7 Tips for Wheelchair Pushers
If you are or have recently become a wheelchair pusher, getting around the idea will require some adjustments to your life. It’s always better to be prepared, so here are some tips when being a wheelchair pusher:
1. Always Check and Communicate with the Wheelchair User
It is very important to check with your passenger before touching the wheelchair or moving it. Although they may be dependent on you, do not treat them like an object. A little bit of courtesy goes a long way because it’s not easy for anyone to be dependent. Trying to workout a communication method that works for the both of you. If they tell you to stop, stop immediately.
2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Remember that when pushing a wheelchair, it is not natural movement for you. Your usual comfortable radius is extended by the length of a wheelchair. Therefore, bear in mind that you have to be more aware of your surroundings, especially on what’s ahead of you. Walk at a comfortable speed for the both of you, that also allows you to be extra careful. Believe it or not, maneuvering a wheelchair requires some skills. You don’t want to end up hitting other objects or people when pushing the wheelchair, because accidentally bumping into people’s legs and objects around the house is ever so common.
3. Be Extra, Extra Careful on Uneven Surfaces, Bumps, and Slopes
As mentioned in point number 2, pushing a wheelchair requires some level of skills. The weight of a person added to the weight of a wheelchair can be really heavy, so ensure that you have a firm grip on the wheelchair. Wheelchairs are built to have a very smooth roll, so even the slightest slope can cause the wheelchair to veer towards the sloped side. When pushing on uneven surfaces, scan the surface and avoid holes or dents in the ground. If the caster wheels get stuck, it’s easier to pull the wheelchair backwards than to push it forward. When approaching a bump, make sure that the wheelchair is straight.
4. Sometimes, Pulling is Easier than Pushing
Law of physics, pulling provides better leverage than pushing. Wheelchairs are built and meant to be pushed forward, but due to the combined weight of the wheelchair and its user, there will however be many instances where pulling the wheelchair backwards works better. For example, when maneuvering around sloped areas, or pushing through glass doors, you will need to pull the wheelchair and move backwards. Sometimes pulling backwards over bumps works better too.
5. Watch Out for Alignment
When pushing a wheelchair, your usual alignment no longer works. If you push a wheelchair to a reception counter for example, you might end up pushing them under the counter, or overshooting it. Or if you are pushing the wheelchair in crowds, you may not realize when you get too close to other people. It will take some getting used to, but once you have it figured out, it should come naturally.
6. Maybe, Get Gloves
If you are going to be pushing a wheelchair around for long hours, or over long distances, consider getting gloves. The grips on wheelchairs aren’t usually very ergonomic, and can be sore to hold on to for long periods of time.
7. Be Kind and Patient
Being dependent on someone can take a toll on you. Expect your passenger to be grumpy sometimes and require more attention than usual, because having no control over your own movements can be very frustrating. Always be gentle with them and check if they are comfortable or if they need anything from time to time, listen to them and try your best to fulfill their requests. When talking to other people, encourage a conversation between your passenger and the other person. People tend to unintentionally ignore the person on a wheelchair.