The History and Evolution of Swimming Pool Lifts

Swimming pool lifts have become a norm in the recent years after the ADA Pool Accessibility Requirements were signed into federal law in 2010 and have continued to make swimming more accessible to those with physical disabilities. The use of water therapy and recreational swimming has benefited a number of disabled people in numerous ways that wouldn’t have been possible without swimming pool lifts. The evolution and history of swimming pool lifts is an interesting one and being familiar with it will help those who don’t know about them to learn more. 

What are Patient Lifts

Swimming pool lifts are a type of patient lift that allows the transfer of an individual from the pool deck into the pool and from the pool back to the deck. All patient lifts are regulated in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration. Any company that manufactures patient lifts must register their facility with the FDA to ensure that the facility employs current “good manufacturing processes.”

The only existing standard for patient lifts defines the design and manufacturing criteria, as well as the various categories for patient lifts. The two types of patient lifts are stationary hoists and mobile hoists.

A stationary hoist is a piece of equipment with which a person is lifted, transferred, or moved within a predefined area. A stationary hoist can either be fixed, as in mounted to a wall, ceiling, or floor, or be free standing on the floor.

A mobile hoist is a piece of equipment fitted with a device or devices that is freely movable along the floor and with which a person is lifted, transferred, or moved independent of a fixed installation or other allied device.

The main difference between the two types of hoists is that mobile hoists are used to transport the user from place to place, such as from a bed to a bathroom. Stationary hoists require the individual to be brought to the hoist and then transferred to the intended destination.

History of Swimming Pool Lifts

Before swimming pool lifts were invented in 1980, the biggest challenge of aquatic based therapy programs was simply getting people in an out of the water safely and easily. The first commercially successful water powered swimming pool lift drastically enhanced these therapies and allowed for more disabled people to participate. In 1997, the next generation of pool lifts were invented that helped to overcome a lot of the limitations of the first design. This new lift was battery powered and free standing, that was designed to work with more contemporary swimming pool designs.

In 2010, the ADA Accessibility Requirements were signed into federal law and March 15, 2012 was the deadline for making pools ADA Pool Accessibility Compliant.

Types of Swimming Pool Lifts

Non-cantilevered lifts are where the seat is attached to and rotates around the anchor point. These types of lifts are limited to simple pool designs that feature either no gutter or recessed gutters. Non-cantilevered lifts are water powered, which can be limiting as they must always be connected to a water supply.

Cantilevered lifts are designed to allow the seat to extend out from the anchor point. They are more versatile than non-cantilevered lifts as they can be fixed, anchored, or free standing and offer access to a greater number of pool designs. There are two types of cantilevered lifts:

Non-rotational cantilevered lifts extend the seat directly out from the loading point. These lifts have similar restrictions to the non-cantilevered lifts and are most effective with simple pool edge designs.

Rotational cantilevered lifts have the ability to raise and rotate the seat position over the deck and extend the seat out and over any obstacle in the path to the water. They can work with any type of pool design.

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