Five Steps to Using a Public Bathroom As a Paraplegic

August 12, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

Living in the Bay Area, sometimes it’s hard to find any public restroom at all – who hasn’t bought some overpriced gum in order to use a store bathroom before? But if you’re a paraplegic, finding the restroom is only half the battle; what if there is no disabled stall? What if it’s too small? What if the floors are wet?

As you can see, using public restrooms in a wheelchair can be problematic. But as with all things wheelchair-related, we’d like to make it a little easier for you.

Here are five steps to using a public bathroom as a paraplegic:

  • Step 1: Check the doorway and the space inside

Doorways are often too narrow for a wheelchair to comfortably fit through – even if it is, you still might bang your hands on the doorframe. So check the doorway first, and then take a look at the inside. Will you be able to get around in there? Will turning the wheelchair be a problem?

  • Step 2: Use the disabled stall, and wait for it if you can

It will just be a lot easier. We understand you might not want to wait, but with the extra room and the grip bars, it’s probably worth it; if you can hold it.

  • Step 3: Sit your butt down

In the disabled stall, this will be made easier with the grip bars. But if you’re in a standard stall or a single-toilet restroom, then use whatever is at your disposal for stability. Set the wheelchair close to the toilet, but make sure it won’t affect your ability to transition from the chair to the toilet seat. Often, it’s easier to pull your pants down before starting the move, so they don’t get in the way later.

Engage the brakes, and use the wheelchair armrest and/or the wall or toilet tank to steady yourself. You want to carefully (but swiftly) lower yourself onto the toilet.

  • Step 4: Do your thing

You’ve got this step down, right?

  • Step 5: Lift yourself up

We want the scenario to be similar to when you sat down: Wheelchair facing you slightly, brakes engaged, and use what’s near you for safety and stability. It might be helpful to remove an armrest here, for easier access to the chair’s seat, but that’s based on your preference. Again, move carefully and swiftly, and always prioritize stability. The last thing we want here is a fall.

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