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Transporting Wheelchairs

How do I help someone move into a wheelchair?
What should I do while I move someone around in a wheelchair?
What precautions can I take while transporting someone in a wheelchair?
Can I Modify My Wheelchair?
Is There Anything Else That Can Help With Wheelchair Mobility?


How do I help someone move into a wheelchair?

Before putting someone into a wheelchair, securely apply the brakes. Then, inspect the wheelchair to make sure that no parts are loose. The wheelchair's owners manual will also recommend regular inspections. If all the parts fit well, move the footrests before helping the person into the wheelchair. Above all else, go slow and make sure that you communicate what is happening while you are helping the person into the wheelchair.
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What should I do while I move someone around in a wheelchair?

When approaching a doorway, make sure that the person's arms are not outside the wheelchair; this prevents them from being hit by the door frame. When moving up a curb, first tip the wheelchair up, which can be done by placing your foot on a bar located on the back of the wheelchair. Put the small wheels of the wheelchair onto the curb and then lift the back wheels. Always lift the wheelchair with your knees to prevent back injuries. If the person is obese or overweight, you may need additional help to lift the wheelchair.
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What precautions can I take while transporting someone in a wheelchair?

Not every wheelchair is meant to be used while in car. Some wheelchairs require that a person be transported onto a car seat and then folded up for easy transportation. Check with the manufacturer to see if a particular wheelchair can be used while riding in a vehicle.

If your wheelchair can be used in car, first make sure that all parts are secure. Some parts, like trays, should be detached and stored before transport. Once all unsecured accessories have been removed and the wheelchair is securely fixed, place a safety belt over the pelvis, rather than the abdomen. Many safety belts do not fit well for persons in wheelchairs; however, it is important to realize that an ill fitting safety belt is better than no belt at all. Avoid putting the safety belt over sensitive areas (e.g. surgical incision sites). Secure all tubes to prevent them from being disconnected. Do not use bungee cords or elastic materials to secure a wheelchair, because they may become loose during an accident.
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Can I modify my wheelchair?

Virtually all wheelchairs have adjustable settings to help the wheelchair fit multiple body types. Vitality Medical also carries foot cushions, seat cushions and cushion covers to make wheelchairs more comfortable. However, permanently changing the wheelchair frame (e.g. drilling holes) will void the manufacturer's warranty. Modifying the wheelchair frame can also be dangerous, because it creates weak points in the frame.
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Is there anything else that can help with wheelchair mobility?

Vitality Medical carries a variety of accessories that can help with wheelchair mobility. To free the hands, try a universal wheelchair caddy, or a wheelchair pouch. Alimed's Rear Anti-Tipper with Rollers are useful for people who tend to tip backwards in their wheelchair. For mobility between the wheelchair and seats/beds, Duro-Med offers a sturdy transfer board.
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Sources

Guidelines For Safely Transporting Wheelchair Users
Veterans Affairs - Transporting a Scooter or Power Wheelchair
Pediatric Wheelchair Considerations
Making Mobility Ramps Work for You
Selecting the Right Electric Wheelchair Lift


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