Wheelchair Safety Tips from Always Best Care, Clinton Township
In 2003, more than 100,000 wheelchair related injuries were treated in emergency departments in the US, which is more than double the number reported in 1991. Tips and falls accounted for 65–80% of injuries across all age groups of wheelchair users (Xiang et al., 2006).
Now, with the rapid aging of the Baby Boomers, the rates of wheelchair use and potential injury are higher than ever. There are 2-million new wheelchair users every single year in the United States.
To improve wheelchair use for seniors, the Always Best Care team has assembled 8 simple safety tips. Read on to learn some best practices for wheelchair maintenance, courtesy of our team in Clinton Township, Michigan.
8 Wheelchair Safety Tips from Always Best Care Clinton Township
- Check wheels regularly. Loose wheels and flat tires can impact your wheelchair’s braking ability, which can be extremely dangerous for your loved one. Fortunately, both are easy to spot, as long as you make a point to check them regularly. Be sure to include the spokes in your inspection, as broken or obstructed spokes stop the chair from moving freely. Lap blankets, plastic tubing, and strays bits of robe are all frequent offenders here.
- Maintain the wheels. In addition to inspecting the wheels, you should make an effort to keep them well-oiled for proper functioning. This will improve your loved one’s mobility and also mitigate the risk of any scuffing the floors.
- Check brakes often. Like the brake pads on your car, wheelchair brakes wear down over time. For this reason, it’s important to frequently ensure your brakes lock tightly. It is recommended that you check the brakes before moving your loved one in or out of their chair–it only takes a second, and can be done while your loved one prepares themselves for the transfer.
- Avoid overloading the chair. Wheelchairs are sturdy and surprisingly roomy, but don’t turn your loved one into a “beast of burden” by overloading their chair with heavy bags. Be especially careful about placing heavy items towards the back of the chair, which can cause it to tip over.
- Take proper care of battery systems. If your wheelchair is battery powered, inspect the system regularly and be sure to keep the chair out of the rain, or even the bathroom during a hot shower.
- Get involved in your loved one’s wheelchair setup. Getting to know the mechanical and electronic components of your loved one’s chair can go a long way. Try to get involved early in their wheelchair assessment, and accompany them for the selection process so you can ask whatever questions you need, learn how to adjust speed settings, and get additional maintenance tips specific to your device. If your schedule won’t allow for that, a member of the Always Best Care team makes a great stand-in (and we’ll even provide the transportation).
- Clean the wheelchair regularly. It’s shocking how few people take the time to clean their wheelchair regularly, considering how long their loved ones spend with their skin in direct contact with the arms and wheels. Clean the seat, arms, and wheels regularly to prevent the spread of germs and slow down wear-and-tear.
- Mind the ‘road.’ Pay attention to the surfaces your loved one is riding. Cracks or holes in flooring or pavement can be extremely dangerous. Even small changes in texture or grade, like the transition from carpeting room to hardwood, can cause tipping.
Get More Help From the Always Best Care Clinton Township Team
For more senior care tips, best practices, and free resources, visit https://www.alwaysbestcare.com/mi/chesterfield. If you would like to speak with an Always Best Care representative directly, call 586-203-2157.
Xiang, H., Chany, A. M., & Smith, G. A. (2006). Wheelchair related injuries treated in US emergency departments. Injury prevention, 12(1), 8-11.