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Acura Mobility Program

Mobility Overview

Enhancing mobility for drivers with disabilities

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The Acura Mobility Program is proud to support the mobility needs of drivers and passengers with physical disabilities. When you purchase or lease an Acura vehicle, you will be provided with a cash reimbursement of up to $1,000 of the cost of aftermarket adaptive equipment that is installed on any eligible vehicle.

Program Elements

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acura mobility program newenglandwheelchairvan.com

 Acura suggests that you request a copy of the Department of Transportation’s brochure, “Adapting Motor Vehicles for People with Disabilities.”

  • Know your state’s driver’s license requirements.
    • You may wish to contact a local mobility center to help identify the adaptive equipment that best meets your needs.
    • Choose VMi New England Mobility Center a certified qualified equipment installer to modify your vehicle. Take the time to find out about credentials, experience, references, warranty coverage and the services they provide.
  • Obtain training on the use of the new equipment. Your equipment dealer and evaluator should provide information and off-road instruction. You will also need to practice driving under the instruction of a qualified driving instructor until you both feel comfortable with your skills.

Program Guidelines

Acura will provide a reimbursement of up to $1,000 to each eligible, original retail client for the expenses incurred to purchase and install qualifying adaptive equipment on any eligible purchased or leased Acura vehicle.

REQUIREMENTS

  • Only the original vehicle owner is eligible for reimbursement.
  • Modifications must be completed for the original owner or his/her immediate family.
  • Only new Acura vehicles retailed or leased in the United States from an authorized Acura dealership are eligible.
  • Only one reimbursement request per vehicle.
  • Lease vehicle modifications may be subject to written lessor approval. The client is responsible for determining and satisfying lease contract requirements.
  • Acura will consider reimbursement for modifications made to vehicles after February 1, 2004.
  • The written reimbursement request must be received within 6 months of the adaptive equipment installation.
  • Fleet and commercial vehicles are not eligible.
  • Any alteration or adaptive equipment that Acura has identified that alters the safety of the vehicle (i.e. seat belt extenders) is not eligible.

ADAPTATIONS, MODIFICATIONS AND EQUIPMENT INSTALLATION

  • Qualifying adaptive-equipment or conversion is defined as alterations or adaptive equipment installation that provide to the disabled user convenient access and/or the ability to drive the vehicle.
  • Alterations or adaptive-equipment installation require a prescription or medical documentation to be considered for reimbursement.
  • Reimbursement requests (invoices) will be compared against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website to verify that the alterer or repair business (individual, partnership or corporation) is registered with NHTSA and that the modifications are on the list of NHTSA exemptions.
  • EXCEPTION: Wheelchair or scooter hoists or ramps do not require a prescription, medical documentation or NHTSA exemption verification and NHTSA business registration for reimbursement consideration.
  • EXCEPTION: Modifications that “DO NOT” make inoperative any part of a device or element of design that has been installed on or in a motor vehicle in compliance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard will not require NHTSA exemption verification and NHTSA business registration for reimbursement consideration.
  • The installation of adaptive equipment must have taken place within the time and mileage limits of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty.
  • If all conditions are met, Acura will provide up to a $1,000 cash reimbursement. Acura will be the secondary coverage in the case of two or more reimbursement sources.** A reimbursement made by another source such as medical insurance will be subtracted from the client’s original total expense. (Example: Total expense $5,000, Insurance reimbursement $4,000, Client expense $1,000. The client expense of $1,000 will be reviewed and considered for a maximum of $1,000 reimbursement.)

IMPORTANT CLIENT INFORMATION

  • The selection of an equipment manufacturer and installer is solely the client’s responsibility. (Acura does not evaluate or endorse any company or supplier involved in adaptive equipment. Mobility equipment warranty, installation warranty and related liabilities are not the responsibility of Acura.)
  • Clients can pick up an application at their local Acura dealer, via this website, or through Acura Client Relations.

