The Key to Wheelchair Safety: Stability

May 6, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

We have many helpful tips here on our blog, which I hope you’ll take a moment to peruse when we’re done here. And one common theme you’ll find across our blog articles is the idea of stability.

When you’re in a wheelchair, stability is of the utmost importance for a simple reason: you don’t want to fall. Falling out of a wheelchair is something everyone is concerned with (we’ve written about that, too), and you probably should be; especially if you’re unable to pick yourself up off the floor. But if you’re smart and always focus on stability, we can keep you upright and in that chair, right where you want to be.

The chair must always be stable

You need a reliable and sturdy wheelchair, since this is your primary means of transportation. And most medical insurance (including Medicare) should cover a wheelchair if you physically require one, so always check with them for financial help before you come out-of-pocket.

Your chair needs reliable brakes and you should feel secure whenever you’re seated in it, without fear of falling. And remember to keep your weight as far back in the seat as possible, to avoid slipping out or altering the balance. If you’re having trouble with control, you can always look into “anti-tippers” – small extensions that will prevent the chair from tipping over.

Don’t transfer unless stability is assured

This is another key area for stability. Whenever you’re transferring, you’re physically lifting your body from the chair – and that introduces unpredictability. When your butt is out of the seat, you’re relying on your arm strength or someone else to keep you stable, and that can go wrong.

If you’re transferring alone, always engage the brakes and ensure you’re as close to the target area as possible. You should place one arm on the target area and grab hold of something – a ledge, a handlebar, a table – to provide stability. And don’t ever begin a transfer until you have a firm and stable grasp, to ensure you won’t wobble once you’re in the air. Wobbling means instability, which could easily turn into a tumble.

One other stability concern: the floor beneath

Your home should be well-equipped for handling wheelchair travel, but not all places will be. Something as simple as a county fair could have a terribly uneven gravel parking lot that would be a nightmare to navigate in a wheelchair; especially alone. Therefore, always take the floor into consideration when leaving the house. If you anticipate problems at a specific location, be sure to bring help along or call ahead to ask about accommodations for the disabled.

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