Emergency Evacuation Device
Ever wonder what you would do if the building you were in caught fire and you were on the third floor? What if the power failed and the elevators didn't work? I came across Evacu-Trac, which is a transporter for people with limited mobility. It can hold a passenger up to 300 pounds in weight. Acting as a manual wheelchair, three safety straps securely hold a passenger securely during transport down stairs. For more information, call (800) 663-6556 or visit their Web site.
Click here to link.
Air LifeLine is a wonderful nonprofit organization of more than 1,500 private pilots who volunteer their time to transport patients who can't afford to travel to medical facilities. Patients must be ambulatory enough to board the plane. Only collapsible manual chairs are permitted. Destinations must not exceed 1,100 nautical miles one way. Service animals and one attendant are allowed to accompany the patient. For more information, call 877-AIRLIFE or visit their Web site.
Click here to link.
Tip From A Loyal Reader
This month's tip comes from Tim Morin in response to my tip on regarding tipping your wheelchair back onto a couch for pressure relief. Tim writes:
"I've known of this technique for about 23 years. I've found, however, that it works best with the old E & J monsters that had push handles. If you locked your brakes, you could tip back against anything that was solid and handy! In fact, I spent most of my time reclining. Now the most common brand of chair seems to be the Quickie, and many (most around here, anyway) do not have push handles. This has led to a quandary. I've found (the hard way) that if you tip back against anything taller than your wheels, the object tends to push against your back or shoulders and knocks you out the front of the chair!
"Anyway, after I got my Quickie and stopped reclining, I started developing pressure sores and needing surgery every 1.5 - 2 years! So, I guess what I'm saying is that I know reclining whenever yo!
Message Boards Support You!
Many wheelchair users have questions about secondary problems such as chronic pain, dealing with caregivers, nutrition, and sexuality, to name a few. Lycos has a message board that addresses these subjects and many more. WebMD features staff and experts who will answer your questions about these and other important topics. Networking with others who are experiencing the same things as you is one of the best ways to gain information, learn new solutions to problems, and keep yourself up-to-date on the latest treatments and medical news.
Click here to link to Lycos page message board.
Be Specific About Accessibility
Before venturing out to an establishment you've never visited before, call ahead to determine whether it's wheelchair accessible. Different people have different ideas about what makes a facility accessible, so be very specific.
If you plan an outing to a restaurant, ask about the height of the tables, and if their restrooms have wheelchair friendly stalls. If you plan a stay at a hotel, ask if they provide hand held shower heads, roll in showers, and bench seats. Being prepared will save you tremendous grief. And many times, you just have to ask. One hotel manager actually purchased a hand held shower and bench for my use after my inquiry.
Wheelchair cushions not only protect you from possible damage to your skin, they also affect the functional activities of daily living, such as transfers, reaching, and propulsion (of the chair). Many different types of cushions are on the market, and you'll want to select one depending on your individuals needs. You'll find that cushions vary in density, softness, formation, and stability and are made up of different materials such as water, gel, air, and foam.
No one cushion fits the needs of every person, so it's important to discuss your needs with a clinician. Try out several styles and shapes of cushions. I personally use a High Profile Enhancer Roho cushion, which features a cutout in the sacral region that lessens pressure to that bony area.
Chairs For Children
Proper seating is important for every wheeler, but especially so for children. A child must be comfortable in order to concentrate on schoolwork, as well as interact comfortably with friends and family. As a child grows and develops, the chair that supports him/her must also adapt to physical changes and new needs. It's a good idea to schedule an annual seating evaluation for your child with rehabilitative physicians and therapists.
Carpet And Wheels
This past December marked my seventh year of living in the condominium where I currently reside. Before I moved in, I replaced the existing carpet with a flat (no shag) kind, and removed the padding. I found that pushing my manual chair on unpadded carpet was a breeze. Unfortunately, within three years that carpeting was completely trashed. I replaced it with the same kind, and once again, three years later that carpet is completely ruined as well!
Happily, just today I got a sample of some tile I like. Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse employees are coming out to rip up the nasty carpet and tile my entire place. Hopefully I can save some of you the headaches I've encountered with carpeting.
Medical Supply Organizer
It's imperative that I know the location of everything in my home, especially the medical supply items in my closet. I keep almost everything I need on a three-shelf stand I purchased and placed in the closet. In addition, I bought six see-through baskets, two for each shelf. This way I can see the contents of each basket, thus eliminating any confusion for my many attendants and nurses, since I can instruct each one on where to find something.
