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10 Useful Wheelchair Tips

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10 Useful Wheelchair Tips

10 Useful Wheelchair Tips

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Home Page > Health > 10 Useful Wheelchair Tips

10 Useful Wheelchair Tips

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Posted: Dec 01, 2009 | Views: 368 |


1. Make Lemons Out of Lemonade – If your wheelchair is a lemon, does not conform to the terms of the written warranty, or the dealer or manufacturer is unable to repair it in the first year, you should check your states wheelchair lemon law. You may qualify for a replacement chair.

2. Rain or Shine – It is not necessary to stay home on a rainy day if you take precautions to protect your powerchair. Cover the hand control with a plastic bag, but exercise caution when using a joystick with a covering on it. Protect the drive motor by avoiding puddles that might splash or submerge the motor. Common sense is the rule, sitting in a powerchair in the pouring rain waiting for a bus is not a good idea, however, rain should not stop you from attending to life’s daily activities such as going to work or a doctor appointment.

3. Get in Your Comfort Zone – It would be nice if wheelchair seats were like our favorite overstuffed chair, but sadly enough they are basically not that comfortable. So, here are some tips on getting close to comfortable. Width of the seat should be as narrow as possible without hips touching the sides. A chair too wide causes bad posture, and affects chair performance. Proper seat depth is tricky. Too deep and you slouch, too shallow and you don’t have enough support and less stability. A sling backrest with adjustable tension will allow you to sit further back in the seat, while a fixed backrest allows you to sit further forward. Seat angle, commonly called squeeze is when the seat seat has a permanent slope. Seat angle helps keep your weight in place, and prevents you from sliding forward. It is important to get the right amount of angle because too much can cause problems with discs in the back, curvature of the spine and pressure sores. Most manual and powerchairs have a built in adjustment which will allow you to customize the seat angle. Seat cushions provide comfort, positioning, and prevent pressure sores. The type of cushion you chose will depend on your criteria. Someone who spends all day in a chair will obviously have a different need from someone who may just use a wheelchair to go shopping.

4. All Work and No Play – For housework and cleaning, my advice would be to get your friends and family to do it, but that just is not realistic. Learning to live with a little clutter and coming to grips with the fact that your house may never be as clean as it once was might help with some of the frustration. Make sure that you have accessible outlets!!! Try plugging the vacuum cleaner in when the outlet is behind the couch and you will see why this is so important. Better yet, get a cordless vacuum! If you need to mop, always start in the corner first!! Cleaning the shower is easy with the new sprays that are on the market. Pick up clutter all through the week, it lessens what you have to do during the actual cleaning. Keep a reacher handy to get those socks that are hiding under the bed or items that may have fallen behind furniture.

5. No Need for a Spare Tire – “Flat Free” tires no longer means made of solid rubber! Technology has evolved to include a range from foam filling, to a poly urethane tread to a rubber insert. So, the question is: Which material meets your needs? Poly Urethane tires are used most commonly on manual wheelchairs. They are highly resilient and fairly light. The life span is 3 to 4 times of the traditional rubber tire. Semi-pneumatic tires and inserts feature molded-in air pockets, much like the air pockets in the soles of athletic shoes, providing a slightly cushioned ride. Found in forms ranging from poly urethane tires to inserts, semi-pneumatic tires never need air maintenance, nor will they become flat when punctured, making them truly flat-free. On today’s powerchairs, foam-filled tires, especially on the drive wheels, are the most popular flat-free solution. The foam may vary in density depending on the required weight capacity. Co-molded tires are most commonly found via powerchair casters and low-end manual wheelchair wheels. Co-molded tires are especially useful as anti-tip wheels, where durability is more important than ride characteristics. Co-molded tires have an exceptional lifespan, but the entire wheel assembly requires replacement when worn.

6. Ball in Your Court – Being in a wheelchair should not stop you from getting out there and participating in sports. Wheelchair users are now competing on a professional level. There are numerous wheelchair sports associations. Wheelchair basketball was started over 40 years ago by the Veterans Administration as a rehab program. It has grown by leaps and bounds and is now a sport. There are over 180 teams across the U.S. Quad Rugby is another wheelchair sport designed for quadriplegics who are unable to play basketball. It is a mixture of basketball, ice hockey, rugby, and handball. Power soccer is yet another great sport for those in an electric wheelchair. There are many wheelchair sports accessories available including belts, harnesses, drink holders and special back supports.

7. On the Road Again – For travel, first and foremost make sure that your chair is in good working order. Take it in for a service check. Be sure that your name and address are clearly printed on all removable parts. Use sticky labels, and cover them with a piece of clear tape. If you will be flying, be sure to notify the airline that you are traveling with a wheelchair. Airlines are required by law to stow your chair in the cabin, but don’t count on it if there are multiple travelers with wheelchairs. An alternative is to gate check your chair, this will allow you to wheel onto the jetway where they will tag your chair and stow it in the belly of the plane. Remove leg supports and seat cushion and carry them on board with you. If you are unable to walk onto the plane, be sure to request an aisle chair. Always check your wheelchair for damage on arrival. Be sure to do your homework ahead of time. Check on hotels for handicapped accessible rooms, if you are going to be sightseeing, make sure that there are no barriers, arrive early at bus and train stations. Wheelchair travel can be both challenging and and rewarding, and with a little planning, it will certainly be a adventure that you won’t forget.

8. Stumbling Block – Nobody ever said it was going to be easy being disabled. Learning to cope with the mountain of little obstacles that are so frustrating is a major step in the right direction. If you have diminished hand strength and function, use a wall mounted dispenser with refillable chambers and push button dispensing for the shower. This will eliminate the need for opening and closing bottles with wet hands. If grasping a utensil is difficult slide a piece of 12mm hose over the handle. Outsource your toenails and get a simple trim at the nail salon on a regular basis. Use a reacher to get at those socks from under the bed or behind the couch. Don’t chase your food all over the plate, use a bowl instead. Be sure to carry straws with you if you are unable to pick up a cup or glass. A 3 ft dowel with a rubber cap on both ends works great for turning light switches on and off, ringing doorbells, pushing buttons on tv or as a pushing or pulling tool. Put a thin cord through the hole on your zippers, tie to make a loop. Be sure to join a disabled support group, as they are an amazing wealth of information.

9. Play it Safe – Make sure that your wheelchair is in good condition at all times. The top priority when considering safety are the brakes. Be sure to check them regularly, loose brakes can compromise the wheelchair users safety. Another thing to consider is stability and balance. Some guidelines to follow are: Never lean forward any further than the length of the armrests. If you do lean forward, be sure the front casters are facing forward. Do not try to pick things up from the floor by reaching down in between your knees. Do not shift your weight in the direction you are reaching as the wheelchair may tip over. For ultimate safety, it is important that you be fully contained within the wheelchair. A weakened arm or leg that occasionally drops to the side cannot be considered the ultimate in safety. Arm supports, as well as foot and leg huggers, help you keep it all together.

10. Live and Learn – Become a self advocate. Being a self advocate very simply means that you understand your own disability….you know your weaknesses and strengths, and you are able to convey this to others. So, how do you get started? Write it all down; your weaknesses, strengths, identify your disability, and what you need to do to participate in the things you enjoy, or need. Find out your rights, The American Disabilities Act will spell them out for you. Now comes the hard part for some…….Assert yourself, ask for what you need. What do you have to lose? And finally, follow up, and make the change happen.

Living with a disability and being in a wheelchair means that you have had to make changes and adjustments to your lifestyle, but you can still stay active and enjoy your life. With the above wheelchair tips, and a positive attitude, you can learn to thrive with your disability instead of letting it manage you!

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