade it or who they are. This is my family.

Lastly, we wanted to share some advice from one parent to another: “It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to talk about what could have been or what may never be, It’s ok to wonder how in the world you are going to take another step. I would tell them you will have doubts, you will question why, you will have unanswerable questions. You may doubt God, your Faith. I wish I could end with a high five and a, ‘Don’t worry! it will get better!’ the only problem with that is, It’s [crap]. Try not to listen to people who mean well but say things that hurt, cause more confusion and mixed emotions. They don’t understand… They are saying the cliché phrases that should never be said.”

Still, Dallas wanted to end with this very important tip on parenting a specially-abled child: “I can say though, whatever the outcome, it’s worth it. Even if I don’t get to see my baby girl grow up and get married, I will never trade a moment I am blessed to spend with her. Even if my son doesn’t progress to a level that he can function independently one day, He is my son and he is enough, no matter who he is.”

It’s worth it. It’s okay to grieve, and it’s important to admit to feeling stressed or guilty on top of making time to take care of yourself. But it’s worth it. And it’s possible.

Doggie Day – What You Might Not Know About Service Dogs

On October 14, AMS Vans is participating in disAbility Link’s Doggie Day event! This event will educate folks about service dogs, offer low-cost vaccinations for your service dog, and have fun activities and prizes for kids!
AccessibilityService dogs are a worth-while investment because they have, in fact, been proven to enhance the lives of their partners by making them feel more independent, which in turn boosts self-esteem and provides more opportunities to experience more things.
Specifically, service dogs provide the following assistance:
  • Unload laundry from dryer
  • Assist partner in loading laundry into top loading washing machine
  • Fetch wheelchair when it’s out of reach
  • Assist in clean up of house – pickup, carry, deposit designated items
  • Pay for purchases at high counters
  • Tug socks off without biting down on foot
  • Pull drapery cord to open or close drapes
  • Transfer assistance from wheelchair to van seat, bed, toilet or bathtub
  • Assist to walk step by step, brace between each step, from wheelchair to nearby seat
  • Call 911 on K-9 rescue phone, let emergency personnel into home and lead to partner’s location
  • Lie down on a person’s chest to produce a cough when suction machine is unavailable
  • Service Dogs can also help with veterans living with PTSD; they provide emotional support and can help people adjust back into the every day grind
More than that, service dogs provide companionship. They easily can become a part of the family!
Which is part of the reason why we are so excited to be a part of disAbilitiy Link’s Doggie Day! It’s a little known fact that wheelchair accessible vans actually benefit both humans and their service animals; wheelchair vans offer a more spacious area for a service dog to sit in, as well as an easier process for them to assist their partner in loading into a vehicle.
Bet you didn’t know that your furry friends were a part of the AMS  Vans family, too!
Are you in need of a service dog currently?

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month

September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. 17,000 new cases of Spinal Cord Injuries are documented every year in the US alone; in this country today, 200,000 people live with a spinal cord injury (SCI), and someone is paralyzed every 48 seconds.

X-ray image of the vertebral column. Doctors consult over an X-ray.

48 seconds and a life is forever changed. Parents, daughters, college athletes, up and coming Marine Corps officers, co-workers, the person sitting next to you in traffic– SCI shows no partiality to where someone is in life or where they want to be headed.
Vehicle accidents are at the top of the list when it comes to leading causes of SCI, but other causes include: falling, sport injuries, or acts of violence.
In the past year, 19 customers have purchased a wheelchair van from AMS Vans due to a spinal cord injury.
The United Spinal Association is, however, fighting for the lives of those living with spinal cord injuries; they believe in obtaining affordable medical equipment and insurance, housing, transportation, ways that people with SCI can live independently, and numerous other benefits that can be reached through donations and awareness.
Of course, funds and awareness will also help fuel the big over-arching goal: medical research and scientific findings.
To learn more about Spinal Cord Injuries, SCI Awareness Month, and ways to get involved or donate, check out https://www.unitedspinal.org/september-is-national-spinal-cord-injury-awareness-month-2/.

