Transporting Children Who Use Wheelchairs. (Some Ins and Outs of Maintaining and Initiating Repairs for Your Equipment)
Wheelchair maintenance and positioning is very important, and every morning it is parents who are the first to help our kiddos get ready for their day and positioned in their wheelchair. Remember that keeping a wheelchair in good repair with regular inspections and maintenance will keep our kiddos safe, well supported and help prevent accidents and malfunctions. As you may have experienced, there are occasions that equipment failure can also result in a student being unable to have bus transportation due to safety. Some common safety concerns that may facilitate declined bus transportation are malfunction of the following: brakes, seatbelts, chest harness, headrest, tilt, as well as loose seat or back, foot rests, low tire pressure (which can impact brake function) or instability of wheels.
Here are some tips and things to look for:
- Make sure that your child’s bottom is always back as far as possible in the chair so that they are not slouching- and check for a snug seat belt and tighten it down if necessary.
- Keep tires inflated and check that the tread is still “healthy”.
- Check that brakes are firm against the wheels.
- After traveling with your kiddo and wheelchair that requires partial breakdown of the chair – take extra caution in reassembly of the chair, making sure that the swivel locks are fastened appropriately over the brackets; check for security by tugging on the seat back or bottom.
- Don’t remove the anti-tip bars and check that they are in the down position; this will keep the wheelchair from tipping backwards.
- Monitor upholstery, straps and belts for cracks or tears; these components are usually replaceable easily if showing signs of wear and tear by your wheelchair provider.
- Regularly check all nuts and bolts for security and signs of rust/ stripping.
We rely on parents to resolve and/ or approve repair issues of course, since the equipment belongs to the family. Parents should contact your wheelchair provider with any concerns that you have. If your child has grown significantly, schedule an appointment with a local wheelchair clinic. As was our policy last year, we are dealing with issues on a case-by case basis and have been working to communicate those issues with you. Keep checking your student’s backpack for a typed checklist from us regarding possible problems that we see or we may contact you by phone occasionally as well. The notes may also indicate that you need to contact your wheelchair provider (the most common provider is Custom Mobility @727-547-7850). If you receive such a request, please place the repair call as soon as possible since insurance authorization and delivery of parts can take a few weeks. Together we will keep them safe, well supported and things “rolling” smoothly.
Cheryl L. Skinner, PT