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For both senior citizens and individuals who have mobility issues, wheelchairs are often very highly recommended mobility solutions. The main benefit, of course, is that the seated position allowed by wheelchairs practically eliminates the potential for slips and falls. It is well documented that slips and falls are among the highest causes of hospitalizations for Canadians – not just seniors!

However, it’s important not to take wheelchairs for granted. They must be used correctly so that optimum safety can be assured. For caregivers of individuals who use wheelchairs, there are a number of safety precautions that should be met. For example, when a wheelchair is not in motion, its brakes must be applied.

Always use the wheelchair brakes when the wheelchair is idle.

The purpose of wheelchair brakes, of course, is to keep the wheelchair from rolling away or veering off when it is meant to remain in a stationary position. It’s vital that caregivers follow this golden rule, of sorts, as it allows them to walk away from the wheelchairs to attend to other responsibilities. The last thing you want is for your care recipient to become injured due to a rolling wheelchair that was left on an uneven surface without its brakes being applied.

Melissa Stehr of Australia’s HLS Healthcare lists the use of brakes a top tip for wheelchair safety. “Most manual wheelchairs will come with brakes that you can apply when the chair is not in motion,” she informs, “Nurses and other care providers should use these brakes not just when the patient is sitting in the chair and not planning on going anywhere, but also when they’re transferring a patient from the chair to a bed, bath, or vice versa.”

Provide back supports and seat cushions if necessary.

Wheelchairs are excellent mobility solutions for those who have difficulties with balance and/or walking, in general. For those who require regular use of wheelchairs, it’s important to remember the importance of keeping them comfortable. Sitting for long periods of time can prove to be an issue. When necessary, be sure to place a back support and/or seat cushion in the wheelchair to maximize its user’s comfort.

“Sitting in a wheelchair for long periods of time can cause some pain and discomfort in the wrong circumstances,” explains Stehr, “That’s why it’s so important to make sure that the care recipient is always encouraged to use the wheelchair back support and seat cushion according to the guidelines recommended by the manufacturer. If a healthcare professional offered extra advice on how to use the wheelchair safely, you can remind the patient of that when necessary too.”

Of course, there are numerous other wheelchair safety tips for caregivers that the Advantage Home Health Solutions team would love to discuss with you further. We’d also like the opportunity to fill you in on the power wheelchair options we have available. We are very knowledgeable about the different types of power wheelchairs, so we can help you determine which type of wheelchair fits your unique needs.

Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact page!