What use is a wheelchair

DRS survey on wheelchair care: the results

In spring 2014, the German Wheelchair Sports Association (DRS) started a survey on wheelchair supply. Until then, 66 percent of the participants did not even know that they were entitled to be instructed in the use of their wheelchair. This and other survey results call for more educational work.

When the first wheelchair is approved, that is a fundamental step in terms of freedom and self-determination. But basically only half the battle. The other half is learning how to use the new vehicle safely. After all, what use is the best wheelchair if you can't get over thresholds with it, if you put under the wrong load when driving or transferring or if you don't know what to do with the smallest breakdowns?

In order to be able to move safely and mobile through everyday life with the wheelchair, the DRS recommends at least one training in the following skills:

Driving techniques

  • Proper driving
  • Slow down
  • To steer
  • Balancing on the rear wheels (tipping)
  • Transfer techniques

Technical handling

  • Attaching and removing the rear wheels
  • Folding or folding up
  • Care and maintenance
  • Check the air pressure and inflate the wheels
  • Handling the footboard

But not all new wheelchair users have mastered the techniques and are so familiar with the new aid that it is sufficient for everyday use. "The DRS survey conducted last year on the topic of 'Introduction and training in the use of the wheelchair' showed that less than half of the respondents received such instruction," said Lotta Czygan in her report. In it, on behalf of the DRS, she advocates training in the use of wheelchairs as part of mobility training, unless an initial rehabilitation in clinics has already provided the knowledge and the necessary skills. The mere briefing by authorized dealers is not enough.

This statement is based on survey results, according to which only a part of the most important techniques could be learned in the instruction by employees of a medical supply company. The duration of the training is significantly shorter here compared to mobility training.

"Training in use is important in order not only to get the basic wheelchair techniques explained, but also to actively learn and train them," writes Lotta Czygan. The specially trained staff also make a major contribution to good training. In order for those affected to request such training from the responsible rehabilitation provider, educational work is necessary.

According to their own information, only 2.1 percent of the participants in the survey were informed by their health insurance that they were entitled to this briefing as part of the wheelchair delivery. 11.4 percent found out about it through their medical supply store, 68.1 percent said they had not received any information about it. In addition to the health insurances and the service providers, the DRS also sees the duty of doctors who prescribe a wheelchair to be.

Relevant judgment

33 para. 1 sentence 4 SGB V (health insurance) expressly stipulates that the “training in use” includes the approval of an aid. In August 2014, the Oldenburg Social Court reaffirmed this requirement by obliging a health insurance company to cover the costs of the mobility course for a three-year-old child, including the right to one parent taking part. In the case it was a five-day course (S 6 KR 412/12).

Questions, suggestions & your opinion