Brush Your Teeth In The Shower
The concept of brushing my teeth in the shower was actually introduced to me well before my injury. It sped up the time getting ready in the morning, as I was chronically tardy for work. These days, I have a hook mounted on my shower wall with my toothbrush hanging from it. After I'm finished washing my hair and my body, I brush my chompers.
I opt to brush at the end of my shower, because then it doesn't matter if the water turns cold. I'd prefer cold water to rinse with anyway. Rinsing your mouth is easier in the shower, and you can easily get rid of any remnants of toothpaste -- they're effortlessly rinsed away!
Organizing the Laundry
In my closet, I keep two mesh hampers for dirty laundry. One is blue and the other is white. I toss my colored clothes that need to be washed into the blue hamper, and the whites go into the white bin. Since the hampers are actually mesh bags around PVC piping, the bags themselves are machine washable. Also, the mesh allows me to see how much laundry is waiting, so I know when it's time to throw in another load of wash. The price is $11.96.
Click here to view and/or to order.
The Rope Pull
As all of my peers on wheels know, having your legs in front of you all the time often means that opening and closing doors is an awkward process. For example, I have a giant, hard-to-open sliding glass door. The door handle is sharp and I sometimes cut my hand trying to open it. My attendant recently reminded me of something I had learned in rehab eight years ago: Tie a rope around the door handles in your house and on your refrigerator.
If you want an inexpensive way to monitor your front door, try a Web camera. You can see who is there before you open the door. There are security cameras on the market specifically for this purpose, but the prices are outrageous! By placing a webcam in a window by the front door, you can see the visitor on your computer. It's a great way to weed out pests and solicitors.
Click here for more information
From Door To Table
Here's a unique way of acquiring a custom table to accommodate your wheelchair: create one from an old door. The door itself acts as the table, and you can design the legs to meet your personal height specifications.
My parents found a very unique, rustic looking, mahogany door and used it to make a beautiful table for me. It is the perfect height for me, even though it wasn't built with me in mind. And every time I use this special table, I think of the thoughtfulness of my parents. For me, this is a special heirloom!
Take The Plunge
Today's tip I had figured out well before I made a career change and became a quadriplegic. I have really thick hair, and it's normal for me to lose a bunch of hair each day. Over time, my drain clogs up and must be cleared. Now I use a toilet bowl plunger to give the oomph needed to force the clog through the pipes. It beats having to spend $$ on expensive products that essentially do the same thing. Plunging seems ideal from the perspective of a wheelchair user. For best results, turn on the water and let it pool over the drain. Then, let the plunging begin! (This is a g reat stress reliever, as well as a pipe cleaner.)
Big Buttoned Remote
Not many remote controls are designed so that I can press all of the buttons. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a large-button universal remote one day. The unit itself is too big to ever get lost easily. Large, lighted buttons control the TV, VCR, cable and satellite connections. It requires four AA batteries, not included. The price is $39.00.
Click here for more info or to order
Travel By Train
Those of you who like to travel -- but don't particularly care to travel by plane -- have an alternative. Amtrak trains are very wheelchair friendly. When you call 800-USA-RAIL to book your reservation, let them know you use a wheelchair. Ramps and lifts are available upon request. It isn't even necessary to transfer into one of their chairs, as they have designated areas to park your chair with you in it. They'll even securely restrain your chair so it can't shift around. Also available on their site is a train tracker, so the train's location may be monitored online.
Click here for more information
Before adopting Duke, my bouncing baby poodle puppy, I decided I'd paper train him. The times my attendants come each day vary, and I didn't want him to have to cross his hind legs while he waited to be taken for a walk. As a solution, I took a piece of newspaper from the breeder's home, which he had soiled, so that he would associate the newspaper with where he goes potty. Once we got home, I placed the paper on the tile in my closet. Three years later, Duke has yet to go anywhere but on his paper.
Mobile Pet Grooming
I've learned (although sometimes the hard way) that there is a solution to every problem. I have always wanted a dog, but wasn't sure that I would be able to properly care for one. However, since I'm only here on earth once, I decided I'd take the chance of adopting a little lap dog. Not only have I found a mobile pet groomer who comes to my home to groom him, he also has a veterinarian who visits him here as well. If you're considering a pet, look in your phone book for mobile groomers in your area. Then, get yourself a new best friend!
Getting transferred onto a lounge chair in order to get a tan isn't something that happens on a regular basis in my life. My idea of getting a tan used to be rolling outside in a tank top and shorts, and aiming my face toward the sky. Needless to say, I didn't have an all over tan. Fortunately, I do now because I purchased a tanning bed six years ago. It was one of the best investments I've ever made. Not only does it boost my confidence level, it promotes healing anytime I get a scrape or cut. Of course, I don't overdo it and roast my skin -- I certainly don't want skin cancer!
