How To Use A Wheelchair Safely

Regarding the long conversation you had with your medical therapist or the detailed guide with pieces of your advice you received in the store when buying it, a wheelchair can be a tough device to operate with. What you need to be mostly careful about is, of course, not hurting yourself in order to avoid additional traumas or chronic pain.

When it comes to using the wheelchair, there are many factors you should take under consideration – including the type of the chair (standard or electric, modern or traditional with no extra special convenient functions and etc), the period you are prescribed to use it, the availability of helpers behind you and many more.

Hence, there are lots of safety tips you should know and apply that are basically universal. We mean you have to keep them in mind on mandatory no matter what kind of a wheelchair you are in or whether you have a person that generally walks you around.

Today’s material of ours is devoted to these tips. We would like to offer you a specially tailored guide as to how to use a wheelchair safely. Below, you will find a great bunch of tips to keep in mind, follow and use.

1.  Choose the right surface

  • The safer the surface you are on, the easier your mobility with a wheelchair becomes. Though, which surface is indeed safe? And how to move around on the different general surfaces most people meet on a daily regular basis?
  • Keep yourself away of uneven surfaces. They deprive you of the top factor in the safe wheelchair moving – the balance. Note that if you have a person to help you, the uneven surface doesn’t become safer at all. Basically, avoiding inclines, staircases, curbs or different slopes is enough to get rid of eventual accidents.
  • Make sure to avoid sandy surfaces, too, as sand is the one that will slow the tires down. The problem becomes even bigger when the sand is in a big amount which will eventually deprive you of the balance at once and suddenly, while all sudden moves with the wheelchair are quite dangerous. It is never a shame to ask anyone around to help you with removing the sand to move along safely.
  • Bad weather makes any surface a potential danger. When it’s raining or snowing even the front door home alley gets unsafe no matter how well you know this starting route of your daily routine. What makes water to your path is sliding and spinning. Spinning becomes an extra dangerous factor on an icy surface.
  • Last, but not least, all holes should be avoided, too. It’s not only about a standard hole, by the way, but also about a ramp or a repair process on the road you suddenly observe on your way to your traditional walk in the afternoon.

2.  Important tips for not getting harmed

Mostly, avoiding a surface that is unsafe is significant for not breaking your wheelchair. In case of a significant breakage, hits and falling down are also possible. Yet, when it comes to avoiding getting harmed, there are additional tips you can have in mind:

  • Never forget about the center of the gravity. Here, we mean to at first get familiar with your body gravity center, as well as to keep looking for the most convenient and right position till you find it. The more you practice, though, the faster you will learn which movement causes a certain change in the wheelchair weight distribution and how to manage it.
  • When you need to bend backward – whether to reach or grab something behind you – use the casters in order to make as long wheelbase as it’s possible. Use your arm to reach the object in the best way trying not to change the position of your body or your wheelchair.
  • On the contrary, when you try to bend forward, the first thing you need to remember is that it’s very dangerous to reach the object if you position your body forward on the seat of the device. Instead of this risky movement, better position the casters, extend them in the right length, if necessary, but always away from the wheels and finally, use the locks a second before grabbing the object.
  • Every time you want to get out of the wheelchair, start with locking the breaks. If you use an electric wheelchair, simply turn off the power.
  • Adjust or lift footrests and armrests every time you perform a transfer. This will prevent you from injuries and even from falling down.
  • Do not put any heavy objects (bags, knapsacks and etc) at the backside of the device. If you do this, the device might tip backward in case of a transfer.
  • Try this idea for extra safety: place flashy items like flags to your wheelchair when you use it at nights. This is how drivers and people on feet can see from afar and prevent additional risks for you.
  • Never force your wheelchair when you use the staircases (the same goes for the inclines and slopes, too, by the way). As to the staircases, we strongly recommend you to avoid them if it is possible, including if you use a modern electric wheelchair.
  • If you feel any side to side motion, when you use your wheelchair, it’s a sign you need to replace the casters. By the way, this is a task you need to perform on a regular basis in order to avoid an accident during mobility on a higher speed.
  • Speaking of speed and electric wheelchair – make sure you have adjusted the best speed or mode for your regular routine, but never overact with the tempo functions. The high speed is a dangerous thing including in areas where automobiles or crowds of people move around.

3.  The best safety checklist to additionally have in mind when using a wheelchair safely



We would like to finish our material with a bunch of additional – once again general and easy to be understood or applied – safety tips. Here’s one effective checklist to always start your day with before getting on the wheelchair. Make sure everything is checked and then, go on your daily routine or your planned walk.

  • Adjust the footrest and armrest finely on mandatory before the start of your mobility on the wheelchair.
  • Check out the casters every single day and before the start of your walk. Sometimes, even when you replace them on a regular basis, certain damage might be caused to them the previous day.
  • If you have a built-in seat belt for more safety, don’t underestimate it, but use it. The more precautionary measures you apply, the safer and more comfortable your ride becomes.
  • Consider finding and placing reflective mirrors to additionally (except for the flags we have mentioned) to make yourself visible in all situations,  including dark places.
  • Always follow the traffic safety alerts. You are a pedestrian regardless the fact you are on wheels. Hence, the traffic signs for the cars should be always taken under consideration.
  • If you are on an electric wheelchair, never go out or for a long walk without fully charging your device. In addition to this, avoid situations when not having all of your accessories unlocked or used.
  • Every day is a new day and sometimes, the previous day was richer for your own capabilities and limitations, so today isn’t a good time to force your wheelchair. Here is where we mean that you need to move with your wheelchair basically independence with your health condition.
  • If you find your wheelchair broken, better skip the walk today and turn to a specialist. In most cases, it is not a good idea to repair the wheelchair on your own. Always turn to an expert in the field and the best alternative is to reach the manufacturer.

On mandatory, consider all of these wheelchair safety tips. Yet, don’t forget that all of them are only general and basic. With time you will find quite more obstacles to your smooth riding, however, they shouldn’t demotivate you. On the contrary – they are just additional factors you should keep in mind and focus on for a fine, comfortable and risk-free walk.

We also recommend you to ask your questions for safe wheelchair mobility when you buy your wheelchair as the manufacturer knows the best tips to meet you with.

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