Finding a facility that is fully accessible with an educated staff can be found through organizations that serve women with disabilities. Physical limitations should not prevent you from having breast screening.
I have had several mammograms. I can understand why this procedure can be intimidating for someone that has mobility issues. Let me reassure you that screening is possible with a disability. I have made a list of tips that I hope will help make breast screening easier for someone in a wheelchair (and encourage you not to miss your annual exam).
When you schedule your appointment, let the staff, radiology technicians, or radiologist know if you can/cannot:
- Sit upright with or without assistance.
- Lift and move your arms.
- Transfer from your chair/scooter.
- Undress/dress without assistance.
When preparing for your mammogram, remember:
- Wear a blouse that opens in the front.
- Wear a bra that you can remove easily.
- Do not wear deodorant or body powder.
If you have any disability-related concerns, discuss them with your primary care physician, women’s health specialist, radiologist, physician’s assistant or other healthcare professional. They can be a wealth of knowledge and may provide useful tips.
For some disabled women, doing these things can be very difficult. Mammograms can be taken while seated in your wheelchair. However, you need enough upper body balance to allow the breast to be put on the plate. Also, some wheelchairs can’t get close to the machine, particularly if the footplates or armrests can’t be removed. If you have concerns about the mammogram machine accommodating your wheelchair you may request a visit to the clinic to see firsthand what obstacles there may be. Together, you and staff can problem solve for your screening day.
If you have issues with torso balance, or spasticity, consider these tips to help with the procedure:
- Velcro fasteners can help immobilize limbs or torso long enough to get a good image.
- Request two technicians to help with positioning. You can request this prior your procedure.
- Take a family member or caregiver with you for additional support.
None of this is glamorous. Despite the challenges, mammograms are well worth your time and effort. Don’t let your physical limitations keep you from having your annual mammogram.
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0718/0684