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A Few Tips for Wheelchair Users

Tips gleaned from friends and from Michelle Hlavek of EMazing.com

 

Get A Grip!
Have you ever wondered why the door sometimes only pops open after a strong tug? More than likely, the door hadn't been opened in a while, which created a suction effect. When pulled firmly, the suction is released and the door pops open. If you've ever tried to open your refrigerator door after it hasn't been opened in a while, you already know the effort requires more strength than usual -- and you may not have the strength needed to pop the door open.

Some wheelchair users who struggle with opening the fridge door may benefit from making a loop of rope or cloth and tying it around the handle. Pulling at the door from a distance gives the loop leverage, and allows for easier opening -- even if the door has been closed for a while.

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Magic Wand Keyboard
The Magic Wand Keyboard from In Touch Systems (800-332-6244, link below) is a miniature keyboard that assists people with limited hand movement to type with minimal effort. The touch of an included wand controls the keyboard; or you can use a mouthstick. The keyboard measures 7 x 6 x 0.5 inches. It's both PC and Macintosh compatible, and controls full keyboard and mouse functions. The prices range from $1375 to $1875.

Click here for more info or to order.

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Keyless Keyboard
For those of you out there with limited or no finger use, I recently ran across a keyless keyboard. Two big slide knobs slide to the north, south, east, and west. They also slide in the direction of NW, NE, SE, and SW. By sliding the knobs into specified positions, you indicate the letters you want to type. Although using the keyless keyboard seems fairly complicated, I'm sure that eventually it becomes second nature. Available from KeyBowl (link below), the unique keyboard price is $399.00

Click here to order or for more info.

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Answer The Phone With Your Voice
How would you like to answer your phone just by saying, "Hello"? One of my former coworkers had a voice-responsive phone like this 10 years ago. I wasn't injured then, but I remember thinking how convenient a voice-activated phone would be. Now I think of the many times over the almost nine years I've been in a chair and couldn't reach my phone.

I found a voice-activated phone from Dynamic Living (888-940-0605, link below) that remembers up to 20 numbers with the use of three different types of switches or remote controls. A voice-activated dialer is optional. The price of the phone alone is $399.99. Include the dialer and it is $649.98.

Click here for more info or to order.

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Rolling Reader's Table
This handy and attractive table will be my next investment. Made of solid wood with a honey oak finish, this table on wheels has two table surfaces. One surface angles up to 45 degrees with two ledges to hold your reading materials. The other surface is stationary to hold drinks, eyewear, and small miscellaneous items. The table can be pushed under either side of a bed or a chair. The cost is $89, which is a good deal, since most hospital trays run between $200 and $300. The best part is that it looks great, not like an institutional gizmo.

Click here to see!

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Extend-A-Mirror
Sometimes my bathroom counter gets very cluttered, since I store lots of items on it. Everything from medication to bills take up residency there, leaving me little room for a vanity mirror. If this is a problem for you, try mounting a retractable mirror on the wall. I found one online (link below) with a two-sided mirror, one side a regular mirror, the other side magnified. It extends out a very handy 30 inches and sells for $24.99

Click here to see and/or order extension mirror.

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Tip From A Loyal Reader
This tip comes from a loyal reader, Donna, who writes: "I have a brother with cerebral palsy, who's recovering from having four discs in his neck fused. He has a catheter now, which has to be flushed often. When he's wearing long pants, this procedure presents a problem.

"Right now, my brother wears sweat pants a lot. What I did was mark the center of the back of sweats' leg, and stitched the elastic on both sides of the mark. Next, I drew a line about 12 inches long and cut open the leg of the sweats. After zigzagging the edges on both sides, I sewed a piece of Velcro on each edge of the cut leg -- the rough side on the top and soft side on the bottom. That way, if the opening isn't closed exactly right, he won't have the rough side against his skin. His catheter tube can come out from anywhere in this opening and the Velcro can close around it. His bag can be hung from the bottom of his chair, and the tube is not pulling on the bottom of his pant leg."

Great tip, Donna! Thanks for sharing.