AMS Vans Walks to Defeat ALS

In 2015, social media news feeds were suddenly flooded with videos and pictures of people of all ages dumping buckets of ice water on their heads; these videos and pictures were commented on by friends and family saying they couldn’t believe their friend had tagged them as next on the list to stand under the icy waterfall. Celebrities began posting their own videos and photos of this “Ice Bucket Challenge,” trying to one-up their neighbors in Beverley Hills. Eventually, everyone caught on that this fun challenge that had gone viral in a matter of days was actually for a good cause: raising awareness for ALS.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is more commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” or, as of late, “ALS.” It is a neurodegenerative disease that slowly paralyzes nerve cells in the brain and along the spinal cord. Over time, this leads to loss of muscle movement in the person affected by ALS. The ultimate result, therefore, ends up being total paralyses, and finally, death at some point within the first 2-5 years after a person is diagnosed.
Unfortunately, there is no current cure for this disease. There are, however, some drugs that have been approved by the FDA as having prolonging affects on a person’s life that is suffering from ALS.
On September 17, 2016, we set up our booth at the ALS Association’s “Walk to Defeat ALS” in Atlanta. Thanks to the efforts of the ALS Association Georgia Chapter, $500,000 was raised this weekend to support funds that go towards either making life with ALS a little easier or medical research that will hopefully one day lead to a cure.
AMS Vans loved being able to have a booth at the 2016 Walk to Defeat ALS this past weekend in Atlanta, embarking on the 2.5 mile walk to show our support!
Even though the walk is over, there are still ways to get involved with a chapter near you or donate to the ALS Association at:
We cannot wait for next year’s Walk to Defeat ALS!!


A Guide to Wheelchair Fitness

istock_100317675_largeSince the Paralympics are back in full swing in Rio, we thought you might want to feel like a Paralympian yourself! So here’s a few tips on how to work out in a chair! Safety first, though. Talk to your doctor before you try any of these workout tips! Make sure that a loved one or a caregiver is present when exercising, and be sure not to overwork yourself! We don’t want you getting sore or too tired, we just want to get that blood flowing!

Why is exercising in a wheelchair helpful and important? Exercising will result in more flexibility, will strengthen you and your lungs and heart, and provide more mobility overall.

Push-ups in a wheelchair?! How to:

  1. First, lock your wheelchair into place, of course!
  2. Lay your arms on your arm rest.
  3. Now lift! Use your arms and upper body to lift yourself up and off the seat of the chair; stay lifted for as long as you can.
  4. You can lift and rest on repeat!

“Do you even lift?” Lifting weights in a wheelchair:

  1. You can use free weights or dumbbells, whichever is easier for you!
  2. If you don’t have any of those lying around, that’s okay! You don’t even need to rush out to buy them! Just use anything you have around the house that is a little bit heavier, like cans of food or books! Repetition is key!

Ready, set, go! Racing in your wheelchair:

  1. It’s fun, AND it works out your upper body!
  2. You can race other friends in wheelchairs or you can have people run against you! Working out can be FUN!

For those who want tight tummies:

  1. Alright, this one actually involves getting out of your chair and onto a yoga mat.
  2. Cross your legs, grab a weight (dumbbell, Pilates ball, heavy object around the house), and lift it straight above your head.
  3. Slightly rotate your torso back and forth for a period of time or until you’re too sore!

Some more tips on working out:

  • Turn the TV on and out for half the time of your favorite show! Or the whole time you’re watching your favorite show!
  • Make a playlist to listen to while your pumping that iron!

Links to workout videos for those working out in a chair: 

8 Tips on How To Travel With Your Handicap Van

women in van2Headed out of town for the holiday weekend? Well we know just how exciting AND nerve racking adventures can be for our AMS family! That’s why we decided to come up with our own
kind of vacation itinerary for those of us who are adventuring in handicap vans!
PLAN AHEAD: Common sense, right? Well sometimes a “rough idea” of what you’ll be doing over the weekend just isn’t going to cut it. Figure out exactly what you are going to do, where you want to stay, what dinner reservations you might want to make or tours you might want to book. Figure it all out so that you can start planning how much time it will take you to do all the things that you want to do.
System Check: Make sure all of your equipment is in good shape before you hit the road! This includes your AMS Vans, Inc. ramps! It’s better to be safe and know what might need to be updated in your wheelchair accessible van before you head out!
How to Pack: Pack light, but bring a day bag! You never know what you’re going to end up getting into and if you may need a change of clothes, some extra food, emergency equipment, and phone chargers. Also be sure to keep your wheelchair equipment information close by! In your van or in your bag!
For When You Feel Like You’re A Fish Swimming Upstream: Adventuring around an area commonly visited by crowds of tourists? Make a mental note that morning that it might take you a little bit longer to wheel through the business! Plan to give yourself some extra time to breathe and navigate through all of the people!
Check the weather before booking a thing: The last thing anyone wants is to plan a vacation during some not-so-sunny, weather! Unexpected bad weather can be especially frustrating, though, if you have trouble walking or are scooting around everywhere on wheels. Check the weather schedule for wherever you’re going on the days that you want to get away!
It’s okay to say “NO”: Feeling a little bit more tired than your accompanying adventurers? It’s OKAY to say NO to something if you need a rest. We know you don’t want to miss out, but you’re allowed to be tired, and you’re allowed to say you need rest! AND it’s okay to say you just can’t do something! You and your health come FIRST.
You Do You: Do what you’re comfortable with! You shouldn’t feel pressured to do anything or keep up with a certain pace! It is vacation after all!
Try New Things: Don’t be afraid to get out there and live a little!! Just be sure you’ve brought precautionary items, that you’ve carved out enough time for the new adventure, and that there are no limitations you might end up having to face!
Signs of support

