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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
these adjustments.
Do not tilt the wheelchair or perform a wheelie without
8.2.1 Balance point
It is important to begin by learning all of the speciļ¬c
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.
8.2.2 Wheelies
Wheelies involve lifting the front casters off
the ground while maintaining balance on the
rear wheels. Performing this manoeuver,
while allowing you to easily avoid obstacles,
may result in serious injuries. Consult your
doctor before doing wheelies.
8.2.3 Transferring
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.
Always ask a healthcare provider to learn safe transfer
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.
8.2.5 Reaching/Leaning/Bending
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
Never reach for objects between your
legs, but rather position yourself to the side
of these objects. 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 sideways. Never reach to the rear of the wheelchair
unless it is equipped with anti-tippers 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 path.
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
hand rims.
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.
8.2.8 Obstacles
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
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