These days, wheelchair users are no wallflowers. They’re sweeping their way across our TV screens in Push Girls, fighting for the right to access all NYC taxis, and getting ready to go for gold at the upcoming London Paralympics. Wheelchair users across the US and around New York are getting out there living their lives—and living them large.
Behind the wheels of some of the most active and independent wheelchair users are a few gems of advice that keep their wheelchairs in tip top shape. Here at ICS, where we have an award-winning, internationally recognized rehab department, we know the difference between no maintenance and regular maintenance of both manual and power chairs. So, if you use a wheelchair, here are a few simple rules that will help you rolling!
- Create an emergency kit; include a tire patch kit, hand pump, tools, like a wrench, that fit your casters, and a medium Phillips-head screwdriver.
- Get to know the folks at your local bike shop. They’re familiar with wheels, bearings, and other parts of a wheelchair and can help in a pinch.
- Charge the batteries to your power chair/scooter regularly—8 hours of charging will give you 8 hours of driving.
- Clean your wheelchair every week. Wipe it with a damp cloth and dry it, get the road dirt out of the axles and off the frame, and check the tire pressure.
- Check for loose nuts and bolts each month; check your brakes and inspect the frame for cracks.
- Check your wheel alignment— With a manual chair, gently push the empty chair on a flat floor and see that the chair rolls straight. With a power chair, find a line on the floor, keep the joystick steady, and see that the chair rolls straight. Each year, lubricate all of the pivot points and ball bearings, and if your chair folds, make sure it folds easily.
Remember, these few small tips can make a big difference to how well—and how long—your wheelchair will run. Keep up-to-date with your maintenance so you can stay on the move!