The Importance Of Proper Wheelchair Maintenance
Individuals with mobility issues have a wide variety of mobility solutions to choose from. The wheelchair, however, is often the most popular choice. Dating back to the 1600s, the use of wheelchairs has helped countless people safely move from place to place without falling and hurting themselves. It’s no secret that wheelchairs are widely used amongst the elderly. However, wheelchairs are used by people of all ages.
Naturally, these age-old mobility devices have long helped people to avoid slips and falls. But, it’s important to remember that wheelchairs themselves require some help to not fall apart! Proper wheelchair maintenance is a must.
Check the Condition of the Wheel Bearings
The back tires of a wheelchair are generally made up of spokes and wheel bearings. In addition to keeping the wheels attached to the chair, wheel bearings allow the wheels to rotate around the wheels’ axis. A damaged wheel bearing can increase rolling resistance. This forces a user or caregiver to use more energy to move the wheelchair forward. Undue stress is put on the shoulders, as a result.
“Bearings will wear out on a wheelchair during normal use,” says Physiopedia, “Noise is the first thing that will alert you about a wheel bearing that is failing. Most prominently, a knocking noise, and on some occasions, a squeaky squealing moan is what would be the first indicator of such a problem. Initially, the sound would be heard only at certain speeds, but will become fairly regular and prominent as the condition(s) of the bearings worsen.”
Don’t Ignore the Front Wheels
A wheelchair’s casters or front wheels play a very important role in the movement of the mobility device. The casters turn and twist in every direction allowing wheelchair users to turn either way or even in circles. Be sure to inspect the front wheels of your wheelchair to make sure there is no damage. Keeping the casters in good condition will improve the overall functionality of the wheelchair.
“Slight right or left turns and non-fluid movement is two of the most common problems that can occur when your wheelchair’s front wheels are out of alignment,” warns Australia’s Sunrise Medical, “To avoid and correct this issue, adjust the angle and play of the front wheels until they can freely rotate on flat ground.”
Perform Cushion Maintenance
Although this tip may appear a bit silly at first glance, it is not to be overlooked. The condition of a wheelchair’s cushion is vital for the comfort of its user. It also plays an important role in the overall safety of a wheelchair user. According to Physiopedia, cushions don’t usually last as long as wheelchair frames. Their deterioration can increase the risk of developing a pressure ulcer.
“Remove the cover so you can inspect both cushion and cover,” instructs the website, “Look for tears or holes in the cover or zipper malfunction, which might expose the cushion surface or create a wrinkled sitting surface. If the cover contains a foam liner, look for tears or flaking in the foam…After inspecting the cover inspect the cushion for shape and contour. This should be done weekly.”
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