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Virtual Pool
Playing billiards can be awkward from a wheelchair, although I have a few friends who think nothing of it. Recently, a good friend of mine introduced me to virtual pool online. We usually play on Yahoo! [Yahoo Pool] but you can also try the VirtualPool.com site as well as Community Zero and Virtual Sports League (links below).

I haven't been able to play regulation billiards since becoming a quadriplegic in 1993. It feels great to once again be able to run the table and leave my opponent in the dust -- that's pool lingo for winning.

Click here to test your pool strategy on the Community Zero site.

Click here to play pool on the Virtual Sports Leagues site.

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Costly Rx
If you take several medications, you know how expensive prescription drugs are these days. You might try routinely calling the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the drugs you take. Ask if they ever help individuals on fixed incomes by providing samples or reduced-cost refills. Some companies will offer a one time free refill. Other companies may help on a regular basis. It can't hurt to ask.

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Proof Of Disability
Oftentimes I find myself sending a letter to my doctor for him to sign in order to prove I'm disabled. Then, perhaps a week or two later, I need another letter signed for the same reason: Periodically, an insurance company or Medicaid/Medicare needs an update on my medical status. So that I don't keep bugging my doctor, I send four copies of the same letter for him/her to sign, but forward-date them so that every three months, I have a current copy. More than likely, if your letter is dated within the last three months, the organization that's requesting the letter will accept it.

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Smooth Out The Wrinkles
If your sensory perception is impaired, you probably won't feel any wrinkles in your clothing. However, it's very important to minimize clothing wrinkles over bony prominences, since the bunched fabric can cause added pressure on your skin; this pressure could result in a pressure sore, also known as a decubitus ulcer. Make it part of your daily routine to smooth out as many wrinkles as you can from your clothing and your bed sheets.

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Booking A Hotel
When booking a hotel, avoid calling the chain's 800 number, which usually routes you to a central location. Since every hotel provides some type of accessible accommodations, you'll want to find out what's available at the hotel you'll be visiting. I suggest you call the hotel directly and ask to speak to a manager, who should be able to tell you exactly what modifications to expect. These days, thanks to increased mobility of those in chairs, some hotels even provide shower chairs.

Let the manager know exactly what you require for your stay. If it's a handheld shower you need and they don't have one, ask if they can purchase one. They're very inexpensive and other guests of the hotel can utilize it in the future. Tell the manager that you will "advertise" to your friends how accommodating this particular hotel is for rollers.

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On Bended Knees
Have you ever had a stay in a hospital and when you elevate the head of the bed, the legs raise too? This is because when the legs are elevated, you can't scoot down in bed. This position is supposedly more comfortable than no elevation under the knees. For those of you with altered sensory perception, however, keep in mind that this position places more pressure on your rear end and tailbone. To keep from developing a pressure sore, I suggest flattening the bed all the way out for two full minutes every half-hour.

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Spackle It Out
After residing in the same condominium for eight years, I can guarantee I've clipped many corners, walls, and baseboards with my chair. I'll admit those marks give my place character, but after so many dings and scrapes, the place begins to look rather junky. Every three years or so I hire someone to fill in my wall wounds with spackling. Once the material dries, I have a fresh coat or two of paint applied over it. The result looks great and makes me feel as though my residence is brand new!

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The Super Trapeze
This nifty trapeze consists of a long pole that's held in place by bolts in the floor and the ceiling. Sitting firmly next to a bed, the pole has a horizontal extension pole protruding out a couple of feet. Hanging from the extension pole is a cable with two triangular shaped grab handles, to allow the user to sit up with ease. The base pole itself can also assist in your transfer out of your bed.

I've often thought that drilling a hole in the tube and hanging a hook would be a great idea. Then a bag or basket filled with munchies would always be by your side! This product sells for $229, but it doesn't look like it's hard to make -- PVC pipe may be your best bet.

Click here for more info.

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Being Frisked
Now that security is tight at airports, I'm hoping that the security officers who frisk wheelchair users at metal detectors do a more thorough job. The days of old consisted of holding my arms straight out to the side. The officer barely touched me, so as to cause the least amount of discomfort for both of us. After being directed to lean forward and having a quick pat on the back, I was on my way to the gate. After the September 11th hijackings, if an officer gives me a quick once over, I am going to point out every nook and cranny s/he missed.

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Warmer In The Winter
Winter is quickly approaching and for those with impaired circulation, it's time to bundle up. It takes longer for someone with decreased circulation to warm up on a cold winter's night than it does for someone who's able to move about more freely.

Also, your cold bedclothes can give you the shivers when the wind is roaring outside. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to warm your bed. Before you prepare to retire for the evening, just toss your blanket or sheets into the dryer for a few minutes. They'll come out feeling warm and cozy, just like they do when you first wake up in the morning.

You might wonder why you just can't crawl under an electric blanket to get warm. Because you can't tell when an electric blanket gets too hot, those of you with impaired sensation are strongly discouraged from using one. Serious injuries and even death can occur when sensory-impaired people fall asleep under a heating blanket that may get too hot for sensitive skin.

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Full Body Pillow
Several years ago, I bought a full-length body pillow for the times when I lay on my side and need support between my feet and knees. Since it's so long, it also supports my arm, alleviating any strain on my collarbone and shoulders. The body pillow also works as a great support from behind. I find it's very comfortable to lean into. I used to joke with my friends and tell them if it gave off heat, it would be the perfect partner since it never talks back!

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Tenderize Your Tubes
I know this may sound weird, but I use meat tenderizer to clean the tubing I use daily, such as catheters and G-tubes. The tenderizer ingredients break down the proteins and clean out the residue from these types of tubes. Soak the tubes for several minutes in a mixture of one teaspoon of meat tenderizer and eight ounces of the warmest water you can stand. Rinse thoroughly with clean warm water. Repeat every two to three days.

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Plan For Darkness
The September 11 attack on the World Trade Center has forced me to prepare for the worst scenario, even as I sit in my own home. Besides that, there's always the unfortunate possibility of a house fire and I know I must rely on telling someone where my wheelchair is in the event that I'm in bed. If you charge your chair in the same place every night as I do, you'll always be able to tell a rescurer exactly where to go to retrieve your chair should an emergency arise.

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Pill Patrol
One of my medications I must take four times a day to control my muscle spasms. Whenever I plan on leaving my home, even for a couple of hours, I make sure to take a pill or two with me. Life doesn't always happen the way we plan. I'd rather have my pills with me rather than experience the side effects I have when my body is in need of settling down.

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Please Remember Me
I can't tell you how many times I have to remind people, mainly my attendants, to place the things I use most back where I can reach them if they move them. So many items I use have to be positioned exactly and in a certain place, or else they're useless to me. For example, my comb is made with a strap that I tighten around my hand using Velcro so that I can hold it to fix my hair. I can't count the number of times I've been alone, struggling to reach my comb, which is pushed back to the deepest part of the counter -- with the Velcro already fastened.

When training new attendants, teach them right away to leave your tools alone, and to resist the urge to move things around. If they must move your things, ask them to place them back exactly as they found them.

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Doorways To Independence
Before my first visit to a new doctor, I called ahead and asked if I'd be able to independently open the double glass doors leading to the building's elevator. I also inquired whether there was an automatic door opener (there wasn't). We agreed that I would call them from my cell phone once I arrived in the parking lot and they would send someone down to help me get in the door. I suggest always calling ahead for the lay of the land before you venture out to uncharted territories.

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Basket By The Bed
If you suffer from arthritis or have a loss of hand function, grabbing television remote controls and other small items may be as difficult for you as it is for me. Use a small wicker basket with a handle and set the items you may want inside it; then place the basket on a bedside table. You might also place a small hook on your headboard to hang the basket from.

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Beware Of Floor Coverings
Last week, I went to a candle party at a friend's house. As I was leaving, I rolled through her living room, which had several throw rugs on the floor. Believe it or not, my chair got tangled up in two of them. My chair has a bolt that protrudes from the bottom and locks me in place when I drive. That bolt was dragging across the rugs and getting caught in them. One rug became entwined in the bolt and my friend and her husband had to tilt my chair on its side in order to set me free. I was a wee bit embarrassed to say the least. If you have similar hardware fixed on your chair so you can drive, don't hesitate to ask someone to pick up the rug so you don't get stuck, too.