Walk to Defeat ALS, with AMS Vans | March 2015

Start line at the Walk to Defeat ALS

photo courtesy of DD-Photography Services; used with permission


On Saturday March 28, 2015, AMS Vans proudly sponsored the Walk to Defeat ALS in Jacksonville, Florida held at Tinseltown and Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery.  Over 2,000 walkers from 109 teams laced up and walked to help find a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease.  This walk was the largest walk in the history of the Florida Chapter of ALS.

Signs of support

photo courtesy of DD-Photography Services; used with permission

AMS Vans provided supplies for walkers to create personalized, hand-held signs to hold while walking the route.  Walkers were thrilled that they could show others who they were supporting.  One young boy, named Andrew, took much care as he colored his sign that read, “I walk for my Nanny.”

Signs of support

AMS Vans regularly participates in fundraising events for the ALS Association, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Spina Bifida Association, Fragile Kids, FOCUS, Houston Children’s Charity, and the Shepherd Center.

Signs of support

photo courtesy of DD-Photography Services; used with permission

Signs of support

photo courtesy of DD-Photography Services; used with permission

Signs of support

photo courtesy of DD-Photography Services; used with permission

hand controls for accelerator & brake

Veigel Hand Controls Testimonial, Demo | AMS Vans

America’s Mobility Superstore is known nationwide as a leader in wheelchair van sales, but many don’t know that we also adapt other vehicles with handicap accessible equipment.

In this video testimonial, Drew, who has extensive nerve damage in his right leg, talks about and demonstrates his new Veigel Classic II Hand Controls installed by AMS Vans. The device smoothly transfers foot pedal operations to the driver’s right hand, and allows Drew to drive again!

SALES: 800-775-8267
EQUIPMENT: 866-951-8267

3 Great Good Samaritan Acts

As Winter brings cold weather and record breaking snowfall amounts, it seems to also bring out peoples’ humanitarian efforts.  People have turned their kindness up to 10 and especially to individuals in wheelchairs who find themselves in precarious positions.

Here’s our favorite 3 acts of kindness that have rolled out within the last week.

Waiting for the busWaiting For The Bus
There’s nothing worse than sitting alone at a bus stop in the freezing cold in many feet of snow. Now imagine if there wasn’t a seat or any way to even stand away from the dangerous road conditions and traffic.

Massachusetts resident Kamisha was in an even worse position of being in a wheelchair where she didn’t have access to a sidewalk to stay away from the danger while she waited. Enter two young girls, Misty and Lucia Lottman who saw Kamisha’s predicament as they were leaving the library.

While they weren’t able to rectify the situation, they waited with Kamisha for over 30 minutes until her bus came and kept her company. Awesome! Read the full story here!

Fulfilling an Unspoken Need

wheelchair ipad attachmentStudents at Ben Lomond High School saw that special needs student Jeremy Dixon was having difficulty keeping up with schoolwork due to communication issues.

Lucky for Jeremy, his coach located a great iPad app that allowed him to better communicate and keep up with his classmates which opened up his world to amazing possibilities. But it gets even better.

His fellow classmates saw that the iPad was mounted to his wheelchair with twist ties and other makeshift items and they went about designing a special device using a 3-D printer to better mount his iPad for easy access and changed his life forever.  Read the full story here!

Pizza Saves The Day

Stuck in the snowLouisville resident Lisa Jumper was trying to get to her bus stop when her power wheelchair got stuck in the snow.  Luckily, a customer at the local mellow Mushroom saw her predicament and told employees of the problem.

The pizza parlor employees Ben Brooks and Vashaun Banks grabbed shovels and not only dug her out, but also cleared the path for her all the way to the bus stop over a block away. Mama Mia!  Read the full story here!

Thank you to these amazing good Samaritans and tune in early next week for part 2 of our Good Samaritan series with a good deeds for our men in uniform.

Which of these stories is your favorite?