wheelchair ramps are excellent tools that help wheelchair users to gain access to buildings, vehicles, and homes by providing a smooth transition over these smaller obstacles that would otherwise cause problems for wheelchair users. For wheelchair users and caregivers you should understand how to push a manual wheelchair on-ramp whether that’s self-propelled or by a caregiver.
Even though you may think the slope of a ramp is not significant there are still ways to make the process safer for you and the caregiver if they are helping to manually push your wheelchair. The maximum elevation for a ramp has a ratio of 1:12. There are tips and methods that should be used to minimize the risk of using wheelchair ramps.
Getting up a wheelchair ramp
Getting up a wheelchair ramp can cause high anxiety for those who have never done this before with no assistance. The tips below can help you feel safer and minimize the risk of having an accident when getting a wheelchair up and down a wheelchair ramp.
Going up a ramp on a wheelchair
When first going up a ramp and you get to the beginning of the ramp you will want to lean forward a bit as much as the angle of the ramp to shift the weight forward as you start the incline process. This creates balance as the propelling process begins.
For those that have a caregiver pushing you the process becomes much easier because of the support of the other person. We recommend you start off with someone behind you to support you when you first start using a wheelchair ramp until you get more comfortable with the process.
- Be sure you have nothing on the back of the wheelchair or on your lap
- If by yourself you will need to raise our front casters and then move yourself so tha tthe front casters can clear the ramp threshold lip.
- Lean forward so you can then propel yourself up the ramp with quick strong strokes.
Heading down a wheelchair ramp
When heading down a wheelchair ramp you should lean forward slightly at the same distance as the angle of the ramp.
For those that are manual going down a ramp without anyone holding on to the back of the wheelchair be sure to slowly and firmly grab the push rims so you can control the speed of the descent. If you have brakes use them on both sides of the rear tires.
The landing area is the surface area after you get off the ramp. Either the top or the bottom is called the landing area and that needs to be a flat area for safety reasons.
These areas need to be flat so a proper stop can be made heading down a ramp and at the top so a door can be open.
Use Anti-Tippers on your manual wheelchair when using a ramp
Not all wheelchairs come standard with anti-tippers. Anti-tippers are used to help prevent the wheelchair from tipping over backward when you are in the seated position of the wheelchair. The device itself is very lightweight and attaches to the back of the chair right below the rear wheels. The device uses 2 tiny wheels and 2 arms.
Ordering anti-tippers are easy and can be put on after you already have a manual wheelchair.
Using anti-tippers is very important for those who go up and down a wheelchair ramp without support as they can effectively help in not letting the wheelchair tip backward in the event you start to tilt back too far.
Use seat belts if you have one
If your manual wheelchair is equipped with a seat belt then you should use it. Fasten the seat belt securely before heading up or down a ramp to help prevent falling out of the wheelchair and getting injured.
Reduce unnecessary weight if possible
Before going up and down a wheelchair ramp try and remove unnecessary stuff from the chair. This can include bags, umbrellas, bottles, etc. If you have a companion with you they can hold these items while you make the trip up or down the wheelchair ramp.
Know the weight specifications of the ramp
Understand and know the proper weight specifications of the wheelchair ramp you are using. Typically ramps for wheelchairs have a minimum capacity of at least 500 pounds. that covers the weight of the chair, the user, and a caregiver.
Always make sure the ramp you use can support the weight of everyone and the chair before use. If you are purchasing a portable wheelchair ramp be sure to know the maximum weight capacity before making a purchase.
Final thoughts on How to push a manual wheelchair on a ramp
Pushing a wheelchair on a ramp is something that most wheelchair users will have to do. Following standard procedures can help get you safely up and down a ramp even when you are self-propelling the wheelchair. If you have a caregiver then getting up and down will be much easier.
Be sure to remove any bags you might have on the backrest of the chair, wear a seatbelt if you have one, and be sure the ramp if it is portable can support the weight of you and the chair.
How do you push a wheelchair down a curb as a caregiver? With bent knees bring the back wheels down the curb. Keeping your needs bend so you can minimize any type of injury or back strain. To control the move down the curb tip the chair backward with one foot on the tip bar while pushing down on the push handles.