Guide To Maintaining Your Manual Wheelchair
Author: Nicholas Sutedja Date Posted:27 August 2019
Manual wheelchairs are alternatives to power wheelchairs as they are simpler to use and are cheaper compared to power wheelchairs. However even these manual wheelchairs require maintenance now and again to ensure that they remain at optimal conditions and at the highest level of safety.
Today we’ll look at some of the common issues when maintaining your manual wheelchair and what you can do daily, monthly and annually to ensure that your wheelchair stays with you for a long time.
When it comes to a maintenance schedule it usually comes down to two things: the model of your wheelchair and the way it’s being used. One of the most important things you have to remember is that regularly using your wheelchair can result in a lot of wear and tear for the important components of the wheelchair. Since these components are necessary to allow your wheelchair to function it’s important that you keep it in near-perfect condition.
As a general rule of thumb:
- Check your wheelchair’s tyre pressure at least once a month
- Check the wear-down and general condition of your brakes
- Check each moving parts and adjust your backrest if it’s shifted slightly
- Carefully check your anti-tip mechanism
- Your upholstery and footrest should be checked every 3 – 4 months
- The frame should be cleaned and checked for rusts
Inspect cushion covers and the cushion itself for holes or tears. If skin is exposed to wrinkled fabric it can result in additional pressure to the skin and cause either a skin abrasion or pressure ulcer. Ensure that the attaching hardware is secure especially for backrests as this can become a safety issue. As upholstery gets older it can lose its shape and ‘sling’, which can cause changes in posture, pressure, sitting balance and even your ability to propel efficiently. If there are adjustable tension upholstery with velcro straps, tighten the straps where you need and check if it’s worn and needs replacing.
Check your brakes every week, especially if you notice any braking issues during daily use of your wheelchair. The brake’s efficiency can be degraded by incorrect adjustment or placement of the braking system. Additionally having wet or low-pressure tyres can impair the performance of the braking system.
The front wheels play an important role in the stabilisation, turning circle and propulsion of your manual wheelchair. While performing minor maintenance always take a moment to look at the condition and overall functionality of the front wheels.
Slight right or left turns and non-fluid movements are two of the more common problems that can occur when your front wheels are out of alignment. To avoid and correct this issue, adjust the angle and play of the front wheels until they can freely rotate on flat ground.
Tyres and Inner Tubes
The mobility of your manual wheelchair can be heavily disrupted if the tyres and inner tubes are in poor condition. One of the most common causes of mobility problems is low tyre pressure because when it’s too low the user has to exert far more energy to propel and direct their wheelchair. Conversely if your tyre pressure is too high then you run the risk of bursting the tube and outer tyre; to find what the recommended pressure range is for your wheelchair consult your user manual.
Having the tyres fitted in is a relatively simple process. If you’re unsure you can follow a basic instruction manual for fitting bicycle tyres as the process is effectively the same. After you have cleaned the inside wheel rim and inner tyre, you can fit in a pressurised tyre tube, but make sure you check the pressure again after fitting in a tyre.
General Maintenance and Care Tips
- Check your brake fittings and performance on a weekly basis
- Pressure and overall condition of your tyres should be checked each month
- Look over your wheelchair frame and fittings. Check each screw point and test it for looseness. Make sure you check any joints that are secured with self-locking bolts
- Use a mild detergent to clean your wheelchair, avoiding upholstering and any exposed bearing points. Rinse the wheelchair before you store it or use it. If you want to wash the backrest or cushion, try using some soap and water. If you’ve used your wheelchair in a sandy area or come into contact, either directly or indirectly, with salt then give it a more intensive clean.
- If you plan to store it for any length of time then use a protective weather-proof cover. Additionally leave the chair in a dry place and try to keep it out of direct sunlight. The next time you use it make sure you comprehensively check it.
Hopefully these general tips on maintaining your manual wheelchair can help you ensure that your wheelchair stays with you for a long time. If you need more information or want to book in a service or repairs then give us a call on 02 9649 2111 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.