Power wheelchairs can transform the lives of their users: ensuring greater mobility and independence.
However, while they offer many benefits over manual wheelchairs, the process of acquiring, operating and maintaining a power wheelchair can be significantly more complex.
In this guide, we list some helpful tips for power wheelchair users in Ohio.
Speak to an expert
If you're looking for power wheelchairs for sale in Ohio, make sure you speak to a wheelchair expert.
With hundreds of models available from several highly regarded manufacturers, it's likely you'll be able to find a power wheelchair which suits your needs. Your doctor, therapist or Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) can advise on your needs and whether you would benefit from a custom wheelchair.
It doesn't matter if this is your first time using a power wheelchair or if you are using a new model for the first time, it's important to get lots of practice and to consider the following:
What are the driven wheels of the wheelchair? Front, mid or rear-wheel driven devices all require different considerations for turning corners. Practice maneuvering the chair around tight spaces.
Do you have easy access to the controls? Your arm should be supported and encourage good posture in use. Make sure this is adjusted correctly by a specialist.
Try not to use leg or arm supports as you enter or exit your wheelchair as these may not be load bearing and could damage the chair or cause it to tip forward.
Learn your wheelchair
Your ATP is an expert with your wheelchair and will train you in how to operate it. While it might not make for an exciting read, being familiar with your wheelchair’s user manual is a good idea also - along with having it handy should you want to refer back to it.
There are hundreds of varieties of power wheelchairs each with their own features and idiosyncrasies - the only way to make sure you're looking after your wheelchair is by following the manufacturer's recommendations.
Keep your user manual somewhere safe and remember that many manufacturers such as Pride Mobility have their models' manuals available to view online.
Check your wheels and tires
Speaking of owners' manuals...
You will either find the pressure level stamped on the tire of your wheelchair or in the owners' manual. Under-or-over inflated tires can lead to excess wear, discomfort and uneven tread wearing so it's important that you make sure each tire is inflated to the recommended pressure.
Frequent visual inspections for tread depth and any unusual buldges should be accompanied with weekly tire pressure checks.
Look after your battery
It goes without saying that a wheelchair's battery is its most crucial component. As well as making sure this is fully-charged before you leave the house (in colder weather, this is especially important), you should also monitor the health of your battery.
Try not to leave charging your battery until it is fully depleted it as this can cause it to stop holding power correctly.
If it is taking longer to charge or you find it losing power more quickly than it should, you may need to replace it.
Only use the charger that came with your wheelchair.
Keep it clean...
Everywhere you go, your wheelchair goes too. So it's no surprise that your wheelchair can quickly attract dirt - and not just on its wheels.
And while there are obvious hygiene benefits to regularly cleaning your wheelchair, it's also important to avoid corrosion or loss of function.
In our free guide to cleaning to cleaning your wheelchair, we detail not just how to clean a power wheelchair but how to disinfect one also. This is particularly important in light of COVID-19.
Although it's impractical to expect to avoid ever using your wheelchair in the snow or rain, you need to be conscious that any moisture can be harmful to the complex wiring that powers your wheelchair.
It's best to avoid using your chair in heavy storms or rain and to wait until this has subsided. Once it's safe to go outside again, avoid puddles.
If you do get caught in unforeseen rain, you should prioritize protecting the controller and joystick, ideally with a plastic bag. Then, maneuver to shelter and wait for the rain to stop.
Once you're home, dry every part of the wheelchair with a clean towel and remove any mud or dirt that has accumulated, and if possible, leave the wheelchair next to a radiator or warm place to allow any leftover moisture to evaporate.
Plan your trips
Steep gradients, curbs and loose surfaces such as gravel or grass should be avoided with a power wheelchair.
If your commute or neighborhood contains any potential hazards, make sure to discuss this with an expert before choosing your power wheelchair as specific models have different capabilities and adaptations available.
It's important to remember that a power wheelchair isn't a burden but an amazing aid which can restore independence and mobility.
Power wheelchairs can be adapted or used for a wide variety of activities and sports and can be adapted to suit specific careers.
Getting to know and taking care of your power wheelchair means that you can continue to get the most out of it.
If you have any questions about this blog or would like to speak to a wheelchair expert, click here to contact NPL Home Medical.