Wheelchairs provide vital mobility support for the elderly and people living with disabilities. Getting out and about is a need that all people share, so it’s important that the wheelchair is regularly adjusted and maintained.
Recognising these five common signs for wheelchair adjustments is crucial for safety, comfort and maintaining independence:
Uncomfortable Seating Position
If you experience discomfort or pain when seated, it may signal the need for adjustments. Discomfort when sitting can be attributed to a wide variety of factors, including changes in your posture, increased length of time the wheelchair is utilised, wear and tear over time of the wheelchair seating (such as compressed foam) and lack of postural support from the backrest.
Slouching, leaning or experiencing postural instability requires adjustments to prevent discomfort, fatigue, long-term postural changes and potential falls from your seated position. Changes to your cushion, backrest or adding lateral supports or positioning belts to improve your posture and stability can help to maximise your seating posture.
Changes in Physical Condition or Abilities
Over time, your body and function can change. Adjustments become necessary as your weight, muscle strength or range of motion changes. Regular evaluations with your treating team allow for your function to be monitored, and changes to your seating, for example, modifying the seat width, armrest height or degree of back support to meet evolving needs, is necessary.
If you find it increasingly difficult to manoeuvre your wheelchair, the wheel alignment or tire pressure might need adjustment. Properly aligned wheels will make it easier for you to move about comfortably. It may also indicate that your function has changed, for example, decreased upper limb strength to propel the wheelchair. Assessing how you physically manoeuvre the wheelchair may need to be reviewed.
Parts of the wheelchair may be loose
Some common parts of a wheelchair that may be loose over time are wheel locks, wheel axles, arm and footrests, frame joints and backrest.
If you identify any loose parts in your wheelchair, you should not attempt to repair it yourself if you aren’t familiar with wheelchair maintenance. Reach out to a professional wheelchair technician or your allied health clinician for assistance.
Where to now
It’s important to remember that regular maintenance can help prevent issues and ensure your wheelchair remains in good working condition. We are always updating our skills with the latest evidence-based practice for wheelchair seating as well as the new products on the market.
If you feel it may be time for a wheelchair adjustment, talk to our team on 1300 588 851.
Until next time,