SpinLife Guide to Power Wheelchair Maintenance
Your power wheelchair is your ticket to mobility. It’s also a significant investment. With proper care and maintenance, it could reward you with more than 10 years of daily use.
There are a few basics to keep top of mind. First, it’s important to read and understand your owner’s manual. You should also work with your therapist or medical equipment supplier to adjust your chair to your needs and make sure you know how to use it properly. And if you get familiar with your motor’s normal sounds, you’ll be more likely to hear when something goes wrong.
If any part of your chair is frayed, worn, cracked or broken, replace it. Please don’t risk your health or mobility by putting it off.
RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE TIMELINE
Daily Maintenance:Every day, you should:
• Charge your battery
• Check your wheel locks and brakes to make sure they work and are firmly attached
• Make sure your spokes and rims are intact and not bent
• Wipe dust and dirt from your chair’s seat and frame with a soft damp or dry cloth
• Inspect your upholstery for rips and cracks
• Make sure your headrest, armrests, and footrests are properly adjusted
Every month, or a little more often, you should:
By following these tips — and consulting an expert when you need to — you can give your chair the power to take you wherever you want to go.
Here are four things to remember when it comes to power wheelchair maintenance.
Keep your power wheelchair dry
Damp or wet conditions can seriously damage your chair, especially its electrical parts.
You should always:
• Store your chair in a dry place
• Wipe up any moisture or spills immediately
• Make sure your chair’s protective plastic covers, or shrouds, are secured in place
• Stop using your chair immediately and call a service professional if your chair’s electronics get really wet
Keep your power wheelchair tires in good shape
Tires play an important role in a power wheelchair’s performance. And each kind of tire has different maintenance needs.
Your tires may be:
• Solid rubber
• Polyurethane foam-filled
• Rubber insert
Whichever kind of tire you have, make sure you always carry a repair kit and a couple of spares. If one tire goes flat, it’s best to change the other one, too.
Keep your cushion … well, cushy
To enhance your health, you must have an intact, supportive cushion for your chair. Like wheelchair tires, cushions come in a variety of types. Foam, gel and viscous fluid cushions should be inspected once a month, while air cushions need a weekly once-over.
Here’s how to do it:
• Transfer to a comfortable chair
• Remove the cover from your wheelchair cushion
• Look for wear, rips, or holes in the top, bottom and lining of the cushion cover
• Make sure the zipper works properly
• Inspect the cushion itself for leaks, distortion, or other signs of fatigue
Keep your battery healthy
Your battery is the heart of your wheelchair, and it can last up to two years with proper care.
• Keeping your chair plugged in until the battery is fully charged (look for the indicator light)
• Charging your battery daily and inspect it weekly for corrosion
• Storing your chair in a temperate environment
• Never letting your battery run down completely
• Testing your battery if the power wheelchair seems to be running slow
• Keeping replacement batteries on hand in case of primary battery failure
Because there are different kinds of batteries, your wheelchair’s owner’s manual may be your best source of specific information.