Tag Archives: living with disability

Tips for pushing a wheelchair as a carer

Understanding the Basics of Wheelchair Handling

Wheelchair handling is a skill that requires knowledge of the device’s basic features and functions. This includes understanding how to operate its controls, adjust its parts for comfort, maneuver it in different environments, and perform essential maintenance tasks. It also involves knowing how to handle the wheelchair safely to prevent accidents or injuries.

The first step in mastering wheelchair handling is getting familiar with its various components. These may include the wheels (both large and small), hand rims, brakes, footrests, armrests, seat belts among others. Knowing what each part does can help you use the wheelchair more effectively. For instance, using the hand rims can give you better control over speed and direction while moving on flat surfaces.

Another critical aspect of wheelchair handling is learning proper techniques for pushing and steering. This usually involves positioning your hands on the hand rims at about 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions respectively before propelling forward or backward by pushing down on one rim while pulling up on another simultaneously depending upon whether you want to move straight ahead or turn around corners respectively without causing any discomfort or strain to yourself or user sitting inside it ensuring their safety as well during this process which forms an integral part of understanding basics involved here thoroughly indeed making it much easier than initially perceived by many out there today!

Assessing the Surrounding Environment and Terrain

A crucial aspect of wheelchair handling is the assessment of the surrounding environment and terrain. It involves understanding and evaluating various factors such as ground surface, inclines or declines, obstacles, and weather conditions that can impact mobility. For instance, a smooth paved pathway will allow for easier movement than a gravel path or grassy area. Similarly, rain or snow can make surfaces slippery and challenging to navigate.

The importance of this evaluation cannot be overstated as it directly affects not only the ease of maneuverability but also the safety of the wheelchair user. Identifying potential hazards in advance allows for better planning and reduces risks associated with navigating through difficult terrains. This could include avoiding areas with steep slopes, uneven surfaces or steps without ramps whenever possible.

Additionally, assessing the environment extends beyond just physical aspects; it includes understanding social elements too. For example, crowded places might require additional navigation skills compared to less populated areas. Also considering noise levels which may cause discomfort to some individuals is essential too. Therefore keeping these factors in mind while assessing surroundings ensures an optimal experience for both carer and wheelchair user alike by promoting efficient mobility while minimizing potential difficulties encountered along their journey.

Making Use of Wheelchair Features for Easier Mobility

Wheelchairs are equipped with various features designed to enhance mobility and ease of use. These features vary depending on the type of wheelchair, but some common ones include adjustable armrests, footrests, backrests and seat depth. Adjustable armrests allow for a comfortable resting position for the arms and can also assist in transfers from the wheelchair to another surface such as a bed or car seat. Footrests support the feet and legs, helping to maintain proper body alignment. They can often be adjusted in height or swung away when not needed.

The backrest provides necessary support for the spine while seated in a wheelchair. Some wheelchairs have reclining backrests that can be adjusted to different angles for comfort during prolonged sitting periods or even napping. The seat depth is also an important feature because it affects how well one’s thighs are supported while seated. A properly adjusted seat depth reduces pressure sores risk by evenly distributing weight across the entire seating surface.

Brakes are another essential feature of wheelchairs that significantly contribute towards easier mobility. When engaged, they secure the wheelchair in place preventing any unwanted movement especially on slopes or uneven surfaces which could lead to accidents if unchecked. Additionally, some wheelchairs come equipped with push handles at their rear end making it easier for caregivers to maneuver them around obstacles or through tight spaces without straining themselves physically.

Ensuring the Comfort and Safety of the Wheelchair User

One of the primary concerns when handling a wheelchair is to ensure the user’s comfort and safety. This involves not just physical well-being, but also emotional support. The seat cushion should be checked regularly for any signs of wear and tear as it plays a crucial role in providing comfort to the user. A worn-out or uncomfortable cushion can lead to discomfort, pressure sores, and other health issues over time.

In addition to the seating arrangement, attention must be paid to how securely the user is positioned within the wheelchair. Safety belts are often overlooked but they play an essential part in preventing accidents such as falls from sudden stops or shifts in movement. They should be fastened firmly yet comfortably around the waist area without causing any discomfort or restriction of movement.

