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According to a recent survey of wheelchair users, comfort is their most important issue. Just as drivers are willing to pay more for comfort, wheelchair users are likewise willing to pay more to be comfortable. Wheelchair users spend an average of 15 hours a day in their chairs; therefore, it is understandable why comfort would be a high priority.
While comfort rightfully is a big issue for wheelchair users, safety seems to have been put aside for comfort. The remainder of this article will focus on issues of wheelchair safety, maintenance and the proper use of a wheelchair.
Checking your Chair's Brakes
The leading wheelchair safety issue is the brakes. Always make sure the brakes are holding properly by doing regular checks, otherwise it could lead to harm for the user. Good brakes are crucial when transferring into or out of the wheelchair. Faulty brakes could cause the chair to move during transfer and can cause the user to fall and suffer serious injuries.
Should the fall cause further injury or if the user cannot pull themselves back into the chair, they will be stuck until help arrives. Even if they have the strength to get back into the chair, the faulty brakes are still an issue and getting into a moving wheelchair is challenging and unsafe.
The second big issue of wheelchair safety is stability and balance. Here are some simple tips you can follow to maintain stability and balance with a wheelchair:
- Make use of your seating strap if available.
- Never lean forward beyond the armrests. If you do have to lean forward, always make sure the casters are pointing in the forward direction to maintain stability.
- Don't try to get objects from the floor by reaching between your knees.
- The wheelchair can tip over if you shift your weight in the direction you are reaching.
- Do not reach back over the seat back or you could tumble over.
- Avoid riding over curbs or obstacles.
- Never tilt the wheelchair unless you have help.
- Do not use escalators unassisted.
- Stay away from inclines that have ice, water or oil spills on it.
- Do not try going up or down any type of incline more than 9 degrees.
Thirdly, here are some easy rules to follow when helping someone in a wheelchair:
- The assistant should always let the wheelchair user know what is happening, no sudden movements.
- The assistants should use correct body posture for their own safety. Back straight and knees slightly bent is the correct position when tipping the wheelchair or moving it over curbs.
- If a wheelchair doesn't have a tipping bar, two people are need if tipping is required.
Keep the above tips in mind and you can fully enjoy your wheelchair experience.