1. A wheelchair means I’ll lose my independence
Lauren: “For somebody who is struggling with mobility and in pain, using a wheelchair can bring many benefits and have a positively life-changing impact on their mobility. The wheelchair may enable the user to visit places or people they love where previously they may have found themselves house bound and in turn it can facilitate maintaining an independent life.
I also see my clients become quite emotional as they start to feel supported and safe and they often have a renewed sense of confidence in working towards regaining their independence with a new found ability to engage in activities they thought might not be possible.”
2. I won’t be able to do the things I love if I’m in a wheelchair
Lauren: “Many active wheelchair users lead fulfilling lives and do not perceive themselves as disabled, rather that the wheelchair is a tool which enables them to carry on doing many of the things they enjoy.
As well as a functional mobility aid, wheelchairs are a great energy preservation tool which allows a person to conserve their energy for other activities – so for example using a wheelchair around the home may enable a person to manage a 20 minute walk with the dogs or any other meaningful activity.
I even have a client, Frazer Kennedy, who has written a book called “I’ve decided: Life is what you make it,” an inspirational autobiographical account of his remarkable life as a profoundly disabled young adult and who, amongst many other things, has gone skiing in an adaptive wheelchair!”
3. I’ll have to rely on somebody to help push me around
Lauren: “Depending on the person’s condition, there are different options. As well as attendant-propelled chairs, which require a carer to push, there are so many other types of wheelchair to accommodate or correct the posture which enable a person to self-propel or even use a battery powered wheelchair.”
4. Wheelchairs are black, grey and boring
Lauren: “Admittedly there are many basic, functional “hospital/medical” looking wheelchairs on the market but there’s now a whole host of other options as well as “optional extras” that can be specified, such as coloured accents, spoke guards, flashing castors, seat risers on powered chairs which all allow you to personalise a chair to the individual’s style.
Many people may be unaware of the Personal Wheelchair Budget (PWB) which increases choice and control allowing users to maintain their independence by choosing a wheelchair that fits in with their environment and lifestyle. A user is able to specify optional extras and personally contribute if they so wish.”
5. It’s difficult to get around in a wheelchair
Lauren: “Whilst there’s still huge room for improvement, the world is more access-conscious than ever before and being in a wheelchair no longer means you are closed off to the world.
And the law is on your side too, the Equality Act 2010 says changes or adjustments should be made if you’re disabled including education, employment, housing, access to goods and services like shops, hospitals, leisure centres, banks etc.”
6. Being in a wheelchair may negatively affect my mental health
Lauren: “We understand that some people may find it difficult to accept that they need a wheelchair and most of my clients have good and bad days. As an Occupational Therapist I work together with my client to draw up achievable goals and an action plan for daily living for their personal circumstances, whilst taking into account what is important to them. Working towards small goals can improve a client’s mental health as I encourage them to keep moving whilst recognising that there may be days when they need to take time out, reflect and rest.”