Wheelchair Transferring: What Do I need to know if I’m a Quadriplegic?

September 26, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

If you recently became a quadriplegic due to a spinal cord injury, then you may be overwhelmed with all there is to learn about your new way of life. Getting around and doing regular tasks are more difficult and may require a large amount of creativity and adaptation. One of the new skills you will need to master is wheelchair transferring because it will be a part of your daily life as a quadriplegic. As you start learning about and attempting the wheelchair transfer process there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

1. Your ability to transfer in and out of your wheelchair independently depends of your type of spinal cord injury.

The term quadriplegic means that you have complete lower body paralysis and some type of upper body impairment due to a spinal cord injury. The impairment can result in partial or total loss of function in the upper body. The term for a total loss of function and sensation is a complete spinal cord injury. An incomplete spinal cord injury means that some sensation and/or function remain. In addition, the place in the spinal cord where your injury occurred impacts the amount of function possible.

If you have an incomplete spinal cord injury, speak with your doctor about the possibility of learning independent wheelchair transferring. If you have the necessary strength and function in your upper body, there are tools and techniques that can aid you in safely transferring in and out of your wheelchair.

2. There are tools and technology that can help with wheelchair transferring.

There is a wide array of technology and tools that have been developed for people with spinal cord injuries. For example, an adjustable bed can help you in the transfer process from the bed to the wheelchair and vice versa. You can use a transfer board to help with the transition from wheelchair to car seat and a variety of other situations. These are just two of the many options available to help you transfer independently in and out of your wheelchair.  

3. Safety should always come first.

As a quadriplegic, there are some tasks that simply are not possible for you to do on your own. So it is understandable for you to want to be as independent as possible in the areas where you are able. When it comes to transferring yourself in and out of your wheelchair, you must put safety above independence. Wheelchair transferring requires both strength and endurance. It will take time for you to develop both of those, so try and be patient. If you get injured by attempting ‘too much too soon’ that would be a significant setback.

When you try a new transfer independently, do so with someone nearby who can offer assistance if needed. If you decide to use the help of transferring tools, such as a board, make sure and have someone train you in its’ proper use.

Try and take your time as you learn about the options and process related to wheelchair transferring. Talk to your doctors, therapists, and other people who are wheelchair bound to get advice on the best tools, technology, and techniques. And remember, your safety is always the number one priority!

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