A Comprehensive Guide to Wheelchair Accessories
A Comprehensive Guide to Wheelchair Accessories
August 17, 2023
A wheelchair is a great assistive device that helps people with disabilities move around freely and comfortably. Wheelchair accessories are specifically designed to meet the needs of wheelchair users, making it easier for them to accomplish daily tasks while maintaining their independence. In this article, we will explore different types of wheelchair accessories and their benefits.
The Importance of Wheelchair Accessories
Wheelchair accessories provide added convenience and safety, helping enhance the overall quality of life for wheelchair users. These accessories are specifically designed to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of individuals, offering optimal comfort, improved functionality, and personalized customization.
Wheelchair accessories also contribute significantly to promoting independence. Having things like storage, trays, and cup holders attached directly to the chair reduce the need for caregiver assistance, helping wheelchair users maintain their independence and dignity.
Types of Accessories for Wheelchairs
From cushioned supports and ergonomic handles to storage compartments and cup holders, there is a wide range of accessories available to meet individual needs and preferences. By customizing wheelchairs with these accessories, users can experience improved comfort, convenience, and independence in their daily activities.
Wheelchair positioners are used to keep users aligned comfortably and safely within their chairs during everyday activities. There are different types of supports for different parts of the body, including the head, back, arms, torso, legs, and feet.
- Head Supports position the head and neck for user comfort and care activities such as feeding. Wedge-shaped supports like SkiL-Care™ Triangular Head Positioner Wedges also help prevent hyperextension of the neck.
- Back Supports help keep the user’s back and torso properly positioned and aligned for comfort and safety. Some, like SkiL-Care™ Reclining Wheelchair Backrests, have removable foam padding for easy customization and can be used as an alternative to expensive adjustable-back wheelchairs.
- Armrests and Arm Supports position the arm and hand properly and securely on the armrest of the chair, which is especially helpful for those with paralyzed arms or a high risk of skin injury. AliMed® Extended Width Armrests also feature a large padded surface that helps eliminate the risk of skin tears and pressure injuries.
- Belts and Postural Supports help keep the user securely in their chair and maintain the correct posture for those with poor trunk control. For example, AliMed® Restraint-Free Cushioned Lap Belts serve as a soft reminder for the user to stay seated and helps prevent forward movement without acting as a restraint.
- Lateral Supports add security and stabilization for users who have poor trunk control or tend to lean to the side. AliMed® Wheelchair Side Supports, for instance, convert a standard 18"W seat to a narrow 16"W seat and eliminate the side-to-side rocking that can cause skin damage in very slender wheelchair users.
- Foot and Leg Supports add height and padding to wheelchair footrests to accommodate the user’s needs. SkiL-Care™ Wheelchair Leg Support Pads provide solid, full-width padding behind the calves and heels and help prevent legs from falling backward off foot pedals.
Comfort and Convenience
Many wheelchair accessories are designed specifically for user comfort and convenience when performing daily activities. This helps promote inependence and improve the overall experience of using a wheelchair.
- Lap Cushions help promote proper posture, provide a comfortable resting surface for arms and hands, and help keep users safely in their chairs. AliMed® BreakAway Lap Cushions use hook-and-loop tabs to safely fall away when the user rises instead of restraining them.
- Trays provide a flat, stable surface for eating, reading, writing, and other activities. There are different types of wheelchair trays, such as flip-down, swing-away, and fully adjustable trays, many of which can be removed when not in use. SkiL-Care™ SofTop Lap Trays are reversible, providing both a cushioned side for comfort and a hard top, durable work surface.
- Cup Holders hold glasses, cups, mugs, cans, or bottles securely on the wheelchair frame and within reach.
- Oxygen Tank Holders provide convenient mobile storage for users who need access to an oxygen tank.
Safety accessories are designed to protect users from falls and other injuries that may occur during regular wheelchair use.
- Anti-Tippers help prevent the wheelchair from tipping forward or backward when the user leans or reaches. Available for the front or back of the chair.
- Grips and Gloves provide a comfortable, secure grip for those who use manual wheelchairs. Impacto® Fingerless Gloves and Inserts, for example, offer maximum impact protection that doesn't compromise dexterity or comfort.
- Brake Lever Extenders enable those with limited mobility or the use of only one hand to independently lock wheelchair brakes by extending the length of the brake, making it more accessible.
- Calf Bumpers cover exposed leg rest brackets on wheelchairs to help prevent scrapes and skin tears when leg rests are removed, allowing wheelchair users to safely exercise their legs.
- Spoke Covers protect the user’s finers from getting caught in the spokes of the wheels.
Tips for Installing and Using Wheelchair Accessories
Safely installing and using wheelchair accessories is essential. Ensure the accessories that are compatible with your specific wheelchair model and follow the product installation instructions to avoid damaging the accessory or the chair. Once you have everything securely installed, take the time to consider how the accessory affects your center of gravity and overall balance, ease of use, and comfort level.
Invest in Quality Wheelchair Accessories
Investing in quality wheelchair accessories can have numerous benefits for individuals who rely on wheelchairs for mobility. Not only can these accessories improve the overall comfort and functionality of the wheelchair, but they can also promote better health and prevent potential injuries.
These accessories are designed to alleviate discomfort and prevent strain on limbs during extended use, providing wheelchair users with a supportive and ergonomic solution to a range of common problems. Making the investment in wheelchair accessories ultimately ensures a safer, more comfortable, and tailored experience for wheelchair users.