October 16, 2015 | 3:17 pm | By Pants Up Easy
If you weren’t always a wheelchair user, then you definitely had to go through an adjustment period once you lost the use of your legs. This can be a very challenging time, full of unintended consequences and unforeseen difficulties. For instance, did you ever think that transferring would become one of your life’s most constant concerns?
By transferring, we’re referring to transferring on and off of your wheelchair, and it’s much harder than it seems. One of the primary purposes of our legs is to provide support: support for our upper torso when we want to do almost anything, such as walk, stand or bend over. But if you don’t have your legs to support you, many ordinary tasks suddenly become taxing, including transferring.
So how can you make this particular task easier? Here are five transferring tips:
Build up your arm strength
This is more of a life tip for wheelchair users, but it will make transferring much easier. When you’re in a wheelchair, you have to transfer pretty regularly, and that involves supporting much of your weight with your arms. Doing some light weightlifting or other exercise to strengthen those arms could do a world of good.
Always use the brakes
Some people seem to think they have complete control of their wheelchair at all times, and a select few kind of do: but why take the risk? It’s just safer to put the brakes on, to prevent untimely rolling or moving.
Grab a hold of your destination
Wherever you’re transferring to, ensure you hold onto something attached. Transferring to a car? Grab the doorframe or put your hand directly on the seat first. Transferring to the couch? Grab the armrest. It doesn’t matter what you hold onto, just grip something to help ease yourself down onto the target area.
Approach the destination at an angle
Your goal when positioning yourself to transfer should be to make the transfer as painless and unobstructed as possible. Therefore, you should come toward the target area at an angle, positioned so the wheelchair is partially facing the target, but with one wheel nearly adjacent to the target. You can see an illustration of this positioning here.
That way, you’ll be able to move toward the target without obstruction, but can still reach out and grab a hold of the target area (as mentioned above).
Get your rear end down first
You need stability when you’re transferring from a wheelchair, and the quickest way to get stable is to get your butt down. Once your rear end is securely down on the target, you know you’re not going anywhere. Then you can pull your feet in and adjust yourself without fear of tumbling.