The positioning of footrests and armrests also contribute significantly towards ensuring comfort and safety for users. These components need to be adjusted according to individual needs for optimal support while seated in a wheelchair. Footrests that are too high could cause circulation problems whereas those set too low might lead to postural issues over time; similarly, improperly adjusted armrests may result in shoulder pain or strain injuries due its improper use as leverage during transfers or turns.

Guidelines for Correct Body Posture While Pushing a Wheelchair

Maintaining the correct body posture while pushing a wheelchair is crucial to both the carer and the user’s safety and comfort. It starts with standing upright, feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent for flexibility. The back should remain straight at all times to avoid straining it. When pushing forward, use your leg muscles instead of relying solely on your arms or upper body strength; this reduces unnecessary tension in those areas.

The hands play a significant role when handling a wheelchair too. They should be placed comfortably on the push handles or grips, not gripping them too tightly but enough to have control over the chair’s movements. Always remember that abrupt stops or turns can startle or discomfort the person seated in the wheelchair so aim for smooth transitions as much as possible.

It’s also important to consider how you move when navigating different terrains or obstacles such as slopes, curbs, doorways etc., leaning slightly forward when going uphill can provide extra leverage while leaning back just a bit helps control speed downhill without compromising stability. If you find yourself fatigued after short periods of time pushing a wheelchair then it may be worth consulting with an occupational therapist who can offer advice tailored specifically towards your situation and needs.

Navigating Through Doors, Ramps, and Elevators

When it comes to moving through doors, several considerations need to be made. First, the width of the door must be sufficient for the wheelchair to pass through comfortably. If a door is too narrow, you may have to consider modifications or find an alternate route that can accommodate the wheelchair’s size. Secondly, how the door opens and closes will also affect navigation. Doors that swing outward are generally easier for a wheelchair user as they allow more space for maneuvering.

Ramps and elevators also present their unique challenges when handling a wheelchair. When dealing with ramps, one should assess its steepness before attempting any ascent or descent. A ramp that is too steep could pose risks such as tipping over or difficulty in pushing up due to gravity resistance. It’s important not only considering your strength but also taking into account whether there are railings on either side of the ramp which can offer additional support during movement.

Elevators provide an excellent means of mobility between floors without having to deal with stairs; however, some factors need attention here too. The elevator car must be spacious enough for comfortable entry and exit without bumping into walls or other passengers inside it. Moreover, remember always position yourself close enough so you can reach control buttons easily but far away from closing doors avoiding accidental bumps while entering or exiting.

Handling Wheelchair on Uneven Surfaces and Stairs

Navigating a wheelchair on uneven surfaces and stairs requires special attention to ensure the safety of the user. Uneven surfaces such as gravel, sand, or cobblestones can be challenging due to their unstable nature. The key is to maintain a steady pace and try not to turn sharply or abruptly. It’s also important for the carer to position themselves at the back of the wheelchair while traversing these terrains in order to provide additional support.

Stairs present another set of challenges when it comes to wheelchair handling. If there is no ramp or lift available, it may be necessary for a carer to manually assist with carrying the chair up or down steps. This should always be done backwards (i.e., going up stairs backward and coming down forward) so that gravity helps rather than hinders your efforts. Remember that communication between you and the person in the chair is crucial during this process – they need clear instructions about what you’re doing so they can help by leaning back slightly.

Regular maintenance checks are vital too because wheelchairs used on rough terrains can easily get damaged which might make them more difficult handle especially on uneven surfaces and stairs. Keep an eye out for any loose bolts, wear and tear on tires or issues with brakes as these could potentially lead into dangerous situations if left unnoticed.

Maintaining the Wheelchair for Optimal Performance

Regular maintenance is crucial to keep a wheelchair in optimal working condition. This not only ensures the longevity of the equipment but also guarantees the safety and comfort of its user. The first step towards maintaining a wheelchair is to thoroughly clean it on a regular basis. Dust, dirt, and grime can accumulate over time and cause wear and tear on various parts such as wheels, brakes, or bearings. Therefore, using a soft cloth or sponge with warm soapy water can help remove these unwanted particles.

Another essential aspect of wheelchair maintenance involves regularly checking for any loose or worn-out parts. For instance, nuts and bolts should be tightened appropriately since they may come loose due to constant movement. Similarly, tires need to be inspected for signs of wear or damage that could potentially lead to punctures or instability during use. If any part appears damaged beyond repair, it should ideally be replaced immediately by consulting with an expert technician.