REIMBURSEMENT DOCUMENTATION AND PROCESS

Documentation required for reimbursement consideration:

  • Completed and signed Reimbursement Application
  • Proof of Vehicle Sales or Lease Agreement
  • Copy of invoice for adaptive-equipment installation and/or vehicle modification and proof of payment
  • Copy of state driver’s license to verify that the person is eligible to operate a modified vehicle
  • Copy of the prescription or medical documentation
  • Name of contributing medical insurance carrier/entity that provides primary support, and policy number

Reimbursements will be processed and mailed within 4 weeks of receipt of all required documentation. Reimbursement requests should be mailed to:

Acura Client Relations
P.O. Box 2964
Torrance, CA 90509-2964

CLIENT RESOURCES
Please call Acura Client Relations with any questions.

Acura
800-382-2238
www.acura.com

National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA)
800-833-0427
www.nmeda.org

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
www.nhtsa.dot.gov

To download an application form, click here

Acura reserves the right to modify or terminate this program without notice.

Acura does not assume responsibility for the quality, safety or efficiency of adaptive equipment or installation and cannot guarantee that such modifications comply with applicable government safety standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do reimbursements apply to used or fleet vehicles?

No. This program applies to only new Acura vehicles that are retailed or leased in the U.S.

How long will it take me to receive my reimbursement?

Payments will be mailed within 4 weeks of receipt of all required documentation.

What types of adaptive equipment can I obtain reimbursement for?

Acura will consider reimbursement for those modifications that have been approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). You can find more information on the NHTSA website.

What is the time limit to apply for a reimbursement?

The reimbursement request must be made within 6 months of the adaptive equipment installation.

Where can I get information on adaptive equipment?

Where do I get a reimbursement application?

In addition to the printable .PDF (Acrobat) format version of the form on this website, forms are also available at your local Acura dealer or upon request at Acura Client Relations at 1-800-382-2238.

Are used vehicles included in the Acura mobility assistance program?

Acura has limited the program to original vehicle owners/lessees whose vehicles are within the Manufacturer’s warranty period and who request reimbursement for NHTSA-approved and compliant modifications to their vehicles.

Does the Acura New Vehicle Limited Warranty cover modified vehicles and/or adaptive equipment?

No. The Acura New Vehicle Limited Warranty applies only to the Acura vehicle. It does not include the adaptive equipment, its installation or any other non-original equipment.

Does the installation of adaptive equipment void my warranty?

No, adaptive equipment and modifications unto themselves do not void the New Vehicle Limited Warranty that applies to the Acura product. However, if your vehicle experiences a problem/failure and that problem/failure is determined by Acura to be the direct result of the adaptive equipment and/or its installation, your warranty coverage may be voided for that particular repair. All warranty issues are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Adapting Motor Vehicles for People with disAbilities

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Introduction

A Proven Process for Gaining Freedom on the Road

The introduction of new technology continues to broaden opportunities for people with disabilities to drive vehicles with adaptive devices. Taking advantage of these opportunities, however, can be time consuming and, sometimes, frustrating.

The information in this brochure is based on the experience of driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals who work with individuals who require adaptive devices for their motor vehicles. It is centered around a proven process —evaluating your needs, selecting the right vehicle, choosing a qualified dealer to modify your vehicle, being trained, maintaining your vehicle — that can help you avoid costly mistakes when purchasing and modifying a vehicle with adaptive equipment.

Also included is general information on cost savings, licensing requirements, and organizations to contact for help. Although the brochure focuses on drivers of modified vehicles, each section contains important information for people who drive passengers with disabilities.

 


 

Investigate Cost Saving Opportunities &Licensing Requirements

Cost Saving Opportunities

The costs associated with modifying a vehicle vary greatly. A new vehicle modified with adaptive equipment can cost from $20,000 to $80,000. Therefore, whether you are modifying a vehicle you own or purchasing a new vehicle with adaptive equipment, it pays to investigate public and private opportunities for financial assistance.

There are programs that help pay part or all of the cost of vehicle modification, depending on the cause and nature of the disability. For information, contact your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation or another agency that provides vocational services, and, if appropriate, the Department of Veterans Affairs. You can find phone numbers for these state and federal agencies in a local phone book. Also, consider the following.

