Drop The Wheelchair Side Arm - This little known tip can save the day and open the door to the possibilities!

Drop the wheelchair side arm

see the possibilities.

Drop the wheelchair side arm down if you are stumped with your transfer! Did you know you could drop that side arm to create more room? Of course you can! and, when you know how or even know you can, it's like taking a fence out of the roadway! Now, your transfers become easier, even actually do-able!

I learned this trick back in physical therapy school but I've gotta tell you that I forget it sometimes. I get so wrapped up in the end goal that I get blind sighted. I don't want this happening to you so here's the scoop...

Most wheelchairs these day will have removable side arms. You can either drop the wheelchair arm or completely remove it.

If you have a cave man wheelchair from your great great grandmother or if you wheelchair is actually a transport chair, or a power chair etc... the removable options can change.

drop down.

Most newer wheelchairs allow you to drop the wheelchair side arm down. A simple black lever at the base of the front of the side arm swivels left or right. This releases the arm to be able to be pulled up and swiveled back and dropped down to the back.

By removing the wheelchair arm (by drop down or slide off) you remove a huge obstacle for transfers.

A note of caution, however, the large wheelchair wheel sits higher then the seating surface in a traditional wheelchair. Be sure to take this into account with any transfers. It is an obstacle, however, a smaller one than the chair arm!

Many times patients have increase skin breakdown on their back sides or more vulnerable to tears here. A quick transfer from bed to wheelchair with no regards to the no exposed wheel can injure a patient if not tear delicate skin.

Whether you drop the wheelchair side arm or slide it off (see below) you will create more transfer room and a much easier transfer.

When you are done with your transfer, simply swing the arm back in place and pressing firm in order to engage the lock system.

The picture below (coming soon)shows how this works.

Ironically, for those who are lucky enough to read this before I get the image up, I went to photograph this on a very new wheelchair I have and found fixed arms - so, some of the arms still are not detachable!

slide off.

Some wheelchairs allow you to push a button near the same location of the swivel noted about. Instead of dropping the wheelchair side arm down, this arm actually comes all the way out of its holders.

Remember that a wheelchair arm that has been removed exposes the top part of the larger wheel. Be sure your transfer provides for enough clearance to save your patients back side from hitting it.

When you are done with your transfer, simply slide the wheel back into the holders and press gently until you hear a click or can visualize that that button has locked in place.

Getting that side arm out of the way opens a whole new door of possibilities for navigating in and out of your wheelchair. Always be sure the breaks are locked and be sure you angle of transfer is correct for optimal safety!


Drop the wheelchair side arm for smooth wheelchair to car transfers.

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