Tag Archives: Disability equipment

My Assistive Technology Dream Come True

Whenever I see back to school commercials that talk about laptops, tablets and cell phones, I feel really old. When I was going back to school, only adults had personal computers and only the really important ones had laptops; not a single one of my friends had a cell phone. And now, just 13 years after I graduated high school, most students have one or more of these devices on hand. As a person with a disability, I’m glad I was born at a time when technology was on the rise; I have seen this technology grow and change the lives of people with disabilities. Read here how to spend time effectively.

Thanks to technology, people without the ability to speak can talk, many of the people who want to hear are now able to, and those who cannot walk have more and more options for mobility. Everyday new technology is created that can improve a life, and you have to admit that is pretty cool. I have benefited from many of the new technologies out there, they have allowed me to be more independent and more productive. However, there is a part of me that still waits, hoping that someday technology will come up with something that will allow me to walk hands free.

I have Cerebral Palsy, and like everyone with C.P., my case is unique to me. I am able walk with assistive devices such as a walker or crutches; I can also walk around my house by holding onto the furniture or walls, and I have decent balance. However, despite multiple surgeries, countless hours of physical therapy, and multiple bribes from my parents, I cannot take more than one or two steps unassisted.

This is something that I have come to accept. However, I do wish that there was something out there that would allow me to walk hands free. Having my hands free for reaching items is one benefit I get from using a chair; but when I want, or need, to walk somewhere, my hands are tied up doing other things. They have plenty of handsfree walkers meant for children to help train their muscles for walking and balance; but these walkers are typically bulky and a have ton of straps for support As an adult who just needs that tiny bit of extra support, there seemed to be nothing that could help my cause. At least until I saw this walker.

I can’t help but be a little excited. It does not seem like a perfect solution, and it still seems quite new given the limited information on the site; but the fact that it even exists gives me some hope. Hope that technology is catching up to my needs. Hope that someday, in the nearish future, I might be able to walk down the street carrying a child, holding hands with my husband, pull multiple items out of the fridge in one trip, or grab gallon of milk from the store without needing to put it in a cart first.

Is there anything on your assistive technology wish list?

Amazing Disability Garage Sale and Craigslist Finds

Like any true Midwest girl, I go crazy for a good garage sale. Tables lined up with treasures just waiting to be discovered, musky garages deep with God knows what, nothing makes me happier than dedicating a morning or a afternoon to garage saleing. Well almost nothing; scoring a deal on Craigslist comes in a close second.

And these cheap shopping venues become a million times better when you find something you really need – an item related to your disability. Yes, finding a deal on a product manufacturers would otherwise love to stick it to you on feels good. We all know upcharges abound on medical products.
From wheelchairs to automatic beds, you can go house-poor just getting what you need. Here are four items I’ve either bought or sold on Craigslist or at garage sales that have completely improved my life as a person with a disability.
Rolling overbed table: You know these tables well if you’ve spent any time in a hospital, rolling bedside/overbed tables are lifesavers when you’re in the hospital, but they’re also pretty great when you’re at home and have a mobility disability.  Nothing beats having everything you need on a rolling table right by your bed. 
I would be lost without mine, and I wouldn’t even have it in the first place if it wasn’t for a garage sale I went to nearly 18 years ago (a person with a significant disability died down the street from my family and their family had a garage sale). When we went, this is where we found the rolling overbed table. 
We got it for $5 and I’ve been using it every night since (I don’t think I’ve spend $5 on anything better in my whole life). 
Trapeze bar: Not as cool as the circus trapeze, a bed trapeze is one of those must-have items if you need it – it helps people sit up in bed when they can’t move their torso muscles. This is a great thing for people like myself who can still move their arms, but not their torso muscles.
A trapeze is basically the cheapest alternative you can find to purchasing an automatic bed. While it’s not as cool and definitely not as easy to use, it gets the job done. And we found this at the same neighbor’s garage sale mentioned above too. We got it for $10, and since they’re made of steel, they last forever. 
I don’t you use mine anymore since I upgraded to an automatic bed, but we still have it just in case. 
Automatic bed: Back in college I made one of my biggest used disability equipment purchase – a full-sized automatic bed. I had been wanting one for awhile, but could never afford it. I was still using a twin hospital bed my sophomore year at Augsburg College. So I finally I got smart and looked online, Craigslist of course, and found a used bed that was just in my price range and exactly what I was looking for – a full-sized automatic bed for $399. Something bigger than a twin, but not too big for my britches.
That bed served me well for almost 7 years and it was extremely comfortable. Sure, it probably came from someone who had died (let’s just hope not in it lol), but it was a huge life enhancer. Sigh…I still miss that bed. So comfy.
Hoyer lift: Now we’re talking an extremely important piece of equipment for millions of people with disabilities – the Hoyer lift. This is literally the bridge for people when getting from their bed to their wheelchairs (and vice versa). I had a Hoyer lift I no longer needed and felt I should send it back into the world and sell it on Craigslist.
So that’s exactly what I did, selling it to a middle aged couple who were taking care of an elderly parent. I was more than willing to give them a deal and pass along the good juju vibes.
So the next time you’re about to stress out because you need to buy medical equipment you just can’t afford, pause the freak out session and check out both Craigslist and garage sales to see what you can find instead. And when all else fails, remember to visit DisabledDealer.com; a not too shabby site that can sometimes lead to some pretty interesting used disability equipment finds too.
What awesome deals have you scored on disability equipment?
Products Mentioned
– Hoyer Manual Hydraulic Lift

Photo courtesy of Vivmilano

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