Hand Protection for Persons Using a Wheelchair.
If you are a wheelchair user, and you use a manual chair, you need hand protection. When you are moving through doorways and hallways of your home or other tight-fit spaces, you might bump, bruise, or even cut your hands or fingers. If you go outdoors, your hands may come in contact with whatever might stick on wheels, such as gravel, leaves or trash. Your hands and fingers are in a vulnerable position when you are rolling your wheelchair, and you need to protect them.
It is likely that while wheeling around, a senior could suffer some bruises and cuts because of thin skin. Thin skin is common among the elderly because age causes a decrease of the fat layer under skin. Medications, such as blood thinners, can also cause one’s skin to become thin and vulnerable to cuts and bleeding. Blisters on the hands and fingers can also be caused by continued rubbing on wheelchair parts, thus the need for hand protection.
To prevent blisters, talcum powder or petroleum jelly can protect the skin from abnormal friction. Also, wearing gloves that fit well can help reduce the likelihood of blisters.
We found a few easy hand protection solutions to prevent scrapes and cuts when we cared for my mother-in-law.
She was an active wheelchair user, but she also had very thin skin, probably because of age and medications. Her hands were particularly vulnerable to bruising and to scrapes. A bump of her hand or elbow on a corner of a table or a wall was likely to result in an injury, while the incident would have been unnoticed if it had happened to us.
So, she wore garden gloves with the fingers cut out when she was in the wheelchair. These fabric gloves were comfortable, washable, and colorful, besides being inexpensive. She could use her fingers, but had some cover and padding to the back of her hands and palms. To cover her arms from the wrist up to the elbow in the winter, she could wear long- sleeve sweaters. In the summer, she wore socks with the toes cut out to cover her wrists up to her elbows. Again these were comfortable, washable, and easy to take off and put on. This protection kept her from scraping hands, arms and elbows, especially when she was traveling and doing physical therapy.
Another solution for hand protection would be to wear bike gloves. They come in a variety of styles, with full fingers and half-fingers. They may have padded palms or have a gel pad in the palm areas which lessens the wear and tear on your hands.
Get some that are durable and washable. There are bike gloves which are especially for winter wear and they offer hand protection from cold weather.
The best thing about bike gloves is that they are meant to improve your grip on bike handles. They work for gripping rims on wheelchairs too. This helps you grip and guide your chair, while providing a measure of hand protection from scrapes and cuts.
You can find inexpensive bike gloves at major box stores, or you can find the more expensive brands at sports equipment stores.
If you suffer a scrape or cut on your hand or fingers, do tend to it right away to prevent infection. Cover it with an adhesive bandage or paper tape and gauze which will be easy to remove and won’t tear the skin around the wound any more.
If you can make changes in your living space, so you can avoid tight spaces and sharp corners or other obstacles, then do so, so you can prevent injuries to hands and fingers.
A little hand protection goes a long way to getting around in a wheelchair safely.