When a doctor prescribes a wheelchair to a user, the wheelchair must fit the user’s needs. It is also very important that the wheelchair user has a great deal of input over the process.
Not only must their physical needs be met, but there are many other considerations, like where the person intends to use their wheelchair primarily, should be considered.
It is encouraged that new wheelchair users also talk with experienced wheelchair users and do a good deal of research on their own because often, doctors, while very well-meaning, are not very experienced with wheelchairs and have never actually used one for an extended period.
Due to health and safety concerns, the wheelchair must fit the user’s physical requirements.
Once the wheelchair arrives, everything should be remeasured and the wheelchair fully evaluated to ensure that it does fit the user’s needs. However, the doctor’s responsibility does not stop here.
Instead, the wheelchair and its effect on the user should be reevaluated with each visit to the doctor.
One of the most important things that a doctor should look for is how the wheelchair affects the posture of its user.
This is often something that can not be seen until after the user has been using the wheelchair for some time.
Proper posture is essential for wheelchair users because, over time, a poor sitting position can cause a great number of health problems.
The actual condition of the wheelchair should also be checked, and the user should be trained in how to maintain and care for their wheelchair properly.
This includes lubricating moving parts, removing and cleaning the components, adjusting the anti-tip casters, and regularly checking the wheelchairs bolts for tightness.
Emergency maintenance, such as how to fix a flat tire, should also be shown.
It is also very important that the wheelchair user be trained to navigate environmental factors that they might encounter.
This includes the ability to move over curbs, navigate steps, and travel on hills.
Proper transfer techniques should also be shown, and the user should be trained on how to fall out of the chair and recover.
Several places across the country offer a wheelchair obstacle course to help train new wheelchair users and experienced wheelchair users alike.
The doctor should also make sure that the user’s home area is wheelchair-friendly.
It may be necessary to widen doors, install ramps, or a wheelchair lift.
The doctor should talk with the patient and explain some of the options available.