Category Archives: Coffee

10 Awesome DIYs for Adaptive Tools

ballWhen in doubt, broke or if the adapted tool you want hasn’t been made yet, do what a lot of people with disabilities do and turn to DIY. Granted, it takes a handy, creative individual to make things go from just an idea to actually existing, but a lot of people with disabilities have his capacity.

And if they don’t, many have gotten good at asking for help (raises hand). I would’ve been lost without my Dad all these years; the veritable Leave It To Beaver handyman everyone dreams of knowing. He can build ramps, make my shower accessible; he is the one who I’ve always called whenever I’m at a loss.

But sometimes even my Dad can’t help me. Sometimes it takes a highly clever individual to illuminate us to a solution that even our peerless fathers haven’t thought of, like using a pizza box to create a laptop stand (it totally works, just make sure the grease stains are wiped off).

If you ever find yourself in this position, think DIY. There are some exciting DIY solutions for adapted tools out there. Check out my 10 current favorites below.

10. Wire Hanger Reacher

An adapted tool almost anyone can make is a reacher made from a wire hanger. All you need is a wire hanger and a good grip (quads, you’ll likely have to recruit help with this one). All you do is unfurl the wire hanger completely so it’s stick straight, then bend one end into a hook shape, so you can reach things easier and pull them to you.

9. Tube Sock Elbow Protector

If you have skin issues around your elbow area and really don’t want pay for elbow protectors, you can make your own using a tube sock. All you need to do is cut the end off so you can pull it up to your elbow, and voila – instant elbow protector. It may not be pretty, but you can’t get any cheaper or easier than this.

diy8. Grip Shelf Liner-Widened Utensils

For anyone with limited hand function, grabbing and holding utensils can seem like the hardest thing in world and most end up buying expensive utensil holders. You can however make any utensil easier to hold by wrapping the handle in grip shelf liner.This may be one of my favorites tips because it’s so easy and works awesomely.

7. Tennis Ball Jar Opener

Another great DIY for people with limited grip is a jar opener using a tennis ball, and this is a fast one. All you need is a tennis ball and an X-Acto knife. Simply cut along the seam completely so the tennis ball splits in two, and there you have it – two instant jar openers. To use these babies, just stretch one over a jar and twist.

6. Lego Card Holdercard

If you love a good card game but holding your deck is a whole other story, this Lego card holder is the ultimate solution; it’s both awesome and cheap. Yes folks, a crystal clear win-win situation. As you can see, this holder is mainly comprised of longer brick Legos, and they’re stacked to mimic those expensive playing card holders you can buy online.

cell5. Sugru Cell Phone Handle

A putty you can buy that will mold to almost anything you want it to, Sugru is taking the DIY world by storm, and it’s an especially big favorite amongst people with disabilities. For a person with limited hand function who had trouble using their smartphone, they used Sugru, along with some Velcro and a bit of a wire hanger to create this handle for their phone.

4. Ace Bandage Thigh Strap (for dresses)

For the ladies out there who love wearing dresses or skirts but can’t keep their legs together (and I’m not talking for that reason lol), an Ace Bandage is your skin-friendly modesty protector to the rescue. You can use this to wrap under and over your thighs, pulling your legs together so they don’t splay open at your niece’s graduation, or wherever you may be. Wouldn’t be prudent, no siree.

3. PVC Pipe Universal Cup Handle

Sometimes you can’t always find a cup with a handle; sometimes you need a separate solution. Case in point – a PVC pipe universal cup handle that helps people with limited hand function use any cup. You can set almost any cup in the handle’s base, allowing you to finally be able to hold any cup with complete ease.

cup2. Tin Can Cup Holder

Adequate cup holders meanwhile are one of the most difficult things to find, which is why this DIY tin can cup holder is amazeballs (and you don’t have to spend more than $5 in case it breaks. All you need is a 14.9 oz tin can, a plastic clamp, a short screw and some super glue.

Once you have your supplies, choose a location on your chair, punch the middle of that can with the screw, then screw halfways into the clamp. Next, put the clamp on your chair, then super glue the can to the clamp. Get a full how-to here

1. Stretchy Fleece Universal Cuff

Universal cuffs are traditionally made of hard plastic, sometimes cloth, but very rarely do people make these at home. Some clever OT students however have turned to stretchy fleece as the ideal fabric for DIY universal cuffs, as you can see with this one made especially for electric scissors. All it takes is some stretchy fleece, Velcro and a thread and needle to bring it all altogether.

While a DIY power wheelchair or adapted van should make you wheel like a crazy person in the opposite direction (not safe; not safe at all), smaller adapted devices can go the DIY route, and by all means should do so. Not only will you save money, you may even improve upon the device, and that would be a pretty a mighty sweet bonus.

What are your favorite adapted DIYs?

