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Lift enabling dental patients to remain in wheelchair during treatment making reportedly 'a world of difference'


An Edmonton dental clinic believes it owns the only lift in Alberta that eliminates the need to manually transfer patients in wheelchairs to a traditional dental chair. 

Patient Ashley Johnston, who is quadriplegic, described the piece of equipment as a game changer. 

"Some places, I have to get two people to transfer me. So here, it just makes a world of difference," she told CTV News Edmonton in a recent interview. 

Dr. Nibras Sharif – who calls herself passionate about providing accessible care – knew years ago that when she finally opened her own clinic, she'd source the wheelchair-accessible dental chair made by U.K. company Diaco

The "chair" is essentially a platform that wheelchair-users can roll onto and which can be reclined. It enables the dentist to position a patient in a wheelchair at a similar angle and height as they would a patient in a sitting chair. 

Dr. Nibras Sharif at Unity Square Dental helps patient Ashley Johnston onto the wheelchair-accessible dental chair made by U.K. company Diaco on Feb. 24, 2023.

Importantly, Diaco's product allows patients to remain in their wheelchair, which is not only considered more comfortable, but both easier and less risky than dental staff transferring a patient with a hoist. 

"I've worked in places that had lifts, and it's very, very hard on the family or whoever's bringing them in. And it's also hard on the person because it takes a long time – it takes about 20 minutes to move. It's risky – they could fall, they could get hurt," Sharif said. "But also, they feel more dignified sitting in their own chair and sitting in their own space."

In her experience, the uncomfortable hoisting process discourages some patients from seeking dental care until they begin to experience pain. 

Johnston was referred to Sharif in February because of pain and because, after Sharif bought Unity Square Dental in 2022, the dentist had finally received her own Diaco chair. 

Ashley Johnston sits in her wheelchair on Diaco's wheelchair-accessible dental lift at Edmonton's Unity Square Dental clinic on Feb. 24, 2023.

Johnston told CTV News Edmonton she was shocked to learn the equipment existed. 

"I honestly didn't think anything like this existed," she recalled. 

"I honestly didn't know what to expect at that point. When I got in and it just lifted me up, I was super stoked about it." 

"I really feel fulfilled. There's something that is worth coming here and doing," Sharif added. 

So far as she knows, there are only three Diaco chairs in Canada. She doesn't want to be the only Alberta dentist with one for long. 

"We're going to space," she said. "We should have this technology."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Matt Marshall Top Stories

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