I start by removing my wheelchair footrests

How I use our Treadmill with my Wheelchair

Since I am now paraplegic, I cannot use our home treadmill for walking exercise. But I figured out how to get some exercise out of it anyway. To start with, I sit at the front of the treadmill in my wheelchair, facing the treadmill. I remove my wheelchair footrests so I can sit closer to the treadmill.

I sit facing the front of the treadmill, feet on the belt.

I set both of my feet on the treadmill surface and then fiddle with the Treadmill controls until I finally get it started. I use the treadmill at one mile per hour - the lowest speed setting.

My feet are pulled away from me when the treadmill starts

I start the treadmill moving and it pulls my legs out straight - away from me. My heels will drag on the treadmill surface until I do something.

I alternately lift and lower each leg.

I put a hand under each leg just behind the knee and alternately lift my legs. (one hand per leg) As I pick up each leg my foot automatically comes back toward the wheelchair. I lower the leg to the surface of the treadmill and it moves the leg away from me.

The motion is like walking backwards

Alternately lifting my legs makes it appear as if I am "walking backwards" on the treadmill. While it is easy for me to lift each leg once or twice, the exercise is quite strenuous if I continue it for a long period. My heart gets up to an aerobic level and my arms eventually feel like they are burning. I take one-minute rests frequently. During the rests I put my feet on each side of the treadmill - off of the moving surface.

The purpose is not only aerobic exercise, but also movement of my legs, which otherwise get moved very little. The leg movement encourages better circulation and joint movement (they get really stiff over time). It doesn't sound too important until ten years later when problems develop if you haven't vigorously moved your limbs.