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Be Prepared When Calling 911
I've written in the past about emergency cell phones that are only able to dial 911. Since cell phone are designed to be portable, it's impossible for the authorities to pinpoint WHERE you are from your phone number, even though they may know WHO you are. When using a cell phone for an emergency, be prepared to stay on the line and give the operator at least a location, street address, and/or town. Since most 911 centers are county-operated, it's important to be very specific regarding location.

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Velcro Your Remotes In Place
Making sure you have your television remote controls in your possession before you hop in bed will save you the struggle of getting back in your chair to retrieve them. And by always keeping them in the same place, you'll save yourself the grief of going on a wild goose chase to find them. (Have you ever tried to chase wild geese in a chair?) If you have an entertainment center with doors, attach your remotes to the inside of the doors using Velcro. This way, you know exactly where they are and they stay concealed when you're not in the mood for TV.

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Makeshift Beach/Pool Chair
Most wheelchair users I know keep the same chair for years; as a result, their chairs endure lots of wear and tear. Since new chairs cost thousands of dollars, most wheelers keep their chairs until they're on their last leg, er, spoke.

Once you order and receive your a new chair, I suggest you keep your old chair and store it. I saved my first chair ordered for me during my rehabilitation days and it's now my designated chair for days at the pool. I don't mind if it gets wet or even if it rusts. I have yet to go back to the beach, which is where I sustained my broken neck that resulted in my paralysis, but when I do, that's the chair I'll use.

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Disability Product Postcards
For several years, I have received a disability product postcard collection in the mail, free of charge. The cards present individual products for the disabled population, ranging from mobility products to bathroom aids. I'm not sure how often the cards are published, but it seems like I receive them two or three times a year. This is an easy, no-effort way to keep up with what's new in the disability product line! To sign up to receive them, go to their Web site (link below) and fill out their brief registration form, or call (215) 675-9376.

Click here to access.

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Organize With Style
I keep several items on my bathroom counter so that I have quick access to them all the time. Consequently, I had to find a way to organize all those little containers in order to simplify directing my attendants to specific things. I keep all of my medication in one basket, and my makeup in another. When I want to get a hold of something, I slide the entire basket towards me.

To avoid a cluttered look and to make my collection look organized, I first resorted to cute wicker baskets. I've since graduated to pretty mirrored trays. I feel great when my things look neat and uncluttered -- yet remain within easy reach.

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Care And Pet Feeding
If you have trouble leaning over and picking up Fluffy's food and water bowls from the floor, make an extension handle and mount it in the middle of a connected set of bowls. The handle lets you easily grab and refill her bowls, especially if she's dancing hungrily around your chair. If you don't know anyone who can make one for you, you can purchase a handle online. One model has a 22-inch long extension and a non-skid surface on the bottom of the bowls. The price is $14.95. Fluffy will love you even more for being able to feed her faster!

Click here to order.

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Soda Can Opener
As a soft drink lover, opening a soda can was one of my biggest obstacles when I became a quadriplegic. However, after becoming paralyzed, I learned to do many things in order to survive -- including mastering the technique of opening a soda can. I just slid my fork under the tab and had enough leverage to pry it forward just enough that it popped through, allowing me to insert a straw; that way, I didn't have to press the tab back down to the horizontal position.

Recently, I came across a product that performs the same opening task as my fork -- only better. This one will even open twist off caps, something my fork can't do. Best of all, it's only $1.95, which is probably less than I paid for my fork.

Click here and pop those tops much easier!

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Slip On Shoes With Ease
Bending down to slip on a shoe is a task made much easier with an elongated shoehorn. Couple that with a hook at the end for easy grasping, and you've got a tool that I'd give to every male wheelchair user I know who wears dress shoes. And if you add a large hole at one end so you can easily hang the shoehorn in your closet, I'd even get one for my fave basketball player, Shaquille O'Neal. At only $3.50, I just might be able to afford several. Thank goodness I can count on only two hands the number of males I know who wear dress shoes and use wheelchairs!

