A wheelchair is a piece of equipment that consists of a chair with wheels commonly used by people with disabilities or people suffering from injuries. These problems can include spinal cord injuries (paraplegia, hemiplegia and quadriplegia), cerebral palsy, brain injury and more.
Wheelchairs have come a long way. They have gone through many changes according to the changing needs of the individuals. They include specialized seating controlling panels and have been designed for particular activities such as sports.
To understand the parts and mechanism, we need to study in detail the wheelchair equipment.
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1) Frames: Wheelchair frames are either rigid or foldable. The type of frame plays a vital role in the maneuverability of the chair. The rigid frame is lighter and is used in various sports activities. On the other hand, the folding frame is heavier and requires more maneuvers but is very comfortable for storage as it occupies less space.
2) Tires: The Tire is a ring-shaped polyurethane rubber that surrounds the wheel's rim. Solid rubber tires are always used in standard wheelchairs and sometimes with lightweight wheelchairs. Rubber tires provide a hard ride, but they have low wear rates and low maintenance. Pneumatic tires are primarily used in ultra-light wheelchairs, and these tires provide a softer ride, lower rolling resistance, and are lower in weight but have higher wear rates and require high maintenance.
3) Wheels: It is a circular frame of hard material that is spiked or molded. The molded wheels never lose shape or need adjustments, whereas the
spiked wheels are lighter and easier to move. The wheel sizes range from about
12-26 inches (30 to 66 cms.) in diameter. Molded wheels have low maintenance requirement and are less responsive.
4) Axles: It is a shaft that rotates the wheel and supports the weight of the chair. The rear-wheel axles are either fixed or quick-released. The fixed axles are a bolt and lock-nut that require tools to remove and attach the rear wheel to the frame. For a quick-release mechanism, it has a button on the end of the axle that allows easy tire removal without any tools.
5) Casters: There are two casters in front of the wheels. The only difference between the wheels and the casters is that the casters can revolve in all directions and allow better front-end maneuverability. Casters are pneumatic, semi-pneumatic or solid. The Pneumatic casters provide excellent shock absorption and solid casters are good on smooth terrain. The casters range from 3-9 inches (7.6 to 23.8 cm.) in diameter.
6) Push Rims (Hand Rims): It is present in the wheelchair to offer the user the ability to push the wheel forward and backward. The type of push rim used depends upon the user’s grip. There are three types - Standard metal rims, Friction rims and Rims with projections.
7) Footrests: Footrests maintain the feet in a neutral position and prevent deformities like the equinus. It consists of a hanger attached to the frame and a footplate that supports the user’s feet. It can be raised and lowered to create free passage and can also be swung out and placed just by pushing the lever on the wheelchair. In some wheelchairs, you need to push the footrest up to remove them. In addition, Heel loops or Leg Straps are added to the footplate for safety purposes.
8) Backrest: It is a light weight support present at the back that maintains the spine in neutral position and improves the posture. High wheelchair backs provide trunk support, whereas the low chair backs provide greater freedom for movement and are preferred by individuals with low-level spinal cord lesions and athletes who participate in sports activities. The user can change the angle of chair backs and even detach them. Moreover, chest straps are also provided to the backrest to prevent forward falling.
9) Armrests: It is a part of chair which provides support to the arm. They can be fixed and detached as per the user's convenience and provide support. The armrests are adjusted according to the height.
10) Side panel: The panel at the side of the armrest is known as the side panel or sometimes as the skirt bird as it protects the clothing from mud and moreover from the wheels; an additional part.
11) Seat: It is a part of wheelchair designed to sit on comfortably. They are available in all sizes and it becomes necessary to measure the seat to have comfortable seating.
12) Cushions: Cushions are used to provide the most comfortable and supportive position. Seat cushions can be air-filled, gel-filled and contour foam.
13) Head-rest: This section is added for those with no head control and primitive neck reflexes. This can be fixed and also detachable.
14) Tip-tubes and Anti-tip Bars: The projection from the wheelchair is called the tip tube. The tip tube has a stopper at the end known as the anti-tip bar, that prevents the wheelchair from tipping backward.
15) Brakes: The brakes are located on the front of the large rear wheel next to the bottom of the seat. To apply the brake, push the brake lever forward, and to remove the brake, pull it backward. The main purpose of the brake is to make the chair stationary by locking the wheels.
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Wheelchair curling sport does not require any special wheelchair. The curlers can use any power or manual wheelchair as per their needs.
1) Manual Wheelchair:
2) Powered Wheelchairs:
The wheelchair is the second home for the person with disabilities, so it needs to be comfortable. In addition, it should provide more freedom to the body rather than prohibiting it. Therefore, one needs to ensure to maintain good posture by selecting the wheelchair by keeping these points in mind:
1) Make sure that the chair seat, the back and the shoulder rests are of the correct size.
2) Choose the right cushioning suitable for your shape and size.
3) Do ensure that there is enough space in between the chair and the thighs.
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Just imagine you are sitting in a wheelchair, and you feel like you are being squeezed in as you do not have enough space to move your thighs, to move your arms, or to rotate the upper body. So, to avoid this situation, it is necessary to know the proper measurements of the wheelchair according to your shape and size.
Check out the points listed below while you are purchasing a wheelchair:
To get the measures properly, you need to ensure that you are seated comfortably and are well-supported. Place your hips at 90 degrees while keeping your feet flat and your back as straight as possible.
1) Seat Width: Measure the width of your widest part of the hip and then add on 1 inch (2.54 cms.) more to determine the seat width.
2) Seat Depth: Measure the seat depth from the hip to the back of your knees and then minus 1 inch (2.54 cms.) from the measured length.
3) Armrest Height: The height is measured from the seat to the elbow when bent at ninety degrees. In another way, this angle is formed when your elbow is resting on the armrest.
4) Seat Height: This vertical distance is measured from the back of the knee to the heel of the shoe. Now, add two inches (5.08 cms.) to the measured length to get the total seat height from the floor to the seat.
5) Backrest Height: This height depends on how much support is needed. If you need:
a) Support for your head, measure the vertical distance from the seat surface to the back of the head.
b) Support for your spine, measure the vertical distance from the seat surface to the top of the shoulders.
6) Back Width: This is measured from the widest part of the back, below the armpits. If you have a back, broader than your hips and thighs, select the wider chair and vice-versa.
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The Wheelchair plays a vital role in Wheelchair Curling as it is one of the most essential equipment. The athletes can use the everyday Wheelchair, whether power or manual, but the only thing they need to ensure is that the breaks must be tight and the wheels are cleaned before entering the ice sheet. Now that the curler is ready, they need to know how the chair is positioned on the ice sheet for delivery.
Step 1: Set the Wheelchair in front of the House about 8-10 feet (2.4-3 meters) back from the hog line to release the stone.
Step 2: The Wheelchair should be set squarely towards the target such that the delivery stick and the stone are on the line of the delivery.
Step 3: The Curler needs to ensure that the Wheelchair is stationary while delivering the stone. Therefore, to get a straight shot, the Fellow Curler rolls up behind the person delivering the stone by holding the Push Rims of the Wheelchair.
Step 4: Before delivering the stone, the Curler needs to remember one more thing that when they are set to release the stone; their feet should be off the ice and on the chair's footrest.
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