Stopping a Manual Wheelchair (Slowing, Stopping, and brake system)

Descending slopes on sidewalks or ramps may present fear for new wheelchair users who are new to the manual population and the technique of stopping or slowing down a manual wheelchair. Braking a manual wheelchair can be a challenging task for anyone with limited mobility especially within hands or arms while traveling downhill. This guide will explore stopping a manual wheelchair and also slow down the chair with friction or a brake system.

How do you stop a manual wheelchair? You can stop a manual wheelchair by using friction by using your hands on the push-rim of the wheelchair. You can also stop a wheelchair by using a brake lever system that will put friction on the wheel to stop it. Caregivers can use the companion handle brake system if the manual wheelchair has brakes as well.

How do you slow down a wheelchair

The most used method of slowing down and stopping a manual wheelchair is to apply friction to the wheel or push-rim with the user’s gloved hand or bare hands. It would be wise to use wheelchair gloves when using a manual wheelchair to help reduce high friction and burning from the rim when using hands.

To slow down a wheelchair the user will use friction by putting their palm on the push-rim and slowly adding my pressure in return this causes friction and will slow down the manual wheelchair. The same can be done to slow down a descent when traveling down a sidewalk that is sloped downward. The same method of friction can be used when using a wheelchair ramp heading downward.

How do you stop a manual wheelchair?

Stopping a manual wheelchair can be done the same way as slowing down a wheelchair except you use enough friction from your hands to completely bring the wheelchair to a complete stop by using the push-rims. Once the wheelchair is at a full stop and you are not on a slope of any sort the wheelchair should not roll on its own. However, if you are on any incline either up or down the wheelchair could roll. To stop this you can hold on to the push-rim so the wheels do not start to turn.

Do manual wheelchairs have brakes?

Yes, braking systems are very common with manual wheelchairs. Many wheelchairs come with standard brake systems. Wheelchairs include lightweight wheelchairs, heavy-duty wheelchairs, tilt-in-space wheelchairs, and more.

Companion handle brake system

Braking systems can be companion handle brake systems that are on the back of the chair that a caregiver can use similar to that of a bike brake. The caregiver can press the handle and the wheelchair brakes will slow or stop the chair from rolling.

User Brake Levers

Another type of brake is a user brake lever that the person sitting in the chair can use like a lever the user either pushes or pulls the lever and the wheelchair will slow or stop depending on how hard the lever is used.

How do you use wheelchair brakes?

Wheelchair brakes are either a squeeze companion handle brake system that the caregiver or loved one can squeeze when pushing the wheelchair. This will automatically put friction on the wheels allowing for the wheelchair to stop or slow. Or the person sitting in the wheelchair can use a lever brake system by pulling up or down on the leaver to put friction on the wheel in order to stop or slow the chair.

Final thoughts on stopping a manual wheelchair

Stopping a manual wheelchair is not difficult if they are equipped with a braking system. Those wheelchairs that do not have any manual form of brakes will have to use their hands to put friction on the push-rim so the wheelchair will stop or slow.

For those that will use the push-rim method we highly suggest using wheelchair gloves to protect your hands from burns and other possible issues that could affect or hurt the hands. This can result in not being able to properly use the wheelchair and cause mobility issues while sitting in the wheelchair.

Stopping a manual wheelchair is not difficult and is something everyone will need to learn how to do when using a wheelchair. Being able to properly slow or stop in a wheelchair helps keep the user safe and gives the ability to properly navigate slopes and ramps when needed.

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About ASmith

Adam Smith is the main researcher and contributor at Mobility Medical Supply. Adam has many years of research in public data, and software security. With Mobility issues within Adam's family, he decided to dedicate in-depth guides on mobility products to anyone looking to improve movement and gain independence.