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Winter Can Be Challenging to Disabled

Some tips for taking care when weather turns harsh

SATURDAY, Jan. 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Getting around in the winter can be a daunting task for the disabled. Every condition -- including freezing temperatures, ice, snow and low wind chills -- can present a new set of challenges.

For those who must go out during freezing or below freezing temperatures, it's important to retain heat in your body.

In addition to wearing the layers of clothing recommended for anyone braving the elements, wheelchair users should wrap a small lap blanket around the legs and pelvic region, tucking it underneath to maintain heat to the stomach and lower extremities. If using a van or car with mobility driving aides, make sure the vehicle is warmed up ahead of time so the adaptations are fully functioning.

Ice, sleet and rain can be particularly hazardous for those who use mobility aides for walking. Wheelchair users are urged to purchase pneumatic tires for better traction in the winter months. For those on a tighter budget, standard dirt bicycle tires are a good alternative. Have your ramps cleared by using table salt or cat litter, and if using a cane, walker, fore arm cuffs or a wheelchair, you might want to wear gripper driving gloves to keep your hands from slipping on the metal parts.

When you return home, check your feet, pelvic areas and hands for circulation problems, as those in wheelchairs may have limited feeling in these areas. And be sure to wipe down tire rims and other metal parts that may have salt or other de-icing chemicals on them so they don't rust.

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SOURCE: The Disabled Living Foundation
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