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Assisting People with Disability

Safely providing assistance to other bushwalkers on the track

Providing assistance to other bushwalkers including those with disability can make a trip far more enjoyable for everyone involved. For bushwalkers that use a wheelchair, a little assistance can go a long way to making the track a little easier and allow them to take in the scenery and enjoy the trail.

When providing assistance, do so in a way that is respectful of the person you are providing assistance to and yourself. This means that you must ask the person first before you provide assistance, and how best to do it for them, as well as thinking about how to do it without injuring yourself.

Below we describe a variety of ways that you can provide assistance.

Manual push How to manualy push wheelchairs

Bushwalker assists wheelchair user by pushing their chair.
Good for when sections of the terrain are steep, or the wheelchair user is feeling tired.
Best if there are a few bushwalkers who can take turns assisting.

People who are assisting can push with two hands from behind (less social) or with one hand alongside wheelchair user (more social but wheelchair user needs to correct steering more).

Pros: Less strenuous on the wheelchair user than pushing on their own.
Cons: People who are assisting may find pushing a wheelchair difficult when wearing a full pack, or for extended periods of time – to reduce this adjust pushing handles of wheelchair to a optimal level.

Huskying How to husky a wheelchair

Bushwalkers assist wheelchair user by pulling their chair with a rope. They attach one end of a rope to their waist strap and the other end to the frame of the wheelchair.

Helpful technique for going up and down steep terrain.
When going uphill, people who are assisting pull from in front. When going downhill, people who are assisting pull ropes from behind to slow wheelchair user down.

Pros: Wheelchair user still has control and can contribute a lot in terms of direction and extra power while not busting a gut to do every inch of the trail.
Cons: Works best if there are a few people to assist.

E-huskying How to e-husky a wheelchair

Roping up a manual wheelchair user to another wheelchair user that has an electric power assist device, and both taking advantage of the electric power assist.
Can be used on smooth sections of trails, where both wheelchair users have good control of their chairs.

Use a slip knot when attaching the rope to the manual wheelchair to ensure there is a reliable quick-release. This is so the wheelchair user can disconnect if they want to.

Establish hand or vocal signals so manual wheelchair user can communicate when they need to slow down.

Pros: Manual wheelchair user can still push, but it is a lot easier for them.
Really enjoyable and easy assist for both the person giving e-huskying assistance and for the manual wheelchair user.
Cons: Electric power assist device uses up batteries significantly faster when having to pull two chairs – so bring spare batteries.