Click here to order

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The Scrubber
Scrubbing tile and walls from a seated position is tough, not to mention the strain on a wheeler's back. Give your back a break by scrubbing with a long handled scrub brush that conveniently swivels 180 degrees around at the scrub head. This motion allows you to apply constant pressure throughout each stroke, and to reach the entire surface so it's cleaned thoroughly. The Scrubber is $12.95 and refills are $6.95.

Click here to order.

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Accessible Door Knobs
Make your door handles more accessible to people with minimal hand function with Leveron door handles. These fit over any standard existing handles in minutes. One size fits all -- and they even glow in the dark. Made of Polymer, the handles clean easily and you'll never have to worry about rust. I've used them on the knobs in my condo for eight years and have never had to do one thing to them, not even tighten them! A set of two is $22.95.

Click here to order.

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Reflective Dog Collars
Walking your dog at dusk or dawn can be dangerous for any dog owner who isn't visible to drivers. For the owner who uses a chair and walks her dog, it's especially dangerous, since viewing someone in a sitting position is more difficult than seeing someone who is standing. Guard yourself by wearing protective clothing, but remember to protect your animal, too. You can do so with a reflective dog collar and leash available from PetsMart. Collars are only about $15 and leashes about $20. This is a small price to pay for the unconditional love your pet gives you.

Click here for more info or to order.

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Misty Mate
As my boyfriend, puppy, and I were browsing through PetsMart last week, I came across the Misty Mate. Similar to a sports bottle, it's equipped with three feet of tubing with a nozzle designed to spray a fine mist. It's ideal for keeping you and your pets cool on humid days. As a quadriplegic who can no longer sweat to cool down, I can tell you that I'll be misting myself while I'm out in the hot Florida sun -- even in the "winter." The bottle holds up to 24 ounces, and lasts approximately four hours when used intermittently.

Click here for more info or to order.

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Warm Up, Cool Down
In the past, I've reported to you about products that cool you off when you're outside in the sun. Recently, I found a product that will cool you or warm you depending on your preference. Made of a band worn around the neck, the Personal Warm+Cool System Wearable Peltier Effect Climate Control (#SI531LG2) discreetly allows the wearer to be comfortable and mobile. I personally have not tried this product, but at $69.96, it's definitely on my list to Santa.

Click here for more info or to order.

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Smooth Sailing Ahead
Holland America Cruise Line has installed the industry's first system to provide a safe, comfortable transfer between ship, tender, and pier for passengers who roll. In addition, the cruise line also has available TDD equipment, amplified telephones, visual alert alarms, bed vibrating alarms, closed caption decoders on televisions, and flashing-light door buzzers. Their four newest ships were built with a closed loop listening system. To contact Holland America Lines, call (800) 637-5029. Or visit their Web site, link below.

Click here to link to HAL.

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Hydrogen Peroxide
In the not so distant past, I've tossed into the trash numerous garments that I assumed were ruined because they were soiled with blood. Fortunately, I ran across a solution that belied that assumption: hydrogen peroxide. As soon as you detect blood on your clothing, bedding, or towels, soak the spot with peroxide. Rub the area vigorously, and repeat. Wash the item with warm, soapy water to thoroughly clean any residual marks. You'll be pleased with the results, and so will your wallet.

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Bowling Ball Blues
If you like to bowl, but don't know how you'd manage to handle a heavy ball with dexterity-challenged fingers, you'll be happy to hear about a bowling ball that doesn't require you to slip your fingers into the holes in order to pick it up. Instead, this special ball comes equipped with a handle, which when released, retracts completely into the ball, flush with the surface. These balls are available in weights of 6, 8, 10, or 12 pounds. The price is $159 plus shipping and handling. Spare yourself from being bored, and get out there and strike out! (Puns sold separately!) To order, call: (800) 634-4351.

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The Fisher Space Pen
Do you have trouble holding a pen at the usual angle necessary for writing? If so, I've got a great tip for you. Fisher Space Pens are pressurized with nitrogen and don't rely on gravity to make them work. Unlike most pens, which must be held with the tip facing downward in order for them to write, the Fisher pen can be held in any position -- and it's guaranteed to write.

