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Experts Provide Self-Defense Tips for People Who Use Wheelchairs

People who use wheelchairs need strategies to defend themselves in dangerous and potentially violent situations. At Shepherd Center, recreation therapists counsel patients on self-defense, offering tips provided by WorldClass American Karate in Conyers, Ga. This group is home to the Ameri-Kan karate program for individuals with special needs.

Here are some of their tips:

  • The best self-defense is prevention. Be aware of your surroundings and stay away from areas with a high risk of confrontation.
  • Check around your car before getting in. If you're concerned about someone in or around a car near yours, leave the parking lot and return later or find a security guard or other person to accompany you to your car.
  • Keep aware of wheelchair-friendly exit routes in case you need to leave a situation quickly.
  • There is no guaranteed self-defense aid, such as pepper spray. Nothing works in every situation against every attacker. Be aware that the aid or weapon you have could be used against you.
  • Use your wheelchair as a ram against your attacker's ankles or shins. The pain will cause your attacker to move and give you a chance to get away. Angle to the side to avoid damaging your own feet when you make contact.

For more tips, read this blog by Barton Cutter, a leadership coach, writer and self-defense instructor who has cerebral palsy.

For more information on Shepherd Center's recreation therapy program, click here.


About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.