How To Use A Wheelchair Safely

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Regarding the long conversation you had with your medical therapist or the detailed guide with pieces of your advice you received in the store when buying it, a wheelchair can be a tough device to operate with.

Of course, you need to care about most, not hurting yourself to avoid additional traumas or chronic pain.


When it comes to using the wheelchair, there are many factors you should take under consideration – including the type of the chair (standard or electric, modern or traditional with no extra special convenient functions, etc.), the period you are prescribed to use it, the availability of helpers behind you and many more.


Hence, there are lots of safety tips you should know and apply that are universal.

We mean you have to keep them in mind on mandatory no matter what kind of a wheelchair you are in or whether you have a person that generally walks you around.


Today’s material is devoted to these tips.

We want to offer you a specially tailored guide as to how to use a wheelchair safely.

Below, you will find a great bunch of tips to keep in mind, follow and use.


1, Choose the right surface

The safer the surface you are on, the easier your mobility with a wheelchair becomes.

Though, which surface is indeed safe?

And how to move around on the different general surfaces most people meet on a regular daily basis?

Keep yourself away from uneven surfaces.

They deprive you of the top factor in the safe wheelchair moving – the balance. Note that if you have a person to help you, the uneven surface doesn’t become safer at all.

Avoiding inclines, staircases, curbs or different slopes is enough to eliminate eventual accidents.

Make sure to avoid sandy surfaces, too, as sand is the one that will slow the tires down.

The problem becomes even bigger when the sand is in a big amount which will eventually deprive you of the balance at once and suddenly, while sudden moves with the wheelchair are quite dangerous.

It is never a shame to ask anyone around to help you remove the sand to move along safely.

Bad weather makes any surface a potential danger.

When it’s raining or snowing, even the front door home alley gets unsafe no matter how well you know this starting route of your daily routine.

What makes water to your path is sliding and spinning. Spinning becomes an extra dangerous factor on an icy surface.

Last but not least, all holes should be avoided, too.

It’s not only about a standard hole, by the way, but also about a ramp or a repair process on the road you suddenly observe on your way to your traditional walk in the afternoon.


2, Important tips for not getting harmed

Mostly, avoiding an unsafe surface is significant for not breaking your wheelchair.

In case of a significant breakage, hits and falling are also possible.

Yet, when it comes to avoiding getting harmed, there are additional tips you can have in mind:

Never forget about the center of gravity. Here, we mean first to get familiar with your body’s gravity center and keep looking for the most convenient and right position till you find it.

The more you practice, though, the faster you will learn which movement causes a certain change in the wheelchair weight distribution and how to manage it.

When you need to bend backward – whether to reach or grab something behind you – use the casters to make as long-wheelbase as it’s possible.

Use your arm to reach the object in the best way, trying not to change the position of your body or your wheelchair.

On the contrary, when you try to bend forward, the first thing you need to remember is that it’s very dangerous to reach the object if you position your body forward on the device’s seat.

Instead of this risky movement, better position the casters, extend them in the right length, if necessary, but always away from the wheels and finally, use the locks a second before grabbing the object.

Every time you want to get out of the wheelchair, start with locking the breaks.

If you use an electric wheelchair, turn off the power.

Adjust or lift footrests and armrests every time you perform a transfer. This will prevent you from injuries and even from falling.

Do not put any heavy objects (bags, knapsacks, etc.) at the backside of the device. If you do this, the device might tip backward in case of a transfer.

Try this idea for extra safety: place flashy items like flags in your wheelchair when you use them at night.

This is how drivers and people on their feet can see from afar and prevent additional risks for you.

Never force your wheelchair when you use the staircases (the same goes for the inclines and slopes, too, by the way).

As to the staircases, we strongly recommend you avoid them if possible, including if you use a modern electric wheelchair.

If you feel any side-to-side motion when you use your wheelchair, it’s a sign you need to replace the casters.

By the way, this is a task you need to perform regularly to avoid an accident during mobility at a higher speed.

Speaking of speed and electric wheelchair – make sure you have adjusted the best speed or mode for your routine, but never overact with the tempo functions.

High speed is dangerous, including in areas where automobiles or crowds of people move around.


3, The best safety checklist to additionally have in mind when using a wheelchair safely

We want to finish our material with many additional safety tips, general and easy to understand or apply.

Here’s one effective checklist to always start your day with before getting on the wheelchair.

Make sure everything is checked and then, go on your daily routine or your planned walk.

Adjust the footrest and armrest finely on mandatory before the start of your mobility on the wheelchair.

Check out the casters every single day and before the start of your walk.

Sometimes, even when you replace them regularly, certain damage might be caused the previous day.

If you have a built-in seat belt for more safety, don’t underestimate it, but use it.

The more preventive measures you apply, the safer and more comfortable your ride becomes.

Consider finding and placing reflective mirrors to additionally (except for the flags we have mentioned) make yourself visible in all situations, including dark places.

Always follow the traffic safety alerts.

You are a pedestrian regardless of the fact you are on wheels.

Hence, the traffic signs for the cars should always be taken under consideration.

If you are in an electric wheelchair, never go out or for a long walk without fully charging your device.

In addition to this, avoid situations when not having all of your accessories unlocked or used.

Every day is a new day, and sometimes, the previous day was richer for your capabilities and limitations, so today isn’t a good time to force your wheelchair.

We mean that you need to move with your wheelchair, basically independent of your health condition.

If you find your wheelchair broken, better skip the walk today and turn to a specialist.

In most cases, it is not a good idea to repair the wheelchair on your own.

Always turn to an expert in the field, and the best alternative is to reach the manufacturer.

On mandatory, consider all of these wheelchair safety tips.

Yet, don’t forget that all of them are only general and basic.

With time you will find quite more obstacles to your smooth riding. However, they shouldn’t demotivate you.

On the contrary – they are just additional factors you should keep in mind and focus on for a fine, comfortable and risk-free walk.

We also recommend you to ask your questions for safe wheelchair mobility when you buy your wheelchair as the manufacturer knows the best tips to meet you with.

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Picture of Mr. Vincent
Mr. Vincent

International Market Director of TOUSDA, Rehabilitation Therapy Products Experts, Son, Husband, and Father.
Passionate about providing high-quality rehabilitation therapy products, especially wheelchair, electric wheelchair, commode wheelchair, commode chair, mobility aids, walking aids, crutch, walking stick, etc., and share the latest news, tips, blogs, advice, knowledge about the medical industry field.
Excited about TOUSDA's mission to become the premier online medical technology platform that empowers caregivers by spotlighting innovative devices and products to achieve optimal patient response and recovery.


Notes: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.
Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

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