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Guidelines for Using Wheelchairs Safely

Special Considerations for Wheelchair Use

When using a wheelchair, considerations are crucial for both the person pushing and the passenger:

  • Ergonomics: Ensure your feet are apart and grasp each handle firmly to engage larger muscles for pushing.
  • Tyre Maintenance: Check that wheelchair tyres are adequately pumped to ease movement, especially on uneven or gravel surfaces.
  • Communication: Inform the passenger about uneven terrain and suggest they hold on if needed.
  • Seat Belts: Encourage the use of seat belts for safety during transport.
  • Obstacle Awareness: Continuously scan ahead to clear footrests of obstacles like holes.
  • Speed Control: Avoid sudden speed changes; monitor signs of passenger discomfort like gripping armrests tightly.

Handling Kerbs Safely

Proper techniques for navigating kerbs when using a wheelchair:

  • Accessibility: Look for dips or dropped kerbs to facilitate easier navigation.
  • Descending: Always move backwards with the big wheels first; never push the wheelchair down a curb.
  • Ascending: Approach curbs with legs up and feet first to ensure safe navigation.

Using Wheelchair Brakes

Ensure brakes are correctly used to maintain safety:

  • Brake Application: Always engage brakes when releasing the chair, during passenger entry and exit.
  • Encouraging Independence: Support passengers in applying their brakes if capable, respecting their autonomy.

Communication Techniques

Effective communication with wheelchair users:

  • Eye-Level Interaction: When discussing matters with a seated individual, squat to their eye level for a less intimidating conversation.