It’s important not just focusing on mechanical aspects but also considering cushions or upholstery which contribute significantly towards user comfortability levels while using wheelchairs daily basis . These materials are prone getting dirty easily hence requiring frequent cleaning ensure hygiene standards maintained all times . Additionally , cushion covers might require replacement if they show severe signs deterioration affecting overall seating experience adversely . By following these simple yet effective steps , one can ensure their wheelchair remains top-notch condition providing seamless mobility whenever needed without compromising safety features at any point time .

Effective Communication with the Wheelchair User

Effective communication is a key aspect when dealing with wheelchair users. This includes both verbal and non-verbal cues that can make the individual feel comfortable, secure, and understood. It’s crucial to maintain eye contact as much as possible while conversing to show attentiveness. Moreover, it’s essential to use clear language and avoid medical jargon or complex terms that may be confusing.

The physical positioning of the caregiver also plays an important role in effective communication. When speaking with someone in a wheelchair, try to position yourself at their eye level whenever possible. This simple act can help create an environment of equality and mutual respect between you two. Additionally, always ask for permission before touching their wheelchair because for many individuals this is considered part of their personal space.

It’s equally important to listen actively when communicating with a person who uses a wheelchair. Active listening involves not only hearing what they are saying but understanding it fully before responding appropriately. It shows respect for their thoughts and feelings which helps build trust in your relationship over time. Remember that everyone has unique needs – some people might need more assistance than others while some prefer maintaining independence wherever they can – so open dialogue will ensure you’re providing care effectively tailored towards each individual’s requirements.

Cope with the Physical and Emotional Stress as a Carer

Caring for someone who uses a wheelchair can be both physically and emotionally demanding. The physical strain of pushing, lifting, and maneuvering the wheelchair, especially over uneven terrain or up stairs, can lead to fatigue and even injury if not done properly. Additionally, there is often an emotional toll associated with caring for a loved one with mobility issues. It’s common to experience feelings of sadness, frustration, helplessness or anxiety.

It’s important for carers to recognize these challenges and take steps to manage their stress levels effectively. Regular exercise can help reduce physical tension while also promoting overall health and well-being. Moreover, taking time out each day for relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or meditation can aid in reducing emotional stress by calming the mind and body.

There are also numerous support groups available that provide resources specifically tailored towards those caring for individuals with mobility impairments. These communities offer advice on how best to handle various situations related to wheelchair handling as well as provide a platform where carers can share experiences and gain comfort from others facing similar challenges. Remember that it’s okay –and necessary–to ask for help when needed; you don’t have to navigate this journey alone.

• It’s crucial for carers to recognize the physical and emotional challenges they face, and take proactive steps towards managing their stress levels. Ignoring or suppressing these feelings can lead to burnout over time.

• Regular exercise is a highly effective way of reducing physical tension and promoting overall health. This could include activities such as walking, yoga, swimming or any other form of exercise that you enjoy.

• Incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine can also help manage emotional stress. These might include deep breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness practices or even just taking some quiet time out each day to relax and unwind.

• Support groups are an invaluable resource for those caring for individuals with mobility impairments. They provide tailored advice on how best to handle various situations related to wheelchair handling, as well as offering a supportive community where carers can share experiences and gain comfort from others facing similar challenges.

• Remember that it’s okay –and necessary–to ask for help when needed; you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. There are numerous organizations dedicated specifically towards supporting carers in their roles who would be more than happy to assist you.

• Prioritize self-care: As much as possible, try not let your role as a caregiver consume all aspects of your life. Make sure there are things you do regularly just because they make you feel good – whether that’s reading a book, having coffee with friends or pursuing a hobby.

• Seek professional help if necessary: If feelings of sadness or anxiety become overwhelming despite trying different coping strategies mentioned above then consider seeking professional mental health support such as counseling or therapy sessions.

• Be patient with yourself: Accepting the fact that being a caretaker is challenging will allow yourself room for errors without feeling guilty about them which ultimately leads less stress in long run.

• Lastly but importantly stay connected socially: Maintaining social connections outside caregiving role helps prevent isolation and provides a much-needed outlet for sharing feelings and experiences.

More tips and videos of tips for pushing a wheelchair are here

Zec Reviews – Trabasack Mini Connect

The following is a wonderful review of the Trabasack Mini Connect, kindly written for us by fellow blogger Zec.

