Are There Tire Covers For Power Wheelchairs?
For many years RehaDesign has supplied tire covers for manual wheelchairs, called "Wheelchair Slippers". But often we get requests about tire covers for power wheelchairs. For example, Debbie, from the USA contacted us and asked "Will either your Wheelchair Slippers or preferably Mud Eaters work on a power wheelchair? My drive wheels are 14 in diameter and 2.5 in wide."
We explained that Wheelchair Slippers would be easier to adapt to fit power wheelchairs than Mud Eaters, because the Wheelchair Slipper fabric is thinner and easier to sew. We supplied Debbie with a package of Wheelchair Slippers,. Below you see the result: a video of Debbie's handiwork.
RehaDesign: Debbie You contacted us because you needed tire covers for your son-in-law's electric wheelchair. We sent you our regular slippers for manual wheelchairs and you adapted them and made them work on the power chair. How did you do it?:
Debbie: For the rear wheels: The rear tires on a manual chair are bigger in diameter then the motorized wheelchair, by measurement about 4". My first try I cut the slippers open at the seam and cut off 3.5" leaving the extra 1/2" for the new seam. I sewed one and we tried it on the wheel. The weight of the chair caused the slipper to slip with the wheel - it was to loose. I again cut at the seam and removed another 1.5". After sewing a new seam it fit perfectly. I then sewed the other slipper to the finished length of the first.
For the front wheels: These were more work to figure out. Once the first wheel was done, the second wheel was a breeze. The motorized chair front wheels are held on by a fork that goes overtop the wheel. The slipper has to open to be put on instead of being slipped over like the rear wheel. The front wheels are also smaller both in diameter and width.
My first try was to cut the slipper 2" longer then the diameter of the wheel. I then baste stitched a 2" strip of heavy duty velcro onto the overlapping ends. He could then drive into the slipper over the velcro and get it secured. My first try, the slipper was both to long and to wide. His wheel was slipping in the slipper due to the length. The slipper extra width had the side fabric kept catching on the fork of the wheelchair.
To narrow the slipper I rolled the side over so the elastic was inside a slipper tube. Doing this on both sides of the slipper made it over an inch skinnier but kept the elastic functional. I also cut the slipper 2" shorter in length. When I was about to sew the sides at each slipper end, I placed my velcro and sewed it on with the seam. Once everything fit correctly I sewed entirely around the velcro to secure it.
RehaDesign: How did you get the right size?
Debbie: There was lots of trial and error. I used a basting stitch for all first tries so it was easy to take out or redo.
RehaDesign: Was it difficult to make them stay on the wheels?
Debbie: Yes, Patrick's tires are smaller in both in diameter and width. The motorized wheelchair is heavier and moves with more friction on the floor especially in tight turns. I needed to make the slippers tighter to hold them in place through a turn.
RehaDesign: What advice do you have for someone else who wants to try this?
Debbie: Do it! He carries the slippers with him everywhere. It's a nice thing to put them on and not track dirt into a house. It did take time to size the first wheel correctly but the second was easy and very worth it.
Remember, for electric wheelchairs the tire cover must fit snugly so that it stays firmly on the wheel. If the cover is too loose it might slip off. We can not guarantee that this adaptation will work for every power wheelchair. But with the right combination of skill and creativity, it should work for most power wheelchairs.
So, what about the casters, the small front wheels? They are different than the drive wheels, because of the way the fork attaches to the wheel. In most cases RehaDesign's Wheelchair Socks may work on power wheelchair casters if they are not too wide. See this page for more information about measuring your casters for Wheelchair Socks. If you have questions, contact us via our RehaDesign Facebook page.
Have you adapted Wheelchair Slippers to fit your electric wheelchair? If so, please contact us via our RehaDesign Facebook page to let us know about your experience.