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Great Gifts for People in Wheelchairs

Anyone can give a gift. Not everyone can give a gift that helps someone and lets them reach areas of their life they’ve fallen out of touch with. Here’s an array of great gifts for people in wheelchairs that can help tackle problems, enrich lives and bring joy.

gifts for people in wheelchairs

#1 Wheelchair Lights

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Wheelchairs aren’t always highly visible, so consider helping your wheelchair-using loved one by gifting them some wheelchair lights.

The lights attach to either the wheels or the arms of the chair to make the occupier more visible in the dark. Wheelchair lights can give users the freedom to go out at night or in the dark winter evenings if they desire. It’s also an excellent way for them to customize their chair, especially for younger adults and kids who use wheelchairs.

If the wheelchair user would rather not deck out their chair in lights, some Spoke Reflector would do if the wheelchair user would rather not deck out their chair in lights. They’re made for bicycles, but you can also attach them to a wheelchair’s wheel spokes. 

Reflectors are less obtrusive and only work in the darkness, lit up by streetlights or car headlights. Reflectors are typically better for older, less outgoing folks.

#2 Blankets

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Surveys show that people with decreased mobility and wheelchair users participate less in community activities during cold weather. Not only that, but not using their legs much may make wheelchair users susceptible to cold in this area.

Cold legs are far from comfortable, and if the person is paralyzed and can’t feel their legs freezing, it can be dangerous—frostbite is a genuine threat.

You can help your wheelchair-using loved ones to combat both issues by gifting them blankets. It could be a single blanket you know they’ll love if you wish; however, giving them a variety would be wonderful.

A thin blanket, as well as a thick one, would be ideal for fluctuating weather temperatures. Alternatively, you could get them a few color options, so they don’t grow tired of the same old blanket every day.

Consider a blanket bundle for a range of color options to fill out the week.

#3 Wheelchair Cushion

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Most wheelchairs don’t come with ample cushioning on the bottom. This can be hard on the user’s tailbone and other parts of the body. Consider getting your disabled loved one a wheelchair cushion.

There are several types of wheelchair cushions available, so be sure to subtly find out the recipient’s comfort preferences first. Tell them you’re considering buying yourself a cushion for your car or desk, but you don’t know what you like. If they tell you they prefer a firm or soft cushion, you know what to get them.

The Everlasting wheelchair cushion is perfect if they like something soft that they can sink into. It’s memory foam and gel-infused.

For a denser foam, this DMI cushion is excellent at providing support and comfort.

#4 Gloves

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Wheeling yourself around all day takes a toll on the hands. As smooth as it looks, the metal on wheelchair wheels is abrasive and creates friction. This friction can cause blisters and other hand ailments.

Get your wheelchair-using loved one a pair of wheelchair gloves and watch as they have a constant, steady grip on their wheels, while keeping the strain off their hands. Throw in some hand cream so that the skin under the gloves heals nicely and you’ve saved them some moderate daily pain.

These Glofit workout gloves are ideal for this purpose. They’re breathable, grippy, and keep the upper half of the finger free to do other activities.

#5 Hand Massager

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Even with gloves—and especially without them—the hands get tired after a long day of wheeling. A hand massager’s purpose is to help with numbness, carpal tunnel and other hand-related ailments, as well as restore blood flow and relax the muscles.

Although they’re pricey, a hand massager can be a fantastic appliance for any wheelchair user, especially for older people with arthritis or muscle weakness and fatigue. You never know, your gift may be the reason the wheelchair user can go back to knitting or doing crosswords in the evening with their revitalized, comfortable hands.

A cordless electric hand massager is the best way to go, like this one from Entil—its three modes ensure there’s a setting for various preferences. Plus, the heating is comforting, especially on chilly winter evenings.

#6 Wireless Headphones and Music Player

It’s not always practical for a wheelchair user to maneuver around shelves, plucking CDs or books off.

Help an older person go modern, or improve a younger user’s arsenal, by providing a pair of wireless headphones—and a music player if they need it, like an iPod or even a smartphone.

With wireless headphones, the user can listen to their favorite music, podcasts or audiobooks without disturbing anyone else or worrying about getting the headphone wire caught up in their wheelchair.

Ensure you set up a charging station for the headphones at an accessible point in the wheelchair user’s home.

#7 Smartphone

Younger person teachers elderly man how to use a smartphone

Some wheelchair users are housebound, with no regular carer and limited family visits.

This can get boring and give a person cabin fever, but a smartphone can provide a whole new outlet. Set them up on social media, download a few apps they’ll enjoy, let them connect with old friends and receive charming cat pictures right to their inbox every day.