The tanning bed I use is a one-sided canopy that's on wheels. The great thing is, no transferring is necessary because it rolls right over my bed. The tanner comes with a 30-minute timer and a fan to keep the bulbs cool. Novatan has three different canopies available, and they're priced at $749, $899, and $999, depending on the number of bulbs.
Click here for more info or to order.
The Ultimate Relief
The first two years of my life in a wheelchair were spent in a manual chair. Not having use of my triceps means that I cannot push myself up off the seat. However, it's imperative that my skin receives adequate oxygen in order to stay alive.
I've found a great way to get pressure relief for manual chair users: twist up the anti-tip bars in the rear of the chair. Back up to a couch with a pillow on the edge, and engage the brakes. From a distance of about a foot and a half away from the couch, have someone completely tilt your chair back on the couch, allowing the pillow to support your head. It's very comfortable and a great way to catch a nap!
Give Me A Break
At an annual Christmas party, I found that my neck became very sore during the cocktail hour. Everyone was squeezed into a small area and stood around shooting the breeze. With people so close to me, I was forced to constantly look up. Extending my neck backwards made it hard for me to breathe, too. One of my co-workers knelt down next to me on one knee. It relieved the strain on my neck immediately. It was such a sweet gesture and I encourage people to come down to my level when I'm in loud places.
Clinical Trial Listing Service
CenterWatch Trial Listing Service is an international listing of those clinical trials currently seeking participants. You may sign up to be notified about new trials that are being held in your specified therapeutic and geographical area. Numerous publications are available to order online, or at (800) 765-9647.
You can also visit their Web site. Click here.
Beware Of Swiveling Caster Wheels
This month's tip from a loyal reader comes from Allen Smith, who writes: "Yesterday's tip about fashion slippers brought a caveat to mind. I am a wheelchair user as a result of a diabetes-caused amputation. For those of us with neuropathy in the feet, the swiveling front wheels are very dangerous. I wear an NB running shoe every day on my remaining foot and both sides of that shoe are badly scuffed by coming in contact with the wheel and its bracket and bolt. If I were wearing a slipper, my foot would be in trouble and I wouldn't be aware that it was injured until I examined my foot. It was an unseen wound that was the cause of my amputation." -Allen Smith
Type With Your Voice
L & H Dragon NaturallySpeaking software allows you to create typed text; and edit and revise any Windows-based applications including email! The only ability required is the ability to speak. Just speak in a normal tone into the included headset microphone, and your words show up on the screen just as fast as you say them. Many different versions are available. Check out their Web site to find the one most compatible for you.
Click here to review or to order.
Remote Control Lamp
Turn any lamp into a remote controlled lamp with a product manufactured by Heath Zenith. The base plugs into the wall, and the plug from the lamp plugs into the base. A remote switch, which resembles a real light switch, turns on the lamp from anywhere in the room. I have used this for years and cannot live without it. The price is just $24.95. Call Heath Zenith at 1-888-888-8172. Tell them you want product number SL 6136! Your days will definitely be brighter!
Traveling On An Airplane
When you're traveling by plane, it's very important to know that your wheelchair will be stored below the cabin with the luggage. I've watched the baggage handlers load my chair, and they were pretty rough with it.
Many chairs have detachable parts that may be easily lost. If you can't carry the small parts with you, label each one separately. Tape a business card or luggage tag to the cushion, armrests and leg rests. Look your vehicle over thoroughly before leaving the de-boarding area. If you find a problem and aren't satisfied with the answer you receive, contact the airline's Conflict Resolution Officer.
A Monthly Tip from A Loyal Reader
Henry writes: "In the suggestion in the November 9, 2000 tip, you mentioned a head controlled pointer for your computer but I have a better idea. If you or anyone else is able to use his/her own voice to speak, you can use the product that I use!" Henry is referring to Dragon Systems NaturallySpeaking device. It is voice recognition software, which allows the user to perform most tasks in Windows simply by speaking into a microphone. It recognizes up to 250,000 words, and allows you to program in words it doesn't recognize. Create, edit and send email, switch applications, chat with your friends in chat rooms, all with your own breath. The price is $59.00.
Click here for more information
Charging Your Power Chair
The batteries in a power chair need to be recharged regularly, whether the battery is lead acid or a gel cell. Neither running the battery until it dies or overcharging it is recommended. While charging, park the chair in an area with adequate ventilation. The charging process causes the battery to emit moderate levels of hydrogen gas. In confined areas, hydrogen is explosive. I charge my battery in my living room, so that I don't directly breathe in the gas.