Zec has been a wheelchair user for a number of years, and we’re glad to say that his Trabasack Mini Connect seems to have provided the perfect perch for his tablet computer whilst not only out-and-about, but at home, too!

Please read on for Zec’s review and you will find further info about his blog at the end.

I have on my lap a bag/tray called a Trabasack© that was sent to me to try and review, I always review honestly. I have seen a Trabasack on Facebook and Twitter before but and here is a confession, I thought it’s something I wouldn’t need as I thought it might be for someone who has higher needs than me.

Photographic overview of the Trabasack Mini Connect in its packaging, which lists the benefits and features of the lap tray bag

A brand new Trabasack Mini Connect in packaging – ready to be tried and tested!

The one I have on my lap is the Mini Connect, it’s the smaller of the two that I was sent but I have immediately decided it’s my favourite.

It’s about 14 by 10 inches with two very sturdy fabric carry handles; on one side is a flat tray that is covered with a fabric that the hook side of Velcro will attach to. A zip with a double open zip with rings attached to the zipper that allow very easy opening even if you have poor grip, manual dexterity and arthritic hands would be able to open it easily.

Inside a zipped pocket contains a bean bag that allows the bag to mould to your legs, this means it’s not only very comfortable and this is important because my legs are very sensitive, it also means the bag is level on your lap. I use a Sony Xperia Z tablet because a laptop hurts my legs; I spend a lot of time laid in bed or on the settee and the tablet is ideal.

Photograph shows the back of a white tablet computer case, with two parallel strips of black adhesive hook tape on the back.

Securing items such as tablet computers or iPads to the surface of the Mini Connect is quick and easy, using our adhesive velcro tape.

Now that I have the Trabasack Mini Connect it’s even better, I used a pack of Trabasack Hook sticking tape, a pack contains four 2.5 x 30cm pieces and I used two pieces on my tablet case and attached it to the tray, in hindsight one piece cut into two would have been adequate because it is more than secure. I’m laid slightly to one side but the Mini Connect is still sat straight and secure, inside I have my meds for today and my mobile phone, although there is room for it on the tray and that is what I have just done now I have thought of it.

I keep my glasses secure when not wearing them by sliding an arm through one of the D rings. Laid in bed the tablet can sit on the Trabasack on my stomach or on the quilt and doesn’t slip and slide about. I have hung the Trabasack on the back of my wheelchair next to the settee to watch a film and there must be many more ways that I haven’t used yet. It is also ideal for when I have an outpatient appointment; I take my tablet along to pass the time because quite often it’s a long wait.

Now I’m not a slim person, some may even go as far as to say I had a big belly and I guess they are right. So sat in my wheelchair, my lap space is at a premium, having the tablet on my lap is awkward and I have to make sure I hold it, in between I have to put it in my rucksack on the back of my wheelchair and its almost asking for someone to steal it, but now it can sit on my lap secure and I can put it inside the Trabasack when I’m finished and know it’s in sight and safe.

Photograph of a tablet computer and iPhone attached to the tray surface of the Trabasack Mini Connect wheelchair tray bag

Here Zec’s phone and tablet computer sit safe and secure upon the tray surface of the Mini Connect.

I have had the Trabasack Mini Connect for a good few weeks, my tablet is always attached to the front and when I am not using it, I just flip the tablet case closed and it stays there. All I do when I want it is to pick up the Mini connect by the handles and onto my lap and open the tablet, it then sits on my lap so naturally, it even sits on one leg without a balance problem. Yesterday I took the tablet off of the Trabasack for the first time and honestly I didn’t like it and put it straight back on, it’s perfect and my in-laws were talking about getting one for their iPads.

The Trabasack can be carried by the handles, over one shoulder with one strap or worn like a rucksack. In a wheelchair a strap can go around your waist (unless you are a biscuit eater like me) or two side straps can attach to the wheelchair or buggy. I slide a strap around my thighs and it is secure. The thing is, the Trabasack Mini isn’t just handy because I have a disability, it would be useful on the train or in a car, its handy storage for a tablet or notebook and some extra items that you need to take along. The design is perfect and the optional media mount attachment can be used to hold an ipad, tablet or kindle at the right angle or wrapped to hold a bottle in place.

All in all a great product that serves as a bag and a surface to work on and connect your tech.

