Consider wheeled devices for a moment. Cars have four wheels and a steering wheel. Bicycles have two wheels and a handlebar. Wheelchairs have four wheels and...well, no steering wheel, no handlebars.
Let's not get off on the wrong foot here: wheelchairs are basically safe. Manufacturers build in certain devices to ensure a minimum degree of safety for wheelchair users. The operative word is minimum. If you're a wheelchair user, or a caregiver who handles wheelchairs on a regular basis, why would you want anything that has a minimal degree of safety?
Many easy-to-install, reasonably priced accessories are available to boost wheelchairs' safety standards:
Wheelchairs ride low to the ground and often are not visible between cars in parking lots or among crowds of people. Folding wheelchair flags go up easily and come down easily, ensuring that you will be seen.
For users who handle their own wheelchairs, you may know that the rims of wheelchairs can be slippery, narrow, and hard to grip. Foam-based wheelchair grips slide easily onto the wheel's rim and have removable, washable covers. Users who typically have caregivers pushing them may be aware that wheelchair handles are not friendly to the human hand. Like the wheel rims, they too are slippery and narrow. Ergonomic handles attach in a snap and let your caregiver push you in greater comfort and safety.
For ultimate safety, it is imperative that you be fully contained within the wheelchair--all of your extremities. A weakened arm or leg that occasionally drops to the side cannot be considered the ultimate in safety. Arm supports, as well as foot and leg huggers, help you keep it all together.
Some things you cannot do without. Things like oxygen canisters and canes. Carrying a cane across one's lap is so unsafe, it's almost unnecessary to bring up the subject (narrow doorways, pedestrians, fragile items that can get knocked over, etc.). Neat carriers for the back of the wheelchair allow you to carry the cane in a contained, vertical fashion. Also, bags made specially for oxygen canisters are available for the back of the wheelchair; they carry these heavy, cumbersome items with ease.
Think wheelchair safety. Investigate the wide range of smart wheelchair aids that guarantee that your four-wheeled journey will be a safe one.
© Copyright 2007 The Wright Stuff, Inc. Articles may only be redistributed in its unedited form. Written permission from The Wright Stuff, Inc. must be obtained to reprint or cite the information contained within this article.