Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Time to Walk the Walk

Rich Fabend

In my previous three blogs I have encouraged individuals with disabilities to change their attitude, be willing to take some risks and begin to try some different ways to make their lives a little easier. I talked the talk but now it is time for me to walk the walk and show you some things that I’ve done to adapt equipment for my use. Below is a materials list of items that will be helpful to have around for making adjustments to things you use.

Cable ties, Clamps, Clips, Compression bandage, Duct tape, Friction tape, Foam, Hose Clamps, Pipe Insulation, PVC Pipe, Straps and Webbing, String and Shoelaces, Velcro, Wooden Dowels.

My hands are normally in a loose grip position. It is almost impossible for me to grip anything tightly. In order to hold on tight my hands must be strapped on to the object. I noticed lacrosse and hockey players wrap tape repeatedly around the same spot on their sticks to prevent their hands from sliding off the stick, so I decided to try it. If you look at the attached video (Adapting a Broom) you will see how I use friction tape and a piece of wooden dowel to enable me to use a broom. The friction tape has been used to make what I call a “stop.” On a long handle, such as a broom or rake, you should decide where you want your lower hand positioned and place the “stop” right there. Wrap tape repeatedly around the same spot until you have built up a raised area on the handle. Grip the broom or rake as best you can. When your hand slides up the handle it will come to rest against the “stop” and prevent any further upward movement.
The turning of the tool in my hands frustrates me to no end. I have used several different adaptions to help me control them. A rake or broom is of little use if it turns over when one goes to use it. In order to stop the roll over I drill a hole in the end of the handle, if there is not already one, and insert a piece of dowel, round pieces of wood of varying diameters. A piece of tape on either side of the shaft will hold the dowel in place or I attach the dowel through the hole using a rubber band. This enables my wife to remove the dowel if it gets in her way. In the picture I am loading the wheelbarrow with straw I have raked by turning the rake over and sliding it under the straw. Holding on to the dowel prevents the rake from rolling over.

We have a wire wreath-like birdfeeder which is filled with peanuts. We then hang the wreath outside for Blue Jays and other birds. They will pull the peanuts out one by one. As you can see in the video, the kitchen floor is quite a mess when I finish. So I use the broom I have adapted to clean up. Use this technique on other long handled tools like a mop, leaf rake and other garden tools.

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