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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Better Way to Wash Hair in a Wheelchair

OK, I admit it: I'm a genius! Remember this rather precarious position the OT had tipped Bob's wheelchair in before she began his neck stretching exercises?

Well, I was thinking about that and then I wondered: could I do this at the kitchen sink when I wash Bob's hair??? hmmm...

For over the past year, I have been washing Bob's long hair by backing his wheelchair up to the kitchen sink and placing one of those U-shaped basins around his neck. I have a rubber shower hose connected to the sink faucet. This method usually leads to more water on the floor, and on Bob and on me than in his hair.... Always a frustrating chore.

Especially now with his head drop problem, hair washing had turned into a nightmare....

So the other day, I tried tipping his wheelchair at the sink. And do you know what? It worked!! ha ha!

I can't believe no one told me this trick before.

If you are thinking about trying this, here's step-by-step directions:

1. Disengage the anti-tip wheels (if you have them) either my flipping them up or removing them.

2. Back up the wheelchair in front of the sink. Judge the distance. You want the top of the back of the headrest/backrest firmly on the sink edge.

3. LOCK THE WHEELCHAIR BRAKES BEFORE YOU TIP THE CHAIR!!! This is important, or the wheelchair will slide out.

4. Once you've locked the brakes, standing at the side, with two hands, one on each of the handles, slowly pull the wheelchair backward toward the sink until it rests on the edge.

NOTE: You cannot do this with an unoccupied wheelchair. It's the weight of the person that keeps the wheelchair in place.

And there you have it. A much easier way to wash hair at the sink in a wheelchair. We've done this twice now and the last time, Bob stayed completely dry (except, of course, for his hair!). And, an extra added bonus, I can do his neck stretches while washing his hair. And here I was worried about finding the time for them.

OK, I'm feeling mighty proud of myself for figuring this one out.


Grace Carpenter said...

You go girl!

Anonymous said...

I believe you should be mighty proud of yourself!!!!!! You keep amazing all of us. Hugs, Dan

Helen M said...

As an added measure of safety, if you think it is necessary, maybe placing no-skid blocks in front of the wheels would keep it in place. I suspect the handles are over the edge of the sink and that is what holds it in place?

Rebecca Dutton said...

Ta-da! Caregivers rock.

Linda said...

We washed my daughters hair at the kitchen sink with her hanging on and using the spray attachment. At the moment I vote for dirty hair but all her friends are dropping by for a visit and she was feeling icky.

Diane said...

Helen, it is safer than it looks! ha! I was freaked out at first but gravity is holding the chair back. Plus back of wheelchair is resting on a firm spot... The OT had him in that position for 45 min. without problem. So I tried it myself.... Weird, but it works!

Anonymous said...


My wife (another Diana) was reticent at first but she tried a similar method to wash my hair.It worked well and, like you, she was surprised that no-one had told her before.

Since then (4 years ago)I can now climb stairs and use a conventional shower. The only problem is that, courtesy of a daily dose of simvastatin, I now don't have much hair left.

Best wishes from the UK to you and Bob.


scooterdirect said...

Once again there's not enough words to describe this man. Awesome is about as close as I can get.
Congrats again..
mobility scooters