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Wheelchair Buyer's Guide
|Safety/Handling of Wheelchairs|
Be aware of your Center-of-Gravity
Many activities require the wheelchair user to reach, bend and transfer in and out of the wheelchair. These movements will cause a change to normal balance, center-of-gravity, and weight distribution of the wheelchair. To determine and establish your particular safety limits, practice bending, reaching and transferring activities in several combinations in the presence of another individual BEFORE attempting active use of the wheelchair.
Proper positioning is essential for your safety. When reaching, leaning, bending sideways or forward, it is important to use the casters as a tool to maintain stability and balance.
|Coping with everyday obstacles|
Coping with the irritation of everyday obstacles can be somewhat alleviated by learning how to manage your wheelchair. Keep in mind your center-of-gravity to maintain stability and balance.
|Reaching, Leaning and Bending - Forward|
Position the casters so that they are extended away from the drive wheels and engage wheel locks. Never attempt to reach an object if you have to move forward in the seat or pick them up from the floor by reaching between your knees.
|Reaching, Bending- Backward|
Position wheelchair as close as possible to the desired object. Position the casters so the are extended away from the drive wheels to create the longest possible wheelbase. Reach back only as far as your arm will extend without changing your sitting position.
When tipping the wheelchair, an assistant should grasp the back of the wheelchair on a non-removable part. Inform the wheelchair occupant before tipping the wheelchair and remind them to lean back. Be sure the occupant's feet and hands are clear of all wheels and/or any other pinch points.
|Know your own capabilities and limitations|
Know your own capabilities and limitations in terms of strength and endurance before attempting to negotiate an incline or decline. Practice with an attendant or healthcare professional first before attempting any inclines, declines, curbs or ramps. Always inspect the ramp, incline, decline, or any pathway for hazards such as holes, obstacles, slippery or uneven surfaces, etc. before proceeding. If you cannot see the entire ramp, ask someone to inspect it for you.
Curbs should only be negotiated with the assistance of an attendant. The following are suggestions only for how to negotiate curbs. It is important for you to develop your own safe technique that is best suited for your abilities with the aid of your healthcare professional. Curbs, steps, and stairways are dangerous obstacles that confront the wheelchair user. When you encounter these obstacles, try to find a way around them by using curb cuts, ramps or designated disabled elevators now available in most areas.