The Many Benefits of Wheelchair Pushrims
Wheelchair pushrims, also called handrims or push rims, are an important part of manual wheelchairs. They allow the user to grip and propel the wheels forward through pushing motions. Selecting the right pushrims is crucial for wheelchair performance and preventing injury. This article will explore the clinical, functional, and design benefits of various wheelchair pushrim options.
Wheelchair pushrims are the circular bars that surround the rear wheels of a manual wheelchair. As the name suggests, wheelchair users grip these rims and push forward to propel their chair. This moves the drive wheels and controls speed and direction.
Choosing an optimal set of pushrims is important for several reasons:
- Mobility: Good pushrims improve propulsion and make the wheelchair easier to maneuver. Their grip, size, shape and material impact mobility.
- Injury Prevention: Bad pushrims can strain the hands, wrists and shoulders. Ergonomic options prevent overuse injuries.
- Function: Pushrims must match the user’s strength, range of motion and coordination. Custom options suit different needs.
In short, pushrims act as the critical interface between wheelchair user and chair. Their design directly impacts mobility and health.
The Clinical Benefits of Pushrims
Research confirms that pushrim design has tangible clinical benefits.
Well-designed pushrims can prevent upper body overuse issues like carpal tunnel syndrome or rotator cuff injuries. How? Through improved grip, better biomechanics and reduced strain during propulsion.
Specifically, ergonomic pushrims:
- Distribute pressure more evenly across hand surfaces
- Require less force and torque to propel the wheels
- Cut down on repetition that causes overuse damage
This lessens the risk of chronic pain or injuries to the hands, wrists and shoulders.
In one study, wheelchair users reported immediate pain reduction when using an ergonomic pushrim model. The benefits are clear.
Of course, pushrim needs depend on the individual. A good fit considers hand strength, sensation loss and joint mobility restrictions.
Pushrim Materials and Durability
Pushrims come in a variety of materials, shapes, diameters and other options. Materials impact grip, comfort and durability.
Common choices include:
- Stainless steel: Offers good corrosion resistance and a sleek look. Not the grippiest choice.
- Coated aluminum: More lightweight than steel. Can add grippy coatings. Prone to scratches.
- Titanium: Extremely strong yet lightweight. Low maintenance and durable. Very expensive.
- Plastic/composite: Affordable option for basic to moderate use. Last well even with frequent/rough use. A brand this is often recommended are Rehadesign Pushrim Covers;
In general, metal pushrims offer the best durability for frequent or rough use. But plastic is cheaper for basic needs.
Added grip coatings (like rubber) provide extra traction and comfort on any material. This helps optimize contact and push mechanics.
Ideal Pushrim Design Qualities
Beyond materials, certain design qualities make for excellent pushrims:
- Ergonomic shape: Contoured to fit the hand’s natural closed grip. Reduces strain.
- Grip surface area: Wide enough for whole-hand contact. Prevents fingertip pressure.
- Mounting: Quick-release and easy to remove. Enables maintenance.
- Visibility: Color contrast against the wheels and chair frame. Improves safety.
Of course, individuals have unique needs and preferences. But these qualities optimize function, mobility and injury prevention.
Specific Pushrim Models and Features
Many pushrim models offer distinct features and benefits. A few top options:
- Natural-Fit: Ergonomic shape fits hand contour. Black rubber coating prevents slippage
- Q-Grip: Cushioned rubber surface improves grip. Easy to mount without tools
- Surge: Replaceable silicone grip insert on aluminum rim. Bright green color aids visibility
- Rehadesign Ultra Grip – affordable and durable rubber push rims that are easily mounted in seconds
Mobility shops can help find the ideal model for one’s needs and environment.
Research on Power-Assist Pushrims
Recent studies analyze the benefits of power-assist pushrims. These motorized wheels sense and amplify the user’s push force.
- Cuts propulsion effort by 67% on average
- Lowers push frequency significantly
- Improves ability to climb slopes and obstacles
The reduced strain could prevent upper body overuse issues. Power-assist shows great promise to boost function.
Of course, these wheels add expense and width to a chair. But the independence and mobility gains appear substantial.
Innovations in Wheelchair Pushrim Design
Some novel wheelchair designs separate the pushrims from the drive wheels. This offers new advantages:
- Improves wheelchair maneuverability and control
- Allows wheel/pushrim customization to user size and needs
- Pushrim location prevents contact with dirty drive wheels
The separation ensures hands stay clean after propulsion. This can help reduce secondary infections and pressure ulcer risk.
As technology advances, we will continue seeing pushrim innovations. The quest for improved propulsion and injury prevention persists.
Conclusion: Matching Users and Pushrims
Wheelchair pushrims serve critical propulsion and braking functions. Their grip, diameter, material and other factors impact mobility and health.
Choosing the right pushrim involves matching user strengths, range of motion and coordination abilities. Ergonomic shapes provide a better fit and reduce strain.
While often overlooked, pushrims deserve careful selection consideration given their profound impact. Consult mobility rehab experts to explore options and find the best possible fit.
With some research and customization, wheelchair users can reap substantial benefits from their all-important pushrims. Mobility, independence and pain-free wheeling await.
For wheelchair users who have poor grip or are tetrapleglic, this post discusses the best choices of handrims.
- Pushrims connect the user to the wheelchair – their design impacts propulsion, control and injury risk
- Ergonomic shapes distribute pressure evenly and require less force to push
- Power-assist pushrims boost efficiency and obstacle climbing while lowering repetition
- Separating pushrims from drive wheels aids maneuverability and hand hygiene
- Matching grip type, diameter and material to user ability and environment is key
About the Author: Duncan Edwards
- Married to a spinal injured person, I’ve navigated the complexities of wheelchair accessibility and accessories firsthand.
- My expertise extends to wheelchair pushrims, where I’ve spent years identifying the best options for comfort and efficiency.
- Collaborating with Disability Horizons, I’ve reviewed countless wheelchair accessories, always seeking to enhance mobility and independence for users.
- Supporting my partner and engaging with a community of wheelchair users has deepened my understanding and passion for accessible solutions.
- My background in welfare benefits and managing Disability Horizons Shop has equipped me with a unique perspective on the needs of disabled individuals and their families.