When you get yourself a wheelchair because of a condition or a disability, you may realize that it might take time to reacquaint yourself with how you do things. After all, getting a wheelchair is like getting a pair of eyeglasses – there are particular sets of “ways” on how to use them efficiently, and they become your new partners in crime. Sometimes, however, it’s unavoidable to feel a bit helpless or overwhelmed with this new tool, as after all some might think this is a sign of weakness. However, it may be important to realize that there’s more to a wheelchair than meets the eye. Once you learn how to connect with yourself better when you’re in a lightweight wheelchair, you may actually finally be able to start reaching for your dreams again.
Wheelchairs: What Are The Numbers Behind It?
If you feel as though you’re alone in your situation, however, that’s where you’re mistaken. According to the World Health Organization,around 15-percent of the world’s population actually have some kind of disability, with 2 to 4-percent of them actually experiencing some significant challenges in terms of how they function.
However, this doesn’t mean there’s no remedy for their situation. Wheelchairs exist in order to help provide people with difficulties walking with better forms of mobility. In the United States alone, more than 3.6-million individuals over the age of 15 actually use wheelchairs, and 98-percent of public transportation there are in fact built to make sure they can accommodate wheelchair users. 17.4-percent of wheelchair users in the US actually have jobs as well – which means it’s perfectly possible for you to pursue your dreams even if you have wheelchairs that are lightweight.
Lightweight Wheelchairs: Connecting With Yourself Better
With the above statistics, it’s important to understand that there’s more to life even after needing to be in a lightweight wheelchair. Understanding first the importance of why you need to master your wheelchair as though it’s an extension of yourself can open a lot of opportunities. Here’s how to make it a better part of you:
- Get to the root of your concerns: Getting a wheelchair and knowing you need to use one can be frustrating, especially if it’s your first time and you know you’re going to use it for a long time. However, as much as it’s frustrating, it’s important to get to the root of your frustration so you know exactly what’s bothering you with the idea of the wheelchair. Is the wheelchair unattractive? Does using a wheelchair make you feel weak? Do you feel as though using a wheelchair can hinder your dreams? Knowing the root of your concerns can help put you in a better state of mind when it comes to coping and managing your woes.
- Acknowledge the need to use the wheelchair, and recognize its benefits: One of the hardest but most important steps to connecting yourself when using a wheelchair is to acknowledge the need to use one. When you have to use a wheelchair because of a disability or a medical condition, sometimes it’s difficult to accept you need to be in a wheelchair because of the impression that it makes you “weak.” Try not to listen to that voice inside your head that tells you as such, and instead try to project an aura of positivity with your wheelchair. Having a wheelchair provides you with a whole host of benefits you can take advantage of, and slowly realizing this can greatly make the process much easier to handle.
- Treat your wheelchair as though it were an extension of yourself: If you’ve ever been the kind of person to get into martial arts or to be in a sport or hobby that involves holding or using anything, you’ve likely heard of the phrase “…is an extension of yourself.” If you’re a fencer, or a basketball player, or even an artist, it’s likely that your rapier, basketball, and even pen will be your most trusted tool – and as such, it’s important for you to get to know them. You should do the same thing to your wheelchair, as it’s become an extension of your limbs. Treating your wheelchair as a vital part of your body can get you on the right mindset that mastery over its movement is crucial to fulfilling your dreams, which can be a great asset in the long run.
- Study how your wheelchair works properly: When you receive any kind of wheelchair, it’s likely that they’ll work the same way. They have handles on the back to have someone help you maneuver the wheelchair when necessary, but even without the handles, wheelchairs are designed to be maneuvered by the person sitting on them. Easy as this may sound, mastery over your wheelchair’s movement can be tricky to achieve. Study how your wheelchair works – down to the specific kinks and parts, in order to get a better sense on how you can maneuver it better. Knowing how your wheelchair works can at least make sure you get more confident in using it, as you know exactly what goes on as you move it around. In speaking of,
- Learn how to make your wheelchair a unique part of you: When you get yourself a wheelchair, especially specialized wheelchairs such as a lightweight one, it’s likely that it will work differently compared to other wheelchairs. However, you can actually try to make it exclusively “yours” by adding your personality to the wheelchair. This isn’t to say you should make your wheelchair your imaginary friend (unless you want to), but rather to add your unique “spin” to how it works. Do you have a particular “unique” talent with your body – such as beatboxing, or folding your tongue? Try to learn how to maneuver your wheelchair uniquely in order to have more fun while using it. Is there a safe way to incorporate it into dancing, or can you do tricks with it, or have you found an easier way to move it around that others don’t use? Be confident and claim those special “talents” for your wheelchair.
- Customize your wheelchair to your specific needs: Everyone is unique, and sometimes you show this through the way you dress or act. Some people don’t like being in wheelchairs because they think it’s limiting to their expression, but this isn’t exactly the case. You can in fact make the wheelchair a means of expressing your creative identity – and you can do this through customization. Consult your wheelchair provider, but confirm if there are ways you can add extensions or unique additions to your wheelchairs that won’t sacrifice maneuverability and performance. Can you customize the wheels, or are there ways to make it sturdier and adaptable to other terrain? Can you add a cup holder or a small desk so you can read books comfortably?
- Study your environment carefully as well: Aside from mastering the art of using your wheelchair, it’s important that you take your time studying your environment as well – as this is where you’ll be moving your wheelchair. Just how wheelchair-friendly is your home, your school, or your place of work? Are there ways to help make these places more apt for your needs? If not, what can you do to adjust? Knowing these can make you feel more in control and more confident with yourself.
- Surround yourself with positivity: Sometimes, all you need is a bit of positivity in order to get the strength you need to adjust. A lot of people still experience prejudice because of their disabilities or because of using wheelchairs, but a lot of strong networks also exist for the very same people. Try to find a safe space in your community for other wheelchair users – such as a charity, an organization, or even a club – that would provide you with the kind of positive atmosphere you need to be able to cope better.
- Seek professional help if needed: If the methods above aren’t working, consider talking to a professional as to your difficulties connecting yourself with the wheelchair. Sometimes, it takes a neutral voice and a safe space in order to get to the root of your concerns and be able to find better ways of establishing a better “connection” between you and your wheelchair. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid of seeking help, as sometimes this kind of assistance is exactly what you need in order to have a more comfortable time.
Conclusion: Connecting With Yourself Better Is Possible
Like with any tool, appliance, or equipment, getting to know your wheelchair and using it efficiently takes time and effort. This is especially more so when you have wheelchairs that are lightweight, as they are significantly easier to use and have better maneuverability. If you feel as though using a wheelchair is starting to overwhelm you, you may need to start treating it like an extension of yourself. Learning how to connect with yourself better when you’re in a wheelchair can greatly help you find better ways of using it, and may even be the companion you need to constantly reach for your dreams.
Carol Gibbins believes in the power of writing to be able to touch the hearts and minds of readers, and this is exactly what motivates her to pursue a career as a blogger and contributor for sites such as Disability Friendly. Her penchant to write pieces with a unique and creative flair has allowed her to both entertain and inform her readers on various issues and topics related to healthcare and medicine.