5 Things Veterans Should Know if They Are New to a Wheelchair

August 19, 2015 | 10:31 am | By Pants Up Easy

Many veterans suffer a tragic injury in the line of duty that may result in wheelchair use. While this can be quite a shock and a major adjustment, it doesn’t have to be an overall negative experience. Many veterans go on to embrace their situations and find new interests and hobbies that they may have never experienced in their previous lives. For those veterans who are new to life as a wheelchair user, there are five things that they should know.

  1. Preparation & Knowledge are Essential

After suffering from an injury that results in the need for wheelchair assistance, there are many things that you must learn. This will be an entirely new way of life, and finding out the most information possible upfront is key. Learning everything you possibly can about what to expect from life in a wheelchair is vital. Speak with your doctor and your physical therapists in your rehab facility about what to expect. Ask about limitations that you may face, advice on adapting to your new way of life, and expectations for ongoing therapy. Connect with other wheelchair users in your area to become a part of a community of others who face the same challenges and have gone through similar experiences. The more knowledge you gain up front, the better.

  1. Life Can Still Be an Adventure

As a veteran, you are most likely used to a life full of adrenaline pumping thrills and challenges. The thought of living your life in a wheelchair may make you feel as if those days are long gone. The excellent news is that with modern technology and advancements, there isn’t much that is off limits. Wheelchairs are being designed with athletic users and adventurers in mind. Whether you love the game of basketball, were an avid skier, or prefer to spend your time exploring the great outdoors, you can still do it. Research wheelchairs created with your specific interests in mind, and let that motivate you to get back to your active lifestyle.

  1. There Will Be Stereotypes and Assumptions

Although very few people have negative thoughts or feelings toward wheelchair users, there are still unfortunate stereotypes and assumptions that will be made. Other people may assume that you need more assistance than you do, and may make you feel somewhat helpless. Others may be unsure of how to communicate with you, leaving you feeling ignored. Still others, even those who love you, may have feelings of guilt regarding your injury or pity that you are now in this situation, which can make things feel strained or awkward. The most important thing to remember is that in general, no one is trying to make you feel uncomfortable or as though you are lesser than. If you approach life as if you do not have a disability whenever possible, others will follow suite.

  1. A Positive Attitude Is Essential

This doesn’t necessarily apply to only the fact that you are a wheelchair user, but should be a mantra for every day life. Although you may initially feel depressed and upset at the changes you are facing, it’s important to remain as positive as possible. Of course, life will be different as a wheelchair user, but that doesn’t mean it will be any less fulfilling. Once you have come to terms with your future, it’s important to remain as positive as you possibly can about your life going forward. While you may face limitations, you can still create goals and dream dreams, and making them happen is absolutely within your reach. A positive attitude is the most important tool at your disposal, so make sure you always have it with you.

  1. You Can Make a Difference

Many people have the utmost respect and admiration for all that you have done as a veteran. You have a voice and the possibility to make a difference, not only in the wheelchair community, but beyond. Once you have adjusted to your life in a wheelchair, look for opportunities to reach out and speak to others in similar situations. Most newly injured people do not want to accept the fact that they will be facing life in a wheelchair, and may not be open to hearing from you. But there are many others who may be looking for a bit of encouragement and inspiration, and you have the ability to give that to them. By keeping a positive attitude about your situation as mentioned above, you will do wonders not only for yourself, but for others you meet.


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