The Art of Driving a Wheelchair

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With the debut of the Wheelchair Chronicles Facebook page, I decided to talk about the art of maneuvering in a wheelchair. This is a topic that has intrigued many people who have seen me in my wheelchair. People are “amazed” at how well I ride around in my wheelchair. Well maybe the reason for that is that I’ve had plenty of experience. I and many others who use wheelchairs have turned maneuvering into an art form (yes! that’s right, an art form)

I call it an art because whether you live in the city, suburbs, town, etc. as a wheelchair user you a performing a delicate dance through people, cracked concrete, streets, construction zones, cars, tiny spaces, and let’s not forget the weather, I can list a bunch more but you get the point so I’ll spare you.

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It’s an art form because it takes time and patience to become an actual expert in controlling a wheelchair. When I got my manual chair in 2001 it was hard to maneuver, getting around spaces in my apartment because I was horrible at (still am in some instances) and because I hated being in my wheelchair. When I got my first my power chair 5 years later I met with the same problems and crashing into plenty of walls in the process.

 

As time went on I became better at it controlling both of my chairs through my apartment and through the streets of Chicago. Hell I even started learning a few tricks like quick turns, moving through extremely tight spaces, and even learned the art of drifting (all my racing fans and car enthusiasts know what I’m talking about). Since I got my second power chair  (aka the speed demon) a few months ago I’ve had to relearn how to maneuver all over again because it a lot bigger and faster than my other power chair.

What a lot of able-body people don’t understand is that there’s a process that us wheelchair users have to go through when we’re maneuvering in either are manual or powers chairs or hell both. There’s even a process when setting up are chairs to help us transfer either to our beds, other wheelchairs, etc. So when people are amazed at my ability move in tight spaces without scratching up walls, when I can ride fast in my chair without hitting you on the streets (even though sometimes I really want to) just remember that maneuvering in a wheelchair is a process and an art that in my 12 years I have mastered and I’m still learning.

Justin Cooper

P.S. My new Facebook page to the Wheelchair Chronicles is up so give it a like and tell your friends about it as well. It’s a way for me to connect with my fans. Thanks!

 

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