Living In a Wheelchair Tips

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Do people with a short-term disability need a wheelchair?

Wheelchair Patients

Wheelchair patients may have a life-long disability or may have a short-term disability. If a person has a long-term disability, he or she may have an electric wheelchair. The padding on the wheelchair for someone with a long-term disability, such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy is generally thicker. The chair is also made specifically for that person in order to reduce pressure sores and the uncomfortableness from constant sitting. Wheelchairs are made for all types of disabilities, including tilt wheelchairs.

A wheelchair patient may also have a short-term disability or may be recovering from surgery and may need a wheelchair until he or she regains lower-limb functionality. Wheelchairs can be purchased through any medical supply store or via prescription from the attending physical therapist. When purchasing a wheelchair or if insurance provides a wheelchair, a wheelchair patient should be sure that the wheelchair is a good fit based on height and weight.

How can pressure sores be averted?

Wheelchair Living

Living in a wheelchair presents other problems, such as pressure sores. While some people can get out of the wheelchair to stand up, some cannot get out of the wheelchair other than to move from one chair to another. Constant sitting can cause pressure sores from the constant pressure on the buttocks and the back of the legs.

There are many products on the market to help with this problem, from air cushions to memory foam. These products can help relieve pressure, keeping pressure sores from appearing and making sitting uncomfortable. The same types of products are also available for standard chairs, not just wheelchairs.

Other additions for wheelchairs include safety flags, reflectors, flashing lights and other safety equipment for wheelchairs. These items allow drivers to see a person in a wheelchair—a person in a wheelchair may be out of view when in front of taller vehicles.

Housing may need to be modified by adding grab bars to the bathroom and kitchen areas. Ramps can be added so that the person does not have to try to wheel up even a small step-up into the home.

What can I expect when I am out and about in a wheelchair?

Life in a Wheelchair

Living in a wheelchair seems like it should not be a problem—until you have to do it. What is second nature to a person not in a wheelchair can be problematic for someone in a wheelchair. Curb cutaways are not always in the right place, and trying to get over a curb with no cutaways can be difficult. Simple things like getting something from a top shelf or approaching a bar are more difficult. Things such as potholes tend to pose a major difficulty.

Ambulatory people tend not to think of these things, so when a person becomes non-ambulatory, it can become difficult to cope with life in a wheelchair. Life in a wheelchair does not have to be difficult. Have someone help to arrange your home so that things are low enough to reach from a seated position, or if the person in the wheelchair has the ability to stand, keep things in upper cabinets on the lower shelves.

Do strength training exercises for the upper body so that it is easier to maneuver through tougher areas, such as curbs, potholes and other tough places. Strength training exercises will also help the overall health—keeping weight in check, which in turn helps with heart disease and diabetes.

What types of disabilities require the use of a wheelchair?

Wheelchair Disability

There are many disabilities that a person in a wheelchair can have—from cerebral palsy at birth through a debilitating illness later in life. Sometimes a disability can temporarily put a person in a wheelchair. Wheelchairs are not just for those who have no use of their lower extremities, but for those who may have trouble walking any distances or those who tire out easily because of muscle and nerve degenerating conditions.

An example of a nerve degenerating condition that many people do not consider is diabetes. If the diabetes is advanced enough, or if the person suffers from a temporary disability where the nerves are affected, diabetes may not allow the nerves to regenerate. While people who have nerve problems may be able to walk, they may not be able to walk very far. Wheelchairs make it possible for people with any type of disability to leave the house, visit the mall, and do many other things that require extensive walking.

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Patricia Walters-Fischer