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Serious injuries

International wheelchair day 1st March 2024


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Did you know…

  • There are around 2 million wheelchair users in the UK. That is approximately one in 35 people, and wheelchair users account for around 20% of all disabled people in the UK.
  • The wheelchair is the worldwide symbol for disability.
  • It was the ancient Greeks, who first used a wheelchair to mobilise people who had a lower limb impairment and who could not walk.
International wheelchair day gives us the opportunity to reflect on the huge importance of wheelchairs to those with a mobility impairment.

As a wheelchair user himself, after a spinal cord injury as a teenager, Jonathan Fogerty, associate solicitor at CFG reflects on how his wheelchair means he can lead a fulfilled life after a spinal cord injury.

Jonathan says, “I was only a teenager when I became a wheelchair user. That was over 35 years ago now and, in that time, wheelchairs have revolutionised the lives of many disabled people living with a mobility impairment all around the world.

“A wheelchair when you need it is not just a means of mobility; it is your very independence.

When I first sustained my spinal cord injury, wheelchairs were very cumbersome. They were heavy pieces of equipment that were difficult to push and did not fold easily and there were very limited options around powered wheelchairs for those with a very significant disability.

“Fast forward 35 years, and we have very sophisticated powered wheelchairs, with tilt and recline features and programmable controls that you see daily. These powered wheelchairs mean independence in mobility for people even with a very significant disability.

“My own wheelchair is a manual wheelchair with power assist wheels. It is lightweight and folds easily meaning that I can transport it without fuss in the boot of a car, in the cabin of an aeroplane or easily in my own adapted vehicle. But more widely, we now have wheelchairs that facilitate disabled people accessing the beach, the countryside and of course competing in demanding, competitive wheelchair sports.

“The wheelchair as a piece of equipment is changing all the time; it must, to keep up with the demands and expectations of the lives of disabled people. Where will we be in another 35 years I wonder? What changes will we see to the wheelchair in that time?

“I really don’t know, but what I can be sure of is that wheelchairs are no longer pieces of equipment that restrict disabled people or leave them ‘wheelchair bound’. And I am sure that disabled people will not be confined by them either. Far from confining them, wheelchairs positively free people who need them.

“So, on this international wheelchair day, I would urge you to think about somebody you know who uses a wheelchair and take a moment to think how it may have enhanced their life as a disabled person.”

Jonathan Fogerty is an Associate Solicitor at CFG.

He is a wheelchair user after spinal cord injury as a teenager.

He complains often (generally, to anybody that will listen) and uses social media sometimes; to complain more.

He can be reached at


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