When we celebrate Independence Day, we officially recognize our country’s liberation from Great Britain in 1776.
However, many – from those born with disabilities, to those with later-in-life injuries and conditions, to those who are aging – celebrate another, more personal type of independence day: The day they receive a new mobility product.
Mobility products – albeit, a manual or power wheelchair, scooter, or even a lift chair – play remarkable roles in our lives. If we look at the history of mobility products, our understanding of them has profoundly, rightfully changed. Whereas decades ago, a wheelchair, for example, had a stigma attached, that’s no longer the case. Yes, societal changes have brought tremendous level of awareness, inclusion and acceptance surrounding disability and mobility products.
However, the real evolution has occurred with each of us who rely on mobility products. Every individual’s experience is different when it comes to making the transition to a mobility product – from a 4-year-old using a manual wheelchair to a 79-year-old using a scooter. Yet, the realization is the same: We go from knowing some form of confinement to a life of liberation through the use of a mobility product.
The desire for independence is universal, and the fact that mobility products contribute to our independence is profoundly life-changing.
Now, I know that for some, the thought of a mobility product leading to greater independence can seem counter-intuitive. After all, doesn’t one need a wheelchair or scooter because of a loss of some sort? Yes, but understanding the end result is key. A mobility product actually restores levels of independence. Think about the grandfather who can take a family vacation with his grandchildren because his scooter allows him mobility to cover distances he couldn’t cover on his own. Think about the young man whose ultralight manual wheelchair allows him to attend college despite his spinal cord injury. The individual stories go on and on.
However, here’s what mobility products accomplish: They allow us the independence to pursue education, career, family, and community – aspects of life we all wish, need and deserve.
Therefore, on this Independence Day, let us not only be thankful for the wonderful country we live in, but also for the independence mobility products bring to our lives.