Wheelchairs can offer increased freedom and mobility. They can be liberating and help people do more things they want to do. But there are barriers in the community. For example, sidewalks are not always smooth or flat. Sometimes there is no curb cut to go up or down. Cracks and uneven sidewalks can be tough to go over. It can be overwhelming trying to get around in a wheelchair in the community. So we interviewed disability advocate, Jay Wilson, about how to manage some of these issues. He shared a lot of great information that we felt would be helpful for youth. Whether you are already experienced and looking for ideas, or starting out, or considering using a wheelchair, you will probably learn something new.
Here are some places that Jay recommends to check out to learn more about wheelchair mobility in the community:
First of all, you may want to look into physical therapy (PT) or occupational therapy (OT) for practice with community mobility – they should be teaching techniques to navigate barriers.
One useful and entertaining DIY resource…
If you are in the Twin Cities area, If you’re looking for fewer-barrier places to practice and build up endurance, some of the Rail Trails around are good – no curbs, but they do tend to have a lateral slant. I am especially fond of the section of the Gateway Trail from Mahtomedi to Grant with the smoothest pavement and a few not-too-steep hills. The Brown’s Creek Trail is relatively few barriers too, especially if you do the uphill part first (start at Stillwater toward where the two trails meet).
Also, some additional DIY videos that show some of the things that a mobility specialist could help learn – more demos…
A few more resources that I’ve found helpful – if you don’t already subscribe, New Mobility Magazine is useful for knowing about community but also products and research. Subscription is free for United Spinal members, and you can join for free (not required to have a spinal disability).
A few other free newsletters/communities with peer resources like videos and articles about how to do things well: Wheel:Life & BACKBONES & SPINALpedia – the last two are spinal cord injury specific, but have a ton of very useful resources and connections.
Let us know if you have more resources to share! Thanks, Jay Wilson, for taking the time to share all of this awesome info!!