Products Mentioned

Sugru

Velcro

X-Acto Knife

Legos

Ace Bandage w/ Velcro closure

Grip Shelf Liner

Finally Getting That Cup Holder, and Other Things I’ve Been Meaning to Get

4579520419_5897bf9f8fI don’t know about you, but there’s always a crazy long list of things I’ve been meaning to get; disability-related products I need, need to replace or just fondly remember from rehab. This kind of thing happens a lot when you have a disability. I call it: The non-stop ongoing list.

There’s always so many currently-existing and new gadgets out there that will make your life easier. The “Cripper,” the reacher for low-level quadriplegics who have wrist function but not finger function, and therefore can’t use a normal reacher, is one such example in my life. God I want one of these so bad, but they’re just too darn expensive. At $179, I’ve always procrastinated this purchase.

Last week however I had this feeling come over me. Maybe it was the extra cash in my pocket, but I felt it was finally time to knock some of the things off of my “to-purchase” list.  At the top included a cup holder. My new powerchair does not stop as quickly as I would like it to, so when I try to use the vacuum-effect pedestrian door in my parking garage I need to use both hands to get it open, and that means I need somewhere to put my trusty cup of hot water.

Finding a cup holder that is actually decent, meaning that it will fit on your chair, it won’t break easily and will fit different cup sizes is surprisingly difficult to find.  I’ve yet to find a cup holder I would recommend. The best one I’ve seen so far was handmade by the now-dismantled seating shop at the Courage Center. Those old guys really knew how to build adaptive equipment.

So when knocking off my list last week, I decided to give another cup holder a shot. Most of the ones I’ve bought before snapped within a couple of days, breaking in two when I hit the door frame or when it hit the seatbelt holder in my van. Cheap plastic much? I decided not to spend a lot of money, thinking of my past failed purchases.

Well my order arrived just the other day and I’m not quite sure what to say about it. The biggest drawback – it doesn’t fit my cup; only cans. Hrm pop or beer only. Okay…this cup holder only wants me to get drunk or fat apparently. Grrreat.  It also needs a flathead screwdriver to be installed.  I’ve yet to put this guy on my chair, but when I do I will let you know how it goes.

I also purchased clear plastic squeeze bottles for putting ketchup and other condiments in. A two-pack is cheap and all you need. Since I can’t use my fingers, I’ll use these babies to squeeze my fav stuff with no scary glass containers or hard tops required – ketchup, apple cider vinegar, anything. I especially like using these for olive oil.

An avid reader at night (who refuses to switch to the Nook or Kindle), I also purchased a clip-on LED book light since holding my book strategically near my lap isn’t easy. This is something I’ve been meaning to get for awhile, but I kept putting it off.  Now than I have one I can’t believe I waited this long. It has made reading in bed at least 10 points easier, and best of all it cost only $8.

At the end of the day we all know it’s easy to make a list of the things you’d love to have, but actually following through and getting them is the hard part. I’m just really glad I finally did. Waiting as long as I did to get something as simple as a book light is ridiculous. I tend to be too stubborn, thinking I can make do without.  People with disabilities tend to be this way.

But now that I’ve seen the light, I’m going to start changing how I think. It’s ok to “need” another product if it makes my life easier. It doesn’t mean I’m weak, it just means I’m finally getting smart.

What disability products have you been meaning to get?

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

Coffee Anyone?

Sometimes you discover the solution to some of your most annoying problems when and where you least expect it. The other day, for instance, my husband and I were watching a show called Mountain Men. It is one of those “reality shows” that depicts the life of men who live in remote areas and survive off the land. It is ridiculously staged, it drives me crazy, but my husband likes it and sometimes a girl has to make sacrifices. Anyway, during one episode, this guy’s wife brought him a cup of coffee in this mug with a wide base and a narrow opening at the top. I immediately shouted, “That coffee mug is CP proof! I must have one.”

Because of my CP, I spill things a lot. I prefer to drink out of bottles or cups with straws in order to avoid unnecessary spills. Finding a solution to avoid spilling hot beverages has been hard; travel mugs keep my coffee too hot for too long, and you have to wait forever to drink it. Normally, I just take my chances with a traditional mug by trying to leave a little space at the top. Despite my efforts, I still manage to spill my coffee at least once a week. I thought the narrow mouth mug would be the perfect solution to the problem, if I could find one.

The next day, I was out shopping with my Mom and her boyfriend and I told them about the mug. My mom had never seen one, but her boyfriend had, he said he would keep his eyes open. We were at the Salvation Army when he found this little gem.

It is not exactly like the mug I saw on the show, the mouth is a little wider, and it is more angular, but it is still awesome. It is exactly the solution I hoped it would be.

This mug allows my coffee to cool at a normal rate, and the tall narrow mouth keeps me from spilling anything. It also has a slip proof bottom and a good sized handle, which I like. It doesn’t look like it, but it holds a full eight ounces of coffee.

Of course now that I have one, I would like to get a few more; perhaps one for work, and a few for my friends with similar disabilities when they come to visit. I know I probably won’t get as lucky as I did the other day, so I have been looking online and I found several that were almost exactly like the one I saw on TV. This one is for home use and this one even has a lid so you can take it with you!

In what unexpected places have you found a solution to an everyday problem?

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