Living With Polio

Keeping Mobility Equipment Together

A few months ago I flew to the east coast for a cruise and needed to take both my scooter and manual wheelchair. The problem was that both “vehicles” had loose parts and I was worried that something would get lost in the baggage compartment during the flight.

My scooter has two parts that come off easily – the basket in front and the crutch holder in back. The wheelchair has 6 removable parts: two footrests, two armrests, and two skirt guards. Both vehicles would stay with us until we boarded the plane. The wheelchair would be carrying a CPAP and small luggage; the scooter would be carrying me.

I thought about a lot of different methods to keep the parts together. We needed procedures that could be done rapidly as soon as we got up to the plane. We would have to very quickly be able to dismantle and tie up the loose parts so as not to keep people behind us waiting. Even though wheelchair users are allowed to board early, there isn’t a lot of time to play around with equipment.

At first I thought of using bungee cords to tie down the parts. But bungees aren’t always a sure thing; the ends can come unhooked. After shopping around I bought stretch cords with carabiner hooks. These hooks can only be opened manually by pushing in on the movable part. Now I just had to determine what to do with the loose parts.

The scooter was easiest to figure out. I placed the crutch holder partially inside the basket and put both on the floor of the scooter. Then I wound the 24″ stretch cord in and around both items and then around the tiller at the front of the scooter. The carabiner hooks were then locked to each other, which held the two pieces snugly in place on the floor.

With the wheelchair, we left the armrests and skirt guards in place. We folded the wheelchair so the seat went downward and created a pocket for the footrests to lie in. Then we wound the 36″ stretch cord very tightly around the whole seat, including armrests and skirt guards, and latched the carabiner hooks to each other. This made it impossible for any part to slip out. The wheelchair procedure took a lot more strength than the scooter, so my friend got that job. Before we left home we practiced the procedures a lot of times until we got the whole operation down to a science.

I got gate tags for both “vehicles,” but fortunately, there was space onboard for my manual wheelchair. As always, the scooter went into the baggage compartment but no parts were lost.

© 2000-2008 Grace R. Young

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Assistive Devices