Table 3. General Safety Guidelines for Wheelchair Users
- Reduce the distance between the transfer surface and the wheelchair. Removing armrests and detachable footrests will permit closer positioning to the transfer surface.
- Always secure wheelchair locks (one on each side of chair). The major cause of injury to wheelchair users is being transferred to or from a wheelchair with one or both brakes are unlocked.
- Provide surfaces of equal height if possible. It is much more difficult lifting someone onto a surface if the height is higher than the wheelchair.
- Keep a wide base of support and use legs and not back musculature to lift person.
- Make sure the person knows when you are ready to transfer them.
- When you are going to push a client in a wheelchair, make sure the person is prepared to move.
- If you ever have to tip the wheelchair to get over an obstacle, such as a curb or door threshold, never tip the wheelchair forward. This could cause the person to fall out of the chair. Always tip the chair backward onto the larger posterior wheels. Remind the client to sit back in the chair.
- It is recommended that when a client needs to be transferred from their chair to the floor or a machine, it is performed by two people. One person transfers are very difficult and can result in a higher risk of injury to the client or instructor.