  • Many nonprofit associations that advocate for individuals with disabilities have grant programs that help pay for adaptive devices.
  • If you have private health insurance or workers’ compensation, you may be covered for adaptive devices and vehicle modification. Check with your insurance carrier.
  • Many manufacturers have rebate or reimbursement plans for modified vehicles. When you are ready to make a purchase, find out if there is such a dealer in your area.
  • Some states waive the sales tax for adaptive devices if you have a doctor’s prescription for their use.
  • You may be eligible for savings when submitting your federal income tax return. Check with a qualified tax consultant to find out if the cost of your adaptive devices will help you qualify for a medical deduction.

Licensing Requirements

All states require a valid learner’s permit or driver’s license to receive an on–the–road evaluation. You cannot be denied the opportunity to apply for a permit or license because you have a disability. However, you may receive a restricted license, based on your use of adaptive devices.

 


 

Evaluate Your Needs

Driver rehabilitation specialists perform comprehensive evaluations to identify the adaptive equipment most suited to your needs. A complete evaluation includes vision screening and, in general, assesses:

  • Muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion
  • Coordination and reaction time
  • Judgment and decision making abilities
  • Ability to drive with adaptive equipment

Upon completion of an evaluation, you should receive a report containing specific recommendations on driving requirements or restrictions, and a complete list of recommended vehicle modifications.

Finding a Qualified Evaluator

To find a qualified evaluator in your area, contact a local rehabilitation center or call the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED). The phone number is in the resource section. The Association maintains a data base of certified driver rehabilitation specialists throughout the country. Your insurance company may pay for the evaluation. Find out if you need a physician’s prescription or other documen-tation to receive benefits.

Being Prepared for an Evaluation

Consult with your physician to make sure you are physically and psychologically prepared to drive. Being evaluated too soon after an injury or other trauma may indicate the need for adaptive equipment you will not need in the future. When going for an evaluation, bring any equipment you normally use, e.g., a walker or neck brace. Tell the evaluator if you are planning to modify your wheelchair or obtain a new one.

Evaluating Passengers with Disabilities

Evaluators also consult on compatibility and transportation safety issues for passengers with disabilities. They assess the type of seating needed and the person’s ability to exit and enter the vehicle. They provide advice on the purchase of modified vehicles and recommend appropriate wheelchair lifts or other equipment for a vehicle you own. If you have a child who requires a special type of safety seat, evaluators make sure the seat fits your child properly. They also make sure you can properly install the seat in your vehicle.

 


 

Select the Right Vehicle

Selecting a vehicle for modification requires collaboration among you, your evaluator, and a qualified vehicle modification dealer. Although the purchase or lease of a vehicle is your responsibility, making sure the vehicle can be properly modified is the responsibility of the vehicle modification dealer. Therefore, take the time to consult with a qualified dealer and your evaluator before making your final purchase. It will save you time and money. Be aware that you will need insurance while your vehicle is being modified, even though it is off the road.

The following questions can help with vehicle selection. They can also help determine if you can modify a vehicle you own.

  • Does the necessary adaptive equipment require a van, or will another passenger vehicle suffice?
  • Can the vehicle accommodate the equipment that needs to be installed?
  • Will there be enough space to accommodate your family or other passengers once the vehicle is modified?
  • Is there adequate parking space at home and at work for the vehicle and for loading/unloading a wheelchair?
  • Is there adequate parking space to maneuver if you use a walker?
  • What additional options are necessary for the safe operation of the vehicle?

If a third party is paying for the vehicle, adaptive devices, or modification costs, find out if there are any limitations or restrictions on what is covered. Always get a written statement on what a funding agency will pay before making your purchase.

 


 

Choose a Qualified Dealer to Modify Your Vehicle

Even a half inch change in the lowering of a van floor can affect a driver’s ability to use equipment or to have an unobstructed view of the road; so, take time to find a qualified dealer to modify your vehicle. Begin with a phone inquiry to find out about credentials, experience, and references. Ask questions about how they operate. Do they work with evaluators? Will they look at your vehicle before you purchase it? Do they require a prescription from a physician or other driver evaluation specialist? How long will it take before they can start work on your vehicle? Do they provide training on how to use the adaptive equipment?

