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When it comes to living with paralysis the right equipment can make all the difference. For me, there have been three items that have changed my life. Living the quadriplegic life is very difficult but these three pieces of equipment have made a tremendous difference in my quality of life, independence, and function.
The first may seem obvious but it’s actually not. When I first came home from the hospital I was not strong enough to push a manual wheelchair so the rehab hospital recommended a power assist chair. This was beneficial for me for the first several years after my injury but eventually, I got stronger and I didn’t need the power assist chair. I was able to push a manual wheelchair but I didn’t even know it because I had the power assist chair.
So when I was eligible through my insurance to get another wheelchair I decided to challenge my body and get a properly designed manual wheelchair. This has made a huge difference in my overall strength and mobility. If you can use a manual wheelchair I highly recommend you do so for the sake of your health and confidence.
The second piece of equipment that has changed my quadriplegic life is a wheelchair accessible vehicle. It took me four years to get back to driving again and I only wish I would’ve done it sooner. The independence that I have now that I have a wheelchair accessible vehicle is incredible. I can go where I want to go when I want to go there. I don’t have to wait for someone else to drive me or feel like I’m being a burden to them.
The biggest challenge with a wheelchair accessible vehicle is the cost. When I purchased my vehicle it was five years old and it still cost $40,000. A new vehicle can be much more expensive. At the time my business was still in its early phases and we did not have enough income to afford the vehicle.
But through fundraising, we were able to raise all but $5000 to purchase my vehicle. We did nearly all of our fundraising through social media. A friend of ours created a GoFundMe and we just told people about it online and others shared about what we were doing to get me back on the road again.
The outpouring of generosity was overwhelming. In about eight months we had raised $35,000 and were able to purchase the vehicle. A friend of mine from childhood who I hadn’t seen in 20 years sent me a check for $10,000 towards the vehicle. Other friends and colleagues all stepped up to help get this key piece of equipment.
So I would highly recommend if you do not already have a wheelchair accessible vehicle that you reach out to your network of friends and family and let them know what you want to do and why you want to do it and you will be amazed at how many people want to help you.
The third piece of equipment that has made an incredible difference for me as I am living with paralysis is my standing frame. For four years after my injury, I did physical therapy, neurorehabilitation, water therapy, activity-based therapy, and anything and everything else I could think of to improve my function, independence, and strength. We had spent tens of thousands of dollars of donated money on these therapies and I finally realized that I had peaked from what these therapies could offer me. After all these therapies I realized the key to my ongoing improvement would be to stand every day.
A standing frame is a piece of equipment that you can transfer into and get you into a standing position. They have frames that are stationary and also frames that are gliders. Our bodies are made to stand. If you stand every day for 30 to 90 minutes like I do it makes a tremendous difference in your circulation, bone density, nerve pain, spasms, strength, mobility, contractures, and so much more.
By the time I purchased my standing frame my business was doing well and I was able to cash flow this piece of equipment. But if you do not have the funds available to purchase one of these standing frames which can cost somewhere between $5000 and $10,000 you can fundraise that money relatively quickly.
If you do not have these three pieces of equipment I would highly recommend you put a plan in place to get all three of them. Either through your own savings or through fundraising or a combination of both. These three pieces of equipment have changed my quadriplegic life and I’m confident that they will change yours as well.
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