Every Wheelchair-User’s Fear: Choking

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By: Tiffiny | October 23rd, 2014 @ 10:39 pm | Feature stories |


We’ve covered all different kinds of situations here on our blog, but what about the scary stuff, like choking? A SPINALpedia fan and wife of a quadriplegic recently wrote us about a scary situation recently that happened to her husband.

While home alone, her husband began to choke and at the worse time possible – there was no one around. Fortunately he was able to drink enough water until help arrived, but what if this happens to you? And how can you help someone in a wheelchair who’s choking?

Here are three videos that show how to save someone in a wheelchair who’s choking both quickly and easily, which in a choking situation is a mighty good thing.

Video #1:  Slap the back first

In a training video for caregivers, this video shows how to help someone in a wheelchair who’s choking. First, you should approach the individual and ask if they’re choking, if they cannot answer and it’s obvious that they are, put on their brakes (if they use a manual wheelchair) and yell for help.

After, go behind the wheelchair-user and slap their upper-back five times to see if that dislodges what’s in their throat. And if that still doesn’t work, stand behind the wheelchair-user, reach your arms around their torso and under the breastbone, and pull five times.

Watch: How to deal with a choking wheelchair-user

Video #2: Wheelchair hockey players learn the Heimlich

Everybody’s heard of the infamous Heimlich maneuver, but how do you perform it on a wheelchair-user? The Wheelchair Hockey League of Michigan felt it was important that their players learned, so they brought in an expert to demonstrate how it’s done.

First, lean the wheelchair-user forward and do five back blows. Next, she shows abdominal thrusts, but from the front of the person in case reaching around from behind isn’t possible, which for many wheelchair-users is the case.

And if for whatever reason you can’t get from behind them or from the front, she recommends finding a place on their upper chest frm behind and pressing/pulling there.

Watch: How to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a person in a wheelchair

Video #3:  Get on your knees to do a better job

In this video from Roy on Rescue, a guy who teaches basic first aid techniques online, he shows how to help someone in a wheelchair who is choking when it’s impossible to get them out of their wheelchair.

Roy gives a great tip when reaching from behind a person in a wheelchair – get on your knees so you can grab them easier. This is really what every able-bodied person should do, unless they’re really short, when they reach behind a person in a wheelchair

For manual chair-users, he also shows how you can lean a wheelchair all the way back to the floor so that the user is in a near-laying position to perform chest compressions.

Watch: They’re Choking And I Can’t Get Them Out Of The Wheelchair!

Like a spinal cord injury, choking can happen in an instant. We must always be on our toes. Always be careful when you’re eating and drinking, spinal cord injured-people of the world. This is your first line of defense, and your best one.

Have you had any choking scares in your wheelchair? What happened?

Watch the videos!

- How to deal with a choking wheelchair-user

- How to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a person in a wheelchair

- They’re Choking And I Can’t Get Them Out Of The Wheelchair!

SPINALpedia & Backbones Halloween Wheelchair Costume Contest!

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By: Tiffiny | October 23rd, 2014 @ 6:18 pm | Feature stories |

updated contest graphic

Do you plan on dressing up this year? If so, SPINALpedia and Backbones, another non-profit dedicated to helping people with SCI, are joining forces to put on the biggest wheelchair costume contest the internet has ever seen! And the best part – cash prizes will be awarded to the top 3 photos!

SPINALpedia and Backbones fans get to choose the top three. Prizes, other than the satisfaction of winning, include $100 for first place, $50 for second place and $25 for third place.

Think your costume has a shot? Send a clear photo of your costume (as well as a working Paypal email address to receive prize money) to info@spinalpedia.com. The deadline is November 7th @ midnight, and Facebook fans of these pages get to vote by “liking” the images we’ll be posting the week of Nov. 9th!

Good luck and Happy Halloween from SPINALpedia and Backbones!