Being able to load a wheelchair is the final touch to being independent, however if not done correctly it can cause long term damage to the shoulders which will ultimately take away independence. Lifting the shoulder above 90˚ and twisting the shoulder while carrying a heavy weight should be avoided.
The size, shape and weight of the wheelchair, compared with the space that is available to get it into the car, along with the strength and function of the individual will affect how it is done. The smaller and lighter the wheelchair, and the larger the space inside the vehicle, the easier it becomes. A smaller space requires a slow controlled movement to manoeuver the chair past the steering wheel which puts more strain on the shoulders. Where more space is available, momentum can be used to swing the chair through; this helps to reduce the strain. A coupé with an open roof is a great solution.
A folding frame chair with the wheels on can be rolled over the driver’s lap, this reduces the weight that needs to be lifted.
Practice makes perfect.
First the loose items such as wheels, backrests, cushions, etc. must be removed and placed in the vehicle. While doing this some people prefer to keep their feet out of the door to improve their stability, while others keep their feet inside the vehicle. The door can be used to support the wheelchair once the wheels have been removed.
Where a person has poor balance they may need to stabilise themselves with their left hand, holding onto the steering wheel , roof handle or passenger seat while pulling the wheelchair into the car.
A key to getting the wheelchair in, is pushing the driver’s seat back, and reclining the back rest to make maximum space for the chair to get past the steering wheel. It can be maneuvered through at different angles.
Examples of storage positions in the car: