Every time I go out, its a daily risk and mistakes might happen.
Daily risks and mistakes happen, that’s life. Tumbles and falls that can launch me out of my wheelchair result in me lying on the ground. Whether it is on the black surface of a tarmacked road, the hard wooden floor of a pub, or somewhere just as embarrassing. Each fall is a lesson. Each fall is an opportunity to learn from what just happened.
A raised paving slab edge, the lifted periphery of a maintenance hole cover. Even small stones lying on the path after being flicked out of the road by speeding car tyres. These are a hazard for me. The four-inch front caster wheels on my wheelchair may not just roll over these.
Pebbles & holes
I’m not sure if it is anything related to the shape of the small rock that has left the road. Lodged itself under my front caster that prevents the wheel from rolling over it, albeit frustratingly instantly stopping the forward motion. This sudden termination of the onward direction can, and has, resulted in a forward ejection from my wheelchair.
Similar falls can happen when the caster decides to wedge inside a pothole. Another sudden halt of the chariot can cause a forward dive, resulting in making contact on the asphalt.
These occasions can be very embarrassing. But using skills similar to gliding on back wheels or just little flicks of the front casters when using forward propulsion. Help prevent the rude interruption of advancing. Experience is helpful, timing is crucial.
Steep Camber & Undulating Terrain
Steep adverse camber can tip a wheelchair sideways, and I cannot recall any occasion this has happened to me. In the past, I have tracked off-road through hilly woods. I have spent time on several mountains and managed not to take a fall. However, I might have been close on some occasions!
There have been cautious episodes of back wheel balanced over questionable angles when pushing around the rocky summit of Table Mountain while absorbing views across Cape Town in South Africa. I think it was more nerve-racking, embarking and disembarking the still moving, busy cable car.
There were just as hair-raising steep angles at The Heights of Abraham in Derbyshire. However, a lot smoother surface to roll on. Lovely views but a big difference from looking over Signal Hill towards the South Atlantic from the flat rugged of Table Mountain.
Preventing daily risks and mistakes
Freedom Wheelchair Skills teaches the user how to use their wheelchair actively and safely, taking into account the users capabilities. Understanding how to use the wheelchair properly can significantly reduce the probability of something catastrophic happening.
You may have seen WCMX (wheelchair motocross) on various social media platforms. Dearing individuals that drop in from the tops of the skate park ramp. I understand people might want to push themselves to get adrenaline and up the antis of the risk level. Someone who may have enjoyed action sports before being a wheelchair user. I understand why they might want to chase that buzz still.
After my life-changing injury and subsequently a lengthy time spent in hospital, I want to avoid returning to the care of the health services – I’d rather get my fill of fun and excitement with less risk of hospital admission. But getting out and about, skilfully using my wheelchair to remain safe and go about my daily needs, there is always a danger of taking the humiliating leap from my mobility aid – but thankfully it is very rare.