Transferring in a Wheelchair: 5 Safety Tips

September 21, 2015 | 10:52 am | By Pants Up Easy

If you are a wheelchair user, you almost certainly transfer to and from your chair several times a day. Since this is simply an inevitable part of your life, it’s essential that you know the best and most safe way to go about a transfer. Below you will find five safety tips for the best way to transfer in a wheelchair.

  1. Practice Makes Perfect

If you are new to a wheelchair, transferring may seem quite tricky. It’s important that you receive the proper training and guidance for the best and safest way to transfer to and from your wheelchair from a trained professional. Your physical therapists will most likely be the ones to guide you through the process. Before setting out on your own, make sure you have spent ample time practicing safe transfers while surrounded by others who can help you should you find yourself in an unsafe position. The more you practice, the more confidently you will be able to transfer when on your own.

  1. Limit Your Transfers

The best way to avoid getting into a difficult or dangerous situation when transferring to and from your wheelchair is to do so as little as possible. Of course there are certain situations where you will have to transfer, such as getting in and out of bed or using the restroom, but whenever possible, avoid frequent transfers. As long as your chair is comfortable and you are able to shift your weight frequently to avoid sitting in one position for too long, avoiding unnecessary transfers is your best bet for staying safe.

  1. Get Situated

When you do find it necessary to transfer to or from your wheelchair, it’s important that you take the time to get situated before attempting the move. You will want to position yourself as close as possible to the surface that you will be transferring to. Make sure that the wheels on your chair are locked so that the chair will remain stationary. Move to the edge of your seat, and move armrests so that they are out of the way. Lean forward, and keep your arms as close to your body as possible. If you are able to, complete the transfer in one smooth movement.

  1. Use Helpful Tools

If transferring to and from your chair is quite difficult, you may want to consider using a transfer board. These tools are made to help you safely move from your chair to another surface and back again. There are many different types of transfer boards available, made of different materials and in different shapes. Your specific needs and personal preference will determine which transfer board is the best fit for you.

  1. Take it Slow

Finally, be sure to take things slow as you go about your transfer. Make sure you have gotten things appropriately situated and that you are safe to make a move before you begin your transfer. Be sure to watch out for any obstacles that could trip you up or that you could get caught on. This can lead to injury or dangerous falls if you aren’t careful. If you have difficulty performing the actual transfer, do it in several small steps rather than one swift movement. This is especially important if you are a new wheelchair user. A false sense of confidence can cause a potentially harmful injury, so it’s best to take your time to ensure that you are conducting your transfers safely and carefully.

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