Wheelchairs come in many selections. All of them differ in the technology used and mechanisms of control. And while they vary in specific access needs, manual wheelchairs are the most basic among them.
Manual wheelchairs can be propelled by the user or pushed by a caregiver. While it takes practice to learn how to self-proper a wheelchair, with proper knowledge and determination, even kids can be skilled at using them.
Find out more about how to use a wheelchair by reading on.
Going forward in a wheelchair
Self-propel forward by gripping the wheelchair hand rims sitting near the back of the chair. Next, push forward, down on the hand rims, and let go. Move your hands back to the starting position and repeat the motion as needed.
Turning a wheelchair
To turn left, push forward on the right-hand rim to propel the right wheel forward while slowing down or stopping the left wheel.
To turn right, propel the left wheel forward as you hold still or slow down the right wheel.
Going backward in a wheelchair
To move backward, grip the hand rims near the front of the chair. Next, push back and down to move both wheels backward.
Remember, there are anti-tip bars that can be placed on the back of the wheelchair and close to the wheels to avoid backward tipping.
Stopping a wheelchair
If you’re planning to stop a wheelchair, you need to grip the hand rims and use friction to slow both wheels down. Wet rims need you to pinch the tire instead.
Bear in mind that friction renders heat, so be careful to avoid burnt hands, especially when stopping suddenly or going down a slope.
Going up and down curbs or small steps in a wheelchair
Nothing is safer in going up and down curbs than utilizing caregiver assistance. If you need to handle a curb independently, you need proper training and practice under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
To go up a curb, the caregiver has to position the wheelchair perpendicular to the curb or a small step. Then, arrange the front wheels near the curb edge. To lean the wheelchairs backward, the caregiver needs to use the handles just enough for the front wheels to clear the curb.
The caregiver should then push forward so that the front wheels are placed on the curb. He/she should continue pushing forward while lifting the handles until the rear wheels roll up the small step or curb.
To go down a curb, it’s advisable to go down backward. The caregiver needs to position the wheelchair facing the curb with the rear wheels near it. Then, slowly lower the rear wheels down the curb as the wheelchair leans slightly backward. This position allows the front wheels to clear the curb. Lastly, gently lower the front wheels to the ground.
Going up and down ramps in a wheelchair
When going up a ramp independently, lean slightly forward and use quick and short pauses to help your momentum.
On the other hand, when going downhill, be sure to maintain friction on the hand rims to fully control the speed. Remember that a caregiver should help in managing steep slopes.
Whether you’re going up or down a slope, make sure to keep the wheelchair in a straight manner to avoid tipping over.
Wheelchairs vary in size, comfort, and motion range. It all takes proper practice to use them effectively.
Knowing the basics of how to use a wheelchair is one thing. Patiently practicing them is another.
So, take make sure to contact trained healthcare professionals before you take matters into your own hands. After all, being able to enjoy mobility again is a journey.