Kerbs, steps, ramps, pavements with a camber and escalators: wheelchair users have to overcome a number of impediments every day. Therefore, it is vital to know the techniques for coping with these obstacles, with and without the assistance of other people. In this section, you will be shown a range of techniques for getting around obstacles and for coping with everyday wheelchair difficulties, aided and unaided. Please bear in mind that these options are only some of many.

Technical preconditions

Good wheelchair handling is dependent on having a wheelchair which is well adapted to you. In addition to maintaining a stable position, you should be able to propel the wheelchair effortlessly. The wheelchair is easier or more difficult to tilt, depending on how independent you are, and whether it is equipped with anti-tilt wheels.

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Overcoming obstacles with the aid of a person

If a wheelchair user cannot cope with an obstacle on their own, he or she is reliant on assistance. The better you instruct the person helping you, the more safely you can manage to get around the obstacle (including with the assistance of someone who is totally inexperienced at this). It is important that you as the wheelchair user explain what help you need as clearly as possible and, if anything is unclear or should problems arise, that you tell the helper what to do differently straight away. (After all, you know best how the position should feel; the helper may not know.)

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Overcoming obstacles unaided

Overcoming everyday obstacles independently requires you to be well practised in handling your wheelchair. The most important thing is to tilt the wheelchair safely, as well as to have a good feel for the “balancing point” when moving on two wheels. You should initially practise the following points with an experienced helper. Many of these techniques are practised during rehabilitation, physiotherapy and sports therapy.

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