We get stopped in the parking lot often with questions about our daughter’s van seat. It turns out many people have never seen a lift-up seat before. Come to think of it, I’m not sure how we even heard about them. But ours has been such a lifesaver as our daughter got too heavy to safely lift up and over the edge of her car seat, twisting our backs into contortions guaranteed to cause injury. She’s grown out of her car seat now, and the seat is perfect for her "young lady" size.
|The five-point harness of the adaptive child seat helps maintain postion while the seatbelt rides across the lap and chest.|
When it came time to replace our old mini-van, we chose a Toyota Sienna (2008) with a Bruno Lift-Up seat. We liked the fact that Bruno modified a genuine Toyota seat for the Sienna, so it matches the interior exactly. There are lifting and turning seats manufactured by other companies (contact your local mobility center or Google "lifting auto seats"), but we like Toyotas and the fact this is the one that was made for a specific mini-van (we love mini-vans...they're the perfect vehicle for our family). Toyota and Bruno had such good success with their pairing that now Toyota offers this as a factory option on their 2011 Sienna…here’s a video link. It has some cool upgrades, such as a wireless control (which I'd love!), though I don’t know how the auto-recline feature would work with a car seat.
The lift-up seat has been a great solution for our needs. It allows us to get our daughter in and out of the van while still maintaining her standing and pivoting skills. It also gives her the crash protection of the factory installed seat belt. The van didn’t have to be altered in any way and it keeps all the seating and storage it would have had without the special seat. The seat itself takes barely any more space in the van than the original, although leg room for the passenger sitting on the bench behind the Lift-Up is cramped. Most of the time, we leave the rear bench stowed under the deck of the van, allowing us to keep our daughter’s stroller unfolded (which is easier for me to lift, for whatever odd reason). After she outgrew the car seat, we added a positioning harness merely to hold her trunk upright when she gets slumpy and then the van's retracting seat belt fits over her and the harness to hold her securely for crash protection. In the three years we've had the seat, we've only had one problem [hint: the seat continues to trickle battery power when it is deployed. Always return it to the inside of the van when you are finished. Always.]
|The seat lowers to make an easy transfer into the stroller. Stand, step, pivot, sit. You have to love that!|
For families needing assistance with transfers into a vehicle, I do recommend checking out lifting seats if you child has some weight-bearing and assists with transfers. Obviously, it’s not going to meet everyone’s needs, but if your child does not use a wheelchair full time and your goal is to maintain mobility, this is something to look into.