94 chapter 5: Taking care of your body
• If you can, try to push or move yourself in a way that bends your hands and
wrists less and puts less pressure on them.
• If possible, ask someone else to push your wheelchair or cart from time to
time, to give your hands and wrists a rest.
• Try to exercise your hands and wrists every hour, by moving them through all
of the motions they can make. This will stretch and strengthen the tendons
and muscles. If exercise causes pain, move slowly and gently.
If your hands and wrists are red or hot, they might be infected. See a
health worker right away.
If you want to use crutches, make sure they
fit properly. When you use crutches, most of
your body weight will be felt in your hands.
So follow the advice on page 93 to prevent
damage to your hands.
If possible, always use elbow crutches to
prevent possible damage to the nerves in your armpits.
But if you prefer or can get only tall crutches, make sure
they do not press up into your armpits. Your elbows
should be slightly bent, and there should be 3 fingers
of space between the crutch and your armpit. If tall crutches press up under your
armpit, in time the pressure on the nerves there can cause paralysis of the hands.
An arm or a leg that has been bent for a long time can get
locked into one position (a contracture). Some of the muscles
become shorter and the arm or leg cannot fully straighten. Or
short muscles may hold a joint straight so that it cannot bend.
Sometimes contractures cause pain.
If you have had contractures for many years, gentle
movement and stretching can prevent the joint from getting
worse. It will be difficult to straighten the joints and muscles
all the way. But gentle exercises can make your joints a little
less stiff and keep your muscles strong.
To prevent contractures and keep your muscles strong, try
to exercise your arms and legs every day. If necessary, find
someone who can help you move different parts of your body.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007