Home Care Services
Home Care Services is a medical supply company that delivers their products to your door. They have 40 branches in nine states, and answer their phones 24 hours a day. Their services include: Respiratory services, Pharmacy services, Home Medical Equipment, and Rehabilitation/Mobility products. Most paying sources are accepted, except for HMOs, and I don't blame them one bit! Check out their Web site to locate the closest branch in your region.
Click here to link
Folding Drink Holder
You can find several different types of drink holders that mount onto standard wheelchairs. The one I bought years ago is big and bulky, and stands out like an appendage. A new chic holder is now available, which, when collapsed, is only 1/2" deep. Holding up to 44 oz., the holder also easily mounts onto canes and walkers. (This is not a promotion for my grandmother to start drinking!) The price of this necessity is just $9.99.
Click here for more information or to order
Magnifying Reading Light
Consistently reading a book from your lap can strain the eyes. Bausch & Lomb has developed a reading light, which, when shone at a line of text in a book, doubles the height of the letters. It illuminates and magnifies two lines at a time. This would probably make a world of difference to someone whose vision isn't at peak performance. It comes with a 1-year warranty. Batteries not included. The price is $14.00.
Click here for more information or to order
Amplified Answering Machine
Ameriphone is now offering an answering machine for voice and TTY messages that rates above any others I've tried. Their Amplified Answering Machine picks up voices, and eliminates any static or muffled tones. Its digital voice technology storage allows the listener to adjust the tone and speed to his/her liking. A separate mailbox for TTY messages is included. The price is $99.95.
Click here for more information or to order.
Cervical Neck Wrap
When I was injured eight years ago, I broke a vertebra in my neck, which surgeons removed and replaced with a titanium plate and a few screws. When the mercury drops, my neck tells me by aching. I bought a heating pad, but I can't keep it close enough to my neck unless someone holds it for me. While flying through cyber space, I happened upon a neck wrap that contours to the neck. Filled with gel, the wrap can be microwaved or frozen. Its cover is made of a breathable, stretchy material, which holds moisture, allowing the heat or cold to penetrate anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes. The price is $29.99.
Check out the neck wrap yourself by clicking here, then selecting Rehabilitation
Warm Up Those Cold Tootsies
It's one thing to shiver from cold in the winter, but to those who spend most days sitting in a wheelchair, being cold can be a year-around condition. Getting into a bed with cold sheets is not a pleasant action for someone who is usually cold.
Years ago, a coworker told me how she made her bed warm and toasty before she got in. She would lift up the bed covering and sheet, and aim her hair dryer between them for a few minutes. I think that's a wonderful idea, but make sure you don't suffocate the dryer and cause a fire. A simpler way might be to purchase an electric bed warmer, which fits under the sheet. It keeps an even, normal temperature at 98.6 degrees. The price is around $40.
Since the only parts of my body that have normal sensation are my shoulders and head, simply washing my face feels as rewarding as a shower. However, sometimes bathrooms just aren't wheelchair accessible; and at times, bathrooms aren't even close by, especially on outings such as a camping trip. Fortunately, I've found the perfect solution. Panasonic has created a portable carrier that holds 6 ounces of water. Attached is a tiny fold out wand for spraying action. The unit weighs a mere 10 ounces, and that's including batteries. The price is $89.99.
Click here to read more or to order.
Elevating Leg Rests
For the person with edema in the feet and ankles, elevating leg rests may be just what you need. Invacare offers a model that elevates your legs and swings away for transfers. Made of aluminum, these plates adjust to the user's leg length. They will adjust from 17" to 21". The price is $129.
Click here, then click Wheelchair Accessories for more information or to order.
Foot Plate Options
Standard wheelchair foot plates are two separate foot plates side by side. Since I enjoy wearing mini skirts and shorter outfits, it's imperative that my feet be together when I'm in my chair. I ordered a customized footrest, which is one solid foot plate, allowing my feet to be completely together. I had a foot plate designed so that it unhooks on one side, and thus can fold back out of the way. This feature comes in handy at restaurants, when I'm maneuvering my legs around the leg of a table
Lap Top Wheelchair Desk
The handy dandy Lap Top Wheelchair Desk, made of polyethylene and weighing only seven pounds, fits all standard 16" to 20" armrests. It attaches to the chair via hook and loop straps. The desk lid opens and acts as a book holder. On the inside of the tray is a storage compartment for computer files, and miscellaneous supplies. Close the lid and use it as a surface to write on. The top of the lid has grooves to help stabilize a drink, cell phone, pens and more.
The Wonders Of Bag Balm
Bag Balm is an FDA approved salve used to treat minor skin abrasions and sunburns on the udders of cows and other animals. People with impaired mobility are finding that it works wonders on dry, chaffed areas of their skin. You can purchase Bag Balm at most Ace Hardware stores and Walgreens; it comes in one- or ten-oz. cans and four-pound pails.
Massage the salve generously into the area needing treatment, but don't rub in completely. This will allow moisture to be trapped in the skin.
To order a brochure on Bag Balm, write to Bag Balm Pamphlet Dairy Association Company, Inc., PO Box 145, Lyndonville VT 05851.
You can order Bag Balm online! Click here to order!
The SCI List
Anything you've ever wondered about paralysis and spinal cord injuries (SCI) is discussed on the SCI List Web site. The site includes an extensive list of SCI survivors, and information on subjects ranging from personal hygiene to chemical dependency. This site is a wonderful resource for newly injured individuals and their families -- and a great way to network with the seasoned folks with SCI.
Click here to visit the site.
The Quad List
I belong to an online message board service called the Quad-List. Quadriplegics from all rolls of life, including caregivers and loved ones of persons with quadriplegia, make up the majority of subscribers. Discussions include subjects on everything from products to personal problems. I have found this group to be quite helpful at times. This is a great forum in which to receive positive feedback from people who know exactly what you're going through. To subscribe, write to "firstname.lastname@example.org" with the subject "Subscribe" (without quotes).
Center For Medicare Advocacy
The Center For Medicare Advocacy is a service for people who are being denied Medicare coverage, and believe they are indeed eligible. For residents living in Connecticut, legal advice and representation is free. All other U.S. residents may receive free legal advice. They will help put you in touch with a law firm willing to go to bat for you.
Give them a call at (860) 456-7790, or check out their Web site by clicking here.
Medicare's Homebound Law IMPORTANT! DO THIS!
If you're a Medicare recipient and use the assistance of a home health agency, you're probably familiar with a Medicare law that attempts to confine the recipient of such services to his/her home. The law states that " . . .trips outside the home must require considerable and taxing effort and, be infrequent, of short duration, or attributable to medical treatment. . . ." This rule serves no purpose! My agency is currently trying to discharge me because I have a vehicle modified with hand controls. What they fail to consider is that approximately 95% of my life is spent in bed, due to medical complications. There is an online petition to stop Medicare from trying to hide me and other chair-bound people in our homes, effectively curtailing our outside activities. Please all of you, take a moment to read and sign this petition. It literally means the world to me -- and other chair users in similar circumstances! Thank you!!
For more information on the Medicare restrictions, click here.
Click here to read and sign the petition. Do this. It only takes a sec.
Don't ruin your wheelchair with rust and corrosion. Instead, hit the beach in a chair designed specifically for use at the beach. Deming Design manufactures a chair with a stainless steel frame and tires made from poly nylon, which eliminate salt-water corrosion.
Many options are available for the chair, including a headrest, chest strap, umbrella, and drink holders. You can purchase one of these chairs, starting at $1,750.00. They're available upon request at many state parks in my home state of Florida. They are also sprinkled throughout the country in various locations.
For more information, check out their Web site.
Change On The Run
Unless you have an E-Pass, toll plazas mean guaranteed fumbling for change. Designate an area in your vehicle (within your easy reach) and toss your loose change into it. I use my CD holder, because my ashtray is too small. When on trips with passengers, your passenger can get the required amount ready ahead of time. It saves time and hassle!
Egg Crate Mattress Pads
Prolonged periods in bed are common for me, as I rely on an attendant to help me out of bed in the morning. She can't always get to me right when I want her, and I'm forced to stay in bed a bit longer than I'd like. Before I used my current air mattress, I had an egg crate pad that helped me stay safely in bed longer. The soft foam helps to evenly distribute body weight, lessening the pressure on bony prominences, and allows for greater air circulation. The pads are 3" thick, and come in various sizes. A full size pad runs about $32.99.
Click here, then click Bed and Bath for more info or to order.
Need A Nurse In Tennessee?
One of my daily readers writes: "I have been a Licensed Practical Nurse for 15 years. My husband and I live near Nashville, Tennessee. If you ever hear of anyone in the Nashville area who needs assistance with home care, please remember me. I prefer to do one on one care in the hospital, rehab. center, nursing home, or patient's home. I work for Wholistic Connections out of Bethpage, TN., so if the case is something I couldn't handle, I have a few referrals I could make, all with excellent reputations. My e-mail address is email@example.com. Sincerely Tammy A. N."
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