If you are using a manual wheelchair, for whatever reason, whether permanently or just for a short period of time, it is important that you know how to use it properly to ensure you stay safe at all times.
Before you are given a wheelchair to use an Occupational Therapist will run through the basics of how to use it but it is always good to do some research yourself as well as taking the time to get used to your new chair to figure out the best way for you to use your chair.
Opening the Wheelchair
The safest way to open a wheelchair is to push down and outward on the sides of the seating. The seat should unfold like a book, opening up the rest of the wheelchair in the process. Make sure you place your fingers inside the seat when opening to avoid them getting trapped. Place your seat cushion in the chair with the ‘BACK’ label facing the rear of the wheelchair.
Closing the wheelchair
Remove your seat cushion and lift the footplates into the upright position. When you are alongside the wheelchair grasp the seat cover at the front and rear of the chair and lift it straight up; this will fold the chair completely. Don’t lift via any detachable part of the wheelchair as this can cause injury.
Getting into your wheelchair
When you sit in your chair always make sure that the brakes are applied first to prevent it rolling. Also, make sure the footplates are folded up and out of the way. Use the armrests to lower yourself into the chair slowly and securely having someone assist you if you need help. Once you are sat in the wheelchair, lower the footplates and place your feet in them so they are comfortable.