By Rae Steinbach
A physical therapist doesn’t merely help someone recover from an injury or accident by improving their mobility. Physical therapists also pay attention to the emotional experiences of those with whom they work.
For instance, people who have recently begun to use wheelchairs often struggle with depression. Their inability to live a fully independent life can result in negative self-talk. Ideally, a physical therapist working with such a patient would notice their mood and identify ways to provide support.
Marla Ranieri of BetterPT further emphasizes this point, sharing that, “Being able to integrate a person back to their community and social activities physically and mentally is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a physical therapist. We provide them the tools they need to enjoy life again.”
Offering fashion tips such as these is one way they can help. Liking what they see in the mirror can help those in wheelchairs start to feel more confident in themselves and their appearance. The problem is, a person who isn’t accustomed to using a wheelchair may struggle to dress well if this experience is new to them.
That doesn’t need to be the case. If you’re a physical therapist working with patients in wheelchairs, help them be more fashionable by offering this key advice:
Wear a Stylish Belt
Long dresses or jackets that look impressive when a person wearing them is standing can get bunched up when a person is sitting down. Luckily, someone in a wheelchair can still enjoy these types of garments. They simply need to add a belt or waistband to the outfit. This smooths out tops and creates a more tailored look.
Choose Form-Fitting Clothing
Again, wheelchair users can wear longer dresses and jackets if they wish. It may even be advisable. Longer tops create the illusion of a longer torso.
That said, wheelchair users need to make sure their tops aren’t too loose. Too much fabric will look boxy when the person wearing such garments is seated. It’s smarter to choose form-fitting clothing. Additionally, excess fabric can get caught in wheelchair components, making it difficult for a person to easily use their wheelchair.
Display Your Shoulders
Dressing to impress is a lot easier for wheelchair users than some may realize. It’s often as simple as wearing a shoulder-baring top. This is a subtle but effective way to make an outfit a bit more daring.
Don’t Overlook Accessories
Learning how to adjust your personal style appropriately if you’ve recently begun using a wheelchair is a process. Although the advice you give patients will help, there are still likely to be instances when they’re not happy with the way a certain outfit looks.
Encourage them to accessorize when this happens. Adding the right accessories can transform a dull outfit into something much more remarkable. Consider recommending a summer subscription box or one that coincides with the approaching season. That way, your patient is sure to have new accessories and styling pieces that excite them throughout the year.
Again, these are important points for physical therapists to keep in mind. You have the chance to help people in wheelchairs feel much more confident. Providing this type of advice will help.
Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing for Jetty.