How do you survive the long flight to Japan if you're paralyzed?

  • How do you survive the long flight to Japan if you're paralyzed?

    Posted by Miykael on January 25, 2018 at 8:46 am

    I would love to fly to Japan, but the flight alone would be 18 hours! I’ve never flown before, but I’ve heard that you can’t sit in your wheelchair and that you have to sit in a regular seat. i don’t know how that would be possible for me if the flight last for hours on end. When I am in my wheelchair, I have to lean back to provide pressure relief to my bottom. If I don’t I could develop an bedsore. How do you do that on a plane? Has anyone ever had experience doing pressure relief on a long flight before?



    Josh Grisdale replied 6 years, 3 months ago 6 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • Josh Grisdale

    January 25, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Hi Miykael,

    Yup, its true, you must use a regular seat in the plane.

    While I am not paralyzed, my bottom certainly gets sore – that is the biggest hassle for me.  My last trip I tried using an inflatable travel cushion like this one: Inflatable Seat Cushion by Vive

    While it wasn’t perfect, it was better than nothing…

    The other thing I found that helps is getting a sleeping pill from your doctor.  It has really helped me get through long flights!

  • Accessible Japan

    January 25, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Do you have any tips @Kamil or @maria?

  • maria

    January 25, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Hi! Well, I’m afraid I cannot help a lot. Unfortunately, there are no many things (at least that I know) you can do during a long flight. You just have to endure it. Things like cushions that Josh mentioned, can help you a little, but I cannot think of something else :/ You can lean the back of your seat a little bit, and sometimes the plane seats have footrests. However, as I neither am paralyzed, I don’t know what your needs are, and thus I cannot help a lot. Either way, I would recommend, if that would be possible, to try a shorter flight as your first plane-trip, so that you could have an idea of how things are when you are in a plane, without pushing yourself too much.

  • Kamil

    January 25, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    Hi! I will agree with everything Maria said. What I can add is that you could maybe try instead of flying a direct flight of 18 hours, to do it with one or two stops if possible. Your overall trip will be longer though. What I also did, was every some minutes to ask my assistant to move me a bit. I think it helps.

  • Miykael

    January 26, 2018 at 12:22 am

    Thanks for the replies. I guess I could fly from Georgia to California first, then from California to Japan. That would almost split the trip in half. I could also bring my wheelchair cushion with me. I would still have to do pressure reliefs though. The only way that I can think of is to either lean forward and touch my toes, or to lean sideways onto the seat beside me. It would be a real hassle though. I read that there are some people fighting for their rights to sit in their wheelchair on the plane. That would be wonderful. Unfortunately many people don’t think the airlines will go for it. It really wouldn’t be that hard just to have tie downs installed similar to the ones that are in handicap vans. I wish the airlines would come through on this. I think I’ll look into supporting the people that are fighting for it.

  • Josh Grisdale

    January 26, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    I agree that splitting up the flight is a good idea.  You would also get to visit California!

    If you sit near the bulk-heads, you have room in front of you to stretch etc.  In a middle-seat, the seat in front of you is very close.  If you are rich, you could lay down in first-class!  That is my dream…

    Also, there is an on-board wheelchair for helping people get to the toilet.  You need to ask the cabin attendant to get it and it is very small, but transferring to it and going for a “walk” to the toilet (even if you don’t need to go) would at least help you change your position a few times.

    I also would love to use my wheelchair on the plane, but there are so many types of wheelchairs I’m not sure how they could standardize the lock-downs… but, yes, lets support them!

  • John

    February 12, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    Firstly, there is no way that a wheelchair user is ever going to be allowed to stay seated in his/her chair in an aircraft for primarily safety reasons (turbulence can be nasty), and secondly the width of the aisles would mean that a special area would have to be found in an already tight cabin.

    On long flights, I always sit on my RoHo cushion, and try to change position frequently. If you can afford it, and depending on the airline(s) and your travel agent’s skills, you may be able to arrange a business class seat (which converts to a lie-flat bed). If you advise them of your details and needs at the time of booking, you will find that most airlines are helpful. They can arrange appropriate accessible seats, lifting devices or slide boards to assist in getting you into/out of your seat and the special narrow aisle chair used to transport you into and out of the aircraft, and to the (small) on-board toilet. Your chair will be safely stowed in the aircraft hold as no charge checked-in luggage, and brought for you at the destination. The airline will usually organise assistance at both your departure and destination airports to help with immigration and luggage retreival. The previous suggestion to break the journey into two, preferably with an overnight stop in a hotel to allow you to get horizontal for a rest, is good advice.

    The seat guru website is very helpful in comparing different airlines and their aircraft. Just select an airline, then click on the aircraft you were considering flying on, and you are then offered a diagram of the numbered seating plan with details of good and bad seats. You can also see details of seat pitch (how much room you have from the backrest to to the back of the seat in front), as well as how far the backrest reclines. Different arcraft (and particularly different airlines) can vary quite a bit, which impacts on your comfort….so comparing can definetly help before you decide. There are also many comments from passengers on their experience in that seat/aircraft/airline which can also be helpful.

    Hope that helps.

  • Josh Grisdale

    February 12, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    @Sleeka – thanks!  Had never heard of seat guru – will definitely check them out!

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