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Learn and Grow

June 17, 2016

The Truest Meaning of Father’s Day

On this Father’s Day,  I think back 19 years. I had all of the trepidation of an expectant father, plus some.

What lessons would I teach my child? Would I be able to provide my child everything needed and deserved? And, would I be able to physically care for my child given the fact that I had severe cerebral palsy, using a power wheelchair? I was 27 and doing well in life, but are fathers ever really prepared for our first child, not knowing what to truly expect, especially with physical disability in the equation?

However, as the most fortunate of fathers have known, such trepidation and question are resolved in an instant. Moments after my daughter, Emily’s, birth, she was placed in my arms, my being the first to hold her. As my somewhat contorted arms cradled her on my lap in my wheelchair, Emily looked me straight in the eyes with the most reassuring look I’ve ever seen.

Sure, I know that newborns technically can’t see. However, the power of that first glance and my coinciding tears washed away any trepidation I had, albeit fatherly, disability-related or otherwise. That first lock of our eyes told me that Emily and I were in this life together, unconditionally. There was no room for trepidation, just love and understanding.

In the following weeks and months, that unique father-daughter bond proved itself in truly inexplicable ways. It’s as if Emily understood my situation. As with most babies, she fussed and squirmed whenever her mother or anyone changed her. Yet, when I lay her on the bed to change her – wheelchair height! – she was all smiles and still, allowing me to change her with one hand. Continue Reading

June 7, 2016

Pre-configured wheelchairs make ordering easy…or “Why buy a Bundle”?

Pre-configured wheelchairs are a fairly new concept in the world of wheels. Whether we are wheelchair users or providers of the equipment, the traditional approach taken is to configure the wheelchair to the user, and then configuring the seating (cushions, backrest) separately. Many times from two or even three different vendors.

Breezy Elegance Platinum has all the bells and whistles

Breezy Elegance Platinum has all the bells and whistles

So, maybe we should ask “Why buy a Bundle”?

Of course, when dealing with numerous manufacturers to compile a complete configuration, missteps do occur. Perhaps shipping timetables don’t coincide, or some small seemingly insignificant feature is overlooked. Things happen.

I guess it is a sign of the times, and it may actually  be a change for the better. A pre-configured wheelchair. After all, we are accustomed to “bundled pricing’ for just about everything these days!

Look at your Cable service- you may have TV, internet, and your home alarm system on the same monthly bill. Likewise your cell phone. You may have your cell phone, data plan and even your home phone service bundled together.

Bundling saves money, and adds convenience. Bundling also ensures that one feature is designed to work with the next feature seamlessly. So we can really think of a pre-configured wheelchair the same way. It’s a bundled package designed in such a way that all the pieces and parts work together, and ship together as one single package. Sounds like a great idea to me!

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June 2, 2016

Adaptive Sports: Get Out There!

At one time, wheelchair sports were about… well… wheelchairs. However, today, while you may require specialized equipment, adaptive sports are more about inclusion than wheelchairs.

Nowadays, while formal wheelchair-based sports competition remain, the recreational market is where most of us enjoy adaptive sports, whether it’s a hand-cycle to ride with our children or a tennis chair to hit the court with our spouse.  So, let’s look at what’s hot, from a pick-up B-ball game in the park to road racing.

Court Sports

Adaptive Sports, Court wheelchair

Hammer by Colours

Playing tennis while using a wheelchair is a fantastic sport – and workout. Whether you play against another wheeler or an able-bodied opponent, tennis is a remarkably equalizing sport. In fact, tennis is so adaptable to those using wheelchairs, there’s only one rule change: wheelers are allowed two bounces of the ball before the return. Other than the “two-bounce” rule, tennis is game-on for all on the court. What’s also great about tennis is that to start, you don’t need to invest in a court chair – simply grab a racket and ball, roll out onto a local court and see how you like it. Interestingly, among some of the top wheelchair tennis pros over the years have been those using power chairs, so tennis is open to a vast range of disabilities.

 

Basketball is another great pick-up game, whether shooting hoops with your kids in the drive way, joining a game in the park with friends from the neighborhood, or participating in an all-wheelchair league.  Grab a ball, find a hoop, and see if you’re the next “Chair Jordan!”

When it comes to getting more serious about playing tennis, basketball, or both, you have several wheelchair options. If only one sport is your passion, invest in a tennis- or basketball-specific chair. With a wheelchair designed for your sport, it will up your game and your fun. However, if you find you enjoy multiple court sports, invest in an “all-court” chair – it’s one chair designed to go from sport to sport remarkably well.

Adaptive Sports Handcycle, wheelchair cycle

Top End Excelerator XLT

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June 1, 2016

How to Size a Ramp? Here’s a helpful guide.

size a ramp suitcase style

If you or a loved one uses a mobility aid every day, access over even a small threshold or step can present a challenge.

I’d like to offer some suggestions on how to correctly size a ramp, and discuss different options that are easy, affordable and available.

If you look at ADA guidelines on how to size a ramp, the regulations are based on what would be a comfortable slope for a person in a manual wheelchair to propel themselves up the ramp without assistance.  Under those assumptions the recommendation is 1 inch of rise for every foot of ramp length. That make for very long ramps, indeed! That is the slope that is acceptable for permanent ramps on commercial buildings.

For today’s discussion we’re going to concentrate on Pre-fabricated portable ramps. This is the type you would use to allow access for an individual using a chair or walker going up a curb or a couple of steps. If you are using a scooter, power wheelchair or if you will have the assistance of a caregiver to help you the rules on how to size a ramp are much more flexible.

If someone is pushing from behind, you can easily size a ramp at 2 inches of rise to one foot of ramp length. The calculation looks like this: to get up a 6 inch curb, your ramp would need to be 3 feet long. (measure the height of the step and multiply by .5 to get that slope)  That is an easy size for a portable ramp, and perfect to carry along with you in your car for access when there is no curb cut available. That style is called a suitcase ramp.

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May 26, 2016

Great Accessible Getaways

Thinking about great accessible getaways? Travel season is here, and for those of us who use mobility products, choosing a travel destination isn’t just about where we wish to go, but… alas… how accessible is it?

Ideal destinations for travelers using mobility products have three vital traits: overall accessible architecture, readily-available accessible transportation, and… of course… great attractions. However, finding all three is tricky, so let’s look at a short list that may narrow down the process, with a varied selection of tastes in mind.

 

Las VegasGreat Accessible Getaways

Sin City is also Wheel City, ranking arguably as among the most accessible vacation destinations. From never having to wait for an accessible cab – they’re everywhere! – to an entirely accessible architectural infrastructure to the best accessible hotel rooms, Vegas knows mobility. A misnomer is that Las Vegas is for gambling and other indulgent activities. However, the Las Vegas Strip over the past decade has evolved into a bit of a family affair, full of shopping, restaurants, and amusement rides. With themed hotels, stage shows galore, and attractions for all ages, Las Vegas truly is a family destination. Gambler or not, if you’re looking for fun times, you’ll be on a roll in Vegas.

 

Vancouver, B.C. Great Accessible Getaway

Just over the Washington state border, Vancouver, British Columbia, is among the most beautiful and wheelchair accessible cities you’ll ever visit. Whether you’re looking for scenic coastal beauty or metropolitan flair, Vancouver, B.C., is a stunning city. There’s the Vancouver Aquarium, Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver Art Gallery, and Science World – great attractions.  Then, nature abounds with both accessible coastal and wilderness parks. And, let us not overlook that Vancouver, B.C., has among the world’s finest cuisine, from seafood to virtually every ethnic delight imaginable.

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