NASA selected the Fisher Space Pen for use on all of the Apollo missions, and they're still used on all manned space flights, whether American or Russian. The estimated shelf life of these pens, whose retail price is $18, is 100 years.

Want to see or order a Fisher Space Pen? Click here

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Paper Or Plastic?
Whenever I go to the grocery store and they ask me whether I'd like paper or plastic, I always opt for the plastic. I've found many different uses for these lightweight bags: one of my favorites is to place items in them that are difficult for me to get out of the refrigerator -- fruit and soft drinks, for example. The bags have handles, which makes it easy to slip a finger through and pull the bag toward me. I used to have a hard time taking a loose can of soda from the fridge. Not anymore!

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Tip From A Loyal Reader: Wet Suit
My loyal reader, Jeanne Marie, wrote to tell me how she has made her bathing suit more functional. She writes:

"I have Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome from the waist down, bilaterally, and that is why I am in a wheelchair. When it's time for my aquatic therapy, I find it's a real pain to get my wet bathing suit off -- most of you know what I mean. What I've done to solve the problem is to place hooks and eyes just above the 'private parts' area of my suit. When I'm finished with my water therapy, I simply unhook the hooks and pull the suit over my head. I am sure that lots of wheelchair users find swimming a challenge because of the difficulty of putting on and taking off a bathing suit, but this trick works really well!"

Thanks, Jeanne Marie, for sharing this great idea with our readers!

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Don't Be All Wet
I have a drive-through shower that has no threshold. It's all tiled with an undetectable gradual slope to allow the water to run to the drain. Even with this feature, however, every time I shower, the water trickles out onto the bathroom floor. Fortunately, I found a product that will alleviate this problem: a barrier free water dam threshold that acts just like a dam. Just place the product over the threshold of your shower. Roll over it, and a lip atomically elevates to keep the water contained. Different sizes are available for different shower shapes.

Click here to order.

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Billiard Roller
This pool accessory, the chair rider, is for the hemiplegic pool player -- or anyone with limited use of one arm or suffering from a bad back. The roller acts as your other hand, cradling the tip of the stick. The pool stick is free to glide back and forth, thanks to the wheels on either side of the stick. You can break the rack with ease, and without straining your back. At just $20 (including s/h), it's tiny, and convenient to carry anywhere.

Click here to order.

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Side Kick
If the armrests on your wheelchair don't have pockets or places to stores small items, such as cell phones and pens, you might want to get a pouch to hold them. Some new chairs come with pouches, but if yours didn't, try calling your local Durable Medical Equipment (DME) dealer. If you'd prefer to order online, click the link below. Also, if you or someone you know does sewing or crafts, a homemade pouch would be a snap to make.

Click here to link

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Magnetic Games
Utilize your lap and put a game board on it. If you like backgammon or chess, you can find inexpensive travel games -- and even some with magnetic boards! Magnetic boards keep your game pieces from drifting if you need to move around in your chair -- very important if you've been sitting for a while and need to shift your position.

Very nice boards are available, and I do mean nice! You can get one that closes up to resemble a briefcase, and is made of genuine leather. You'll pay $600 for this beauty, though. I also found magnetic versions in the $50 range for backgammon, and $40 for chess -- much more affordable for those on a budget.

Click here for more information on magnetic board games.

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Golf Glove
If you're a duffer who has suffered a stroke or has partial hemiplegia, check out this golf glove designed especially for you. The Velcro fastening feature makes it easy to fasten and release the glove. With the assistance of your other functional hand, you're ready to make a controlled swing and hopefully end up with a better golf score. The glove is $49.50 (including $5.50 s/h).

Click here to order.

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Carry Your Own Pen
If you prefer to write with a specific kind of pen, it's wise to carry one with you at all times. My recent visit to the emergency room reminded me of that. After the triage nurse checked me out, I was directed to the person who handled the registration part of the process. At the end, I was asked to sign my name in two places. The only pen she could offer me had a ball point. I write with my pen in my mouth, and a rolling writer is the only one I can write legibly with, since it glides like a marker. You can bet there's a rolling writer in my purse now. I wound up having my boyfriend sign my initials, as I held the top of the pen.