Thanks again Zec for such a fantastic and positive review of the Trabasack Mini Connect! If you’d like to read more about Zec, please visit his blog “Sat on My Butt” for lots of insightful life stories, and his journey living with chronic pain.

How will Google Glass help Disabled People?

Google Glass Logo

Google Glass Logo

Google Glass is a game changing technology that we will look back to and wonder how we did without it, like we do with mobile phones and WiFi!

New developments design for mainstream usage are in fact becoming more inclusive and giving more options for people living with disabilities. Google Glass is one such piece of equipment.

What is Google Glass?

Google Glass is a wearable computer which comes with an optical head-mounted display which is working towards the full development of a ubiquitous computer. Google Glass is being developed as part of the larger Project Glass research and development project. It takes smartphone technology and makes it even more accessible. It displays information just like a smartphone in a hands free format which allows for communication with the internet through natural voice commands.

Google Glass

The Google Glass

Google Glass is fitted with a touchpad on its side and it allows users to control it by swiping thorough its interface on the screen. The interface is much like the standard timeline we’ve come to be familiar with and this swiping motion is the only physical action needed to operate the Glass.

Voice actions are the main way of controlling the device and activating the Glass is as simple as tilting the head upwards (to approximately 30° or a preferred angle that can be altered) or tap the touchpad and say ‘OK Glass.’ Once the Glass is activated only voice actions are required and you can access the range of different facilities offered by the product. Everything from ‘Send a message to Mum’ to ‘get directions to the nearest ATM’ can be found. Search results will be filtered and then read back to the user so they can choose the most fitting one.

Google use innovative bond conduction through a transducer in the product which renders the sound virtually inaudible to others around you, allowing for a private yet interactive computing experience.

The Google Glass headset can be simply connected to your smartphone and the display is a small information screen which hovers in front of one eye. Experts in the field are describing this as the first development in what will be the next big trend – wearable technology. Rather than slipping your smartphone into your pocket you could find you’re utilising glasses, watches and other wearable devices in the near future. Prospective analytics suggest that wearable tech has the potential to be big business with sales projections for the Glass reaching 9.6 million by the end of 2016.

Google Glass for Disability

For disabled people living Google Glass presents an even bigger opportunity. An opportunity to make their environment more accessible through information.  The Glass is much more than a new toy, it can be life affirming or even life changing. Technologists suggest that speech recognition is reaching new levels of precision. They’re actually working towards profoundly deaf people being able to see real-time transcripts of what friends are saying to them in the Glass’ prism. It really could revolutionise communication for many.

Equally the Glass could also be extremely useful for people with visual impairments – with suggestions that it may be possible to take walking directions from the Glass further opening up the world for them.

Below we’re looking at two of the early Google Glass adopters, both of whom are disabled and have had their stories well publicised. How the Glass has helped their lives is truly inspirational and is a positive example of how they can be instrumental for other people living with disabilities in the future.

Tammie Lou Van Sant

Tammie Lou Van Sant -Google Glass User

Tammie Lou Van Sant -Google Glass User

Tammie Lou Van Sant was a keen photographer before a car accident left her living with permanent paralysis. The Google Glass headset has given Van Sant the chance to point and shoot again as she can simply give voice commands. It has allowed her to once again enjoy one of her favourite past times as well as its other functionalities being highly useful such as answering her own phone calls, replying to texts and making small, solo trips out thanks to Google Maps.

Alex Blaszczuk

Alex Blaszczuk is another individual living with permanent paralysis. She submitted her story to the #ifihadaglass competition and was awarded her glass this way. She highlighted how the glass would help her to ‘thrive with physical limitations’. On receiving her Glass she was able to find a new form of self-expression and the video below shows exactly how much of a positive impact it has had upon her life.

Getting Google Glass

Google Glass doesn’t have an official launch date although recent queries to Google on  November 8th suggest it may be out by early 2014. There are no official announcements now so rather than thinking about when you’ll get your own it may be worth beginning to save up!

Google Glass has the potential to revolutionise the lives of millions of disabled people. Some may be able to recapture hobbies and interests that they remember before the effects of an accidents whilst others may enjoy completely new experiences, that they have never had the opportunity to participate in.

Google Glass for Disability Updates

We intend to update this post with people’s personal experiences and applications of the Glass as they develop. Please leave a comment if you have something for us to add.