Five Accessories for Your Wheelchair to Improve Mobility

If you’ve just gotten a new wheelchair, chances are you might be eager to take it for a “test drive”. After all, wheelchairs can provide a newfound independence for those with disabilities. But before you take your wheelchair for a spin, you’ll want to consider a few wheelchair accessories that can help make everyday tasks easier.

1. Wheelchair Cushions

For those with custom wheelchairs, the wheelchair cushion should be precisely fit to an individual’s body measurements and needs. There are several materials to choose from, including foam, gel, air, or a hybrid of these materials.

Those who spend most of their day in a wheelchair can be prone to pressure sores. In these cases, an air-filled cushion may be ideal, as it reduces the amount of pressure between the skin and the wheelchair cushion when seated for long periods of time.

For ambulatory wheelchair users, gel or foam cushions may be ideal, as these cushions offer comfort and stability while requiring less maintenance, as they are less susceptible to maintenance issues like puncture or air loss.

If an individual is recovering from an injury or surgery, they may use a wheelchair on a temporary basis. These wheelchairs typically do not have cushions, so the wheelchair user will sit on the wheelchair upholstery. If this becomes uncomfortable, consider an outdoor patio cushion. Typically used on outdoor furniture, these cushions can provide comfort, while being thinner than the average pillow, so transfers to and from the wheelchair will be easier and safer.

2. Wheelchair Gloves

Wheelchair gloves serve two purposes: protection, and grip.

Repetitive arm movement from pushing one’s own wheelchair can become tiring. Wheelchair gloves provide better grip, so a wheelchair user can fully grasp their wheelchair’s push rims to get the most effective push.

Gloves also help protect a wheelchair user's hands from blisters and calluses, as the repetitive rubbing of hands- on metal push rims can cause irritation or even open wounds.

Some wheelchair-specific gloves are available through online retailers like Amazon, but weightlifting and cycling gloves, which can be purchased at most sporting goods stores, serve the same purpose. Fingerless gloves provide more breathability, but you may opt for full-length gloves in cooler climates.

3. Wheelchair Cup Holders

Wheelchair cup holders may seem like a nonessential, but you’ll need to use your arms and hands to either propel a manual wheelchair, or use a joystick on a power chair, which can make it hard to carry drinks while out and about. Cup holders like this one from FFORA can fit on most manual wheelchairs, and hold standard-sized cups and water bottles. Power wheelchair users can get cup holders built into their chairs, or, in some cases, may find cup holders to fit their chairs on Amazon or Etsy. Another alternative is a stroller cup holder. Generally, products that can be used to accessorize a child’s stroller can also be used to accessorize a wheelchair.

4. Wheelchair Bags

You might stick your phone, wallet, or keys in your pocket every day without giving it a second thought, but for those using wheelchairs, access to pockets can be limited. A wheelchair bag can be helpful to keep frequently used items within reach. Wheelchair bags come standard on most custom wheelchairs. On manual wheelchairs, a bag can be attached to the bottom of the frame so it hangs down near the footplate. For those using power chairs, wheelchair bags are typically located on the side of the chair, near one of the armrests.

You can also purchase a wheelchair bag from a company like Jansport. Their adaptive bag collection features multiple bag styles and patterns for those using mobility aids. These bags can fit both temporary and custom wheelchairs, as well as walkers.

5. Wheelchair Trays

Wheelchair trays can be used to provide a work surface for daily activities or to support a user's arms and posture. These trays eliminate the need to roll up underneath a table. While those who use custom fit wheelchairs can get custom fit wheelchair trays, others can get wheelchair trays from online retailers like Amazon. You’ll want to be sure to take a few measurements of your wheelchair before ordering a tray to ensure you get a size that fits your wheelchair.

How do you Personalize a Wheelchair?

Wheelchair accessories can improve mobility, but further personalizing a wheelchair with fun colors and designs can showcase the user's personality. Check out our article on wheelchair customization for more ideas to personalize your wheelchair, or see the articles below to learn more about custom wheelchairs.

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