By Allan M. Friedman, CFILC's Technologies Manager
A wheelchair wasn't going to cut it. It just wasn't going to work in our house.
My wife sustained a severe injury to her right foot last summer. She recently had surgery to repair it. But the healing process takes a long time and she must be off her feet for most of it. So we needed to find a way for her to get around in our house; our circa 1979, two-story, fully carpeted house. Unless, of course, she stayed in bed the entire time. If you knew my wife you'd know that is out of the question.
She couldn't use crutches. We tried a walker but it proved to be too difficult as well. She's not very strong.
Kaiser, in their usual one-size-fits-all way, would only provide a standard hospital wheelchair which doesn't work in our home. Pushing a standard wheelchair on carpets is extremely difficult and besides, our interior doors are thirty inches wide and our hallway is forty-two inches wide. The wheelchair is also thirty inches wide. Have you ever tried making a hard right turn in a confined space like that?
Fortunately, I was able to borrow a scooter from the California Assistive Technology Reuse Coalition (CATRC). This scooter has been our savior. Now my wife can move around the house quite easily. It gets into every room (on the ground floor). And with a couple of homemade ramps (plywood and two x fours) she was able to get over the two inch step to our front door and the four inch step at our back door. This scooter allowed her to continue working right up to her surgery last month.
When she got home after the surgery we faced a new dilemma. The scooter was a great solution while she had a cast on her foot and could sit normally, but now she has to keep her foot elevated. We thought we'd try a wheelchair again but with her leg extended it was impossible to get into the bedrooms and bathroom. The scooter solved that problem too. A laundry basket on its base lets her keep her leg up and still navigate the house.
It will be many months before my wife is able to stand or walk. We both work for non-profits and don't have the resources to buy something like this new. Thanks to CATRC we have been able to use this scooter to help her through this. And I don't have to do laundry anymore!
Do you have an AT success story that you would like to share? Please use the comment box to let us know about your AT adventures.