No one ever wants to have to rely on a wheelchair for their mobility needs, but life conditions sometimes require the use of these products. Thank goodness they were invented because they really serve a useful purpose.
Alright, so now you’ve got yourself a brand new, shiny, wheelchair!! (Oh boy!!). What do you need to do to take care of it?
There are two immediate dangers for wheelchairs: Water and Dust. When water gets into the metal frame of a chair, rust can happen from the outside of the metal frame inward, as well as from the inside outward. The salty dust we have in the islands will also greatly contribute to a rusting problem. The best thing to do is prevent your chair from getting rained on, and wipe it down with a dry towel if it does get wet. Every week or so, take a dry cleaning rag and wipe down the frame of the chair (especially under the seat area) and remove any dirt accumulation, especially for those who use their wheelchair outside.
Clean wheel axels with a tool or pick to remove any build up from grime that can ruin the rotation of the wheels. Check the chair for any cracks or breaks, this includes all tires/wheels, the frame and upholstery. If you notice that your wheelchair seat or back upholstery is sagging, it may be time to replace it. A tip to avoid this is to always use your footrests when sitting in the wheelchair. This will keep your legs propped up and alleviate the weight of the leg that induces sagging in the upholstery. Verify that the wheel-lock tension is adjusted accurately. If the wheel-lock is loose, easily moved, or not locking the wheels at all, it’s time to adjust.
Doing these simple chores can greatly increase the useful lifetime of your chair. Some of this you can do yourself, and some you may want a person trained in this type of work to do for you, like our technicians at Gammie HomeCare. As the chair ages, various parts on it may eventually have to be replaced as well. Some may even suggest bringing in your wheelchair to a technician to have it “serviced” yearly. Although a wheelchair is not like a car and doesn’t need to be serviced regularly, at Gammie HomeCare, we can assess the wheelchair to make sure everything is working properly and give suggestions as to what may need to be replaced or repaired.
A well cared for chair should last at least 5 years, or possibly longer. Give it some love!!!