If you are someone who relies on a wheelchair to get around, it is best to know how to maintain your wheels to avoid any unfortunate surprises. Regular self-maintenance on the wheelchair at home will ensure their proper function & capabilities, safety and a longer lifespan.
Here are a few pointers you may want to remember,
- Pneumatic tires (Air tires) are air filled tubes inserted into the tires similar to the ones used on bicycles and requires regular monthly pressure checks. These tires are lighter compared to solids and it performs well on uneven and rough grounds by adjusting its air pressure to absorb shock. Be careful not to go over any sharp objects as it will puncture the tire.
- Solid rubber tires are commonly used on most standard wheelchairs because it is cost effective and requires very minimum maintenance. Solid tire users have the leisure of not worrying about any punctures or loss of air pressure unlike pneumatic tires but it can be less comfortable.
Generally both types of tires have a lifespan of between 1.5 to 2 years depending on how often it is used. If the wheelchair is kept in storage for years without using, the tires will still degrade from age and would need to be replaced for safety purposes.
Picking up dirt and mud is unavoidable if the wheelchair is used every day outdoors. And if you are someone who cannot afford a second wheelchair for indoor use, it is safe to say you need to practice daily cleaning routines for your wheelchair because you would not want bring outside dirt into your home.
Before entering your home, inspect around your wheelchair for anything stuck underneath. Do not hose down the wheelchair with water as it may cause rust in certain areas of the wheelchair. Use a damp cloth sprayed with disinfectants and wipe down the frames of the wheelchair and then the rear tires and casters. If the fabric seat and covers are wet, dry it before using the wheelchair or storing it away to prevent any bad odors.
This is the most important part of a wheelchair maintenance routine. Perfect tires and a spotless wheelchair becomes pointless if the body of the wheelchair is unkept.
Here are a few components that should be checked out regularly (monthly);
• Check for any loose nuts, bolts or screws that needs to be tightened
• Check the brakes on the wheels whether they needs to be tightened or loosen
• Check the chair frame for any cracks or dents
• Check the wheel alignments to see if it goes sideway
• Check the axles, bearings, wheels and casters to see if they are stuck due to accumulated hair, strings or debris
• Check the smoothness of the removable or adjustable parts (ie. leg-rests, footrests, armrests and backrests) and mechanisms such as reclining and elevating parts.
• Lubricate the folding mechanisms on the frame for smooth folding and ball bearings if necessary
This long list of maintenance steps might be a handful, but it will help to extend the lifespan of your wheelchair by many years to come and will save you from spending to buy a new wheelchair every few years.