In countries with life expectancy beyond 70 years, people spend approximately 8 years, 11.5% of their life span, living with disabilities, and there are 2 million new wheelchair users in the United States every year. This means that in your lifetime, most likely you or a family member will be using a wheelchair. This does not mean one cannot maintain an active lifestyle and be self-reliant!
As social distancing becomes common practice, it may seem to everyone that an active lifestyle will be harder to maintain. Staying indoors and away from other individuals may seem like the solution, but on the contrary, it is possible to social distance and get outdoors.
A study published in Frontiers in Psychology demonstrates that only 10 minutes a day in the outdoors can significantly reduce both mental and physical stress and improve an individual's overall well-being. Wheelchair inclusive excursions are readily available in many outdoor areas and public parks with well-defined paths. Most outdoor facilities have accessibility listed in their online resources, while this may not be true for all. For those who have transportation issues, public parks are a usual stopping point in the route of public transportation. It may come to your surprise that around 98% of public transportation buses are appropriately equipped to accommodate people in wheelchairs.
You may be thinking that with a wheelchair, off-road inclusive excursions are impossible. With these tips, you can fortify your wheelchair to be able to handle any terrain on your adventure.
Follow these tricks to outfit your wheelchair for optimal outdoor inclusive excursions
Always check your tire pressure before your excursions. One of the main culprits of mobility problems in wheelchairs is low tire pressure! Pump your tubes for maximum mobility!
Purchase off-road tires. Traditional wheelchair wheel configuration and weight distribution is 50/50, but for diverse terrain, having larger front wheels with outdoor treading will increase stability.
Test your brakes before every excursion and consider purchasing brake extensions. Having the knowledge that your brakes function properly in a precarious situation will bring peace of mind and aid your ability to tackle any obstacle in your off-road adventure. Brake extensions are an excellent wheelchair accessory to increase your ability to react and adapt outdoors.
Adjust your center of gravity with different axle configurations. Depending on your terrain, one can adjust axles to be more upward and backward for increased mobility, and downward and forward for increased stability.
Change your wheelchair cushion material for comfort. The typical materials for wheelchairs happen to be either vinyl or nylon. Nylon allows more breathability being porous, and while exerting oneself this will add to your comfort utilizing your wheelchair in inclusive excursions.
Utilize your wheelchair footrests. By utilizing your footrests, one can be sure that your feet will not be caught under your wheelchair or in your path.
Enjoy these tips as you take on your next adventure outdoors!