Across the country, there are more than 2.7 million people who use wheelchairs every day. These tools are integral to the independence and movement of many with physical limitations, they are complete game-changers in so many ways.
Even though their use and importance are clear, beginning to use a powered wheelchair is still a major adjustment. It can be discouraging to make the switch and not have it go as smoothly as you’d imagined or liked. However, this is completely normal and something almost every wheelchair user experiences.
If you’ve recently moved to a power wheelchair in Savannah, follow these ten tips to make your experience as positive as possible.
Test Safety Features First
The very first step you should take when transitioning from a manual wheelchair to a power chair is to test out and learn about the safety features. This knowledge will become invaluable as you develop confidence in using the machine.
It’s especially important to practice using the brakes and how to get out of the chair in case of an emergency. Being prepared is always the key to feeling safe and confident in any situation, but especially when using a new wheelchair.
Increase the Comfort
After you feel confident in your ability to stay safe in the chair, you want to make any adjustments so that you can be as comfortable as possible.
The goal of a power assist wheelchair is to give you as much autonomy as you can, so you’ll likely be spending a lot of time in it. Adding a small pillow behind the back, moving the footrests up a few inches, or getting a whole new seat cushion can make a world of difference in customizing the fit of the chair.
Keep Someone with You
Though you’re working towards as much independence as you can handle, it’s a good idea to keep someone close by for the first little bit of using a new chair, especially if you are out and about in Savannah. This will allow you to feel confident and also troubleshoot any issues that might be coming up as you use it more and more.
While it’s important to be as comfortable as you can while using a wheelchair, it shouldn’t come at the expense of good posture. Keeping a good, seated position will help you avoid injury and fatigue as you build up stamina sitting in your chair.
It might take a while to build up the muscles used with proper posture, but it’s worth the effort for the benefits your body will receive (like less pain and better, stronger muscles, and easier breathing).
Join a Group
Some wheelchair movers find themselves feeling lonely and separated from other people, this can be very difficult on their mental health. That’s why creating a support group in the Savannah area is so important.
It’s especially helpful if this new friend group is also made up of power wheelchair users. This way you can swap tips and tricks, give advice, and find all the ways to use and enjoy your wheelchair. A feeling of belonging is a great way to boost your mood and outlook.
Check Movement Options
Unfortunately, the world isn’t completely set up to work well with wheelchairs. There have been major improvements in the last decade or so but there are still areas and buildings that are inaccessible.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to check the status of a new place before taking the time to go there. This will save you a lot of frustration and annoyance if they’re not wheelchair accommodating. Luckily, there has been a major emphasis and a lot of great places are fully accessible.
As you begin to feel more and more secure in your new power wheelchair, you can begin to add accessories to increase your independence even more. That could include a basket to hold your selections at a store, or a drink holder for your favorite beverage. The little touches help to customize your experience and increase your enjoyment.
Try a New Activity
There’s often no better time to try something new than during a transition. It’s the same when starting to use or getting a new power wheelchair. Use the time you’re already spending learning how to use the machine to learn how to do a new activity as well.
This could include joining a wheelchair sports league or getting active in Savannah some other way. The key is to integrate a new activity into your new life with the chair.
Set-Up a Charging Schedule
One of the only downsides of a power assist wheelchair is that it relies on a battery power source and can’t fully function without it. That means you have to be responsible to keep it charged at all times.
The easiest way to do that is to set up a charging schedule where you plug it in at the same time every day. This keeps it from getting forgotten and just becomes a part of your regular, daily routine. You’ll never be stuck with a dead battery again.
Go Slow and Be Patient
Nothing will replace time and practice in the chair. It’s crucial to be patient and not rush anything as you begin to get comfortable with your new wheels. There’s no rush, take as much time as you need until you feel fully safe and confident.
Make a Power Wheelchair Work for You in Savannah
Once you (or your loved one) gets used to the power wheelchair, a whole new world will open up as you rediscover all there is to do in Savannah. The independence that using a power wheelchair brings is unmatched when you need assistance moving around.
The key to making a power assist wheelchair work for you and your family is finding just the right model. That’s why working with a reliable, professional company that can go through your life, routines, and desires with you is a great idea. They’ll take all of that information and give you their advice for which chair would work best.
If you’re in need of a power wheelchair and would like some guidance on where to start and what to consider, contact us today.