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Can you reduce the risk of strains from wheelchair use?

Living life in a wheelchair of course has drawbacks, but there are ways to increase your quality of life. Approximately 50 percent of those coping with life in a wheelchair suffer at least occasional pain in the wrists, arms and shoulders. Below are some tips to lessen and avoid the pains caused by propelling manual wheelchairs.

-- Keep transfers to a minimum to avoid shoulder strain.

-- Use circular motions instead of back and forth to move your chair forward. Keep your hands low and make small circles within the large rims.

-- Adjust the chair's rear axles forward as far as possible. Adding anti-tippers can give you added security.

-- Lightweight titanium chairs are much easier to use and can increase your mobility.

-- Keep your chair's tires properly inflated for maximum efficiency.

-- Keep your seat's height as low as is practical, as higher seats cause more strain to propel the chair forward.

-- If you are involved in physical therapy, make sure that you practice range of motion exercises for the shoulders to keep the muscles stretched and in shape.

-- Some good exercises for shoulders involve elastic bands and lightweight dumbbells; ask your doctor and physical therapist if those would be appropriate for you.

Equipment and medical care for wheelchair patients are ongoing concerns and expenses for those who are injured in accidents. This makes it doubly important for your personal injury attorney to make sure that he or she includes claims for future medical expenses when filing a personal injury lawsuit against the person or entities responsible for your injuries.

Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, "Upper Extremity Care," accessed April 01, 2016

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