How long does it take to get used to a wheelchair?

How long does it take to get used to a wheelchair?

How long does it take to get used to a wheelchair?

This will depend on the type of wheelchair you will be using and of course if you have prior wheelchair experience. It also depends on the type of illness or injury you have. Being a first time wheelchair user can be very difficult in the first couple of weeks while you get used to the mechanics of using one, however it isn’t that tricky with a bit of practice. Here are some tips below. 

1. Practice 

Get into your wheelchair make sure it is comfortable, try different combinations of cushions on the seat even if your chair comes with padding and head rests it might not be as well fitting as you may like.

2. Read the Instruction Manual 

This can actually help you a lot and also make you aware of the various features on your wheelchair.

3. Follow These Guidelines

Make sure the brakes are on before seating yourself and fold the footplates to a position that allows you to get in easily. 

Sit carefully by placing your hands on the armrests and then fold back the footplates.  Once seated you are ready to use your wheelchair. With a manual wheelchair hold the hand rails and push then forward to move forward and back to reverse.  Hold the left wheel static while moving the right wheel to turn left when going forward and the opposite to turn right. Practice these manoeuvres on a flat surface preferable inside before venturing out.

4. Getting out of a wheelchair 

To get out get as close to your desired destination as possible eg: a chair, make sure the brakes are on and fold the foot. plates to a position that allows you to exit your wheelchair. Place your left and right hands on the armrests and push your self up. You may need assistance to get out and if uncertain should always seek assistance getting in and out of your wheelchair in particular as you get used to this.


Doing daily exercises to strengthen your arms and upper body are essential at first, this will help you a lot in moving and controlling your wheelchair. Exercises can also prevent injury.

6. Wheelchair Gloves

Use gloves while moving your as your fingers may get blisters, especially at first while you get used to your wheelchair. Wheelchair Gloves also prevent your hands getting dirty.