As medical technology advances, people are living longer. And with the ageing population, individuals have to rely on wheelchairs for various different reasons. This safe and popular personal mobility aid is designed to allow users to maintain a degree of independence and comfort while enjoying life to the fullest.
While using a wheelchair is straightforward most of the time, there are still potential safety risks that you need to be careful of, whether you are using a wheelchair yourself or caring for a wheelchair user.
1. Transferring from and to a wheelchair
There is a high risk of injuries when transiting from and to a wheelchair, regardless of the user and caregiver. The motion of lifting and transferring oneself or the user to another surface can run the risk of injuring the neck, arms, and back, and even falls.
There are proper transfer techniques to help avoid such injuries. Additionally, you might want to ensure the floor is levelled and that the wheelchair’s brakes are locked in place to prevent any unnecessary movement. If you do not have enough strength to transfer the other person, relying on transfer aids, such as slide boards and lifts, or getting help from another individual is much recommended.
2. Falling and tripping
Falling and tipping are huge concerns for wheelchair users. There are many possible reasons for them falling or tipping over, such as:
- Carrying bags on the wheelchair handles
- Travelling on curbs, hills, and uneven surfaces
- Leaning too far forward
- Sitting incorrectly
- Using a wrong-sized wheelchair
It is vital that you head down to the store to test their wheelchairs before purchasing them. Choosing the right-sized wheelchair is critical. Additionally, consider the various types of wheelchairs, from lightweight to self-propelled and motorised ones. Consider the available space you have at home to store them as well as how frequently you will use them.
Self-propelled wheelchairs require lots of upper body strength to manoeuvre. If you are new to a wheelchair, it can pose a significant challenge to get used to moving it. While using it regularly certainly will help you to build up strength, it should not be considered an exercise.
Prolonged exertion can place unnecessary stress on certain joints and muscles, leading to overexertion and strain. Ensure that you conduct targeted exercises that help you build strength and flexibility to help you use your wheelchair efficiently. If mobility is really an issue, you might just want to consider getting electric wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
4. Poor maintenance and wheelchair faults
Regular upkeep is imperative to ensure your wheelchair works optimally. Daily use can result in various parts wearing and tearing over time, making the wheelchair unsafe to use. Key components that you must maintain regularly include the seat, wheels, tyres, and brakes. Ensure that they are inspected regularly so that any damages can be rectified immediately.
For electric wheelchairs, you will have to conduct regular checks on the motor and batteries. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to store them safely as well as when to service them.
Using a wheelchair is rather straightforward and safe. However, as with any personal mobility aids, there are potential risks if safety is not well observed. Should you have any questions about the type of wheelchair or other mobility aids that are suitable for you or your loved ones, do not hesitate to contact Falcon Mobility for help.