If you are satisfied with the answers you receive, check references; then arrange to visit the dealer’s facility. Additional information to consider is listed below.

  • Are they members of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) or another organization that has vehicle conversion standards?
  • What type of training has the staff received?
  • What type of warranty do they provide on their work?
  • Do they provide ongoing service and maintenance?
  • Do they stock replacement parts?

Once you are comfortable with the dealer’s qualifications, you will want to ask specific questions, such as:

  • How much will the modification cost?
  • Will they accept third party payment?
  • How long will it take to modify the vehicle?
  • Can the equipment be transferred to a new vehicle in the future?
  • Will they need to modify existing safety features to install the adaptive equipment?

While your vehicle is being modified, you will, most likely, need to be available for fittings. This avoids additional waiting time for adjustments once the equipment is fully installed. Without proper fittings you may have problems with the safe operation of the vehicle and have to go back for adjustments.

Some State Agencies specify the dealer you must use if you want reimbursement.

 


 

Obtain Training on the Use of New Equipment

Both new and experienced drivers need training on how to safely use new adaptive equipment. Your equipment dealer and evaluator should provide information and off-road instruction. You will also need to practice driving under the instruction of a qualified driving instructor until you both feel comfortable with your skills. Bring a family member or other significant person who drives to all your training sessions. It’s important to have someone else who can drive your vehicle in case of an emergency.

Some state vocational rehabilitation departments pay for driver training under specified circumstances. At a minimum, their staff can help you locate a qualified instructor. If your evaluator does not provide on-the-road instruction, ask him or her for a recommendation. You can also inquire at your local motor vehicle administration office.

 


 

Maintain Your Vehicle

Regular maintenance is important for keeping your vehicle and adaptive equipment safe and reliable. It may also be mandatory for compliance with the terms of your warranty. Some warranties specify a time period during which adaptive equipment must be inspected. These “check ups” for equipment may differ from those for your vehicle. Make sure you or your modifier submits all warranty cards for all equipment to ensure coverage and so manufacturers can contact you in case of a recall.

For additional copies of this brochure and other important vehicle safety information, you can contact DOT’s web site at www.nhtsa.dot.gov and the DOT Auto Safety Hotline: 888-DASH-2-DOT (888-327-4236).

 


 

Resources

The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED)
2425 N. Center Street # 369, Hickory, NC 28601
(866) 672-9466
www.driver-ed.org
www.aded.net

National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA)
11211 N. Nebraska Ave., Suite A5, Tampa, FL 33612
(800) 833-0427 
www.nmeda.org

AAA
1000 AAA Drive, Heathrow, FL 32746-5063
(404) 444-7961
www.aaa.com

Department of Veteran Affairs
(800) 827-1000
www.va.gov

State Departments of Vocational Rehabilitation
Listed in telephone book.


The following manufacturers offer rebates or reimbursements on new vehicle modification.

Daimler Chrysler Corporation
(800) 255-9877
(TDD Users: (800) 922-3826)
www.automobility.daimlerchrysler.com

Ford Motor Company
(800) 952-2248
(TDD Users: (800) TDD-0312)
www.ford.com/mobilitymotoring

General Motors Corporation
(800) 323-9935
(TDD Users: (800) TDD-9935)
www.gmmobility.com

Saturn
(800) 553-6000, Prompt 3
(TDD Users: (800) 833-6000)
www.saturn.com

Volkswagen
(800) 822-8987
www.vw.com

Audi
(800) 822-2834
www.audiusa.com

The Importance of Servicing Your Wheelchair Van and Adaptive Equipment

''VMi New England's Indoor Showroom" 1000 Main Street Bridgewater MA 02324

Located at 1000 Main Street in Bridgewater MA.

The Importance of Servicing Your Wheelchair Van and Adaptive Equipment

Owning any type of vehicle means that you have to commit to regular service and maintenance to keep it in good condition. Owning a wheelchair van and adaptive equipment is no different – you still need regular service to keep everything operating the way it should. However, it comes with some additional caveats – you can’t just go to any service center and ensure that you’re maintaining your wheelchair van or mobility equipment correctly.

