Back when I was just starting college, I decided I wanted to learn how to play the electric guitar. Unfortunately, when I tried to hold a guitar, I found that my wheelchair's armrest on my left side was always in the way. At first, when I started to play the guitar, I'd have someone remove the armrest on the left side of my chair. However, being use to the armrest there, I'd find myself very nervous about falling out of the chair, and it was quite a struggle to remove and re-attach the armrest. To remove the armrest, you had to push two buttons and lift the armrest at the same time. This removed the entire armrest including the side of the chair. To put the armrest back on, you had to hold the two buttons while lining the armrest up with the poles on the side of the chair, and slide them back in place. This was not going to work if I wanted to take classes on how to play the guitar, so I had to come up with another solution. That is when I had the idea for flip up armrest.
My solution was to attach a piano hinge to the armrest of the chair, so that when I wanted to move the armrest out of the way, I simply flipped the armrest up. When I needed the armrest to lean on, I could easily put the armrest down myself. This simple solution I found not only allowed me to hold the guitar to play, but worked so well for giving me more mobility, that even though I no longer regularly play the guitar, I still have these modified armrest on my new wheelchair. I find that when I am painting, or need to pull up close to a table, it is often nice to flip the armrest up and out of the way. When I am riding in a van or need the extra support, it helps to have the armrest to lean upon. The biggest benefit however is when I am being picked up out of my wheelchair. Before, my body would often painfully press into the armrest when someone tried to pick me up. I would sometimes get caught on the armrest, causing the person to have to sit me back down. Now, when I am being lifted, the armrest flip up out of the way allowing a caregiver to lift me without the armrest being in the way.
It should be noted that this will not work for all wheelchair armrest. My wheelchair is a little peculiar in that I have larger than average armrest and that I am physically rather small for my size chair. I would also not recommend this for someone who leans very heavily on their armrest or needs the armrest for supporting their body.
saw or metal snips
4 screws and 2 nuts
Step 1: Step 1: Remove current armrest and measure
Most armrest are held on by two screws on the underside of the armrest. If your armrest is not held on by screws and is a permanent fixture of your wheelchair, this modification may not be possible. Carefully remove the screws holding your armrest to the chair. Hold on to the screws in case you need to return your chair to it's prior condition.
Measure the length of the supporting pole that the armrest was bolted onto and the length of the armrest.