​Wheelchair Maintenance & Repairs

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on March 22, 2021 # Mobility

Maintaining your wheelchair is obviously very important. It's how you get around, and repairs are going to be needed just like a car. Zack, my son, is a C-4 quadriplegic. He was injured over a decade ago. I didn't know a thing about wheelchairs. I literally thought they were all the same. It's embarrassing how uneducated I was about anything to do with spinal cord injuries (SCI) or other illnesses that left you a wheelchair user. Now ten years post-injury, I have lots of knowledge, tips and stories.Zack having his wheelchair repaired

Zack was almost 16 and close to getting his driver's license when he was injured at the beach. Driving was a huge goal of his. When the time came, he felt ready for the process began. It took about two years. I'm happy to say Zack has now been driving a hand control wheelchair van for a little over a year. It has been both wonderful and scary at the same time. Recently Zack was involved in a small accident when he overcompensated while re-parking. He pulled back too far and hit the parked car behind him. Then he pulled forward out of panic and hit a small tree with the front of his car, knocking it down (the tree ended up being replanted and fine), but it definitely shook him up. I'm glad no one was injured.

I think the hardest part was waiting to hear from the owner. He had to wait two full days because he didn't know who the vehicle belonged to. We left a note on the car. I could imagine their reaction when they came out to go somewhere and saw their vehicle was not drivable. Fortunately for Zack, the lady was a kind person, but it was a bit stressful until we heard back from someone. This was Zack's first accident. It was a learning experience, especially about deductibles, rental cars, estimates and repairs.

Zack is 26, so he handled the insurance company's calls and navigated his way through the repair process. It's never a good time for a car accident, but that's life. About the same time as the fender bender, Zack's older wheelchair van ramp broke! We now need both vans repaired. With two vehicles in the shop, why not add in his wheelchair! Yep, that also required a repair. To keep with the flow of three things being repaired, let's add in Zack's commode chair brakes. When they break, it's like trying to push one of those really bad shopping carts, and when we lift him, the chair would move forward or come up with him. When it rains, it pours! One step at a time. Keeping up with the maintenance and repairs sometimes feels endless, yet I am truly grateful for Zack's things that keep him able to go and do things. It's all just part of Lovely Wheelchair World!

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.