Holiday Road Tripping In (And Out) of Your Wheelchair

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, you may be travelling to see family. Some of you may fly, but even more of you will engage in the time-honored tradition of a road trip. Few people like sitting in the car for hours and hours in holiday traffic. But when you’re a wheelchair user, the holiday road trip offers another set of challenges.

One of the first things I remember learning about, shortly after I learned how to transfer in to a wheelchair, was the importance of doing weight shifts and taking good care of my skin. It’s easy to forget about this, since I don’t have feeling from the chest down, but it is very, very important — even when you’re not in your wheelchair. But you can prevent hours on I-95 traffic from damaging your skin — here are a few of my tips.

  • When transferring out of the chair and in to the car, make sure your brakes are locked, and you have the proper angle and clearance to lift out of the wheelchair. Be sure not to drag your butt, and be conscious of things like scraping your hip, or twisting your knee the wrong way.
  • Once in the car, be aware of your posture and how you might be applying pressure in sensitive areas.
  • It doesn’t matter if you are a passenger or the driver, if you are going to be in the car for any amount of time more than 30 minutes, develop a way to do weight shifts. If you are the passenger, this might be easier, but I drive all of the time and have found creative ways to do this safely, at red lights or other times the car is stopped.
  • If you are on a long road trip, consider sitting on your cushion, or maybe use a smaller type of cushion, so to be sure you don’t get to your destination only to find the beginning of a pressure sore.

Each of our bodies are different, and some are more tolerant of long drives than others, but, just like I was also told during my initial rehab stay, ALWAYS check your skin and be careful. The few extra minutes a day that we spend doing this is time well spent!

And, in case you need a refresher on weight shifts, click here to see our famous Doin’ Da Butt video.

I want to hear from you! Any other tips for long roads when you’re a wheelchair user?

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