Many people who have difficulty with weight-bearing activities due to arthritis, injury, or being overweight enjoy the benefits of aquatic physical therapy and rehabilitation. Significant populations of wheelchair-bound and disabled people also use pools and spas for recreation and therapeutic reasons. Yet a dilemma constantly faces these individuals — how to get in and out of the pool or spa safely. Various manufacturers offer pool lifts ranging from simple manual slings powered with water pressure to complex battery-powered lifts operated by radio remote control.

Spectrum Products, Missoula, Mont., recently fortified its battery-powered lifts by fitting its top-of-the-line Traveler II XRC500 unit with a 500-lb-capacity linear actuator specially designed for the application by Warner Linear, Belvidere, Ill.

The electric linear actuator provides the lifting action of the chair, which helps people into or out of the water. After two years of joint design and development, the two companies introduced the robust control system in mid-2008, for what they claim is the strongest remote-controlled, battery-powered lift on the market. The proprietary system is now standard on all of Spectrum's battery-powered assisted access lifts.

For the lifts, Warner modified its rugged-duty K2x actuator by redesigning the gear ratio to 30:1, which produces greater lift load capacity at slower speeds, giving users better control over chair motion. Warner also designed a new wireless remote-control unit including transmitters, receiver, 24-V battery pack that plugs into the receiver, plus a battery charger. The compact battery pack provides more than 95 lifts between charges, rather than the previous version's 40 lifts.

The actuator itself, originally designed for demanding applications in harsh environments such as off-highway vehicles, replaced units that were first designed for lighter duty applications such as hospital beds and adjustable desks. Several upgrades in the actuators used on the new pool lifts include double wall thickness of both cover tubes and extension tubes, O-ring seals rather than gaskets for longer service life, die-cast aluminum housings and powder coat urethane finishes rather than plastic housings, and hardened gears and ball bearings for rugged-duty usage.

The Traveler II swim lifts are ADA/ABA compliant for use in hospitals and rehab facilities, universities with sports medicine programs, commercial therapeutic spas and pools, municipal pools, hotels, health clubs, and even residential use, according to Spectrum. Visit www.altramotion.com for more information.