Wheelchairs greatly enhance the user’s range of mobility and ability to live independently, allowing us to be self-reliant, out of the home and into society.
A proper wheelchair can enhance the travel experience of wheelchair users. There are quite a few tricks on how to use it well!
Push your own wheelchair
1. Wheelchair pushing on flat ground
For people with partial wrist function
An injured person with only partial wrist function can push a wheelchair with the friction of the hand rim and the wheelchair outer tire, but only on a flat, unresisted surface.
If the friction is not sufficient or the ground is too resistant, their hand strength will not be sufficient to complete the wheelchair pushing motion. Note that gloves are required to prevent scratches when pushing the wheelchair.
Push forward: Push the wheel rims forward on both sides with the palm roots of both hands at the same time. Turn to the right and push the left wheel rim forward and the right wheel rim backward. (Turn left and vice versa)
2. cocked wheel
It means that the front wheels are off the ground and balanced on the rear wheels. If you learn to cock the wheel, it will be easy to pass when you encounter uneven roads.
Method 1: Outside assistance practice
a. Fasten the seat belt and lift the anti-tip bar.
b. The helper stands behind the wheelchair, uses one foot to step on the anti-tip bar, and presses down on the push handle with both hands to make the wheelchair tilt backward.
c. The injured person’s hand moves back and forth on the hand loop until a balance point is found, with little or no force from the helper, and the injured person can easily keep the wheelchair balanced by himself.
d. Then, maintaining this balance point, the helper can leave the wheelchair and just be there for protection.
Method 2: Practice independently by yourself
a. First place your hand directly above the hand rim; push forward to near the brake; pull back until the rear of the axle.
b. Then push forward quickly, bow your head and back, put your back against the back of the wheelchair and use your upper body weight to find the balance point of the cocked wheel. Note: Someone must be behind you when you start the exercise to protect the wheelchair from tipping backward.
Note: If you are about to fall inadvertently, you must remember to: lower your head to your chest, which will prevent your head from hitting the ground. Block your face with your arms to prevent your knees from touching your face.
Method 3: Wheelchair up and down the slope
Lean your body forward when going up the slope to prevent backward turning. Cock the front wheels when going down the slope, and control the balance and speed of the rear wheels with both hands.
Method 4: wheelchair up and down the steps
a. On the step: first put the front wheel on the step, then lean forward and push the rear wheel forward with both hands. This action is suitable for a step height of fewer than 10 centimeters a step.
b. Down the steps: cock the front wheel, hands to control the balance of the rear wheel down the steps, this action is suitable for steps less than 10 centimeters in height, if it is more than two steps, the width of each step is not less than 35 centimeters.
Outside help pushing wheelchairs
1. Method of going up and down the steps
Method 1: Going up the steps from the front
Place the wheelchair facing the steps; put one foot on the anti-tip bar or just press the push handle down to tilt the wheelchair backward and put the front wheels on the steps; hold the push handle, put your knee on the wheelchair and push the wheelchair onto the steps with your leg strength.
Method 2: Back on the step
The wheelchair is placed with its back to the step; the wheelchair is tilted back to a balanced angle by stepping on the anti-tip bar with one foot or by pressing down on the push handle only.
The body of the helper leans against the wheelchair to maintain mechanical balance, and the helper moves his or her feet slowly to find a suitable point of contact.
Maintain balance and carefully pull the wheelchair up the steps. Continue to pull the wheelchair backward until there is enough room to lower the front wheels.
Method 3: Back down the steps
Place the wheelchair with its back to the step, put your knees against the back of the wheelchair, and slowly put the rear wheels of the wheelchair under the step. Be careful to use your legs to control the speed of descent; step on the anti-tip bar with one foot or press down the push handle with your hand only to tilt the wheelchair backward. Lower the front wheels to the step.
Method 4: Frontal step down
Place the front wheels of the wheelchair against the edge of the step; step on the anti-tip bar with one foot or press the push handle downward only to tilt the wheelchair back to a balanced angle.
Maintain the cocked wheel, control the balance with the body and slowly place the rear wheel under the step.
After the rear wheel hits the ground, lower the wheelchair from the cocked wheelchair position and let the front wheel hit the ground.
2. Going up and downstairs
Method 1: One person assisting up the stairs
One person assists in going up the stairs. The helper grabs the push handle and pulls the wheelchair backward; the injured person pulls the stair handrail with one hand; the other hand paddles the wheel backward. If the injured person has good arm strength, he/she can also do this independently.
Method 2: Two people assisted on the stairs
a. Wheelchair back to the steps. One of the two assistants should be in front and one in the back. It is recommended that the stronger person stand behind. The person in the back should have one foot on top and one foot on the bottom.
The person in front grabs the frame on both sides of the wheelchair. If it is a larger wheelchair and the person in front is difficult to get close to the wheelchair frame, try to take off one side of the footrest and put both feet on the other side of the footrest so that you can get close to the frame and make it easier to make force.
b. Tilt the wheelchair backward so that the wheelchair is tilted back to a balanced angle. With the number of people in the back to 3, everyone pushes up a step together.
Then keep the wheelchair tilted at a slight pause at a balanced angle, adjust your posture, and continue up a step; when you reach the last step, continue to push the wheelchair forward until there is enough room to put down the front wheels.
Method 3: Two-person assistance down the stairs
The wheelchair faces the steps. The position of the helper is the same as when going up the stairs. The person in front firmly grasps the front frame of the wheelchair and the person behind grasps the push handle.
The person in the back uses one foot on the anti-tip bar or just presses down on the push handle to tilt the wheelchair backward and maintain balance. The person in the back counts to three and together they drop the wheelchair down a step.
Stop for a moment to adjust your posture. Continue to the next step; at the last step, continue to push the wheelchair forward until there is enough room to lower the front wheels.
Proper use of wheelchairs is very important. By acquiring the skills to operate a wheelchair through wheelchair training, wheelchair users can create the necessary conditions for better independent living and reintegration into society.
Wheelchairs are a necessity for people with disabilities and many older adults. In fact, the use of wheelchairs mastered these skills, as well as the “stable and far”, “play life”!