Having a wheelchair maintenance checklist makes it easier to stick to a regular maintenance routine, which is paramount for keeping a wheelchair in good condition. With regular maintenance you can prevent accidents and/or malfunctions caused by improper care of the equipment.
In this post we will provide you with an easy-to-follow wheelchair maintenance checklist, which we recommend referring to or passing along to your care provider in order to ensure your safety while extending the longevity of the wheelchair.
Wheelchair Maintenance Checklist: General Recommendations
Here is a list of general recommendations for day-to-day use of your wheelchair:
- Before getting out of the wheelchair, make sure brakes are locked. If using a powered wheelchair, turn the power off before exiting. This will prevent slips and falls that could come from accidental movement of the wheelchair.
- Do not carry heavy loads on the back of the wheelchair. This could put unnecessary strain on the chair by exceeding the maximum weight capacity, and even cause the chair to tip over.
- This should go without saying, but do not let children play with the wheelchair. A wheelchair is not a toy, and that message should be made clear. Also don’t let them ride on the footrests or battery case, as there’s a high probability they will break if you do.
- Avoid caster flutter, which is something that can happen if the wheelchair moves side to side at high speeds. It’s recommended that you replace casters as soon as possible if they flutter.
- Wheelchairs do not hold up well when in contact with moisture, therefore it’s recommended to use wheelchair snow tires in the winter and cover up any electronic components if using a powered wheelchair.
Wheelchair Maintenance Checklist: Individual Parts
Here is a list of recommendations for individual parts of a standard wheelchair:
- Check for screws protruding from the armrest padding.
- Check the detachable arms and make sure they’re secure, but not overly tightened.
- Check that adjustable-height arms firmly lock into place.
- Check arm locks and make sure they are fully functional.
- Check side panels for sharp edges and ensure fasteners are tightened.
- Check material for rips and tears.
- Check the nuts and bolts which secure the material and make sure they are tight.
- Check for other damage which may be present in the back brace joints or safety belts.
- Make sure the headrest is working properly.
- Check tire pressure.
- Check wheel locks to make sure they securely grip the wheel and adequately prevent the wheelchair from moving.
- When checking wheel locks, make sure the rubber tips are present and not damaged.
- Wheels should spin straight without any wobbling.
- Make sure spokes are tight and that there are none missing.
- There should be no gaps between the rims and tires; hub caps should be securely in place.
- Check for any other noticeable signs of wear in the wheels. This includes spinning them to make sure they turn smoothly.
- Check for bending on the sides and stem of the forks and retaining mechanisms. The stem should be firmly attached to the fork.
- Check for signs of excessive usage in the stem bearing, casters should not flutter at high speeds.
- Bearings should not be excessively wobbly. Felt washers and/or string guards should always be present.
- Check caster housing by rolling the chair on a level surface. If the wheelchair veers off more than a foot in a 10 foot distance then check for signs of damage. This could include improper alignment of housing on the frame, as well bent forks and stems.
- At no point should there be grease leaking from the wheel axles or joints.
Foot and Leg Rests
- Check the locks and make sure they’re fully functional.
- Check the footplates and make sure they’re stable at any angle.
- Engage the footrest length-adjustment mechanism and make sure it is functioning properly. Check the adjustment rod for any scratches, as scratches could lead to malfunctions.
- Check for any other signs of excessive wear on the foot rests, including the foot rest bumpers.
A wheelchair is just like any other vehicle or personal transportation device — regular maintenance is required to ensure optimal functionality. It’s best if you can get into a regular maintenance routine, such as picking one day out of each month to check your wheelchair from top to bottom. It may sound like a chore, but keeping this checklist by your side will help to speed up and streamline the process.