A review of the Permobil Permolock wheelchair restraint system
I have been using the Permolock wheelchair restraints mechanism in my Mercedes sprinter van ever since I got my new Permobil Corpus 500 in 2011. I think I've been using it long enough now for me to be able to give my opinion on what I really think of this wheelchair restraint system.
The Permolock is designed to accompany a couple of wheelchairs, one of which is the Permobil Corpus 500. The design is quite unique, basically, you have a metal pin that drops down from underneath the wheelchair when you press a button which is located at the front of the right-hand arm of the chair. You then drive over the restraint system and hope that you are in the right position for the pin to enter a V-shaped cutout in the clamp system where it pushes against a metal catch and opens it. Then this catch springs back on the other side of the pin which then locks the wheelchair down so it can't move. In order to release yourself from the system, you have to press a button which is located on the dashboard. You then get about five seconds to move out of the clamp before it locks you back in place again.
The restraint system is absolutely fantastic, the chair doesn't move an inch when you are travelling. It's very important that you do have a decent clampdown system because the last thing you want happening is your chair moving when you're going around a sharp corner. Also, if you're in an accident or a shunt you don't want your chair moving around in the car.
Unlike many other wheelchair restraint systems where you just drive in and lock yourself in place, you have literally got to dock your wheelchair on top of this restraint system. I find that I can't simply wheel up and lock myself in place, I've got to speed up just before I hit the restraint system. If I don't the wheels just spin and I have problems mounting the restraint system. I have a very thin carpet material laid down in my van. The problem that I have encountered is because I will often struggle to mount the restraint system the wheels will spin on the spot. This has now resulted in the carpet either side being worn right down to the wooden boards which are laid on top of the chassis. This can cause real problems, especially if the wheels have got a little bit wet. I also find that if I'm not careful I can whack my knees against the steering wheel because I have to drive faster to mount the restraint system.
I'm not sure if there's any way around these problems. I think it would be a good idea to have some kind of non-slip material that would help stop the chair wheels from slipping. It is also important that you keep your front wheels in good condition and make sure they always have a good tread.
Apart from these two slight problems I can't really fault the Permolock, it's a very safe restraint system that will definitely stop your chair from moving, even in an accident. It is however very expensive, costing nearly £2000, not including the fitting which will be about £1000.