Pushing, pulling, and maneuvering people in wheelchairs can be awkward and strenuous to caregivers. The following tips can be shared with caregivers as training information.

  • Always make sure the brake is set when the client is in a stationary position. When applying or releasing the brake, brace your opposite hand onto something for stability.
  • Always push rather than pull the wheelchair, whenever possible.
  • When going over small bumps or a floor transition (a threshold or into/out of an elevator), use downward force on the back of the chair to ease pressure on the front. Fix damaged flooring or carpeting to allow smooth transitions, especially if this is an often-traveled path.
  • Make sure the client’s feet are on the footrests to prevent dragging and possible injury, as well as allow the caregiver to easily move the wheelchair.
  • Be careful not to hang heavy bags or other objects on the back of the chair as this can cause the chair to become unbalanced (or tilt backward), especially on wheelchairs for smaller clients and children.
  • Always back down slowly when descending slopes and ramps. Never hold the wheelchair from the front.
  • Always make sure there is a clear pathway.

Other Ideas:

  • Encourage clients or their families to maintain the wheelchairs. This includes tire maintenance and cleaning the wheel bearings and spokes.
  • Consider using an add-on push handle extension or bar. Many of these are adjustable and make pushing most wheelchairs easier.