Hello new wheelchair users! Some of you are going from an assistive stroller or a manual wheelchair and straight into a power wheelchair. There’s a big difference, right? You are about to experience an independence like no other. If you are unable to operate a manual wheelchair, now there’s no more waiting for someone to move you from one area to another. For you all that are able to operate manual wheelchairs, just simply getting from place to place quicker is a big deal.
For me, due to my diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2, my muscles were always too weak to operate a manual wheelchair. I had to depend on others to get around. Finally, at 2 years old, I received my first power wheelchair. Some of you might be thinking to yourselves, ‘Two years old and working a power wheelchair?’ Well, yes indeed! Being able to navigate on my own was like a breath of fresh air. I felt like I was in charge of my own life with my newfound independence. Currently, I use the Quantum iLevel® Power Wheelchair, which allows my seat to elevate 12 inches and drive at 3.5 mph. It gave me a great boost in confidence. I used to beg my mom to give me chores around the house like my siblings had. Finally, I was able to have responsibilities and help out.
Here are my top tips for you kids that are new to using power wheelchairs.
It’s first important to make sure your positioning is accurate and you are comfortable with the back and bottom cushions of your wheelchair. Remember, you will be sitting for long periods of time so make sure you speak up and be your own advocate when it comes to being comfortable
Soon you’ll be a pro at navigating your new power wheelchair. Always keep in mind “safety comes first.” As kids, we like to push buttons. Be extremely careful with your speeds. Use caution when you’re in crowded areas, such as amusement parks, events and playgrounds. You never know when the walking community decides to change their walking pace (not realizing you are behind them) or just unexpectedly cross in front of you. Since most power chairs are over 200 pounds, our wheelchairs could really hurt someone if we accidently collide (run into someone or something). Use your best judgement to prevent any injuries to yourself or to someone else.
Use caution when backing up. Ask for visual assistance from someone around you to make sure you have clearance behind you.
About Morgan Steward: Morgan is an honorary police officer for the Covington Georgia Police Department. He lives with his mother, father and two siblings. He is an active member in his community and enjoys helping others. Click here to learn more about Morgan.