To date, there are
approximately 8 million Americans who have some type of mobility
impairment that necessitates the use of adaptive equipment such as a cane,
crutches, walker, wheelchair, or scooter. A person with a mobility
impairment simply uses different ways to get around. Often times,
assistive devices help him or her overcome mobility obstacles. Mobility
impairments may result from a number of different medical conditions, such
as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, diabetes, muscular
dystrophy, and paraplegia. Temporary impairments, like broken legs, can
also result in mobility impairments.
(From: "Those of Us DisLabeled: A Guide
to Awareness and Understanding", University of Kentucky Human Development
Institute, Cooperative Extension Service)
- Always ask the person if he or she would
like assistance before you help. Your help may not be needed or
- Talk directly to the person in the
wheelchair rather than to someone with him. A person in a wheelchair is
perfectly capable of talking for himself.
- When possible, sit down so you are on eye
level with the person in the wheelchair.
- Push a wheelchair only after asking the
person if assistance is needed.
- When assisting someone in a wheelchair
over a curb, ask if the person prefers to go forward or backward.
- In guiding a wheelchair down an incline,
hold the push handles to ensure that the chair does not go too
- Learn the location of wheelchair ramps,
restrooms, elevators, and telephones.
- For more than one stair step, keep the
wheelchair tilted back while going up or down.
- Remember that a wheelchair is an
expensive piece of equipment. Do not treat it with extreme
- Don't hang or lean on a person's
wheelchair, which the person often considers part of their body space.
You probably not lean on a person's shoulder, so do not lean on
New Mobility Magazine
is a good source to learn more about mobility
impairments. They can be reached either via Internet (http://www.newmobility.com)
or by phone at (310)