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What Is It Like To Be in a Wheelchair?

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This question originally appeared on Quora.
By Arthur Torrey, Maker of Things

In a word, it SUCKS! 

Manual chairs are a lot of work, and those who spend a lot of time propelling one are at very high risk of major damage to their shoulders. In addition, it can be a major problem to do anything requiring the use of your hands, since your arms and hands are tied up with propulsion. Even something as simple as carrying a cup of coffee or a plate of food across the room becomes a complex juggling act as you need to pass the cup from hand to hand as you use your hands alternately to push each wheel in order to go in a (sort of) straight line - sort of like single handedly paddling a canoe.

If you are outside in the weather, your hands are getting exposed as your pushrims pick up whatever you are running over - worse, if you think stepping in a "doggy bomb" is bad, try getting it off your hands and the chair wheels ...

Power chairs (NOT "electric chairs" - those are for crooks ...) are easier in terms of work, and free up at least one hand, but have their own issues, including size and weight, among other things. Sometimes, I get comments about how "fun" they look to buzz around in, my response is that they are only fun when you can get out of them ....

In either case, your world becomes much smaller - you can't visit most friends, as you can only go places that are "accessible," meaning ramps or elevators, and NO stairs. Reaching things gets harder, both stuff that is lower, or especially things that are higher up. Interacting with people is harder because you are looking at the world from belly-button level ...

Extended sitting also can lead to many medical issues, including calcium loss from bones, pressure sores, problems with circulation, bodily functions, and so on. There have actually been experiments where healthy volunteers were confined to bed or a wheelchair for a month and found that they actually had significant disabilities by the end of that time.

Being stuck in a wheelchair beats being stuck in a hospital bed, but that's about all that can be said for it...

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