Here at Automotive Innovations, not only do we understand the importance of maintaining your mobility vehicle and adaptive equipment, but we take the needed steps to ensure that everything is always in top condition. No other mobility dealer I know of offers the level of maintenance offered by us.

For example, we can maintain primary and secondary driving controls, as well as providing service for wheelchair and scooter lifts. Power seat bases, power door operators, wheelchair securement systems and other adaptive equipment are only a few of the areas that our certified technicians can service and maintain.

You’ll also find that we offer installation as well as service for a range of adaptive equipment like lowered floors, raised doors, adaptive steering controls, turning automotive seats and hand controls. All of our technicians are fully certified in mobility equipment so that you always know you’re in good hands with us.

Automotive Innovations has also created a innovative and ever evolving maintenance program over the past 25 years for our customers. We know that making sure your vehicle and adaptive equipment is in good condition is important to you, but we also understand that it can be difficult for you to tell when or if something needs service or repair. That’s why we started our operational preventative maintenance program over 20 years ago. This program ensures that your wheelchair van or mobility equipment is always in the best operational condition possible, but also assesses the need for repairs or replacement most of the time before anything happens.

We’re dedicated to giving you the peace of mind that you deserve and the maintenance you need to maintain your freedom at all times.

VMI Ricon | Transfer Seats | Mobility Seating | 6 Way Power Transfer Seat Base

Ricon 6-Way Power Transfer Seat Base™

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The Ricon 6-Way Power Transfer Seat Base provides convenient and time saving transfers from wheelchair to driver or passenger seat. Operation is simple. With the press of a finger, the fully automatic Power Transfer Seat Base swivels 90 degrees with individual controls for front to rear travel and height providing complete control and comfort. Ricon quality assures dependable service.

  • Fingertip control
  • Fits most full-size vans
  • Adaptable to most seats
  • Adjustable to rotate left or right
  • 1-Year limited warranty
  • Completely automatic rotation

* 508-697-6006

For more info contact us at info@newenglandwheelchairvan.com

The 6-way Power Seat Base from Ricon makes transfers from wheelchair to driver’s or passenger’s seat convenient and easy. It saves you valuable time, too. At the touch of a fingertip, the fully automatic Power Seat Base swivels 90 degrees to allow carefree transfers. Individual controls for front to rear travel and height give you complete control and comfort. And with Ricon’s quality commitment, you’ll have dependable freedom for years to come.

Power Seat Base Specifications
Power: Electro – Mechanical
Motor Rating – Vertical: 12 Volt DC, 16 Amp cycle avg. at rated load
Motor Rating – Horizontal: 12 Volt DC, 9 Amp cycle avg. at rated load
Motor Rating – Swivel: 12 Volt DC, 5 Amp cycle avg. at rated load
Rated Load Capacity: 300 lbs. (136kg)
Weight: 95 lbs. (43kg)

MV1 VPG Mobility Vehicle Issues. What happened and what now?

MV1 VPG Mobility Vehicle

How can we help service your VPG mobility vehicle or help you purchase another more new or pre-owned reliable mobility vehicle?

A Michigan maker of vans for the disabled that received a $50 million Energy Department loan has quietly ceased operation and laid off its staff.

Vehicle Production Group, or VPG, stopped operations after finances dipped below the minimum required as a condition of the government loan, says former CEO John Walsh. Though about 100 staff were laid off and its offices shuttered, the company has not filed for bankruptcy reorganization.

NEED YOUR VPG SERVICED? CLICK HERE

VPG, of Allen Park, Mich., received its Energy Department loan under the same clean-energy program — now under fire by House Republicans — that originally committed $527 million to troubled plug-in hybrid carmaker Fisker Automotive and $535 million to solar start-up Solyndra, which has filed for bankruptcy reorganization. VPG was deemed eligible for the clean energy loan because some of its vans were to be fitted to run on compressed natural gas.

