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Back on Track! Re-righting Wheelchairs

News January 10th, 2015

There are innumerable ways to live a healthy life, but the two caveats to longevity are proper diet and regular exercise. There’s a third that can come across as a bit wishy-washy, despite the research to back it up and that’s living stress-free. With those three in mind, if your elder is confined to a wheelchair then you know a “healthy life” is not easy to maintain.

Dieting is one thing, but cooking is another. And most countertops and kitchens are built for people who stand fully erect.

Meanwhile, exercise routines need to change. Now, there are numerous sports and activities that cater to those in wheelchairs, and we can’t disregard the fact that those in wheelchairs use their arms more than the average person working in a sedentary environment, but this doesn’t change the fact that how they exercise fundamentally changes.

Finally, and most tragically, living stress-free once you’ve been confined to a wheelchair isn’t easy. If someone you know has been in a wheelchair, then you know the insecurities and tribulations they’ve undergone.

Most people learn how to manage in a wheelchair and adapt their routine accordingly, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Falls from Wheelchairs

If your elder has suffered a fall, then there’s a good chance they’ll need surgery, physical therapy, and walking aids. For some, it will last temporarily, but for others, it could be permanent. Regardless of the long-term outcome, neither will achieve proficiency without positive motivation and hard work, and it’s difficult to stay positive when the present is a challenge.

Even those who have been in a wheelchair for years suffer from stress and insecurities if they fall out of their chair. It can be humiliating and wound even the strongest senior’s self-esteem. Fortunately, a team of students from Imperial College in London have designed a new wheelchair to enable seniors to re-right themselves from a fallen position.

The Re-Righting Wheelchair

Although this device was designed specifically for people engaged in wheelchair-based sports, it can implicate seniors as well. The technology is surprisingly simple, which is not to say it’s unimaginative, just that it’s a wonder we haven’t employed this already!

There’s a metal wheel on the front that acts as a bumper and it’s wrapped in a rubber casing. It works like a ratchet in that it moves in one direction so wheelchair bound people can push themselves back up regardless of upper body strength or abdominal strength – sounds like it would help seniors as well!

The Cognitive Advantage

Of course, there’s an additional advantage to this new technology and it’s the mindset of people (young and old) who maneuver by wheelchairs. This eliminates the need for someone’s help.

It’s not to say that help isn’t appreciated, but everyone wants to be self-sufficient and not be a burden. If we can pick ourselves back up after falling from a wheelchair, then we’re happier because it affords another level of independence.

Again, while this may be employed primarily for sports, it can easily impact the elder care world and offer some more independence to seniors who are struggling to adapt to change.

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