How important is it to make sure that you are using a wheelchair correctly?
The answer is very important for using a wheelchair! You don’t want to get hurt or injured.
So let’s start now. Wheelchairs are of two types such as manual (self-propelled) and electric (power).
There are also special pediatric chairs available that are sized accordingly to be used by smaller children.
It is the job of a health professional to recommend wheelchairs to identify the best type of wheelchair to meet patient and family needs.
Wheelchairs, like any other mobility aids, can increase independence and improve the quality of life for both the patients and families.
Like other mobility aids, there is also a proper way to use a wheelchair.
If a wheelchair is used incorrectly, the user will not take full advantage of all the functions and features.
It can also lead to problems, causing an accident or an unexpected injury.
Focus away from this is a start for healthy living.
Hence, there are several safety tips that you should be aware of and apply that are universal.
Our today’s material is devoted to these tips. We want to offer you a complete guide on how to use a wheelchair safely.
Below, you will find great tips to keep in mind, follow, and use. It is essential that you keep these safety tips in your mind on mandatory and no matter what type of wheelchair you are in or even if you have someone that usually walks you around.
How To Use A Wheelchair: Get Familiar with Your Wheelchair
1, Finding your comfort zone in your wheelchair
Wheelchairs come in various shapes as well as sizes.
Before you can get started, learn about the one that you have. Several types of wheelchairs also have different controls as well as accessories to help the user move around.
2, Read up your wheelchair’s instruction manual to locate its brakes
The most crucial parts of a wheelchair are the brakes.
They allow you to stop when you reach your destination, and they also keep the wheelchair still so that the user can get in and out of it.
In a wheelchair, there are generally brake levers and parking breaks.
Brake levers are usually present on the sides of both wheels, and they are used to stop the wheelchair from moving by pulling them down.
On the other hand, a parking brake is a pedal activated, and you can push on the pedal to engage it.
3, Take a look at your wheelchair seat and backrest
Before using your wheelchair, it is wise to make sure that it is the most comfortable choice.
Wheelchairs usually have cushions on the Seat and the backrest, but you may need to make certain changes to make it more comfortable, like you may want to add extra cushions to push you up or maybe a blanket to put over a cold seat.
The materials used to make a wheelchair seat can either be of a flexible fabric or solid wood.
If you face difficulty sitting upright, you need to find more cushions to add to the Seat or the backrest to sit in a position that will let you reach the controls you require.
Sitting Down Into a Wheelchair
1, Turn on your brakes
Before you begin moving around, you will have to get into your wheelchair.
First, make sure that your brakes are turned on by looking at the sides of your wheels or by pressing the pedal brake.
This is going to ensure that your wheelchair stays still in position as you get in it.
2, Positioning your footplates to the sides
3, Optional elevating legrests
Footplates are present at the bottom part of the wheelchair.
They are used to rest your feet as you sit.
Before you get into the wheelchair, you will have to position your footplates away.
You can either fold or swing them depending on the wheelchair.
4, Lower yourself onto the seat
Grip the armrests with both your hands and try to sit down into the Seat slowly.
5, Put your feet onto the footplate
After you have lowered yourself onto the Seat and are comfortable, you can fold or swing the footplates back in place to rest your feet on them.
Moving a Manual Wheelchair
1, As we advance in a wheelchair
To self-propel, your wheelchair forward, grip the wheelchair hand rims near the back of the wheelchair.
Push them forward as well as down on the hand rims, and then let go. Move your hands back to the position you started from and repeat the motion.
2, Turning a wheelchair
To turn the wheelchair right, push forward the left-hand rim to move the left wheel forward as you slow down or stop the right wheel.
To turn the wheelchair left, move the right wheel forward as you hold still or slow down the left wheel.
3, Going backward in a wheelchair
For backward motion, grip the hand rims located near the front of the chair. Push them back and down to propel the wheels backward.
4, Stopping a wheelchair
To stop the wheelchair, grip the hand rims, and use the friction to slow down.
If the hand rims are wet, then instead of them, pinch the tire.
Be cautious, as this friction generates heat that can burn your hands, especially if you are on a slope or you have to stop suddenly.
Standing Up From A Wheelchair
1, Get near to a chair or a bed
To get out, first, position yourself close to a chair or a bed.
2, Lock the brakes on both sides
Like when you sit in a wheelchair, similar to that when you get out of it, it should be still.
So lock the brake levers back into position to make sure that the wheels stay still.
3, Take your feet off the footplate
Swing or fold the footplates out of the way to rest your feet on the floor.
4, Position your hands on both the armrests as you lean forward
Slowly stand up from the wheelchair by holding the armrests with both hands.
Depending on your injury, you may require someone to help you get out of the wheelchair safely and onto the resting place.
Additional Pressure Sores and Blister Prevention Tips
Patients and families need to look out for blisters and pressure sores that can happen from using the wheelchair.
Users who self-propel their wheelchair may come forth with blisters on their hands from the consistent friction against the hand rims.
Some wheelchair users wear gloves to protect their hands.
For long-term users, ergonomic hand rims have proven to improve comfort as well as reduce strain.
Sitting in a wheelchair for a long period can also lead to pressure sores.
They can develop at any point of contact between the skin and the chair surface.
Patients who are less mobile and tend to stay in one position are usually at a higher risk.
Checking the skin regularly for blisters or sores is important.
Make sure to let the doctor know about any skin changes.
Special care may be required for children who have treatment side effects such as skin problems, nerve damage, or increased risk of infection.
On mandatory, remember all of these wheelchair safety tips.
And do not forget that all of these tips are only general as well as basic.
As time goes by, you will find some more obstacles to your smooth-riding; nonetheless, they should not demotivate you.
We also recommend asking your questions for safe wheelchair usage when you purchase your wheelchair as the manufacturer always knows the best tips to meet you with.