Rolling into the New Year: Get your Wheelchair “Back to School” Ready

It is August, which means Back to School time for millions of kids, teens, and young adults. While schools and classes will surely look a lot different this year, there are always lists to complete.

There are Back to School checklists for purchasing school supplies, uniforms, gym clothes and backpacks. Whatever the return to school looks like for you, your child or your student, this is also a great time to ensure your wheelchair is ready for action. Follow some basic steps to be sure you are prepared for the fall. 

Checklist for self-serve Back to School wheelchair readiness

  • Clean AND disinfect all parts of the wheelchair, including wheels, handrims and accessories.
    • Use soap and water and to clean and wipe down all surfaces of the wheelchair.
    • Next, use antibacterial wipes or spray and wipe down all surfaces. Allow to air dry, or follow instructions on the cleaning medium.
    • If you use a cushion or backrest with upholstery, wash the covers if possible (follow directions from the manufacturer) if unable to remove the covers or upholstery, use an antibacterial aerosol spray.
  • Remove hair, fuzz, and dirt from front casters.
    • It will be fantastic to see and feel how improved the chair will roll. If you are unsure how to do this, refer to the user manual from the manufacturer. (should be online if you don’t have a hard copy)
  • Make sure all hardware is tight and present, and all moving parts move correctly.
    • If nuts/bolts/screws are absent, contact the supplier and set up an appointment for a repair.
    • Be sure to have tools on hand if anything needs tightening; refer to your chairs user manual for specific details as required. 
  • Check the tire pressure if they require air, and make sure the tire tread is in proper repair.
    • Check the air pressure (usually written on the tire itself) and pump to proper inflation, the chair will roll better when the air pressure is at optimum level.
    • Be sure tires have ample tread and are not damaged.
  • Make sure that the backpack isn’t too heavy.
    • If your child is self-propelling, it is essential that the backpack not be too heavy, as it will cause the wheelchair to be unbalanced and harder to push.
    • Consider an under wheelchair pouch for necessities and discuss with school ways to eliminate the need to carry too much additional weight.


If you discover the wheelchair needs more complete repair or does not seem to fit properly, now is the time to reach out to your equipment supplier and make an appointment to have it professionally serviced.

As the new school year begins, there will be new goals, new activities, and new experiences waiting. Make sure your wheelchair is up to the challenge!

About Christie Hamstra, DPT, PT, ATP

Clinical Educator

Christie is a Motion Composites clinical educator. She holds a Master of Physiotherapy from Andrews University and a Transitional Doctor of Physiotherapy degree from Oakland University. Through training and conferences, she actively shares her knowledge with future and current industry professionals.