Living in a wheelchair can be a daunting prospect, particularly if the news has come following an unexpected injury or illness. It can feel like you’ve been given a new body to adjust to, perhaps one that can’t commit as easily to some of the basic tasks that needed no thought beforehand.
Whether this change is a temporary hurdle, or a permanent adjustment, adapting to life in a wheelchair can be challenging, but there are several things you can do to ensure that you continue to retain the power over your life.
At KARMA Mobility, we’re dedicated to making that happen.
Choose the Right Wheelchair For You
One of the most important steps in adapting to life in a wheelchair is selecting the right chair for your needs. Because your specific needs will be different to other wheelchair users, what works for someone else might not be what works for you.
Take into consideration your lifestyle, and put together a list of requirements for your chair that support this, whilst also being mindful of budget. Remember, your chair is not a limitation, and is instead a companion that gives you the ability to continue living life to the fullest, so it is always worth investing in the proper support and accessories.
Luckily, there are plenty of options that will allow you to live the life you deserve.
For example, if you are someone who needs to travel by car regularly, then a lightweight folding wheelchair might be the best option for you. If you value your independence then a powered wheelchair may be your ideal companion. If your condition requires you to lay on your back regularly to relieve tension, you would be best finding respite in a positioning wheelchair.
For more advice on how to pick the right wheelchair for you, visit our blog: Questions To Ask Yourself When Choosing A New Wheelchair.
Adapt Your Home
Not all houses come with built-in wheelchair access, but there are lots of adjustments that can be made to your home to make it easier for you to live in with your new chair.
Standard wheelchairs, measuring at up to 27 inches wide, should be able to fit through a standard doorway, but depending on the chair you choose, this might not be the case. Therefore, widening the doorways in your home could be the first step towards making your home easier to move around.
Lowering the peephole on your front door, as well as lowering cupboards and counters in your kitchen will likewise result in your home becoming more accessible for your needs.
The bathroom can be the most dangerous room in the house for a wheelchair user so installing rails around the shower, bath, and toilet can provide you with a little safety net. Further, ensuring there is enough space around your toilet for your chair will also make a huge difference.
Another thing to consider is clutter. Clutter causes obstacles that will only make moving around your home more difficult.
If it is not within your budget to adapt your house, and your main concern is navigating around a small home, then it might be worth factoring this into your choice of chair. Ultra lightweight wheelchairs are the best option for home life as they are compact and collapsible.
Create a Steady Exercise Routine
Although it might seem obvious, exercise can be one of the most important ingredients to living a happy, healthy life, and this is even more vital for wheelchair users.
Wheelchair users are more likely to suffer from heart conditions and diabetes due to spending prolonged periods of time sitting down. Regular aerobic exercise is essential to maintaining heart health, as well as preventing obesity.
It is also important to build muscle strength, as manoeuvring a manual wheelchair can cause strain in the shoulder and chest muscles. By keeping these muscles strong, you will find easier mobility, and prevent further long-term injury. It is always worth checking with your physician to make sure the activities you’re taking part in are suitable for you.
Exercise can also be a fantastic social tool, as competitive and team sports will allow you to meet like-minded individuals. Regular exercise will likewise do wonders for your mental health.
To find wheelchair accessible gyms near you, you can use the tools provided by the Inclusive Fitness Initiative, or find a wide range of resistance bands to exercise from the comfort of your own home.
Find the Right Support
Implementing a sturdy support network is paramount to successfully adapting to life in a wheelchair. This can consist of friends and family, as well as professionals such as physiotherapists, charities, and counsellors.
Set practical expectations of what you can achieve, and allow the people around you to remind you of all the things you can do. Whether this is related to your emotional state, your ability to work, or to continue participating in hobbies.
Adjusting to life in a wheelchair can be tough, but creating a positive grounding of support can make all the difference. This means you will not face any emotional challenges alone.
For more information, advice, and support, follow KARMA Mobility on social media.