Wheelchair Transfer (part 2): From Ground To Chair

Getting out of the wheelchair onto the ground is the easy part…   Lifting your body back into the wheelchair requires more muscle power, therefore is somewhat harder.  Regardless of how tough it may seem, I promise it will only get better with time and practice.  Basically, to successfully transfer into the wheelchair from the ground, you’ll need to do exactly what was done to get on the floor, but do it in reverse.  It’s important to remember that the technique is the same.


Start by sitting on the ground with knees to your chest.  (See Below)

If you’re right hand dominant place the wheelchair facing you between 7-8 o’clock. If you’re left hand dominant place the wheelchair facing you between 3-5 o’clock.   I am right hand dominant, so I’ll explain from this perspective.  The wheelchair is at 7-9 o’clock, and you’re knees are at your chest.  Grip non-dominant hand (in this case it’s the left hand) to same side horizontal wheelchair base rail.  Place dominant hand palm down on the ground close to your butt.  (see below)

Once you’re more comfortable, I suggest using your knuckles rather than your open palm.  Although an open palm is more stable through the transfer, it puts your wrist in a strained 90-degree angle.  By using your knuckles, the wrist stays entirely straight at 180-degrees, which will result in less wear and tear throughout time. Next, lift your body’s core by pushing through both arms.  I suggest putting 60-75% of the weight through your dominant hand, which will be on the ground.  The non-dominant hand gripping the wheelchair is used more for stabilization during the lift.  (see below)

Notice how your arms will want to bow outward, which makes it difficult to lift your body weight.  This is the most difficult part about getting into a wheelchair from the floor.  To minimize this, plant your dominant hand on the ground close to your butt/core rather than further away.

Transfer the weight from your arms to the seat edge once your body’s core is high enough in the air.  This should alleviate some weight from your arms.  Then, lift your dominant hand from the ground, while stabilizing your core with the steady gripped non-dominant hand.  Push your core upright with your non-dominant hand, which is still in the exact same place as when we started.  (see below)

If done correctly, you should successfully be back in the wheelchair.  Don’t be discouraged if you’re unable to successfully complete this exercise the first time you try.  It may take some time to condition the specific muscles, but eventually you’ll be able to lift your core with ease.  Practice repeatedly until lifting your weight is not an issue.


If/when you’re able to successfully complete this exercise, I suggest practicing 1,847 more times…. or until the exercise becomes second nature.   It’s extremely important to turn this exercise into a functional daily norm.   What was once called a “wheelchair to floor transfer”, will simply be you “hopping on the ground for a quick second”.  From a psychological perspective, it’s imperative you make this mental transition.  If anything is learned from this blog post, the idea of this mental transition is most important.

Part 3 (Video)

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