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Wheelchair Safety

Several years ago when I wrote the health advice column for a local monthly senior’s newspaper, I had written an article on wheelchair safety. Items covered in the article included appropriate size of wheelchair for the individual, wearing a safety belt, appropriate speed using the wheelchair, applying the brakes before getting in and out of the wheelchair and other safety measures. Since then some other safety issues have risen.

Some users of wheelchairs will have children riding with them. On one occasion I saw a child being towed while the child was riding a skateboard. Both of these can potentially cause serious injury or even death to the child.

For those who use wheelchairs, they also need to be more mindful of the terrain that they are going over. This includes both indoors and outdoors. When indoors, it’s easy to run over different objects that could potentially tip the wheelchair. This potential increases even further when outdoors.

Those who live in colder climates need to be even more mindful of things like snow and ice. In addition if the person is using an electric wheelchair, the battery may not hold a charge as long as it would if the weather was warmer.

With wheelchairs not being an enclosed space, the users should be wearing bicycle helmets to reduce the potential of injury or even death in the event of a tip over.

According to this article from the National Library of Medicine, the average number of wheelchair injuries had doubled from the early 1990’s to 2003 and that the leading cause of these injuries were tips and falls.

With an aging population, there’s an increased potential of more people needing to rely on wheelchairs as a means of mobility.  Therefore, there needs to be an increased awareness of the potential of an injury when using a wheelchair. 

Until next time, stay safe, healthy and strong.

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