As a user of mobility devices, caring for your back is just as important as ever to reduce pain and enjoy an optimum quality of life. In addition to the treatment plan you have with your doctor and physical therapist, there are a number of steps you can take at home to keep your back as healthy as possible.
First, it is important to ensure that you have a mobility device that fits you properly. A walker or rollator that is too short, or a wheelchair that is not wide enough, may cause you to stand or sit at an angle that puts unnecessary pressure on your spine. Walkers and rollators should generally be at about wrist height when your arms are bent at a slight angle (about 15 degrees) and of a width suited to your measurements. A manual wheelchair, power chair or scooter seat should be wide enough to allow some space between your body and the sides of the chair but not so wide that you find yourself leaning toward the arm rests. At Only Mobility Aids, our wheelchairs range from 18 inches to 24 inch bariatric wheelchairs. Many also come with adjustable arm and foot rests for added comfort.
With wheelchairs, special features and accessories can also increase your comfort level. Wheelchairs and other mobility aids can vary greatly in their amount of padding, types of leg rests, and amount of lumbar support. Reclining wheelchairs are another option some users find helpful in maximizing comfort. There are also various seat cushions and back rests on the market to make your existing wheelchair more comfortable.
Stretching and exercise are also important for users of mobility aids. The type and intensity of the exercise you do will vary according to the specifics of your condition and the type of device you use.
Many users of mobility devices find gentle, modified yoga stretches to be a great way of reducing tension and maintaining flexibility. Breathing exercises and gentle upper body stretches can often be done from the seat of a wheelchair. If you still have some lower body mobility, you may also benefit from some modified lower body stretches with the use of bolsters, blocks, and other props to support you through the poses.
Finally, the position you sleep in at night can affect the comfort of your back during the course of the day. If you sleep on your back, placing a pillow under your knees could alleviate some tension in your lower back. If you are a side sleeper, having a bolster pillow to lean against can provide some extra support.
Consult with your doctor about your choice of mobility device and any exercise routine you plan on starting. Little changes in your daily routine and the size and type of mobility device you use can make a big difference in your comfort and health.