It is difficult to believe, given how expensive wheelchairs are, that the arms can be damaged so easily. I received a new chair in May of 2008 and within a few months the arms had to be replaced twice. This problem plagued me even with the original chair I received at the rehabilitation hospital. Finally, I decided to replace them myself. I asked my son to cut a one-inch thick piece of lumber the length and width of the arm I was replacing. We then glued a piece of closed cell foam sleeping pad which can be purchased at any store that sells outdoor camping supplies for about $12. We finished the arm off by covering it with Black Duct Tape. When you are done screw the arm back on the frame of the wheelchair using wood screws. Depending on the wear and tear the arm receives the tape may need to be recovered from time to time. Once we took the arms to an upholsterer and had a professional looking cover. From then on we had no problems with the chair arms.
Over the years I have had several different chairs. It seems the arms are attached a little differently on each. When the bolt must go from the top down we drill holes through the wood after marking where the holes in the frame are from underneath. Bolts are placed through a large washer, then through the wood and bolted on the underside using a nylon lock nut. The cell foam is then glued on the arm. When doing the arm this way you cannot access the head of the bolt but if done correctly there is no need to. Finally, apply the duct tape. Several different materials can be used for the arm beside the wood but that is probably the most available and least expensive. In a pinch I have used cable ties to hold an arm on temporarily.
I carry several of the simple tools I use often, such as the Paper Pick Up and the Rope and Hook, on my chair all the time. I use an Armrest Organizer which I purchased from Case Logic who no longer carry this product. I prefer to call it my “male bag".
I have one on each of my chairs. The bag attaches to the arm of the chair using a Velcro strap and hangs down on the outside of the arm out of your way. When you want to use it you flip it on your lap and it lands right side up. It opens very easily. It also contains pills, some money, a whistle, some energy bars, my Emergency Medical Information sheet and a ring pen. Unfortunately, while there are some interior organizational features I am unable to use them.
Contents of male bag: (left to right) Listerine Gel Tabs, eye drops, pill container, small box has supplement for magnet, whistle, energy GU, (back to front) ring pen, Emergency Medical Sheet, trail bar, hook supplement for magnet, washer supplement for magnet and telescoping magnet.