Do you know how many injuries happen each year from people who use wheelchairs? What if I told you that the number is staggering? Injuries from wheelchairs can occur when a wheelchair isn't properly adjusted for the person or when it isn't used correctly. No matter who uses the wheelchair, there are a few things to consider before using it.
Here is the wheelchair safety checklist:
- Seat height
- Seat depth
- Armrests and footrests
- Limb restraints
- Cushion and back support
- Frame type
1. Check Wheelchair Brakes
One of the most essential wheelchair safety features is the brake. It's crucial to make sure that the brake is working properly and is adjusted correctly for the person using it. When testing the brakes, apply pressure evenly to both wheels. The wheelchair should stop quickly. If it doesn't, there might be a problem with the brake, or it might need to be adjusted.
Whether it's a power or manual wheelchair, the brake is an important safety feature. Be sure to check it before every use.
2. Ensure the Seat Height is Comfortable
When checking the wheelchair seat height, make sure that it's at a comfortable level for the person using it. This will depend on their size and weight as well as arm length. If there are leg rests on the chair, they should fit under them with ease when sitting in an upright position.
If the seat height isn't comfortable, it can lead to discomfort or even injury, particularly over an extended period of time. Be sure to adjust it as needed.
3. Adjust the Seat Depth Accordingly
The seat depth should also be checked to make sure it's comfortable. The person sitting in the wheelchair should be able to comfortably reach the armrests and footrests. If not, the seat depth might need to be adjusted.
It's vital that the person can sit comfortably in the chair so they can be in the appropriate position to use their upper body strength.
Seat depth can be adjusted by setting it further back or forward depending on what is most comfortable for the person using it. While checking this, also make sure that the person can easily slide their feet in and out of the footrests.
4. Check the Armrests and Footrests
The armrests and footrests should also be checked to ensure they're in the correct position for the user. They should be adjustable to fit the person's body properly.
If the armrests are too low, it can cause discomfort or injury. Be sure to adjust them as needed. The same goes for the footrests. If they're too high, it can be difficult for the person to put their feet in them.
5. Make Sure Limb Restraints are in Place
If the wheelchair has limb restraints, be sure to put them in place before using them. These should fit snugly around the person's arms and legs so that they're secure in the wheelchair. When not in use, ensure they're properly stored, so they don't get in the way.
If the limb restraints aren't used or are loose, it can be dangerous for the person using the wheelchair. Make sure they're tightened and in place before every use.
6. Check the Cushion and Back Support
The cushion and back support are also crucial for wheelchair safety. The person should be able to sit comfortably in the wheelchair with good lumbar support. If not, the cushion or back support might need to be adjusted.
7. Check the Frame Type
There are two types of wheelchair frames: rigid and folding. The type of frame you choose will depend on your needs and what's most comfortable for you.
Rigid frames don't fold, but they're more sturdy and can support more weight. Folding frames are easier to transport but might not be as sturdy.
Be sure to check the frame type before using the wheelchair and choose the best one for you or your loved one.
Following these safety tips will help ensure a safe and comfortable experience when using a wheelchair. Checking the brakes, adjusting the seat height, and making other necessary adjustments will allow you or your loved one to be as comfortable and secure as possible.