I’ve taken great pride in being a C6 quadriplegic who is able to use a manual chair as my primary chair. There are many reasons why I have preferred using a manual chair. For me, it is much easier to get around places locally. Most of which only meet the minimun requirements for “accessibility.” I’ve also always felt it easier to relate to people I meet, in the manual chair, more so than a power chair.
It hasn’t always been the easier option. One aspect of using a manual chair that can be quite difficult for us “quads” is hills. Most ramps are shallow enough, but it seems inevitable that I’ll be out with friends checking out a new place, or on that first date to the movies, and I’ll have to roll up a hill that’s too steep. For me, Grade Aids have been invaluable.
I originally bought a pair of grade aids because I had a converted mini-van with a slide out ramp, and I needed to be able to drive myself. Driving was easy enough, and so was the transfer from my chair to the driver seat. I just didn’t have enough strength to get all the way up the ramp without rolling back. So it was suggested that I get grade aids.
Grade aids are a simple device that when “engaged” (fancy way of saying you flip tab down) it allows the wheel to roll forward but will stop it from rolling backward. The simple device can be attached by itself or with push to lock wheel locks to almost any wheelchair frame. To engage the grade aids you simple push down on the tab so that the teeth on the underside come into contact with the tire.
When engaged the wheel locks do add extra resistance making it a little harder to to push forward, but allow you to stop at anytime without fear of rolling back down the hill. This greatly reduces the overall effort.
I also use my grade aids as a compliment to my D’s Locks when transfering to add an extra level of stability. The grade aids have been an excellent device for me and may be helpful for you.