Four Mistakes Brand New Wheelchair Users Make

June 20, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

Being in a wheelchair is not the problem that it used to be. Just consider all of the social stigmas that wheelchair users were subject to in the past. The Americans with Disabilities Act isn’t even 30-years-old yet – businesses and employers weren’t required to provide reasonable accommodations before it existed. And even so, people still look at wheelchair users differently.

So here’s our first “mistake”: being offended at the ignorance of others. Perhaps calling it a mistake isn’t completely accurate, but we’re advising you not to do it, anyway. Try your best not to get frustrated or upset with folks who act strangely or weirdly around you, because of the wheelchair. Unfortunately, it will happen too often, and getting worked up about it constantly is just going to upset you. Don’t bother. Some people still need to learn.

What other mistakes should you watch out for? Here are three additional:

Underestimating the need for core strength

Sometimes you hear people talking about “working their cores” and it probably sounds like a bunch of malarkey. But core or “trunk” strength is vital for wheelchair users. Having strength in your torso provides a lot of leverage when trying to move around or lift yourself in the chair. And it’s especially important when you’re paraplegic.

Failing to consider the ground

You need to think about the ground a lot now – specifically, what is it made out of? Traveling over smooth concrete is a breeze, but what about an outdoor gardening section of the store? The park? A gravel parking lot? These are things that were irrelevant before, but now you have wheels to consider. Have you ever pushed a wheelchair on gravel? It’s not fun.

Being careless and/or reckless

Listen, you can’t fall out of your wheelchair; avoid it at all costs. Not only is this dangerous (because you could hurt yourself), but how are you going to get back in the wheelchair? If you’re alone, you could be on the floor for a while. Therefore, be very careful with how you navigate and move in the wheelchair, at least in the beginning. You might be surprised by the quickness of a turn and end up on the ground.

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