May 19, 2016

A Tribute to the Men and Women of the U.S. Armed Forces

US Armed Forces

First observed in 1950, Armed Forces Day is held annually on the third weekend in May, this year being May 21, 2016. Armed Forces Day honors the dedicated men and woman currently serving in the five branches of the U.S. military.

Air Force Master Sgt., Israel Del Toro, is one of those enlisted in the military. However, his story isn’t a typical one. Del Toro was on deployment in Afghanistan when, on Dec. 4, 2005, an IED explosion severely burned more than 80 percent of his body.

“We crossed this creek and I feel this intense heat blast on my left side,” Del Toro told ESPN.

“People talk about your life flashing in front of you … for me, everything started just coming in waves,” said Del Toro, then a father to a 2-year-old son. “And when I got out of the truck I was on fire from head to toe. I collapsed ‘cause the flames overtook me.”

“I’m thinking I’m gonna die here,” he said.

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May 16, 2016

Product Spotlight: Liko power patient lifts by Hill-Rom

Power Patient Lifts can quite literally ease the strain of patient care in the home, yet you’d be surprised at how many caregivers don’t even know this product is readily available for homecare.

My experience in homecare began abruptly in 1987 when my completely healthy Father suffered a massive stroke from which he never recovered. To make matters worse, it affected his right side, and speech center. Both were completely gone, so while he survived the stroke itself, the long term effects were devastating. He was 70 years old and would never walk or speak again. My Mother, ever the devoted wife, was adamant that we would keep him home and care for him ourselves.

Power Patient Lift

Viking Patient Lift

Mom sold their house and had one built close to mine that would accommodate his needs and make it easier for me to help them. It was a ranch, had ramps, a roll in shower, hard surface flooring throughout to make it easier to get all the rolling stock around. I struggle to think of mobility equipment we did not have for Dad. Wheelchairs, lift chairs, commodes, rehab shower chairs, hospital beds, an hydraulic patient lift, you name it. Everything worked together pretty well, except that clunky hydraulic patient lift. I suspect that back in the day it was the only kind you could get.

It had a sling with loud clanking chains attached, and getting it under my 225 lb Dad was a challenge. If you did finally accomplish that, you had to go back around the other side of the lift and crank a handle back and forth to ratchet poor Dad up in the air one crank at a time. It was scary for him and scary for us. Even today Hydraulic lifts are the only type that Medicare pays for, and even then they rent them by the month. Unless you have two caregivers at all times, I don’t recommend them. Continue Reading

May 12, 2016

Thinking of Adding Power to your Ultralight Wheelchair? Let’s ask Mark

 

Dear SpinLife,

I’m a manual wheelchair user of 30 years (I bought my last rigid ultralight through you). I’ve been diagnosed with shoulder issues and need to reduce my pushing. I don’t need a power chair, but I am looking to get a new ultralight chair and I’m thinking a powered kit for it might be best. What do I need to know about adding power to an ultralight wheelchair before moving forward? Thanks, Lewis

Lewis,

Unfortunately, you’re not alone in your need to take strain off of your shoulders. While ultralight wheelchairs and related components such as wheels are very ergonomic now, they weren’t in the past, and so many long-time wheelers are in your situation. Fortunately, between increased ergonomics and “power assist” systems, you can remain very active in an ultralight manual wheelchair despite your shoulder strain.

When we speak of “power assist,” we’re referring to any motor-based system that’s added to a manual wheelchair to assist with propulsion. There are three technologies in the power-assist category: a power base controlled via joystick, power-assist push wheels, or a power-assist 5th wheel. Let’s look at these technologies available when adding power to an ultralight wheelchair :

 

Power-Assist Push Wheels 

adding power to your ultralight wheelchair

Xtender Power Assist Wheels

Power Assist push wheels

Power-assist push wheels are typically self-contained with a hub motor and battery. They replace your standard wheels. Via sensors, when you give them a push, each wheel’s motor kicks in, giving your every push a boost. The advantage of power-assist push wheels is that they keep your manual wheelchair very stock and familiar in its operation – you’re just getting a boost with each push.

 

 

 

Power-Assist 5th Wheel

Adding power to your ultralight wheelchair

Smart Drive MX2 Power Assist 5th Wheel

A power-assist 5th wheel is a small, all-in-one pack that quick-release mounts under your wheelchair. It contains a motor, battery and drive wheel. When you push your standard wheels, it triggers the 5th wheel to drive – your wheelchair then seems to glide on its own. Because the 5th wheel is so compact, it’s arguably the easiest power-assist system to transport.

 

 

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May 10, 2016

Small Space Gardening

small space gardening

Plants can add an amazing aesthetic anywhere, so consider small space gardening. Live plants have excellent benefits such as purifying the air we breathe, adding fragrance, and perhaps best of all providing us with food! Maybe you’ve downsized, or don’t get around quite as freely as you used to, but gardening can still be a fun and rewarding pastime.

It would be easy to assume you need large spaces to garden well. Not so! Here are some easy ways to fit the garden you love into the space you have.  garden 1

The Space:

The first thing you will need to consider is the space you have. Be creative! Use the space around your mailbox; line your walkway with beautiful, edible greens such as kale or Swiss chard; hang planting boxes from fences, windowsills, and porch railings.  No yard? No problem! You can plant on a balcony, patio, and even use the indoors for small space gardening.
small space gardening

The Plants:

You will need to decide what you are hoping to accomplish with your garden. Are you looking for a beautiful, fragrant, pop of color? Flowers such as African Violets, Marigolds, Peace Lillies, and Begonias all have what it takes to grow well indoors or out, and they work in small spaces provided they have enough access to sun.

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May 5, 2016

How to Maximize Power Wheelchair Performance? Lets ask Mark!

Dear SpinLife,

My new Spinlife Power Wheelchair was just delivered. In getting used to it, do you have any recommendations and tips on how I can maximize power wheelchair performance? I live in Detroit and plan on using it a lot around town. Thanks. -Motoring in the Motor City


 

Maximize power wheelchair performance

Hello Motoring in the Motor City,

Congratulations on your first power chair. There’s no doubt it’s going to get you out and about, giving you the mobility you need and deserve.

I know it may sound a bit basic, but the first tip toward maximizing your power wheelchair performance is to read the owner’s manual. It illustrates all of the features, including vital ones, such as how to operate the hand control (joystick), use the free-wheel levers (for manual pushing in an emergency), adjust aspects like the seat height, footplate, and so on. Some users simply sit in a new power chair and go, but it’s vital to read the owner’s manual, learning all of the functions and features of your power chair.

Now that you’ve read the owner’s manual, and are an expert on your power chair, let’s turn you into a pro….

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