Picture of snowman for ardoohoists.com blog

How to deal with winter while sitting in a wheelchair?

Mobility in winter time is often so mentally stressful and physically painful that most of the disabled people decide to stay in.

Are you familiar with the term ‘snow prison’? It can be awful to look out the window in the morning and see 5 centimeters of fresh snow from the night before. That means a horrible lot of work to move from one place to another, because you either get stuck into snow with your electric wheelchair or with a  manual wheelchair you need to push hard with your hands to move forwards on paths. It is also a safety issue if a person tries to move without assistance, because it takes only a second to fall down on your face on slippery roads and get badly injured. Mobility in winter time is often so mentally stressful and physically painful that most of the disabled people decide to stay in.However there are few tips to make the life easier in winter time.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask help from friends and family members. Independence is important for every individual, but in a case of safety there is no shame to have someone reliable to help you moving around and making sure not to get stuck in the middle of the street.
  2. Change to proper winter tires to your wheelchair. For example bigger profile wheels like on mountain bikes. There are also different solutions to add blades and studded types of tires for winter in extreme conditions.
  3. Use grips to make the ramps at home less slippery and buy a portable ramp to go over difficult obstacles.
  4. Take care of the regular maintenance of your electric or manual wheelchair, because cold and wet conditions may harm your mobility solution.
  5. Take time to move from one place to another and plan the route carefully beforehand. Unfortunately the little things are the most annoying which makes the mobility in winter more difficult, like sidewalks that haven’t been shoveled or piles of snow in front of the curb cuts.
  6. Stay in the first day after the snowstorm until roads and sidewalks are cleared. Ask your employer or university can you work or study from home.
  7. If you use a manual wheelchair, do regular exercises to keep yourself strong in any circumstances.
  8. Use comfortable and warm clothing, because it is always possible that your journey will last longer than you have imagined.
  9. Don’t let yourself to be in social isolation and keep connection with your friends with modern communication tools, mobile phone, social media, etc. Winter is mentally more tolerable if you are not lonely.

Thanks to wheelchair stories for this blog.