Sunday, March 17, 2013

Adaptive Equipment

by Chuck Jones

I've been thinking about adaptive equipment for stroke survivors for a while and wondering how to go about writing something up for the blog that would make sense and not overwhelm you readers with too much detail.

I wanted to come up with a list of equipment that I thought would be useful to a stroke survivor but, since I have no firsthand experience with that, the best I could do was scour the internet for adaptive equipment web sites and see what is being offered. I was surprised with the amount of items that are available.

Those of you who are stroke survivors or caregivers know firsthand how difficult it is to adapt to missing or impaired motor skills on one side of the body. How difficult it is to try to live a daily life with the use of only one hand and to move about with only one leg working. The difficulty may be even more amplified if the affected side is the one that used to be the dominant one. 

There are so many daily two handed, two legged tasks that we take for granted: eating, tying shoe laces, removing the lid from a jar, cutting a piece of meat, getting in and out of a car seat, taking a bath, putting your clothes on, using a restroom...the list goes on. I'm sure you can add a dozen more daily tasks that are impossible or nearly so after experiencing a stroke.

While there is no one-hundred percent substitute for pre-stroke skills, there are tools in existence today - we're calling them adaptive equipment - that can help a stroke survivor gain more independence. That's what I want to share with you today.

One of the many perks you get attending one of our camps is that sometimes you might get to see adaptive equipment demonstrated. I have seen adaptive equipment demos at some of the Retreat & Refresh stroke camps I've attended, and most of them were fascinating - ingenious, I should say (and some even made me scratch my head and wonder why I didn't think of that) - but the number of items presented at camp are nowhere near what is at your fingertips on the internet. 

However, at the same time, there were things demoed at camp that I have not found on the internet, yet. For instance, the camp has a device that allows a fisherman to tie a fishing line onto a hook with one hand. I have not seen anything like that on the sites I looked at for this blog article. However, I need to add that I never saw any of our campers use that device because our volunteers are more excited about assisting the campers with fishing than they are to be fishing themselves. The camp also has an electric fishing rod and reel that can be cast with one hand and reeled in with the push of a button. A variation of this one I did see on the adaptive recreational web site.

To help with my search, Marylee, our camp Executive Director, gave me a document she prepared titled "Resources for Families of Stroke Survivors". It contains a list of about twenty addresses of web sites that provide either stroke information or products available to assist stroke survivors and their caregivers. I picked out six sites that were emphasizing products for disabled customers. I am sure there are many many more sites that could have been on this list but these are the ones we know about at this time. If you know of any others that you like, please let us know so we can include them, too.
One website has twenty-three major categories of adaptive equipment, such as: Car, Bathroom, Memory, Toilet, Bedroom, Kitchen, to mention just a few, and each of those categories contained several items. I think it is safe to say there are over a hundred items being offered at just this one web site alone. While browsing other sites, I noticed many of the same items being offered, even the same brands, but there are still many that are unique to their site.

I thought about including some pictures here but after trying to include a few, I realized I couldn't do enough of them or do them justice, so what I'll do is include the six links that I visited and you can go look for yourself. You'll get better descriptions and prices than I can provide in this limited space:  - Daily Living Aids for In Home Care. This site has many useful products for the kitchen, around the house, on the move, and for your comfort.   - Making Living at Home a Little Easier. This site is the one with twenty-three different categories I mentioned earlier in this article.   - Lifestyle Products, Disability Aids and Independent Living Aids. This site has helpful products for independent living as well as some rehab and recovery ones.   - Access to Recreation. While this site has products to assist outdoor activities as well as indoors, it also has a lot of aids for daily living as well. It even has some adaptive equipment for sports activities such as golf and fishing.   - This site is a huge online catalog store with many products and gadgets and some categories with adaptive equipment.  - Adaptive Driving Marketplace. This site has wheelchair vansscooter and wheel chair lifts, turning auto seating, steering controls, ramps. You can buy or rent wheel chair vans here.

I hope you find these few sites useful. There certainly are enough products available on these six sites alone to keep you searching for hours. If you have any other sites you think we should visit pertaining to stroke survivors needs please let us know. If you have a specific need and can't find any information about it let us know that, too. Maybe we can help or find someone who can. Use the "Contact Us" link in the list of links at the left of your screen.  

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