What to do if You Fall Out of Your Wheelchair

September 18, 2015 | 3:20 pm | By Pants Up Easy

There are many situations that are certainly undesirable ones to be in, and falling out of your wheelchair is one that tops the list. Not only can it be somewhat embarrassing, especially if you are a new wheelchair user, but it can be incredibly dangerous and may leave you feeling quite vulnerable as well. If you find yourself in this situation, remember the information below.

First of all, you should obviously take every safety precaution possible in order to avoid falling out of your wheelchair. Always lock your wheels in place before attempting a transfer, be extremely careful anytime you need to reach for something in front of or behind you, avoid placing heavy bags on the back of your chair as this may cause you to tip backward, and avoid wet areas that may lead to a loss of traction.

Of course, you can’t always prevent a fall, as they sometimes come about in the most random ways. If you do happen to fall out of your wheelchair, there are several things to keep in mind. The first thing you will need to do is make sure the wheels of your chair are locked in place. Without doing this, there is no way you will get the traction needed to pull yourself back into your chair.

If there is anyone in the vicinity who can help you, then ask for assistance. Doing this with the help of someone else will be much easier than attempting to do it on your own. If you’re in public, ask a kind stranger for help. If at home, your family members or friends should be able to help you up. Obviously, this is the best case scenario, although you may wish no one had been there to see you fall.

If you are on your own, things will be a bit more complicated. If you fell backwards and happen to have been wearing your seatbelt, you may be able to push yourself back upright while still strapped in. You will need to tighten your seat belt, arrange your feet and legs as close to their normal position as possible, and lock your wheels. Begin reaching for one of your wheels with the arm on the opposite side of the wheel. Prop yourself up on your other elbow, then reach a bit farther. Continue this process until you have gotten yourself to the point where you have one hand on the floor, and your chair begins to lift itself off the ground a bit. You will then gently push yourself up, careful not to topple to the front when you become upright. Have your opposite arm at the ready to catch yourself in case you do begin to fall forward.

If you fell out of your chair going forward, you will need to take a different approach. You will obviously want to lock your wheels, and your technique may vary a bit depending on your level of injury. If you have the ability, the best approach is to bring your knees up to your chest so that you aren’t pulling the entire weight of your legs with you. Sit with one side facing the chair, and arrange your legs so that they are stable and will stay in place. Place one arm in the chair with the other on the ground. Keep your head as far forward and close to your chest as possible, and push yourself up onto your feet as far as you are able. When you are ready, swing your body over into the chair. Once you are sitting back in your seat, arrange your feet on the foot rests and straighten the rest of your body out. This video is an excellent tutorial of how to attempt this process.

Obviously every wheelchair user will have a varying degree of ability, therefore it’s difficult to have a “one size fits all” approach to what to do if you fall out of your wheelchair. The best thing to do is to speak with your physical therapist and to develop a plan that you can practice with their assistance should you fall out of your wheelchair. Unfortunately, falls seem to be something that can’t be avoided at all times, so having a plan of action is absolutely necessary.

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