This post contains a list of topics to cover when providing wheelchair education to family and caregivers. This checklist is intended to be comprehensive and not every item applies to the client’s specific situation.
As always, follow manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions for use to prevent injury and harm. Do not modify a wheelchair and its parts as this void the manufacturer’s warranty and cause potential harm.
The OT Wheelchair Checklist
- Education about wheelchair types (weight, width, material, etc.)
- Size and fit
- Wheelchair Safety (hills, inclines, curb cuts)
- Precautions and Contraindications (if any)
- Not a toy or for play (children)
- Weight capacity
- Deploying and collapsing
- Body mechanics loading/unloading into vehicles
- Propulsion technique (hemi-technique, etc.)
- Cushion type provided and available ones on market
- Armrests (L vs. R, front facing vs. rear facing (reversed)
- Armrest placement
- Legrests (regular, elevating, residual limb)
- Casters (fall hazard)
- Arm troughs (CVA)
- Accessories (propulsion gloves)
- Maintenance (pumping air)
- Pressure relief (Depression, weight shifting)
- Wheelchair positioning and placement
- Transfers between surfaces
- Sitting times
- Reclining (if tilt-in-space)
- Charging battery (if electric)
- Address psychosocial factors
- Slide board
- Sit to stand
- Stand pivot
- Squat pivot
- Adjacent Scooting (“Airplane Depression Lift“)
- A convenient alternative to regular wheelchairs if client cannot self-propel.
- More affordable.
- Lighter weight than a regular wheelchair.
- Can fit through doorways easier (more narrow than regular wheelchairs).
- Easier to load/unload from vehicles.
- Not usually covered by insurance due to client being unable to push (more passive DME than a regular wheelchair).
- Less comfortable to sit, rougher ride due to smaller wheels.
- Lessor no removable parts compared to a wheelchair.
- Variable weight capacities (check before ordering).
International Wheelchair Day
Don’t forget to educate caregivers about International Wheelchair Day!