You may have to spend time teaching some to use the phone and showing them how to connect to old friends. It’s worth it in the end—the first time they gush to you about the wonderful conversation they had with their old friend from school, you’ll be overjoyed that you gave them this gift.

#8 Amazon Echo or Google Home

Some people just can’t learn to use a smartphone, or perhaps they have arthritis or another form of limited hand use. Consider getting them an Alexa/Amazon Echo, Google Home, or a similar device.

It’s much easier to teach your loved one a few commands, leave them a list of what their device can do, and let them explore the world that way. They can hear jokes, listen to music, make shopping lists, find out information, all without lifting a finger.

#9 Reacher/Grabber

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A recently wheelchair-bound user may have trouble adjusting to their new height, so consider a grabber tool to help them out.

The grabber can help them reach their tall shelves without reassembling their house and is excellent for picking up dropped objects. It even serves as a decent way to turn off lights.

A grabber is a perfect way to keep some sense of normalcy in the new wheelchair user’s life, especially if they’re older. This way, they won’t need to rearrange their entire home to make objects lower and more comfortable to reach.

#10 Lap Desk

Some desks aren’t particularly wheelchair friendly. They may have too narrow a space underneath to sit at, sometimes they’re too high, and other times there isn’t room for one in the house.

A lap desk is an excellent tool for a wheelchair user who can’t use a regular desk. Here, they can do crossword puzzles, rest a book to read, use a laptop, even eat their meals if they want to have a casual day and skip using the kitchen table.

#11 Travel Pillow

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Long vehicle journeys aren’t the most comfortable when you’re in a wheelchair. While everyone else has tall seats and headrests, wheelchairs are often clipped to the floor on a bus or train with no support from the mid-back up.

A travel pillow lets the user relax their neck, rest their head and even get some sleep on particularly long journeys.

Consider taller neck pillows like the ComfoArray as it’s more supportive and helps keep the neck aligned while the head is at rest.

#12 Neck Massager

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Many wheelchairs don’t have high backs or neck rests. When you’re forced to stay seated with minimal support on your upper back all day, it can hurt.

A neck massager can bring great relief after a day of rigidly holding up your neck and trying not to slouch. They’re simple devices, sometimes resembling travel pillows, that wrap around the neck and operate on one or more vibration settings, being a comfort and relaxation tool in one. 

They’re typically inexpensive, battery-operated, and can easily become part of a wheelchair user’s nightly wind-down before bed.

This Shiatsu neck massager is excellent, from a well-known and high-quality brand.

Consider pairing this gift with a back massager , so the wheelchair user gets relief in more than one area. Neck issues can radiate to other parts of the spine, so you never know where they may be hurting.

#13 Umbrella

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Many wheelchair users have active lives and enjoy getting out of the house and traveling around. Unfortunately, they’re often confined to the house in bad or excessively sunny weather.

As wheelchair users’ hands are busy, they can’t hold an umbrella or parasol for weather relief. If you give them an umbrella that clips to the back of the chair, you give them back some of their freedom in the rainy and warmer seasons. A tool for shelter and shade that they can use hands-free is a wonderful asset to have.

Sport-Brella has an excellent umbrella with a clamp for attaching it to chairs.

#14 e-Pilot

If you love giving significant, lavish gifts, consider getting your loved one an e-Pilot. This is a particularly wonderful gift for former runners, cyclists, or motorists who loved driving fast.

An e-Pilot can also be a splendid gift for someone who has trouble using their hands to wheel themselves manually all day.

The e-Pilot attaches to almost any wheelchair and converts it into a mobility scooter. It features a large front wheel and two smaller back wheels, and it attaches under the wheelchair’s seat.

From the front wheel up, there’s a bar that ends in handlebars. This presents the controls to the user so they can comfortably use them without stretching or exertion.

These contraptions give the wheelchair user the ability to whizz down the streets at up to 50 kilometers per hour. However, if they (or you) would rather take it slow, you can set the e-Pilot to a tamer 20 kilometers per hour top speed.

The Bottom Line

There are tons of meaningful and practical gifts for disabled people, young and old. Any of the ideas above could enrich their life or at least add some practicality.

You know your loved one best—so evaluate their likes and woes and pick the gifts you deem most suitable. Or, send your loved one this list of great gifts for people in wheelchairs and see what they’d like from it.

Cherry is the editor-in-chief of Mobility With Love. She obtained a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and a master's degree in Adapted Physical Activity. Her expertise includes biomechanics, biochemistry, nutrition, disability studies, and so on.

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