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Wheelchair Safety and Maintenance - Handy Tips & a Checklist

Wheelchair safety is paramount for the user, care staff and anyone coming in to contact with the wheelchair.

Maintaining your / your clients wheelchair just as you would a car or bike is extremely important for safety, but also to guarantee longevity. 

If you are unsure of how to maintain a wheelchair, we have put together a simple list of checks that you can do on a regular basis that will keep the wheelchair in check.

It’s important to remember that poorly cared for wheelchairs will not be as safe and will not work as well as they could do. A lot of the parts on wheelchairs have are adjustable, wear down and are also used for carrying a significant weight.  Over time the chair can develop signs of wear and it will adjust to the demands placed upon it.  

Be one step ahead and ensure the chair you use is always in top working condition.

Guidance Only - Consult an Expert for Advice

The checklist / details below are for information purposes only. Please consult a qualified wheelchair expert to discuss your personal situation and receive personalised advice based on your individual situation and your wheelchair. 

Please also take a look at this checklist from Queensland Health (PDF file). 

Regular wheelchair maintenance checks

One of the most important things to monitor is the level of wear and tear the wheelchair accumulates – as a worn part can be an unsafe part.

Here are some key points on what to check on a regular basis:

  • Clean your chair regularly – dust, dirt and other materials can build up and reduce your chairs function.
  • Tyre pressure – ensure you have the right amount of air to support proper function and mobility
  • Check the anti-tip mechanism is stable and not loose.
  • Cushion and material check – pressure cushions should be checked regularly as they provide comfort and essential pressure relief. Backrest checks to be made regularly to ensure no loose stitching or wear is developing.
  • Check how worn brakes are
  • Check fittings on breaks, wheels and footrests to ensure they are tight
  • Check hand grips if being used regularly are safe – replace when worn.

If you are confident doing these things yourself then that’s great – if not – seek the help of a wheelchair maintenance and service expert.

Just like a car – each year – you should look to have a service of your wheelchair done. This will prolong its life and help it to be safer and last longer.

Important Safety Checks for Wheelchair Maintenance

Brakes

Check brakes them regularly. How often is up to you and is dependent on the amount of use. If your wheelchair is being used frequently, a weekly check would be a good idea. Look out for signs of wear, loosening of fittings and mechanisms which apply brakes.

Be aware of braking times increasing, poor application of braking and even uneven braking – this could indicate wear or malfunction.

Tyres and Inner Tube Checks

Having underinflated tyres can cause handling problems and reduce the efficiency of how a wheelchair is moved.

Ensure regular inflation of the tyres is made to protect the inner tube, performance and handling of the wheelchair movement.

Tyre tread should be monitored to make sure there is enough tread on the tyre. This can help how the wheelchair handles but also that the tyre is not thinning which can lead to increased risk of puncture.

Footrests and Front Wheels

These 2 parts of the wheelchair tend to handle a lot of weight and also have a lot of little parts which can be adjusted or come loose.

If there is handling problems such as the wheel going in an uneven direction ensure the front wheels are straight. If the footplates are loose – ensure all parts are tightened regularly.

Poor care in both of these areas can reduce how safe a wheelchair is.

Conclusion

The best way to care for your wheelchairs condition and safety is making sure you have a checklist of actions you perform regularly. This will vary from person to person and from which type of wheelchair is being used.

  • Consider using a protective cover when outside or in storage.
  • Oil moving parts to ensure they work correctly and prolong their condition.
  • Clean your wheelchair regularly
  • Check parts such as tyres, breaks and wheels regularly for safety
  • Get a yearly service by a professional.

If you need any help with wheelchairs, accessories or spare parts you can call our team of experts who can help you with any questions you may have regarding wheelchair maintenance.

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