The Powered Wheelchair Training Guide

Written by Axelson P, Minkel J, Perr A, & Yamada D.

Illustrated by Clay Butler

Published by: PAX Press, a division of Beneficial Designs, Inc., Santa Cruz, California

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Getting to Know Your Wheels 1

1.1 The Owner’s Manual 2

1.2 Determining the Powered Wheelchair Type Best for You 3

Wheelchair Types 3
Drive Configurations 5

1.3 Specifying the Seating Components and Control Input Device 7

Selecting and Ordering Your Powered Wheelchair 7
Seating Dimensions and Components 7
Joystick Type 11
Alternate Controls 12

1.4 Seating Setup and Wheel Adjustments 13

Seat Surface Angle Adjustment 13
Back Angle Adjustment 14
Drive Wheel Position Adjustment 14
Arm Support Height Adjustment 15
Caster Adjustments
Foot Support Adjustment 16
Seat Height Adjustment 16

1.4 Seating Setup and Wheel Adjustments 13

Seat Surface Angle Adjustment 13
Back Angle Adjustment 14
Drive Wheel Position Adjustment 14
Arm Support Height Adjustment 15
Caster Adjustments Foot Support Adjustment 16
Seat Height Adjustment 16

1.5 Joystick Setup, Adjustments and Operation 17

Joystick Positioning 17
Joystick Handles 17
Dealer Programmable Drive Performance Adjustments 18
Reversal of Controls 20
User Adjustable Settings and Joystick Operations 20
Checking Your Stability with a Spotter 22

Chapter 2: General Skills 25

2.1 Asking for Help 26

Defining “Assistance” 26
Who Can Help? 26
How to Ask for Help 28
Manually Rolling Your Wheelchair 29
Describing Safe Body Mechanics to the Spotter or Assistant 29
When You Do Not Want or Need Assistance 29
Experiencing New Environments 29

2.2 Learning Your Limits 30

Techniques for Keeping Your Weight Back 30
Techniques for Keeping Your Weight Forward 32
When You are Learning Your Limits 33

2.3 Relieving Pressure 34

Forward Weight Shift 34
Side-to-Side Weight Shift 35
Push Up Weight Shift 36
Weight Shift Through Powered Seating 36

2.4 Reaching, Bending and Lifting 38

Reaching Sideways 38
Reaching Forward 39

2.5 Main Wheel and Caster Management 41

Wheel Position 41
Wheel Size 42
Composition 42
Condition 42
Caster Management and Caster Trail 43
Type of Caster 44
Caster Flutter 44

Chapter 3: Navigation Skills 45

3.1 Smooth Surfaces 47

Crossing Smooth Surfaces 47

3.2 Thresholds and Obstacles 48

Foot Support Clearance 48
Crossing a Door Threshold or Obstacle 49

3.3 Doorways and Tight Environments 53

Manual Swinging Doors 54
Manual Sliding Doors 56
Doors in a Sequence 57
Double-leaf Doors 57
Narrow Doors 58
Automatic Doors 58
Revolving Doors and Turnstiles 59
Doors with Objects Around Them 59
Tight Environments 59
Vans 62

3.4 Rough Terrain 63

Hard, Uneven Surfaces 63
Soft Surfaces 64

3.5 Ramps 66

Going Up a Ramp 66
Going Down a Ramp 67
Very Steep Ramps 69
Telescoping or Portable Ramps 69
Turning Around on a Ramp 69
Grade Transitions 70

3.6 Cross Slopes 71

Walkways and Hills with Cross Slopes 71
Curb Ramps 72
Driveway Crossings 73

3.7 Curbs and Steps 74

Going Up Curbs or Steps 74
Going Down Curbs 77

3.8 Elevators and Platform Lifts 80

Catching an Elevator 80
Entering and Exiting an Elevator 82
Platform Lifts

3.9 Tracks and Grates 85

Crossing Railroad and Trolley Tracks 85
Crossing Grates 86

Chapter 4: Emergency Skills 89

4.1 Stairs 90

Going Up Stairs 91
Going Down Stairs 91

4.2 Falling and Getting Up 93

Falling 93
Battery Acid 94
Getting Up 94

4.3 Electromagnetic Compatibility 97

Sources of Electromagnetic Energy 98
Dealing with EMI 98

4.4 Evacuation Procedures 100

Creating an Emergency Plan 101
Personal Emergency 101

Chapter 5: Special Circumstances 103

5.1 Planning Your Route 104

Transit Stops 104
Trains and Automobiles 105
Airplanes 105
Rental Vehicles 105

5.2 Crossing Streets 106

Understand the Local Driver Mentality 106
Examining Street Terrain 106
Crossing at a Crosswalk 107
Crossing at Mid-block 108

5.3 Nighttime Safety 110

General Pointers 110
Emergency Equipment 111
Protect Yourself 112
Moving Around 112

5.4 Hiking 113

Hiking Hazards 113
Prepare for Your Trip 113
Take Precautions 114
Asking for Assistance 114

5.5 Traveling 116

Travel Planning Tips 116
Hotel Rooms 117
Restrooms 117
New Environments 118
Other Hazards 118

5.6 Weather 119

Precipitation 119
Sun 121
Wind 121

5.7 Transportation 122

General Considerations and Safety Issues 122
Transferring In and Out of Your Wheelchair 123
Riding in Vehicles While in Your Wheelchair 124
Air Travel 126

Chapter 6: Body Mechanics 129

6.1 Protecting Yourself 130

Body Position 130
Using Safe Body Mechanics 131

6.2 Setting Limits and Offering Help 134

How to Say “No” 134
Offering Assistance 134

Appendix A: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 137

Appendix B: Specialty Powered

Wheelchairs and Accessories 139

Appendix C: References and Resources 148

Last Updated: March 26, 2003

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