A Little Help Along the Way: Flying with Wheelchair Assistance

 In Clinical Trials

If  you have ever waited anxiously at the gate to board your flight, you know your wait will soon be over when you hear the announcement that anyone who needs some extra time to get on the plane may now board. Usually there are a few families with small children, but sometimes you might see a few people in wheelchairs being assisted by airport employees. Who are these people? How did they get a wheelchair? Who decided they needed one?

Wheelchair assistance can be requested by anyone who thinks they need it

Whether it’s on the day they travel or even months in advance. The reason for needing one can vary – perhaps a twisted knee or difficulty walking long distances – and all airlines make it as easy as possible for those who request wheelchair assistance. Some clinical trial patients prefer to travel independently, but many find that wheelchair assistance takes much of the physical and emotional stress out of traveling. One of the great things about airport wheelchair assistance is that you can request it in advance, but you can always choose not to use it if you feel as though you don’t need it when you arrive at the airport. There are no fees involved with requesting the service and sometimes, if you are very lucky and at a particularly large airport, you get to ride the mini shuttle bus!

Perhaps the nicest thing about wheelchair assistance is that you are looked after from the moment you check in to collecting your bags at your final destination. Can’t stand up to go through the metal detector? No problem! The TSA has special screening measures for travelers in wheelchairs that don’t require you to stand. Not sure where you are going? The wheelchair is accompanied by an airport employee who knows how to navigate the terminals and they even will help you get into the shops quickly to buy that bottle of water (if you ask nicely, of course)

There are three levels of wheelchair assistance

A wheelchair all the way to the gate of the plane, a wheelchair to the head of the aisle onboard, and a chair all the way to your seat that stays on the aircraft in case you need to get up inflight. For those who need assistance on the aircraft, it’s best to request the level of service needed as far in advance as possible. An additional perk of requesting a wheelchair so far in advance is that your Colpitts Clinical Trial Coordinator can get in touch with your airline’s disability desk in order to get you in one of the designated medical rows.

All in all, it is a best practice for clinical trial coordinators to ensure that patients know about the availability of wheelchair assistance during their travel and encourage its use as a free resource for anyone who may need a little help along the way.

-Madeleine Rex 

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