Anyone who has a power wheelchair knows that it’s important to take good care of it. After all, for a lot of us, our power wheelchair is the only way we have to get around. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what not to do, whether its from personal experience or from other power wheelchair users and their experiences. So, let’s break it down:
Keep Your Power Wheelchair Clean
I’m an active guy, so I spend a lot of time outside. So, it makes sense that after a while, my wheelchair gets pretty dirty. So, clean your power wheelchair regularly. It’s important to stay on top of it, whether its dirt, mud, grass, soot or some other nasty filth. In the end, that stuff can build up over time, especially mud, it you keep letting it cake on. Any kind of dirt is super bad for your chair. It can affect the performance and cause a lot of problems with the motors. After a particularly muddy trip outdoors, be sure to let the mud dry in a warm area, and then you can brush it off with a broom.
Keep Your Power Wheelchair Dry
As we all know, there is no controlling the weather. Rain or snow can sneak up on you pretty quickly. Getting caught in a brief rain or snow shower is no big deal. It’s all about what you do afterward. If you get caught in the rain while out and about, try to find some kind of shelter and let the worst of the storm pass. Then, as soon as you can, go home and put your power chair in a warm, dry place. Use a towel or cloth to wipe it down and remove all the moisture it. Then leave your chair there for a good 8-12 hours, to let all the moisture evaporate from the places you can’t reach. Water can do a lot of damage to your chair. Repeat exposure to water without letting it dry can cause rust on the frame. Water can also damage the electronics on your wheelchair.
Be Prepared and Pay Attention
One of the most important things you can do for your power chair is to pay attention to it. I would inspect your chair at least once a week for anything out of the ordinary, whether it’s a loose plug or frayed wire. If something is loose that shouldn’t be, tighten it! Don’t wait for it to fall or break off. Another thing you can do is be mindful of your chair and where you take it. If you know there is a chance that your chair might get wet or dirty, try to protect certain parts of it. Wrap a plastic bag over your controller or wear a large poncho to try and cover parts of your seat. Most importantly, if you know it’s going to rain or snow heavily that day, maybe rethink your outdoor activities. I know it totally sucks, but it’s better than paying for serious repairs to your power chair.
I am sure everyone has their ways of protecting and maintaining the life of their power wheelchair. Don’t be afraid to ask wheelchair users for tips or advice. As you go through life, you’ll figure out what you need to do. Just keep your eyes open for any issues with your wheelchair and learn from others who have already gone through stuff. After all, we’re all in this together!
About Bryan Anderson: Bryan grew up and resides in Illinois. Injured by an IED in October 2005, Bryan is one of the few triple amputees to survive his injuries in Iraq. He is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for USA Cares, which is focused on assisting post 9-11 veterans. Click here to learn more about Bryan.