Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wheelchair Tip: Make Sure You Have the Correct Custom Wheelchair Measurements | How I Roll

by Jacob

More often than not I see people disabled in manual wheelchairs who have their wheelchair measurements set-up all wrong. Sometimes their wheelchair is much too wide for their body structure. Sometimes they don’t have the back axle centered correctly for optimal balance given their size, weight, and disability level. Or, sometimes they could simply be in a more active type/style of custom manual wheelchair. Of all the wheelchair measurement mistakes I see, there is one that absolutely stands out the most. It bothers me to no end seeing a wheelchair’s back wheels higher than waist-level of the person sitting in it. What these people don’t understand is the higher those back wheels go the higher they’ll have to reach with each push. Also, the higher you reach to grab the wheel rail the more your triceps will be stretched, making each push more difficult.

I suggest you keep the highest point of your back wheels within 2 inches of your waist-line for optimal pushing efficiency.

I met a guy last week who’s been paralyzed in a wheelchair for the past 4 years. He had his 4 year anniversary a day prior to us meeting. His back wheels were at least 5 inches higher than his waist-line. He had asked me a couple questions about my Tilite. Somehow in my mind his questions gave me full permission to voice an opinion on his back wheel height measurement. He thanked me for the input, telling me he’d never thought about it before. I’m not sure if ever updated his wheelchair, or if he still rolls around with his elbows pointed back and up to the air. The point is, this kid had been given a wheelchair by whatever hospital he happened to be inpatient at, and they measured him entirely incorrect. 4 years later this kid is still using the same incorrectly measured wheelchair, under the false impression that the extra effort he puts into pushing himself around each day is normal.

Sure, being confined to a wheelchair is disabling. But being confined to a wheelchair that’s measured incorrectly is highly disabling. I’m not suggesting you buy a new wheelchair tomorrow, but it’s definitely something to think about when wheelchair renewal time comes around.

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