I'll Never Fall over Backwards!
(Note: It's 2015 and in 14 years I've averaged going over backwards in my wheelchair about two times a year. Now, back to 2001...)
I wouldn't have believed that this was possible. Even as I saw it being done for the first time I kept saying: "You gotta be kidding! That's impossible!" Of course, it isn't. Here's proof. You can actually fall over backwards in a wheelchair and if you have your wheelchair seatbelt on and have good upper body strength, you can actually get back to an upright position while you're still in the wheelchair. Consult your doctor before trying this. Chances are you will be taught differently because your injury is likely to be different than mine!
Let's start with me on my back. My seat belt was, of course, already buckled. I tighten the seat belt so that my bottom is snug against the chair seat. I arrange my legs and feet in as normal a position as possible - preferably on the foot rests. I engage my wheel-locks. (Don't call em "brakes") I make sure I have enough room to come upright.
I reach up as far as I can and with my left arm grab as close to the front right wheel as possible and pull my shoulders up as far as possible. This enables me to rest on my right elbow.
I try to grab a little closer to the right front wheel which is closer now because I am up on my right elbow. I pull with my left arm again and raise myself so that I can support myself on my right hand with my right arm straight.
I regrasp closer to the right front wheel and pull my shoulders closer to that front wheel. I also push with my right arm which I sort of hop on so that my right arm gets closer and closer to the back wheel. At this point the back of the chair is actually beginning to lift off of the floor.
Eventually I push my upper body up and over the back wheels far enough so that I then start falling forward in the wheelchair. In doing so, the wheelchair comes upright. I try to catch myself with my left arm so that when the front wheels touch the floor I don't get thrown forward onto the floor.
Success! Once I'm back on my wheels I have to push myself back up to a sitting position. I have to do that with my arms my "sit up" stomach muscles don't work. I always feel sort of surprised that I can get back up while still in the wheelchair. Ah, but the best is yet to come.
My physical therapists and occupational therapists always gave me a hug when I was successful - something for which old men are especially appreciative! They were all extremely knowledgeable professionals, super therapists, and absolutely wonderful human beings. I love 'em all! (Still do, even after 15 years.)