Handi Hints: 2

Handi Hints are simple solutions for specific problems facing many individuals with disabilities.

*Homemade Handle:

If you’re an individual with poor grip or range of motion problems have you wanted to add an extra handle to the shaft of a long handled tool? I have bought commercial handles from gardening websites which advertised them for the elderly, people with arthritis or individuals with grip issues. However, I have not seen any lately. My friend Andy, also a quadriplegic, needed one so he made it by cutting a channel in a PCV tee which then snapped on the tubing. He then glued a half inch piece into the bottom.

Sweatshirt Modifications:

In the never ending battle to stay warm I recently cut out part of the back of a sweatshirt. I am able to put the sweatshirt on and take it off by myself and it’s not necessary to worry about pulling it down behind me.  This was a simple thing to do but it keeps most of the parts of my body I can feel warm.

Frames:

If the dexterity of your fingers is compromised this may be a helpful solution to assist in picking up small objects. Use of my fingers is severely impacted by my quadriplegia. In an effort to improve their movement I started doing jigsaw puzzles. I began with large-format puzzles which are made for people who have difficulty handling smaller pieces. The major problem I ran into was stopping the pieces from sliding as I tried to pick them up. My son built a frame from plywood and 1"x 2". The raised edge around the outside of frame allows me to trap the puzzle pieces and pick them up. After I did a few puzzles, the knuckles on several of my fingers were getting irritated from sliding across plywood. To solve this problem my wife got some felt like material and covered the plywood. I have several size frames which are used mostly for different sized puzzles but as you can see in the pictures on the right I have one large frame which sits on my worktable. I do projects and this serves the same function by allowing me to trap whatever I am trying to pick up against the inside of 1"X2". It also allows you to rotate whatever you are working on for easier access.

Joystick:

Sometimes it is difficult for me to decide what to put on my website and what is already common knowledge. I decided that there is little harm in including information which many people might 2already know. I have had three different wheelchairs and have had problems with the joysticks on each of them. On the Extreme 4x4 a problem developed when I began wearing my Quad Mitts. The fabric of the mittens made it extremely difficult for me to control the chair. I now have a Ranger X chair and the buttons on the control are so sensitive and my fine motor control of my hand so lacking that it causes me to hit the control buttons all the time. So when I am riding not only is the horn beeping but I am constantly either speeding up or slowing down. I have solved the problems on all my chairs by placing the rubber tip of a crutch or cane on the joystick. Now my hand does not slip when I have mittens on, and the higher joystick raises my hand enough to prevent it from inadvertently touching buttons. Sometimes it's necessary to tape the joystick in order to make a crutch tip fit over it.

Water Bags:

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are the scourge of quadriplegics. The key to avoiding UTIs is to drink lots of water during the day. A simple way to make water available to you all the time is to put a water bag or "water hydration system"  on the back of your chair and have drinking hose clip on to your outer garment. You almost always see them on soldiers. Water bags are available online under the brand name of Camelbak and Platypus. These usually hold between 70 to 100oz. ($30+)

Soapstone Warmth:

When I am outside for an extended period of time in the fall and winter it is difficult for me to keep my hands warm even with the Quad Mitts.  Most of the time when I am hunting I am just sitting in a hedgerow waiting.  I have a camouflaged hand muff but my hands still get cold because of the inactivity.  I have tried using the chemical heat packs but have not had much luck with them.  I know there is a hand warmer that you fill with lighter fluid which burns and the heat given off will warm your hands.  However, when I hunting I would be concerned that the deer would smell the burning lighter fluid. I knew the Amish use to a rock called soapstone which absorbs heat and then gives it off over a period of time.  They place it on the floor of their buggies to keep their feet warm. I found a company online called Vermont Soapstone and they were able to cut a piece that would fit into the pocket in my muff. I heat the soapstone by placing it in the oven or on the mantle of the fireplace and slip it into the pocket.  It gives off heat for several hours and of course there is no odor to alert the game.

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Homemade pistol grip

Sweatshirt

Frame

Add-ons to joystick

Water Bag

Soap Stone