Wheelchairs were first invented to carry individuals with mobility issues. It has traveled so far from simple wheel-barrows (that were used to transport humans as well as goods) to the today’s fully automated wheelchairs that can even make a paralyzed individual climb stairs. The journey of wheelchairs is not only a journey of development and modernization of equipment; it is in fact a journey of growing sensitization.
The growing sensitization towards individuals who need wheelchairs are reflected clearly in the accessories that are developed for the needs of wheelchair users. Today wheelchairs are not meant for carrying an immobile person from one place to another; they are for providing an individual mobility along with dignity, comfort and a better life as a human being.
If you are a regular wheelchair user you might know about some wheelchair accessories. But there are many other accessories that are not so commonly known despite being very useful. Here we are discussing the wheelchair accessories that you should know about and have them according to your need.
1. Seat Cushion
Seat Cushion is the most common of all wheelchair accessories. It is in fact the mandatory accessory that every wheelchair user must have! When we think about seat cushion the first word that comes to our mind is ‘comfort’. Obviously it would provide you comfort but there are many other benefits of using a seat cushion. It enhances your posture, improves sitting balance, reduces fatigue and it is also the best precaution from pressure sores.
Initial stages of spinal deformities like scoliosis can also be taken care of by customized seat cushions designed by the experts.
There are varieties of pre-built seat cushions available in market. The most common among them is foam cushion. Apart from foam cushions gel and air cushions too are popular. You can choose one as per your requirement.
2. Back Cushion
Similar to seat cushions there are various ergonomic back cushions available in market that ensures correct posture, balance and relief from back pain. Not as mandatory as seat cushion but back cushions too are important for every wheelchair user as they provide comfort in sitting for longer hours and maintain a good body posture. Back cushion is mandatory for persons with poor body balance in sitting position. They can provide appropriate support to the person for sitting.
Many wheelchair providers/makers customize back cushion as per the need of the user. Back cushions are designed to conform to lumbar curve and redistribute pressure thus making seating comfortable and less-fatiguing.
If you are not using a back cushion already or you are having problem like back pain then you should get in contact with experts to understand what type of cushion is required for your body comfort.
3. Wheelchair Safety Belt
Another mandatory wheelchair accessory! Although wheelchair users are not bound by any law to fasten their seat belt but we, like any other four-wheeler driver and rider, need to use the seat belt for our own safety. Like any other safety belts the wheelchair safety belt too is a strap with buckles to keep you fastened to your wheelchair seat.
Wheelchair users with okay-level of body balance (including me) are tempted to think that safety belt is a compulsion for wheelchair users with poor sitting balance. But the fact is we all need to fasten our wheelchair esp. while using a ramp or while navigating on a rough terrain. Ramps with poor gradient (which generally they are) may disturb your wheelchair balance and you may be thrown out of your seat despite having a good balance.
While going out of your house always feel as if you are sitting in a four-wheel vehicle. So, be a safe driver and fasten your safety belt.
4. Wheelchair Gloves
This is actually of no use if you use power-wheelchair or don’t go much distance on your manual wheelchair. But if you are an active wheelchair user who needs to propel herself often and to longer distances then you shouldn’t think twice in buying wheelchair gloves for yourself.
The exertion of propelling wheelchair can be tough on your palms, causing blisters and calluses. Repetitive use of hands for pushing wheelchair can also result in numbness. Wheelchair gloves are hence designed to provide your hands protection without hindering free movement.
Experts suggest manual wheelchair users to use gloves to keep their hands protected. Hands of wheelchair users are the most active part of body acting as both legs and hands. So, they justifiably need some pampering. And this pampering can be given by using gloves.
5. Wheelchair Backpack
Wheelchair backpacks are very useful for carrying things around. No need to carry your books, laptop, water bottle, packet of chips and everything else on your lap. Just buy a wheelchair backpack, attach it to your backrest and roam around freely. Things kept on lap often slip down and fall on ground. With backpack there’s no such tension.
But here’s a major drawback… you can use backpack only if your torso is flexible enough to move 900 left or right and your hands can go back to take out or put your things in the backpack. Otherwise you’ll need to have someone with you to do it for you.
Similar to the backpack, crutch or cane holders are also available in market. You can attach them to your wheelchair’s back and carry your foldable crutches or cane with you so that you can get up and walk a few steps if needed.
6. Wheelchair Table Tray
Wheelchair Table Tray is like a light-weight table-top that can be attached to the armrest of a wheelchair. This table tray can be used as a study or work table where you can put your books or laptop while reading or working. This can be very useful if you are allotted an inaccessible seat at your college/school or examination hall. You won’t need any seat or desk as your wheelchair with attached table tray will be self-sufficient for the purpose.
You can also buy a table tray with a glass or bottle holder at one corner. This would be your multipurpose table which you can use for working, studying and eating. And it is a notable fact that you don’t need to detach the table for propelling your wheelchair… means you can go here and there with your laptop on your table tray.
7. Portable Ramp
If your house entrance has 2-4 steps and you cannot rebuild them as a ramp or you regularly need to visit a place with this type of setup; you can think about owning a portable ramp. There are a variety of them available in market including the lightweight foldable ramp that can be carried easily to places.
Office owners too should consider this as an option if remodelling of the building is not possible. This small equipment can open doors of opportunity for many wheelchair users thus bringing healthy diversity in the office.
However you’ll need to do some research before buying a portable ramp as there are many size, variety and price difference between the products available in the market. The price can range anywhere from $1,000 or even beyond that.
8. Transfer Board
This is not needed by all the wheelchair users but many of them need this. Individuals who are not able to transfer themselves from one surface to other (say from bed to chair and vice versa) often need assistance for this. If the individual is very heavy in weight or does not have balance in body, it could be problematic for the caregiver. Transfer boards are designed for such individuals.
It is practically a strong board that is to be kept as a bridge between the two surfaces so that the wheelchair user can transfer herself from one surface to the other without much problem. The user may need assistance even while using transfer board but the process will become easier using the transfer board.
Hope you find this list useful. If there are any other requirements that you wished to be fulfilled as a wheelchair user, then feel free to tell us your wish in the comments section and we will try our best to provide you information regarding your problem’s solution. Keep in touch with WeCapable!