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8.2 Riding your wheelchair
Various adjustments of your wheelchair (seat height/
depth/system, back angle, rear & front wheels camber/
size/position, position of the front riggings) could affect
the center of gravity. The adjustments should be
performed by a professional and the wheelchair user
should be aware that the stability could be affected by
Do not tilt the wheelchair or perform a wheelie without
assistance if you are a new wheelchair user.
8.2.1 Balance point
It is important to begin by learning all of the speciﬁc
characteristics of your wheelchair. Ask a health professional
to explain them to you. Carrying a backpack will affect the
balance point of your wheelchair. Be aware of resulting
handling factors in relation to your body position, posture or
weight distribution. The center of gravity is affected by the
angle of the wheelchair on a ramp or slope. This can be felt in
forward and backward as well as side to side movements.
Make sure to review the different riding techniques prior to
using the wheelchair. Use anti-tippers until you are skilled at
riding your wheelchair in any situation.
Wheelies involve lifting the front casters off
the ground while maintaining balance on the
rear wheels. Performing this manoeuvre,
while allowing you to easily avoid obstacles,
may result in serious injury. Consult your
doctor before doing wheelies.
Ask for assistance while doing wheelies. The assistant should
be behind the wheelchair to grab the grips and prevent any
potential falls. To perform a wheelie, grab the front part of
the hand rims and make a quick backward movement with
the rear wheels. Make an immediate fast forward thrust and
the front casters will lift off the ground. Maintain the balance
point by making small movements on the hand rims. Once you
feel comfortable with maintaining your balance point while
performing this manoeuvre, you no longer need any assistance.
Rotate the front casters forward to enhance stability.
Place the wheelchair as close to your transfer location as
possible. Engage wheel locks. Position yourself as far back
as possible when transferring weight to reduce risk of tipping
forward. If you have good upper body strength, balance and
agility, you may be able to perform transfers independently.
Rotate or remove footrests if at all possible as to avoid putting
weight on them. If possible, make use of a transfer board.
8.2.4 Getting Dressed
When dressing or undressing on the wheelchair, rotate the front
casters forward and lock anti-tippers in the lower position.
If your wheelchair is not equipped with anti-tippers, back it
against a wall and lock the rear wheels.
The balance point may shift when you are putting on
clothes and/or reaching for objects while sitting in the
If at all possible, use a reaching device
or ask for assistance when reaching for
Move the wheelchair as close as possible to
the required object.
Rotate the casters as far forward as
possible from the rear wheels.
Never reach for objects between your legs,
but rather position yourself to the side of
Do no shift your weight sideways, but
rather rise up from the seat or move
forward in the seat.
Always use both hands and grab the
opposite side wheel or armrest if you are capable of reaching
Never reach to the rear of the wheelchair unless it is equipped
Never reach for objects over the seat back: reach only as far
as your arm naturally extends without moving on the seat.
Do not lock the rear wheels if you are reaching backwards.
Avoid putting pressure on the footrests.
8.2.6 Moving backwards
Lock anti-tippers in lower position.
Move slowly: the wheelchair is designed to provide you with
more stability when moving forward.
Look around as often as possible to avoid obstacles in your
8.2.7 Ramps, Slopes & Side Hills
Do not ride hills with an elevation slope of more than 10% (one
foot elevation change for every 10 feet).
Try to move straight up or down the slope.
Avoid turning on a downhill slope.
Stay in the center of sidewalks and ensure that there is enough
space for the wheels.
Avoid stopping on slopes and never use the wheel locks to slow
yourself on a downhill slope. Maintain your speed by holding the
Do not ride on wet or slippery surfaces. Be cautious for
changes in terrain height or stairs at the end of a slope (front
casters may lock from simply hitting a small bump).
Ask for help should any situations arise.
Incline yourself while moving down a slope as to adjust your
centre of gravity.
Always look for obstacles or road hazards (potholes, broken
surfaces, etc.). Clear your own environment (work, home)
of any obstacles. Never use objects (furniture, ramps, and
doorknobs) to push yourself out of the wheelchair.
Lean your upper body slightly forward as you move up an
obstacle. Do the reverse while moving down an obstacle. Keep
both hands on the hand rims while passing over the obstacle.
8.2.9 Curbs and Steps
Remove or rotate the anti-tippers upwards to go up or down a
curb or step. Move straight up and down and never angle the