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Revolutionary Mobility Aids for Quadriplegics

Last updated on February 12th, 2024 at 06:52 pm

For over 40 years, I have lived with C5/6 quadriplegia. During this time, I’ve witnessed significant advancements in assistive devices that enable people with paralysis like me to move around. These aren’t regular tools; they’re essential mobility aids for quadriplegics that give us more freedom and a better life.

In this article, we will look at different kinds of mobility aids. I’ve had experience with numerous such assistive devices, which have proved revolutionary in my life. We’ll talk about wheelchairs that are advanced and other remarkable technologies that help us do more things by ourselves and be more active in the world.

Wheelchairs and Add-ons Mobility Aids for Quadriplegics

As a person with quadriplegia, my wheelchair is an integral part of me. It represents mobility, freedom, and independence. Over the years, assistive technology like wheelchairs has evolved significantly, enhancing our mobility and independence. It also became one of 7 assistive devices that changed my life.

  • Power Wheelchairs: A revolution for those with limited upper body strength, power wheelchairs move at the touch of a button. They can be controlled with head or sip-and-puff controls, allowing us to navigate our environments.
  • Manual Wheelchairs with E-Wheels: For individuals with some upper body mobility, these wheelchairs strike a perfect balance. E-wheels add motorized assistance to manual wheelchairs, reducing strain and expanding mobility.
  • Leg Lifters: These tools assist in moving the legs, which is crucial for transferring in and out of wheelchairs or vehicles. Their simplicity and effectiveness embody what adaptive equipment should be – empowering and functional.

Advanced Control Systems for Mobility Aids

Exploring various control systems has been a journey of regaining control over different aspects of life. Here are some game-changing technologies:

  • Tecla-e and Tecla Shield: These systems have been remarkable additions. They allow control over smart devices and environments using wheelchair-driving controls. The Tecla Shield further provides access to iPads and Android devices.
  • LipSync: This mouth-operated joystick enables control of a computer cursor with minimal head and neck movement. It’s a testament to how innovation can make a significant impact.
  • Tobii Eye Gaze Technology: The Tobii system, which tracks eye position to control the mouse pointer, has opened up new avenues for communication and entertainment.
  • Sip-and-Puff Systems: Though I haven’t used them, their impact is undeniable. They allow wheelchair and computer control using breath, providing freedom to those with minimal mobility.

Adaptive Tools For People With Quadriplegia

Navigating life with quadriplegia, I’ve discovered that the right adaptive tools can impact everyday mobility and independence:

  • Mouthsticks: These tools have been essential for interacting with touchscreens, reading books, and engaging in various activities.
  • Phone and Tablet Mounts: Indispensable in daily life, these mounts allow hands-free use of devices for communication or entertainment.
  • Gripping Aids: These aids are invaluable for tasks requiring a firmer grip, like holding utensils or writing tools.
  • OBI Robotic Eating Device: This device has improved my ability to eat independently, providing dignity during meals.

Incorporating these tools into my daily routine has enhanced my mobility and played a crucial role in maintaining engagement in everyday life.

Vehicle Modifications to Improve Mobility

Getting behind the wheel means freedom for many, including those of us with quadriplegia.

  • Adaptive Driving Equipment: Driving is possible with limited hand and arm function. There are many tools to help, like hand controls for braking and speeding up, easy-to-use steering devices, special ignition pads, and gear shifts. Some of us use joysticks, similar to those on gaming consoles, but for driving​​.
  • Driving Evaluation: A professional driving trainer can check your skills before starting. They examine your vision, muscle strength, and ability to use adaptive tools​​.
  • Choosing the Right Vehicle: The kind of car you pick matters. Sometimes, what looks cool isn’t the best for our needs. Many of us find minivans or full-size vans more useful. These cars have more room for wheelchairs and the equipment we need​​.
  • Costs: Changing a car to meet our needs can cost a lot, but it’s worth it. The price depends on the kind of changes we need. There are also ways to get help with these costs​​.

Accessible Public Transportation

access to public buses for mobility aids for quadriplegics
weston m on Unsplash

Modified buses and light rail systems make traveling more accessible for us.

  • Buses and Light Rail: Many buses and trains have been changed to help people in wheelchairs. They have lifts and spaces where we can secure our wheelchairs. This makes it easier for us to travel around the city and go to places like work, school, or shopping.
  • The Impact on Daily Life: We can get around more easily with these changes in public transportation. We can go to more places on our own, which helps us stay active in our communities.

Scooter Carriers for Personal Vehicles

Scooter carriers make it simple to bring mobility devices in our cars.

  • Types of Scooter Lifts: There are different kinds of lifts. Some let you drive your scooter right onto them. Others lift your scooter into your car. You can pick the one that fits your car and your needs best​​.
  • Choosing the Right Lift: The best lift depends on your car and what you need. Some people prefer lifts that go inside their car. Others like ones that attach to the back. A dealer can help you find the best one​​.

Conclusion

All these tools – from modified cars to accessible buses and scooter lifts – help us live with more freedom.

They let us go places and do things on our own. Every new tool is a step toward making life better for people with quadriplegia. It’s about more than just getting around. It’s about being part of the world and living our lives to the fullest.

FAQs

What Assistive Devices Are Available for Daily Activities?

A: Many devices help people with quadriplegia in their daily lives. These include:

  • Wheelchairs for moving around.
  • Braces that help with moving arms.
  • Toothbrushes that don’t need hands to use.
  • Utensils for eating without using hands.
  • Machines that help feed.
  • Devices to control phones and other tech with eyes or voice. These tools make things easier for people who have trouble moving because of spinal cord injuries.

How Can Home Modifications Help in Daily Life?

A: Making changes at home can help people with quadriplegia. These changes make it easier to move around and use their home. Some changes are:

  • Ramps for wheelchairs.
  • Wider doors.
  • Lower counters. These help people with spinal cord injuries use their homes better.

Can Smartphones Control Assistive Devices?

A: Yes, many assistive devices can connect to smartphones. People with quadriplegia can use voice commands to:

  • Control lights.
  • Change room temperature.
  • Lock doors. Some devices can be used directly from the phone.

How Does Eye-Tracking Technology Work?

A: Eye-tracking technology lets people with quadriplegia control devices by looking at them. It watches where the eyes go and turns that into commands. This lets them:

  • use smartphones.
  • Control devices in their home.
  • Use special eating tools and robotic arms.

Do People with SCI Always Need Mobility Devices?

A: Whether someone with SCI needs mobility devices, braces, or home changes depends on their condition. Some people might need home changes and braces, but others might need more tools. Talking to a therapist can help you figure out what’s needed.

Are New Devices Coming for People with Quadriplegia?

A: Yes, there are always new devices being made for people with quadriplegia. Some recent things being worked on are:

  • Better wheelchairs.
  • Advanced eye-tracking tech.
  • Improved voice software.
  • Possible new treatments for paralysis. These new devices and treatments aim to help people with SCI be more independent.

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