I have learned a lot of lessons over the years using my Edge 3 power wheelchair with iLevel®. Surprisingly, there hasn’t been much that my wheelchair can’t handle. As I have gotten older, I’ve tried to step back and look at the risk vs reward with any situation I am faced with in my wheelchair. Thankfully, living in modern times we are blessed with advanced wheelchair technology. And modern wheelchairs are made of the strongest materials and have the fastest motors. Yet, at the end of the day we need these wheelchairs to last 3-5 years. Doing a risk vs reward analysis before any activity is something I highly recommend to get the most performance and life out of your Quantum® power wheelchair. I would like to share with you some of the lessons I have learned from the mistakes I have made with my wheelchair.
The first mistake I have made involves curb cuts and potholes. I have traveled to 41 of the 50 states. I have learned that not all curb cuts are created equal. Even though ADA has certain specifications, some curb cuts are higher than others, or they might have a chunk removed. One of the most common occurrences I have run into is the curb cut is not sitting flush with the street. Another problem involves curb cuts in climates where it gets cold and snows. Plow trucks that spray salt or try to remove snow causes curb cuts to wear away over time. Use caution when approaching a problem curb cut. Also watch out for potholes. You never know how deep they are. Never go over a pothole if you notice it is filled with water. Trust me.
The second lesson I learned is to avoid sand, mud or any surface that looks loose. A few weeks ago, I tried to drive my iLevel motorized wheelchair on the sand. As soon as my caster wheels hit the sand, they sank more than halfway down. I was stuck. I would highly recommend avoiding sand completely with your Quantum motorized wheelchair. Mud has yielded the same result. Mud may look more compacted and you might be able to drive through mud for a short period of time. As soon as the mud gets in the tire tread, however, you won’t have any more traction. the wheels will just keep spinning. The worst part about mud is that you have to wait for the mud to dry and harden to clean your wheelchair. This makes an incredible mess in your house. I try to avoid mud by all costs.
The third lesson I’ve learned regarding my electric wheelchair involves snow and black ice. if you live in the northeast or in a climate where it snows, please use caution. Usually I can drive my chair through light powder snow about 2-3 inches thick. I have tried to drive my wheelchair through thicker, wetter snow in the past. This has never gone well. I usually end up fishtailing or having trouble stopping.
One of the biggest occurrences that comes with snow or the cold is black ice. With black ice, you cannot see it. By the time you’re driving over the ice or trying to stop on the black ice, its already too late. I have a tip for anyone who needs to drive their wheelchair in weather like this. In the past I have had success by turning my Q-Logic 3 controller down to program one or two. This creates a little more traction. I still try to avoid going out in the snow and ice if I can help it.
The last thing I have learned has to do with myself. In the past, I have not been vocal when I need help. I would not ask for things when I needed them. It’s okay to ask strangers for help. Now I have no shame asking someone to hold a door or help me carry something. I always try to live my life and treat others the way I want to be treated. I always make sure if someone helps me, I take the time to thank them and emphasize what they did was a kind gesture. I hope next time your faced with a challenging situation. You remember the risk vs reward, yet always remember, to live your life to the fullest.
About Josh McDermott: Josh is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. He is a public speaker and has served as a goodwill ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Josh lives in New York and loves to travel. Click here to learn more about Josh.