Walsh, who left VPG with the rest of the staff when it closed in February, says the company had raised $400 million in private capital from investors, including financier T. Boone Pickens, and built 2,500 MV-1 vans. Though VPG still had a healthy order backlog, it ran low on cash and didn’t have the dealer network that it needed, Walsh says.

In 2011, the company’s then CEO, Dave Schembri, said he hoped that it could eventually ramp up production to about 30,000 vans a year, not only for individual sales to the disabled, but for sales to taxi and limousine fleets needing handicap-accessible vehicles. The company showed a taxi version at the 2012 New York Auto Show.

NEED YOUR VPG SERVICED? CLICK HERE

VPG stopped operations after its assets were frozen by the Energy Department, he says. “They wanted us to get the remaining capital raised, and we couldn’t get it done,” he says. The company did not announce the suspension of operations. An Energy Department spokesman could not be reached for comment, although the agency has stepped in before when borrowers fell short of loan conditions: Fisker was cut off after drawing $190 million of its loan package.

VPG Chairman Fred Drasner could not be reached for comment.

VPG’s DOE loan was controversial. In 2011, The Washington Post raised questions about a fundraiser for President Obama and the loan. It reported that VPG was part of the portfolio of companies under Washington, D.C.-based investment firm Perseus, whose vice chairman, James Johnson, was an Obama adviser and fundraiser. Perseus said at the time that Johnson played no role in procuring the loan for VPG. The Energy Department said at the time that the loan was based entirely on merit after two years of review.

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VPG’s MV-1 purpose-built vans, which went on sale in 2011 at a starting price of $39,950, were built under contract by AM General, maker of the Army’s Humvee transports. AM General spokesman Jeff Adams declined comment on VPG’s shutdown, saying his company was only the contract builder. But he said it will supply already-sold MV-1s with parts and technical support.

Walsh says production of MV-1s was stopped about six months ago to prepare for a new model. He says VPG had about 2,300 vehicles on order at the time including a half-filled, 250-van order from New York’s City’s transit authority.

The federal loan money was spent wisely, Walsh says, and he expresses hope that it all will be repaid if the company is sold.

Walsh was CEO for about a year. “I hung in there as long as I could,” says Walsh, who is now an executive at another disabled mobility company. “I saw the handwriting on the wall months ago. We just couldn’t get the capital to keep it going.”

NEED YOUR VPG SERVICED? CLICK HERE

May Is ALS Awareness Month : Speak Up Now To Give Hope

May is ALS Awareness month : speak up Now to Give Hope

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is 100% fatal and has few treatments to improve the quality of life. We are committed to helping more people understand the impact that this devastating disease has on individuals and families nationwide. During ALS Awareness Month, we ask that you join us: speak up now to give hope.

Tell Your Story · Sign up · Advocate

May us ALS Awareness month: Speak up Now to Give Hope

What is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment–”No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.

As motor neurons degenerate, they can no longer send impulses to the muscle fibers that normally result in muscle movement. Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing or breathing. When muscles no longer receive the messages from the motor neurons that they require to function, the muscles begin to atrophy (become smaller). Limbs begin to look “thinner” as muscle tissue atrophies.

Forms of ALS
Three classifications of ALS have been described:

  • Sporadic: The most common form of ALS in the United States – 90 to 95% of all cases.
  • Familial: Occurring more than once in a family lineage (genetic dominant inheritance) accounts for a very small number of cases in the United States – 5 to 10% of all cases.
  • Guamanian: An extremely high incidence of ALS was observed in Guam and the Trust Territories of the Pacific in the 1950’s.

The most common form of ALS in the United States is “sporadic” ALS. It may affect anyone, anywhere. “Familial” ALS (FALS) means the disease is inherited. Only about 5 to 10% of all ALS patients appear to have genetic or inherited form of ALS. In those families, there is a 50% chance each offspring will inherit the gene mutation and may develop the disease.

Who Gets ALS?
ALS is a disorder that affects the function of nerves and muscles. Based on U.S. population studies, a little over 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. (That’s 15 new cases a day.) It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. According to the ALS CARE Database, 60% of the people with ALS in the Database are men and 93% of patients in the Database are Caucasian.

Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. However, cases of the disease do occur in persons in their twenties and thirties. Generally though, ALS occurs in greater percentages as men and women grow older. ALS is 20% more common in men than in women. However with increasing age, the incidence of ALS is more equal between men and women.

There are several research studies – past and present – investigating possible risk factors that may be associated with ALS.  More work is needed to conclusively determine what genetics and/or environment factors contribute to developing ALS. It is known, however, that military veterans, particularly those deployed during the Gulf War, are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS.
Half of all people affected with ALS live at least three or more years after diagnosis. Twenty percent live five years or more; up to ten percent will live more than ten years.

There is some evidence that people with ALS are living longer, at least partially due to clinical management interventions, riluzole and possibly other compounds and drugs under investigation.

Diagnosing ALS
ALS is a very difficult disease to diagnose. To date, there is no one test or procedure to ultimately establish the diagnosis of ALS. It is through a clinical examination and series of diagnostic tests, often ruling out other diseases that mimic ALS, that a diagnosis can be established. A comprehensive diagnostic workup includes most, if not all, of the following procedures:

  • electrodiagnostic tests including electomyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV)
  • blood and urine studies including high resolution serum protein electrophoresis, thyroid and parathyroid hormone levels and 24-hour urine collection for heavy metals
  • spinal tap
  • x-rays, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • myelogram of cervical spine
  • muscle and/or nerve biopsy
  • thorough neurological examination

For more information on the importance of a second opinion, click here.

These tests are done at the discretion of the physician, usually based on the results of other diagnostic tests and the physical examination. There are several diseases that have some of the same symptoms as ALS and most of these conditions are treatable. It is for this reason that The ALS Association recommends that a person diagnosed with ALS seek a second opinion from an ALS “expert” – someone who diagnoses and treats many ALS patients and has training in this medial specialty. The ALS Association maintains a list of recognized experts in the field of ALS. See ALS Association Certified Centers of ExcellenceSM, ALS Clinics and contact your local ALS Association Chapter or the National Office.

Symptoms
Initial Symptoms of the Disease
At the onset of ALS the symptoms may be so slight that they are frequently overlooked. With regard to the appearance of symptoms and the progression of the illness, the course of the disease may include the following:

  • muscle weakness in one or more of the following: hands, arms, legs or the muscles of speech, swallowing or breathing
  • twitching (fasciculation) and cramping of muscles, especially those in the hands and feet
  • impairment of the use of the arms and legs
  • “thick speech” and difficulty in projecting the voice
  • in more advanced stages, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and swallowing

The initial symptoms of ALS can be quite varied in different people. One person may experience tripping over carpet edges, another person may have trouble lifting and a third person’s early symptom may be slurred speech. The rate at which ALS progresses can be quite variable from one person to another. Although the mean survival time with ALS is three to five years, many people live five, ten or more years. In a small number of people, ALS is known to remit or halt its progression, though there is no scientific understanding as to how and why this happens. Symptoms can begin in the muscles of speech, swallowing or in the hands, arms, legs or feet. Not all people with ALS experience the same symptoms or the same sequences or patterns of progression. But, progressive muscle weakness and paralysis are universally experienced.

Muscle weakness is a hallmark initial sign in ALS, occurring in approximately 60% of patients. Early symptoms vary with each individual, but usually include tripping, dropping things, abnormal fatigue of the arms and/or legs, slurred speech, muscle cramps and twitches and/or uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying.

The hands and feet may be affected first, causing difficulty in lifting, walking or using the hands for the activities of daily living such as dressing, washing and buttoning clothes.

As the weakening and paralysis continue to spread to the muscles of the trunk of the body the disease, eventually affects speech, swallowing, chewing and breathing. When the breathing muscles become affected, ultimately, the patient will need permanent ventilatory support in order to survive.

Since ALS attacks only motor neurons, the sense of sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell are not affected. For many people, muscles of the eyes and bladder are generally not affected.

