How to Remain Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic If You are a Self Propelled Wheelchair User?

A pioneer in the field of molecular virology, James Robb, MD, is among the first to study coronaviruses. He revealed that viruses of this type are airborne, and thus can easily spread from one infected person to other people through sneezing and coughing. 

He added that, on the average, surfaces, where these droplets would be landing on, would remain infectious for about a week or so. But it is important to know that direct contact with an infected surface is not a guarantee on the spread of infection, provided that you are in the habit of washing your hands religiously. With that, you also keep your hands from touching your face.  

If you are among the many users of self propelled wheelchairs or bound to use another form of assistive technology, there are unique measures and precautions that you need to be mindful about in relation to the washing of the hands. 

Wheelchairs and other assistive technologies are also prone to get infected by microbial and viral lifeforms, particularly the handrails. 

The novel coronavirus may find its way to the handrails of your wheelchair through your own hands or through other people. This level of risk could come from your nurse caregiver or someone from your family. Regardless of who infected your equipment, it is important that you sanitize it regularly, particularly the most prone areas of your wheelchair such as the handrims.  

Cleaning Your  Wheelchair

wheelchair user

Keeping your wheelchair clean is an important part of proper maintenance for your equipment, but keeping it sanitized will keep you protected against the novel coronavirus. 

Remember, any solid object is a potential landing area for this type of virus, and since they are invisible to the naked eye, the only surefire way to know you won’t get infected is to disinfect the most prone surface areas. This includes the tires of your wheelchair and its handrims, which are solid surfaces or hard objects. 

Apply some antibacterial soap on a paper towel and while pushing your wheelchair around the house, you can slide the paper towel or washcloth (if you prefer to use this instead) on the handrims as you go.  

Push the wheelchair at about 20 ft. Or if you are in a public area with limited space, you can just spin it around in circles a couple of times. By doing so, you’d have wiped the handrims of your self propelled wheelchairs 3 times.

The same technique can be applied also when it comes to cleaning your wheels, you will push your wheelchair around while holding your washcloth wipe on the tires. When cleaning this type of assistive device, it is important not to miss out on cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched. This would include your wheelchair’s wheel locks as well as the frame fronting the seat cushion. 

If your wheelchair comes with arm supports or removable/detachable foot supports, you must clean them as well. For powered wheelchairs, it is important to disinfect the joystick and controls. 

Do not skip on anything that you regularly lay your hands on. Disinfection is the key here because the vast majority of plastic components that wheelchairs come in will react poorly to generic cleaning agents, even if you clean them with a bleaching solution.

Social Distancing for Wheelchair Users? 

Social distancing is of utmost importance, most especially when you have your self propelled wheelchair as your constant companion.

Since they tend to sit a little lower than many ordinary people who can stand on their own two feet, these people are more exposed to cough and saliva droplets from other people. Hence, even carrying out a simple conversation with someone, it is crucial to keep a safe distance from them. 

Healthcare and medical professionals recommend that we keep a minimum of 6 ft. away from people around us whenever we are in a public area. By observing this measure, we are alleviating the risk of  infection. 

Besides social distancing from people around you, you can’t get away with the wearing of a face mask. This important personal protective equipment or PPE will help on shielding you from getting “sprayed” by people who are a potential carrier.