Category Archives: Cup Holders

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

My Favorite Wheelchair Accessory

When I was in college, a show called Pimp my Ride, was really popular. The premise of this show was that teens and twenty-somethings would have their old beater cars transformed into beautiful pieces of machinery. My friends and I have always joked that I should go on the show and have my chair pimped out with spinners, black lights and chrome rims.

That, of course, never happened. But that didn’t mean I gave up on the goal of “pimping” my chair; instead, I modified my vision to be a bit more practical and a bit more purposeful. People are always coming up with new things to add to wheelchairs. Some of them serve a necessary purpose, like an umbrella that attaches to your wheelchair, others are just for fun, like the castors that light up when you roll.

The best thing that I have ever found to “pimp my chair” was actually given to me by a college friend and co-worker, who also happens to use a wheelchair. It is a fold up cup holder that attaches to the frame of my wheelchair. My friend gave it to me because I kept burning myself trying to carry coffee from the kitchen at work, back to my desk. Within five minutes of attaching it to my chair, I knew this cup holder was going to be something that I could never live without.  The cup holder attaches in just a few minutes using screws and is adjustable so it can also be attached to a walker, a bed rai1 or any device with circular tubing to attach it to. It comes with a small piece of rubber to keep it from slipping, and the cup size is adjustable so it can carry everything from a can of soda, to a wide mug of coffee or tea. The fold up option is great because it keeps it accessible at all times without being in the way. Additionally, is incredibly durable. I have had it attached to my chair for a year now, and it has survived daily transfers in and out of the car and several accidental crashes.

I use this cup holder every day and it has truly made my life better. I know that may sound silly, but sometimes the smallest change is the one that makes the biggest impact. For the first time in my life I can get a drink at a coffee shop, or any place where the beverages are self-serve, without having to ask the person behind the counter or a stranger next to me for help. I can also take the drink with me, now. I don’t waste money if I am unable to finish it while there. Additionally, I can take water with me on a walk with my dog or husband.  Of course the best part is that I no longer have to worry about ruining a pair of pants because I spilled a drink or burning the insides of my thighs with hot beverages.

Have you ever “pimped out” your chair? What add on could you not live without or wish that you had?

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

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