Facts You Should Know

  • ALS is not contagious.
  • It is estimated that ALS is responsible for nearly two deaths per hundred thousand population annually.
  • Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time.
  • Although the life expectancy of an ALS patient averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis, this disease is variable and many people live with quality for five years and more.  More than half of all patients live more than three years after diagnosis.
  • About twenty percent of people with ALS live five years or more and up to ten percent will survive more than ten years and five percent will live 20 years. There are people in whom ALS has stopped progressing and a small number of people in whom the symptoms of ALS reversed.
  • ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries.
  • ALS can strike anyone.
  • The onset of ALS is insidious with muscle weakness or stiffness as early symptoms. Progression of weakness, wasting and paralysis of the muscles of the limbs and trunk as well as those that control vital functions such as speech, swallowing and later breathing generally follows.
  • There can be significant costs for medical care, equipment and home health caregiving later in the disease.  It is important to be knowledgeable about your health plan coverage and other programs for which your may be eligible, including SSA, Medicare, Medical and Veteran Affairs benefits.
  • Riluzole, the first treatment to alter the course of ALS, was approved by the FDA in late 1995. This antiglutamate drug was shown scientifically to prolong the life of persons with ALS by at least a few months. More recent studies suggest Riluzole slows the progress of ALS, allowing the patient more time in the higher functioning states when their function is less affected by ALS. Click here for more information on the drug. Many private health plans cover the cost of Riluzole. Further information on Riluzole coverage through Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit can be found in the Advocacy pages of this website.

Reports from three separate patient databases described long range experience with Riluzole. All three reports suggest a trend of increasing survival with Riluzole over time. More studies that are double blind and controlled are needed to confirm these database observations. The trend appears to indicate that longer periods of time than those used in the Riluzole clinical trials may be needed to see the long-term survival advantage of the drug. An interesting observation was that despite the fact that the Irish government provides Riluzole free of charge to people in Ireland with ALS, only two-thirds of the patients registered in the Ireland national ALS database reported taking Riluzole.

Welcome to VMi New England’s Mobility Center!

VMi New England Automotive Innovations Mobility Center is located in Bridgewater Massachusetts. We provide our customers with access to the custom fitment, service and repair of all the leading mobility wheelchair accessible vehicles. We specialize in installing hand / foot controls and devices that can offer greater freedom and independence. Our lineup includes Vantage Mobility International products, and we have a team of Certified Mobility Consultants who are always ready to help properly fit you to your new (or existing) handicapped accessible vehicle.

''VMi New England's Indoor Showroom" 1000 Main Street Bridgewater MA 02324

”VMi New England’s Indoor Showroom”
1000 Main Street Bridgewater MA 02324

We specialize in proper fitment of important features such as transfer seats. We carry brand names such as Chrysler/DodgeFordHondaToyota and keep a selection of new and used vehicles in stock and we accept trade in vehicles as well. All of our mobility vehicles offer tie downs and other important safety features as well as the ability to be easily upgraded with EZ Locks and other equipment.

We are a member of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Whenever you contact one of our Certified Mobility Consultants, you can rest assured that you are contacting a professional team member who will always offer the highest quality service in the business. We adhere to the highest standards in the industry and always provide our customers with the best service possible. Veteran’s are eligible for special benefits; we work directly with the Veterans Administration and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

VMi New England in Bridgewater, Massachusetts understands what your needs and desires are. Contact us today for a demonstration on what our vehicles and equipment can offer to help make your life more mobile and convenient. Our Certified Mobility Consultants will be happy to answer all of your questions and will gladly take the time to discuss the handicapped accessible vehicles and options that you feel might be the best fit to meet and fulfill your mobility needs. We will even come to you, demonstrating our vehicles at your home or place of work.

We been designing, engineering, and installing mobility equipment like hand controls, zero effort steering, servo steering, servo gas brake left foot gas pedals and installing them for more than 25 years.

David Fowler – VMI Testimonial

David Fowler is the President of the Texas Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America. David and MaryLou just purchased their fourth wheelchair accessible van, however it is their first VMi! Hear what they think about their new VMi Toyota Sienna.