Self defense for wheelchair bound individuals is somewhat more complicated than for the average ambulatory person.  While an ambulatory person has the ability to run away if there comes a chance for escape from an attack, a person confined to a wheelchair is very likely to have a greater difficulty escaping a situation.  However, despite these additional challenges, there are several effective techniques for self defense that can be used by individuals that happen to be wheelchair bound for self protection. 

  1.  Be mentally prepared.  Whether you have been confined to a wheelchair for your entire life, or you have recently had a catastrophic injury requiring you to use a wheelchair, being prepared to protect yourself in the event of an attack is critical.  A person in a wheelchair may be viewed as more vulnerable and perhaps an easy mark for an attacker.  Learning about self defense and adaptations related to having physical limitations is imperative.  The key to self defense is to be able to create an opportunity to escape.  Whether you are in a wheelchair or not, being vigilant and prepared can mean the difference between life and death, or safety and serious injury.
  2. Focus on your own personal physical strengths. It is possible to stay very physically fit, even if you are confined to a wheelchair.  The higher your own level of strength and fitness, the better able you will be to protect yourself against an attacker.  Martial arts classes that are specialized for wheelchair bound individuals can help to train you in methods of physical self defense.
  3.  Invest in a pepper spray product for personal protection.  Small canisters of pepper spray can be purchased and easily carried in a pocket or handbag.  A quick spray in the face of an attacker can be extremely effective in preventing or stopping an attack.  The burning spray will leave any assailant in extreme pain for approximately 45 minutes, hopefully allowing you to escape the situation.
  4. Use a personal alarm.  Electronic pocket whistles are available that will give off an extremely loud, shrill sound and alert anyone within a fairly wide radius.  Ideally, this will cause the attacker to flee the situation and also alert passersby that you are in a potentially dangerous situation.
  5. Try carrying a stun gun.  Stun guns are non-lethal personal protection devices that deliver an electric shock to an attacker, temporarily disabling them.  They are small and can be held in the palm of your hand or easily concealed in a pocket.  Today’s stun guns often are designed to resemble cell phones or cameras, rather than actual guns. Using this method is extremely effective and should allow you time to get away. 

Wheelchair bound individuals need to learn to use all of their personal strengths to defend themselves from attack.  Using verbal strategies to “buy time,” doing everything possible to not be knocked from your wheelchair and made even more vulnerable, and using any self defense, martial arts or survival techniques you can will help to protect you during any type of physical altercation.