There is nothing more convenient and ideal to use than a travel wheelchair when you have a disability, but you don’t want to remain grounded and cooped up in your home. However, while such a great option exists, there can be some issues with your wheelchair, and that could turn your trip into a nightmare.
Knowing about the most common faults such units can suffer from and how to deal with them will help you keep having fun on your vacation.
Problems with the upholstery
There is never a way of telling whether your wheelchair will act up or not when you’re traveling. However, the rule of thumb says to have the unit inspected before you schedule your trip so that you can eliminate more significant problems in the long run. Regular maintenance is also recommended, but now let’s focus on some issues that you might face, but are still possible to correct.
The first one we will talk about is the broad category of problems that may occur with the upholstery. It can be damaged or worn out, or it might not fit well. This may not sound like something major, but the discomfort that it may cause you, especially when all you want to do is to enjoy yourself, can be quite noticeable.
To have proper support and extra comfort, many wheelchair users need to have more padding or some cushion. But that means that the upholstery needs to accommodate the additional material and that may lead to problems.
In case you notice that your wheelchair looks somewhat worn and the upholstery is torn in places, you will have to appeal to someone specialized in such repairs. The person you hire might suggest replacing the upholstery, and that’s a significant upgrade to bear in mind, as it will make your wheelchair look as good as new, and it will also make it more comfortable.
Issues with the freewheel levers
There is an important role the freewheel levers perform, and that is that they will help you change the operation of your wheelchair from motorized to manual. It is easy to realize why they are so essential for you, the user. Sometimes, the battery on your wheelchair might drain, and that is when you will have to make it move using your hands.
Also, there may be situations when you want to operate your wheelchair manually, and that is when the freewheel levers come in handy, too. However, while most of the time, they work flawlessly, you might encounter issues with them.
Let’s take this situation, for instance. Your wheelchair refuses to move, and the motor seems to be unresponsive. Do not jump to the conclusion that it died; it can all be because of the freewheel levers and their malfunctioning, not that of the motor.
To see if anything happened to them, see if they are no longer in their designated position. Just move them back to where they were, and see if the motor becomes responsive again. You would be surprised to learn how many times such a thing happens. Of course, if the motor continues to remain unresponsive, that means that you will have to appeal to specialized services. At least, your wheelchair can be operated manually so that you don’t remain stuck somewhere.
Problems with the battery
If your wheelchair works with the help of a battery, you should know that the battery can be a source of issues just like any of the other components described so far. Typically, the battery is what powers your wheelchair, and without it, you wouldn’t have a motorized function for your unit.
One of the most common issues that many people deal with is a drained battery. You must be careful to charge your battery before leaving home and to recharge it each time it’s about to become depleted. A bit of attention to how much power you consume will give you a good idea on how to keep this issue from becoming a problem for you.
Another thing that you should know about batteries is that, over time, they can deteriorate, which means that an old battery won’t work the same as it did when it was still new. Often, the battery can no longer hold a charge, which means that you can’t depend on it to offer the same runtime as in the past.
Depending on how intensively you use the motorized function of your wheelchair, the battery can deteriorate faster or slower. It is essential to pay attention to any malfunction of the battery as it will surely need a replacement once it starts acting up.
In some cases, the battery may become worn out faster than expected. Typically, wheelchair batteries should last in tip-top shape for at least one year. Don’t hesitate to have it replaced if you see you can’t depend on it.
Don’t forget about parts that require replacement
Before embarking on a trip, a good idea would be to inspect your wheelchair thoroughly. Some parts are made to be replaced, so there is no surprise that they tend to wear out over time. For instance, the wheels on your wheelchair will require replacing once in a while. In the same category, you will find the joystick controller, as well as the caster forks.
While all these parts can wear out through simple use, some small accidents or events can influence their proper functioning, as well. In case of a collision or a more serious bump, you might find that the caster forks on your wheelchair became loose. Bent wheels are not that uncommon, either, and that’s when you know you will have to repair or replace the damaged parts.
Do not postpone or repair or replacement you need operated on your wheelchair. Even something that might not look important can become a liability and a cause for disaster. Do not put yourself at risk by neglecting to send your wheelchair to receive the necessary repairs.
Another thing to bear in mind is that you need good brakes on your wheelchair. So, again, do not forget to have your wheelchair inspected, especially before a trip. Any signs of malfunctioning should be reported to specialized services. Replacement parts should come from reputable manufacturers so that you don’t end up causing more problems instead of solving the ones that are already there.
The last thing: problems with the electrical system
As your wheelchair works with the help of a motor, that implies that there is an entire electrical system in place, with connections and wires. The more parts are involved, the more chances are for something to malfunction. For this reason, this list of common faults in wheelchairs should include electrical issues, as well.
It should be mentioned that among all the problems you might experience with a wheelchair, these can be among the most difficult to address. First of all, you need to take note of all the signs of failure that appear. For instance, if you check your battery, see that it is full and that the freewheel levers didn’t move from their place, then you might suspect that an electrical fault might be the problem.
The first thing you should do when you notice such issues is to call a service department in charge of wheelchair repairs. Relevant information can be supplied over the phone, and the specialized professional you get in touch with will ask you to run various tests to see what might cause the malfunction.
Some issues may be temporary, and they get solved quickly. Others might require the intervention of specialized repair services. Be well aware that these problems should never go unaddressed. And, if you plan to go on a trip, have someone take a good look at the electrical system, too, to see if anything is in working order.