Pockets for a Wheelchair

Image of a Two-Pocket Tool PouchA few months ago, a staff member at my dad’s nursing home ordered a batch of pouches meant to be attached to wheelchairs. They’re pretty sleek, but very difficult for my dad and others to use — the external pockets are flat and hard to get into, and the main zipper pocket is difficult to open and close. Worse, the slim lines of the pouch meant that it kept getting lost between Dad and the side of his chair.

Most of the more compact pocket/storage solutions I’ve seen for wheelchairs share these flaws.

I found a better solution at Home Depot. The picture above shows a “2 Pocket Nail & Tool Pouch” made by McGuire-Nicholas. It’s meant to hold tools in the large upper/back pocket, and nails in the smaller lower/front pocket.

At Home Nursing Home Wheelchairs

Alarm Mat for Those Who Stray

Image of a Vinyl Floor Alarm MatAs my dad’s mind and body change, his ability to understand and interpret the changes is diminishing. As a result, falls have become a very serious issue, and a frequent occurrence. Dad has never wanted to ring the call bell for assistance, but now he sometimes forgets to use it, and, occasionally, forgets that the bell exists.

One of these alarm mats is now installed at the entryway to his bathroom — the place where his falls inevitably occur. It’s quite inobtrusive (the color of his carpet is almost identical to the color of the mat), but the alarm is not. There’s no mistaking it for any other sound, and no ignoring it.

It’s quite sensitive; I set it off myself just by stepping accidentally on a corner.

A switch box is mounted out of wheelchair reach on the inside of the bathroom. A slider turns the alarm off, and, when returned to the original position, resets the alarm.

This solution is working well for Dad; the alarm could also be used next to a bed (as in the image above), or across just about any doorway. The mat’s quite thin (especially around the edges), and very ‘sticky’; it’s unlikely to cause tripping.

Available online from Mountainside Medical and various other medical supply houses


Truck-Spotting, Wheelchair-Style

Image of a Man in a Wheelchair Whose Handles are Stuck in the Grille of a TruckHere’s a hazard you probably never considered. The handles on this unidentified fellow’s power chair stuck in the grille of a semi-truck when the two were stopped at a gas station.

Four miles later — after travelling at speeds up to 50 MPH — the truck stopped and the shocked driver realized he had a hitchhiker. Police caught up to the pair just outside of Paw Paw, Michigan.

Add another notch for seatbelt use — the 21-year-old who was in the chair had his latched. He’s uninjured, but it looks as if his cupholder (lower right) didn’t make it.

Games/Recreation Travel Wheelchairs

SF-Area Trails for People Who Use Wheelchairs

GearAbility is back, and the laptop is feeling much better now, thank you. In honor of the summer weather — which is currently rotten on the east coast, but probably lots better in California — today’s post celebrates the great outdoors.

Image of Ann Sieck and Friend on a Wooded TrailBerkeley, California resident Ann Sieck has a website called San Francisco Bay Area Wheelchair Accessible Trails, with a rather comprehensive listing of trails she’s either used herself with various wheelchairs, or which have been rated by other “reliable sources”.

Games/Recreation Wheelchairs

Don’t Try This At Home

Image of the Cast of Malcolm in the MiddleEver watch Malcolm in the Middle? Remember the episode when Stevie runs away and ends up in a grocery cart being pushed through skid row? Remember another one when he doffs his wheelchair and becomes a luge-street-racer?

That was nuffin’, parents. Check this out, and then go and padlock your kid’s wheelchair:

World’s First Wheelchair Backflip

Yeah, I know — I should have titled this post ‘When Paraplegia Is Not Enough’.

Malcolm photo via

At Home DIY Everyday Gear Home Modifications Wheelchairs

Building a Skinner Air Crib

Image of a Baby Sleeping in a Skinner Air CribI recently wrote about my experiences with B.F. Skinner’s Air Crib (or if you prefer, Baby Boxes). In this post, I’ll share what I remember about how the cribs my daughter and siblings and I used were made.

Clothing Wheelchairs

Review of Khakis for People Who Use Wheelchairs

Image of Seat of Khakis for People Who Use Wheelchairs My dad now owns a pair of khaki pants from, makers of pants for people who use wheelchairs. I’ve written about the company previously, and here’s my review of the actual product:

DIY Home Modifications Wheelchairs

Offset Hinges to Widen Doorways for Walker or Wheelchair Access

Image of Offset HingeThe smallest of my dad’s wheelchairs isn’t especially wide, but it just barely makes it through the kitchen door in our 50 year-old-home. My dad visits us, but if he lived here, the narrow clearance would be a daily inconvenience. Because our walls are lathe-and-plaster, it would be painful, costwise and aesthetically, to widen the doorways by tearing them down.

A less-invasive, easier, and far less expensive alternative is to install offset door hinges. These z-shaped hinges allow the door to swing free of the frame, widening it by approximately 2 inches. They’ll usually replace existing hinges without modification; a little bit of chiseling may be necessary if the plates don’t match perfectly.

You can buy them at Dynamic Living (where you can also read some helpful comments) — local hardware stores may have them in stock as well.

Travel Wheelchairs

EZ Lock to Secure a Wheelchair in a Vehicle

ezlock-bracket.jpgThe son of the previous owners of my dad’s van used a Permobil power wheelchair, and they had installed a Permobil-specific EZ Lock system on the floor of the van. It’s simplicity itself: there’s a bracket on the van floor; a bdocking base attached to the bottom of the power wheelchair clicks into the bracket.

Travel Wheelchairs

Buying a Used Accessible Van – Part 8, Securing the Wheelchair

Image of Wheelchair Vehicle Restraint StrapsIn Parts 1 through 7 of this series of posts, I’ve written about how I found and purchased my dad’s used wheelchair-accessible van. In this, the final article of the series, I explain how we anchor his chair in the van.