Being in a wheelchair carries a higher risk of certain injuries, especially to the shoulder, arm, elbow, and wrist. These injuries commonly affect soft tissue or cause nerve damage, sprains, and abrasions. While pushing a wheelchair often causes repetitive strain injuries, poor quality chairs that fit improperly can cause plenty of injuries on their own.
However, wheelchair users can increase their quality of life by selecting a light wheelchair to maneuver the push phase easier. There are also a few general tips and tricks you can keep in mind to reduce the risk of injury.
Proactively Prevent Strain Injuries
Shoulders tend to become overworked from the repetitive motion of pushing wheelchairs. Shoulder strain is such a prevalent injury that doctors have looked into new ways of alleviating pain, including injecting fat cells into the shoulder suffering from pain. However, with just a few tweaks, you can help prevent strain injuries from operating your wheelchair.
Select A Quality, Lightweight Wheelchair
Lightweight wheelchairs give users a lighter chair to push. The reduction in weight alone eases the strain on muscles while pushing the chair. Once you select a quality, lightweight chair, add in some adjustments, such as moving the rear axles as far forward as possible and keeping your seat low. These minor adjustments give significant relief to the strain felt in those highly used shoulder muscles.
Add In Exercise To Strengthen Muscles
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine helps strengthen your muscles and prevent strain. From yoga and stretching to strength training with bands, exercise not only aids injury prevention but also increases your overall physical health.
Avoiding Falls While Operating Your Wheelchair
Tipping chairs, unassisted transfers, and unlocked brakes cause nearly half of wheelchair falls, but you can do several things to avoid falling while operating your wheelchair.
Selecting A Quality Wheelchair That Fits
A wheelchair that suits you in both size and capacity helps prevent falls. If your wheelchair is a poor fit, you may find yourself sliding down in the seat. A wheelchair lacking depth for you in the center can cause the wheelchair to tip when you lean forward. So select a quality wheelchair that fits you well, and be sure to perform minor adjustments such as moving the armrests to size the chair to your specific needs.
Training For Your Wheelchair Use
Getting instruction on how to use your wheelchair can help keep you from falling while operating it, just like any other quality piece of equipment. Learning how to get in and out of the chair, transfer it, fold it, and navigate over ramps offers valuable prevention against falls.
The fear of injuries doesn’t have to keep wheelchair users from enjoying an enhanced quality of life. From selecting a quality lightweight wheelchair that best fits them to being mindful of the tips that can prevent injuries, those who operate wheelchairs regularly can feel free to enjoy life and avoid common injuries associated with wheelchair use.