You now have your wheelchair and the vendor has been paid, so what do you need to do to maintain your chair?
I must stress and clearly state that your wheelchair is an extension of your body; it is not just something that you can beat up and hope that it will take the punishment you give it. Your wheelchair has to be treated with the utmost care – especially if it is a power wheelchair. Power wheelchairs are expensive and hard to replace. Also, most insurance won’t cover a replacement chair if one has recently been delivered to you; your wheelchair must last you at least five years before you can get a new one.
Think of your new power wheelchair as a brand-new car, and treat it as such, for it is just as expensive. Therefore, I will stress again the importance of taking care of your chair. Your chair is a means of getting you to a lot of places, and can therefore give you a lot of freedom that you wouldn’t have without it. Take care of it and it will take care of you.
- You might be asking yourself, “How do I take care of my wheelchair?” It’s simple. Always keep your wheelchair clean. Again, your chair is an extension of your body: where you go it will go with you. You wouldn’t want to show up at work or a nice function in a clean suit and have your wheelchair looking like you just went through the mud. Ask the help of a friend, home health aide, brother, sister, or a family member to help you clean your chair at least once a week. By the way, wheelchair technicians do not like to handle filthy chairs. I have heard them say that if a wheelchair is really dirty they won’t even fix it. So I stress again, keep your wheelchair clean.
- Get a tune-up on your chair once a year. When you go in for a tune-up, technicians can assess the things that are wearing out on your chair such as tires, batteries, arm pads, and anti-tips. The thing that is the most important to your wheelchair is the controller. (This is the part that allows you to drive your wheelchair). Always take good care of that. Make sure to keep it covered in wet weather because water and moisture in the controller will ruin its function. Wheelchair technicians have been trained and have special equipment to evaluate what is wrong with your wheelchair when it starts to malfunction. Tune-ups once a year are important.
- Always drive your wheelchair with care while operating it. Like I said, it’s like having a brand-new car. You wouldn’t want to go driving a new car through potholes or over high cement curbs; doing so would only destroy the vehicle and make it no longer drivable. It is the same with a power wheelchair.
I remember a time when I was driving my wheelchair down a sidewalk. I didn’t see that a slab of cement had been pushed up by tree roots to make a high ramp. I was going so fast downhill that it was too late for me to stop and I drove my chair right off the ramp. The impact from the jump caused significant damage to my wheelchair. I was lucky to get it fixed, however it did take some time. I stress again drive your chair with good care.
In conclusion, it is important for you to take very good care of your wheelchair by keeping it clean, getting a tune-up once a year, and driving it with care. By following these three easy guidelines, you can count on your chair running smoothly and doing all that you need it to do. Take it from me, I speak from experience. If you follow these three guidelines, you will save yourself a lot of heartache and money.
Photo copy right to the National Park Service employee