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Pump It Down
I've written several tips on the many ways you can use gaffer tape. I've just thought of another handy trick to tell you about. One evening, I was chatting online with my friend Jenny, a fellow wheeler. She asked if I ever have muscle spasms strong enough to kick my shoes across the room. I said no, and she explained to me that when she wears pumps, her spasms are so strong that she can't keep them on. I told her to place a piece of gaffer tape between her pump and her foot. This little trick keeps my dress shoes from slipping off, since it's heavy-duty adhesive tape. Try it! Nobody will know it's there. And you won't ever have to chase your shoes across the room.

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Inspect For Cracks
Several weeks ago, my attendant informed me that I had peculiar looking marks on my left leg, where my thigh meets my buttock. The marks were described as resembling red, elevated stretch marks. I couldn't imagine what was causing them.

About a week later, my attendant noticed several cracks on my shower chair's leather seat cushion. When she pushed down on the cushion, the slits spread apart. I then realized what was causing the marks on my leg. As I sat, my skin was getting pinched when the cracks spread apart. I had my attendant put two layers of strong tape over the cracks, and it's as good as new. My scratches are all healed too! The moral is, make sure any surfaces coming into contact with your skin are smooth.

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Pet Medication Online
For the pet enthusiast who is also a wheeler, you may be happy to know that you can now buy your pet's medication online. Before I was able to drive again after my injury, I relied on my attendants to help me fetch all of my necessities -- even my pet supplies. Now I buy what I need online, and have eliminated one task from my lengthy to do list -- and my order come rights to the door. Hint: If you don't have a prescription for your pet's meds, have your vet's name and number handy when you're ready to order.

Click here for more information

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A Desirable TravelMate
I've recently read about TravelMate, a mobile urinary device for women. Just six inches long and one inch wide, it can be used in a car, on a plane, or hiking, etc. To use, press the reservoir-tipped cradle up against the urethra, and urinate. (In order to use from a wheelchair, you must be able to scoot your hips to the farthest edge of the seat; otherwise, you won't make proper contact with the device.) TravelMate also works well with those of you who are able to stand. Various accessories are available to allow for sanitary containment of bodily fluids.

I'm curious to know if any of you has tried this device, or know someone who has. If so, I'd love to hear from you!

Click here for more TravelMate info or to order

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As Thirsty As A Camel
CamelBak hydrating systems are water bottles designed for the active or competitive type. I saw my friend Hector at a conference several weeks ago, and he had one of these unique water bottles. His sporty looking pouch hung over the side of his right push-handle. Whenever he wanted a drink, he leaned a bit and effortlessly steered the straw to his mouth.

After researching these CamelBak water carriers, I've learned they keep drinks cold longer, because of the insulation from their carrying cases. In addition, CamelBak pouches come in different sizes and shapes, with matching carrying cases and mounts available. Also, if you have trouble reaching for your straw, check out the "Tube Director" -- a pliable, tube-like straw that maintains whatever shape you give it.

Accessories such as a hands-free hydration mouth piece, and a system to insulate your tubing is available for those who live in areas with extreme winters. You can be certain that this item is going to make my list to Santa!

Click here for info on the CamelBaks or to order.

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Be Smart At School
Books are likely to jump around on the laps of school-aged wheelers -- and everyone attending or teaching school, as they bump over cracks and curves on their ride to class. Be smart and invest in a backpack for the back of your wheelchair. Use your pack to keep your things safe and organized; doing so will help keep your mind from becoming cluttered. Besides, the backpack frees up your lap, and allows for the opportunity for a good friend to come up and kiss you on the cheek at any time.

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On Star
The On Star system installed in newer vehicles connects you to a live, highly trained advisor, who's available to assist you 24 hours a day any time you travel. For American automobiles equipped with the device, On Star's advisors are there to assist you with directions, accessing telephone numbers, booking reservations for hotels and restaurants; they will even notify authorities in the event your airbag deploys. Accessing your email and getting stock quotes is as easy as pushing a button. Many of these features, such as having an advisor available to dial phone numbers, are wonderful perks for everybody; but to the person driving with hand controls, On Star soon becomes essential.

Find out more about On Star by clicking here.

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