Adaptive Living Tips For People With A Disability31 Mar 2011
I think that everyone who lives with a disability has at least one adaptation that they've created to make their life easier. It's just something that comes natural to living, like second nature after a while.
I know that when I was younger, if I ever broke my right arm, I would teach myself to write with my left, so now I'm ambidextrous, even though I am still much neater writing with my right arm.
I have a shower chair to sit on in the shower and a hand held shower hose so I can control where the water goes while I'm showering.
I have ramps that have been made by my family and friends that assist me to get up and down small steps, and I'm sure there's many other little things that I don't even think about anymore that assist me daily.
I just bought a stool to sit on while I cook and wash up as my back was really starting to ache standing up at the bench for long periods of time, and since I love cooking, not cleaning, I wanted to be able to do this without thinking about my back causing me grief for the rest of the day or night.
Since doing this job, networking with other people with disabilities has become a large part of my weekly duties. I have learnt that there are many different ways that people adapt everyday items to suit their lifestyle. I have included some links to a friend's series of videos that may give you some helpful ideas....
These videos that Mel has created include; doing the washing from a wheelchair, hanging out the washing, cooking and kitchen modifications and driving a car.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1DASQ8azc4&feature=related – Mel's independent living intro
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoMU8h7iTxk&feature=related – Mel's video on washing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugnvXjg3eLk&feature=related – Mel's video on hanging out her washing on a modified clothesline
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_6NeRcCZ-Y&feature=related – Mel's video on cooking
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtcJHimkmlY – Mel's video of her modified wheelchair accessible van
I recently learnt of a fellow wheelchair user's adaptations, she got a bench made up which sits around her toilet, because of an injury, she was unable to transfer from her wheelchair to the toilet, this modification has allowed her to slide straight across, at the same height, from her wheelchair to the toilet, with no gaps in between, so less opportunity for her to fall. Simple things like this can make a huge difference when gaining independence in a disabled person's life.
When I was 19, I had a car accident on my way to work. I ran up the back of a lady who was driving a ute, it was just as we were taking off, so it was at very low speed and there wasn't much damage to my car, and none to hers, but the joys of having brittle bones, caused me to break my poor arm. It was my right arm, which I use to operate the accelerator and brake on my hand control. Because there was no damage, no police or ambulance were called, nor did I want them to be, so I powered on and decided to drive myself home with a broken arm... Not being able to use my injured arm and being quite flexible, I decided to try bending my left leg up to the side of my steering wheel, where my hand control sits, and began to accelerate and brake with my foot instead of my arm. To this day, I continue to use this method when my arm gets tired of being held in the same spot for too long, but don't worry, I'm still very safe, so no one needs to get off the road when I'm about.
I also taught myself to drive my wheelchair with my left arm on my left wheel, and my left foot on my right wheel, which I also still do if I'm trying to wheel and carry something at the same time, this has come in very handy!
My point being, everyone has their own way of doing things and people with disabilities have become quite imaginable and creative with overcoming daily barriers that they may face, which I saw a lot of at the latest Australian OI Conference that I attended.
I am very interested to see some other ideas of the way people with disabilities have adapted items to suit their disability and lifestyle. Please share your tips, as you may be able to help someone that's unsure of how to do something. You can also contact me if you want to send me some photo's of your handy hints, and I'll add them to this story!
**** Unfortunately technology being technology, the links to Mel's video's aren't working, so just highlight them, copy them, and paste them into your browser and they will work****