Transport a Person in a Wheelchair

Edited by Olivia, Lynn, Eng, rcricanaRN and 5 others

Oliviabacayao Wheelchair.jpg

It's common to see individuals confidently push or move a wheelchair around, or even assist someone to move in and out of a wheelchair. Contrary to what most people know, it requires proper instruction, demonstration and return-demonstration to understand how to move a person in and out of a wheelchair, or how to push it in certain directions. Without proper knowledge and training on how to accomplish this effectively, the individual in the wheelchair will be at risk for accidents, and the person pushing the wheelchair faces injuries, or at the very least, aches and pains.

What Kinds Of Terrain Will A Wheelchair Need To Be Maneuvered Through?

There are various types of roads one travels on, however for a person in a wheelchair, there are only two categories:

Even Ground

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These types of paths and roads are smooth and level. Examples are cemented roads or plain dirt paths and landscaped grasslands, like those found in parks. It's much easier to traverse even ground for an individual in a wheelchair, as well as for the person pushing it. A wheelchair with no special attachments or wheels, will function well here.

Uneven Ground

Oliviabacayao Wheelchair on Uneven ground.jpg

These types of paths and roads are bumpy and stony with an irregular terrain. Some examples are gravel, garden soil and sandy beaches. It's difficult to wheel oneself here, as well as to move the wheelchair around. Special attachments and wheels are required in order to facilitate ease of movement on these types of paths.

Oliviabacayao Wheelchair on Sand.jpg

Moving or transferring an individual from a wheelchair to other equipment, like a chair, bed or toilet seat, requires training. Without adequate training or demonstrations, expect difficulty as well as muscle strain. Here are instructions to some of the situations you might face, either pushing a person in a wheelchair, or trying to maneuver the wheelchair yourself:

When Moving Up or Down a Ramp

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When assisting an individual on a wheelchair move up a ramp, one should position the wheelchair facing up the ramp. Doing so will prevent the person from falling out of the wheelchair. It also requires less effort to push the wheelchair when it faces in the direction you're going. It always takes more effort when you pull the wheelchair toward you, rather than pushing it away from you. When you are pulling the wheelchair, it increases your risk of tripping, as you'll be walking backward.

To move down a ramp, you need to position the wheelchair with its back facing down the downward. You should position yourself at the back of the wheelchair and slowly step backward as you control the descent of the wheelchair. By doing so, you again prevent the individual from falling out of the wheelchair, and you control the speed of its descent. Just remember you are at risk of tripping, as you can't see where you're going. Go slow.

Boarding and Alighting from a Car or Van Designed for Disabled Persons

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There are vehicles specifically designed for people with physical challenges. There are automated lifts wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Unlike the way you assist an individual into an elevator or onto a ramp, the wheelchair may or may not face the ramp. They are different from the ramps found in buildings and establishments. Vehicles designed for the disabled, have short ramps with steeper angles. They give leverage and access for the wheels, while being wide enough to balance.

If the disabled person can wheel himself up the ramp, it's better that he turns the wheelchair and proceeds up the ramp backward. By doing so, he can alight fairly easily. It's much easier if someone wheels him up and down the vehicle's ramp.

Wheeling a Wheelchair Off And On An Elevator

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There are elevator floors that are level with the destination floor, but often, the elevator is a bit higher or a bit lower than the destination floor. This makes maneuvering a wheelchair onto an elevator, whether it's your own, or one you're pushing one, a bit trickier.

The key principle here is, when it's going up, the wheelchair must face the focal point of the ramp going up. When going down, the wheelchair's back should face the ramp's direction downward. Unless it's a vehicle or elevator especially designed for the disabled - then a wheelchair can go up with its back facing the upward direction of the ramp.

Assisting the Individual From the Wheelchair to a Bed, Chair or Toilet

It wasn't that long ago that a person confined to a wheelchair would have to wait for two people, or one very strong person, to help him from his wheelchair - into bed, onto a chair or a toilet. Basically it would require the person lifted awkwardly from their chair, in the same way you would lift a child. Times have changed.

  1. 1
    Position the wheelchair 45 degrees from the person's feet
    Oliviabacayao Bed to Wheelchair.jpg
    This way, it will be easier for you to pivot. Make sure that the brakes are locked on the wheels to avoid accidents.
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  2. 2
    Position your left feet in between the person's legs
    Oliviabacayao Bed to Wheelchair2.jpg
    Hold by inserting your hands under her arms and lock your hands at her back. Bending from the knee, help her to stand.
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  3. 3
    Pivot to the right
    Oliviabacayao Bed to Wheelchair3.jpg
    bringing the person with you by lifting your right leg giving space for him or her, but keeping your left leg stable in between her legs
    This way, you ensure that you will be able to hold her if her legs give way.
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  4. 4
    Let the person lean on you and instruct her to take hold of the wheelchair's armrest
    Oliviabacayao Bed to Wheelchair4.jpg
    Do not let go.
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  5. 5
    Lower her slowly into the chair, being careful to avoid hitting her buttocks or back on the armrest
    Oliviabacayao Bed to Wheelchair5.jpg
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  6. 6
    With the advent of assistive devices like handles, boards and automated wheelchair lifts, it has become easier to transfer someone to or from their wheelchair to their bed, chair or toilet
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In assisting an individual to transfer from the chair to the bed, one must have good body mechanics. This is to avoid muscle strain and contracture. An example of good body mechanics is when lifting a person from a wheelchair, bend at your knees, never from the waist; lift with your legs - not your back. It's also the same procedure when you want to move the person from the bed to a chair or from the wheelchair to a toilet seat.

With the proper assistive devices, a much faster transfer is facilitated. It's important to note not that you should initially do these steps with a trained professional. If that's not possible, be patient, it takes practice before a person masters these techniques.

Questions and Answers

When assisting a person in a wheelchair down a ramp, what position should you be in?

It is best if you turn your back from the ramp and walk backwards. This will make sure that you are not putting the person in the wheelchair at risk of falling forward out of the chair, if you were pushing them down the ramp facing forward. Pulling it backward will reduce the pull of gravity, and ensure the wheelchair doesn't roll down the ramp out of control.

How should I move the wheelchair when entering and exiting an elevator? Thanks.

Typically, pushing the wheelchair into the elevator when you're entering and stepping out and pulling the wheelchair out of the elevator when you're exiting, is the easiest method.

Transportation wheelchair design?

Hi, I want to design a wheelchair that makes transportation easier for disabled people. Can you help me?

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Proper technique to push a wheelchair through elevator door and/or electric operated glass door?

When entering the elevator with a patient in a wheelchair (with myasthenia gravis), should you push the wheelchair into the elevator or step into it backwards? Also, when entering an automatic/electric glass, door do you push through the doorway or pull them through the doorway?

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Who is to blame if they fall backwards while on the lift?

Yes we want to know who is to blame if a wheelchair user falls backwards while on the lift.the person is facing forwards looking at the vehicle.. We at our company want our wheelchair users to get on the ramp backwards to the vehicle so they won't fall backwards.

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I have a family member who keeps pulling the wheelchair backwards whilst her father is sitting in it , also I have other vulnerable service users walking around . is it illegal to pull the wheelchair backward with them in it?

Pulling wheelchair backwards with a service user sitting in it , is this illegal  ? as the person a dementia and also under the moving & handling act

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Categories : Health & Wellness

Recent edits by: Nuance, ajones, sadamhussainkhan1

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