couldnae :Pronunciation: 'ku-dni, -d&n, dial also 'ku-t&n(i) Could not

A folding frame wheelchair needs to be kept tight...

A folding frame wheelchair needs to be kept tight. When you push the wheels, a loose frame wastes energy that would otherwise be translated into movement. The axle can also get loose, particularly for wheelchairs which use an axle plate with a cylinder bolted to it. A loose axle is also in danger of snapping from extra stress.

You always get the chance to respond to early signals – pay attention to the squeaks and creaks you hear. It means that something is moving that probably shouldn’t be. Small, repetitive movements of a bolt that is slightly loose is enough to help it get looser still, until it either breaks or slips off. Ignoring those noises can be costly – in lost use of your wheelchair, and in what it might take to make repairs.

The castor wheels require a little extra attention. If they’re just a little bit loose in the fork, they’ll start to vibrate when you pick up some speed, which could cause them to lock up and bring you to a sudden halt. If they’re too tight, they will not roll freely. The same is true of the vertical axle that attaches the fork to the wheelchair frame. It should not slide up and down at all. So when you tighten the castor axles, make sure that they spin very freely and easily while you at the same time get them good and snug.

Keep sling seats and backs tight, too. Over time they inevitably bulge. A bulging back compromises your posture, and reduces the efficiency of your pushing, which relies on back support. Even if you have a tension straps integrated into your seat back, they become loose from the continuous pressure of your body weight, and need to be tightened up from time to time.

A sagging seat creates pressure points on the hips, and will allow the base of some cushions to crack. Many sling seats can be tightened simply by loosening the screws on one rail, and pulling the end tight from underneath.

Keep the wheelchair clean.

Keep the wheelchair clean. Dirt or sand can work their way into moving parts, grinding away at their smooth movement, and causing long term damage and ultimate failure.

Underinflated tyres make a wheelchair harder to push – or use up more battery power in your motorized wheelchair or scooter. They also reduce the life of the tires. You can develop a sense of how firm they are supposed to feel, and get out the pump when they get soft enough to the touch. You can also develop an awareness of how much effort it takes to push the chair, especially on softer surfaces like carpeting. When it starts getting to be more of an exertion, fill those tires!

As the tyres get soft, the brakes are less effective – another important reason to keep them inflated. If the brake is pushing into a soft tyre, it’s not going to make firm enough contact to brake the wheels effectively. Once in a while, the brakes themselves need to be tweaked back toward the wheels to make sure they hold the chair firmly when they’re engaged. Since the brakes are engaged and disengaged many times a day, they get loose very easily. Depending on how much time the chair is used outside, the entire brake assembly occasionally needs to be taken apart and cleaned.

Power wheelchairs have a variety of connections between the motors and the control unit that operate best when they are kept clean, and they also need to be kept firmly in contact. Wires and connections are typically color coded to ensure that the right connections are being made. Having wires in the wrong place can damage the electronics or even cause a fire.

Whether you can physically perform simple maintenance on your own or not, it is wise for you to learn what you can about your wheelchair. In a tough spot, you might even be able to direct someone to perform a tuneup or simple repair rather than being completely dependent on your local service supplier.

Giving your wheelchair a once over

So make a habit of giving your wheelchair a once over once in a while, looking for loose bolts, checking for movement where things should be firm. It’s an important part of protecting an important investment – in equipment and your quality of life.

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