Whether the transition was sudden or you knew it was coming, adapting to your new life as a wheelchair user can mean pushing back on some stereotypes.
For many, relying on a wheelchair immediately brings up fears of greatly reduced mobility and the inability to enjoy activities that used to define their lives. And while a wheelchair does bring with it a big lifestyle change, it doesn’t have to lead to a limited life.
Here's some tips for how you can navigate the transition to becoming a wheelchair-user and how you can ensure that you can continue living the life you want you want.
To begin with, the transition to a wheelchair is emotionally difficult for many people. It’s common to feel depressed or at a loss at the beginning. The most important thing for you to realize is that you don’t need to keep this to yourself.
If you need help, reach out to a qualified professional and share your feelings with your loved ones. Speaking to a qualified mental health professional can greatly help you reframe this transition. Even if you aren’t necessarily feeling depressed, it’s still a good idea to speak to talk to someone about what you’re going through.
This is likely an overwhelming period for you — don’t feel like you have to handle it by yourself.
Depending upon your condition, you might feel like your options are limited to get out there and see the world or enjoy physical activities you enjoyed in the past. This is simply not the case.
Take, for example, an interview we did with popular disabled travel blogger Simply Emma. Emma was diagnosed with a muscle wasting condition called Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy at a young age. From the outside looking in, many might think that the life she could lead would be severely limited. Emma has proven this all wrong.
Emma has traveled the world, and on her blog she reviews popular destinations for fellow disabled travelers — proving that relying on a wheelchair doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on the life you want to lead.
“I love city breaks and places that involve exploring the area,” Emma told us. “I’ve never been the type of person that enjoys relaxing by the pool. I always want to be out and about, seeing and doing as much as possible. I’ve tried skiing, wheelchair abseiling, zip lining and even a beach wheelchair in Barcelona.”
Clearly Emma hasn’t let her wheelchair hold her back. Why should you?
Services for Your Needs
There are also a wide range of services and organizations which have gone out their way to accommodate wheelchair users and make potentially difficult tasks like traveling much easier.
We’ve previously written an article about some of the highest rated vacation destinations for wheelchair users.
Some popular destinations include major vacation spots like Disney’s World and Land theme parks, along with museums like the Louvre. Simply Emma is particularly fond of Barcelona, noting that “Barcelona has fantastic wheelchair accessibility and great public transport links. It’s a place I will visit time and time again.”
Once you’re in a new place, we’ve also compiled a list of ride-sharing apps that accommodate wheelchair users that can help you get around, including tips for how you can enable accessible functions on popular apps life Lyft and Uber.
Remember, there are people and companies who are more than willing to accommodate your specific needs.
The Right Chair
A properly fitted wheelchair can also enhance your comfort and mobility. If you find that your first chair is uncomfortable after prolonged periods or can’t navigate tight corners throughout your household, then do some research and take the time to find the chair that is the right fit for you.
What should you be looking for?
Comfort should be your clear number one concern. Many wheelchair users unfortunately exhibit recurring back pain due to the support (or lack of it) their chair provides. Standard wheelchairs found at pharmacies and in general healthcare stores feature back supports with allow for relaxed slouching sitting or flat back support sitting.
These two seating arrangements are less than ideal, however, and most often contribute to recurring back pain.
Instead, you should look for lumbar or thoracic support chairs, both of which significant cut down on the stress applied to your spinal cord and minimizing back pain.
Along with comfort, your wheelchair should also meet your transportation needs. If you have a narrow home, then a slim wheelchair that can get around tight corners is ideal. If you travel regularly, then a sturdy wheelchair built for travel that can be easily stored on planes would be worth the investment.
And finally, let’s talk about aesthetics. You probably don’t want to move around in a chair that looks like it belongs in a hospital, which means broadening your search beyond your local Walgreens. Luckily there are plenty of stylish wheelchairs available that combine durability and comfort — if you know where to look.
We’re Here to Help
Lifestyle changes of this magnitude can be daunting, but there are always people and organizations ready to help you adjust and live your life without compromises.
If you need help finding the right wheelchair or wheelchair accessories, feel free to contact us to discuss your specific needs. Our goal is to provide you with products that lead to life-changing comfort and mobility.