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Wheelchair Users Precautions for Covid 19

If you push a manual wheelchair there are precautions you should take related to hand washing. COVID-19 can survive on the surfaces of your wheelchair such as the hand rims. Any virus that might be on your hands is transferred to your hand rims as you push your wheelchair.
 

 

Clean Hands
Washing your hands is most important. Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home. Using a fingernail brush is a good idea for those that have really rough skin from pushing a wheelchair over years.

In addition, if you push on your tyres, you are basically touching everywhere you have rolled. Wearing gloves when pushing is another option to keeping your hands cleaner. However, if you wear gloves you might need to think about how you take them off and where you set them down , as they may now be infected with a virus. It is also likely that the inside of your gloves may become infected unless you always wash your hands before putting the gloves on.

Tyres transfer the virus to the hands and your hands transfer the virus to the handrims

 

Clean Wheelchair
Washing the surfaces on your wheelchair is very important. All solid surfaces that you touch could potentially have viruses on them. The handrims and tyres on your wheelchair are solid surfaces.

At home take two washcloths or paper towels wet with some antibacterial soap and push your wheelchair around the house, sliding the wash cloths on the handrims as you go. Push the  chair about 20 ft., or spin around in circles if  in a public bathroom. Pushing 20 ft. wipes the handrims three times. It can be a bit difficult to learn how to do this. You can have someone slowly push you to make it easier. This allows to clean the handrims on your wheelchair. This way can be used to clean your wheels; push the wheelchair around with the washcloths on the tyres. You can also wipe the other surfaces that you  regularly touch on your wheelchair; including the wheel locks, and the frame in front of my seat cushion. If you have arm supports, push handles or removable foot supports they should be cleaned as well.

If you use a powered wheelchair, disinfect your joystick and controls and anything else that you regularly touch on your chair. Remember that many plastics could react poorly to a cleaner containing bleach.

 

Social Distance

Because wheelchair users tend to sit lower than most people that are standing, you can experience more exposure to saliva droplets when talking to people taller than us. Many medical professionals have recommended observing a minimum of 6 ft. of distance to those around you. You may also consider wearing some type of face mask to protect yourself from getting “sprayed” by people talking to you. Medical face masks are in high demand right now, and not easy to get hold of.  A face mask would also keep me from touching my mouth and nose, further preventing infection. It is important to limit hand-to-face contact as much as possible.

To Recap:
1. Wash your hands often and always when you return home. Antibacterial wipes or gel can be used while out.
2. Wipe down your wheelchair (especially push rims, tires, and joysticks) with a sanitized cloth or anti-bacterial wipe.
3. Observe a minimum of 6 ft. of distance from others in social interactions, and consider the benefits of wearing a face mask if one is available.

The Spinal injuries Ireland website was used as a source for the above information.

Information provided by Peter Axelson MSME, ATP, RET

 



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Tuesday 6th October 2020
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