September 7, 2014

How to Transfer From Your Wheelchair to Your Car - 5 Success Secrets to Freedom and Mobility

By Marcia Oliver

Wheelchairs provide freedom for thousands, but they can also present challenges to the very freedoms they offer. You don't have to be a 'stuck at home' statistic. Discover 5 secrets to gaining your freedom and mobility away from home without awkward and difficult manual transfers from your wheelchair to your car. Realize for yourself the joy of going shopping, eating out or vacationing once again! Before you start, always lock your chair and detach all movable parts i.e. footrests, accessories, trays etc. Follow the next 5 steps for achieving freedom of mobility!

Secret #1 Keep the sitting surfaces equal in height. Impossible? It is much easier to slide from surfaces that are even in height. Don't try to move from a lower surface to a higher surface and if you are moving from higher to lower, make sure that it's not dangerously lower!

Secret #2 Remember friction in physics? Transfers are all about minimizing friction! Make sure that the surfaces that you are sliding from and two are not going to increase the friction. For instance, on a hot day, bare, sweaty skin on leather will stop your transfer in it's tracks. Material with low shag provides less friction making your slide much easier.

Secret #3 To increase legroom in smaller cars, Slide the car seat all the way back AND all the way down (for legs that aren't bending as much as is necessary or total hip replacements that need to follow a 90 degree precaution).

Secret #4 The steering wheel is a sturdy "grab bar" when scooting.

Secret #5 For the caregiver, once the patient is in the car, Walk around to the driver's side, crawl in. Pull and assist your patient in from this angle instead of trying to push them in from the passenger side. Pulling overcomes friction issues easier than pushing does. After getting the patient safely and efficiently in the car, open your trunk for wheelchair transport. Lock the wheelchair wheels first. Those big wheels are hard NOT to grab so when you do, you don't want the rest of the unit flipping around and hurting you.

With wheels locked and chair folded, tip the chair up on your legs just enough to clear the trunk threshold and slide it in. This uses the pivoting see-saw leverage of your legs instead of trying to lift the dead weight of the chair. To get the chair out, reverse that order! This makes it much easier to get that chair in and out of the car. And that means you just may have more inspiration to get out more!

Enjoy illustrations and elaborations on the tips above at our updated page. If you need more assistance, you may want to look up a home health care agency in your area to see if their physical therapist can assist you with your freedom and mobility goals. Home health physical therapists can help a great deal in working with your unique and individual circumstance. No two patients, cars or abilities (for caregivers or patients) are ever alike and sometimes troubleshooting by a medical professional can solve your problems! Benefit from Marcia's knowledge, passion and humorous insight with thousands of other people at where she is dedicated to helping you meet your physical therapy and functional goals, one answer at a time.

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