Transferring in a Wheelchair

December 14, 2015 | 5:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

When you’re in a wheelchair, you come to realize that some things are simply more difficult; situations that wouldn’t pose a problem for non-disabled folks suddenly become a lot more complicated. For instance, going out in the rain. Most folks don’t have to worry about taking extra precautions just because it sprinkled, but wheelchair users must be ready for slick pavement and puddles. Because if you have a slip or an accident, you’re likely going to need help to pick yourself up, or have a heck of a time doing it by yourself.

Transferring is another such challenge faced by wheelchair users. Yes, simply moving from your wheelchair to a seat can be a major ordeal if you don’t practice good habits and patience. Here are four things you should know about transferring in a wheelchair:

It’s best if you have some help

You definitely need to learn to transfer on your own, but safety should always be a top priority. Therefore, if you can get some help transferring, you should definitely take it. Unfortunately, wheelchair users know that falls are a major concern, which is why you should take every precaution to avoid them. That includes accepting some help.

Stability is key

Whenever you’re moving your butt out of the chair, you’re going to be a bit unstable. Our legs are meant to provide stability, but without the use of them, they can’t provide much help. Therefore, it’s imperative that everything else in the scenario be stable. The wheelchair should have brakes applied and be stationary, and the area you’re transferring to should be equally secure and stable.

Your butt will carry the weight

This might sound silly, but it’s actually very important. Your rear end plays a big role in stabilizing you (no pun intended!), and getting your butt down on the transfer target is crucial. The moment your butt leaves the chair is also very critical – not only will this be one of your most vulnerable moments, it is also a key turning point. Once your butt is down on the transfer target, the rest of the transfer becomes much easier.

You will rely heavily on your arms

Without the use of your legs, your arms suddenly become that much more integral. They will be used to prop yourself up, propel your body in any direction, and stabilize yourself as you transfer. You definitely need to get used to a lot of arm activity, so consider investing in some simple dumbbells or other weights for some arm strength training. You don’t need to become a workout nut, but a little extra arm strength will go a long way.

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