Suggestions For Making And Adapting Equipment:

A number of times I've been asked to speak to college students who are majoring in either occupational, recreation or physical therapy. I have done several webinars for Nazareth College, SUNY Cortland and have spoken at Clarkson University. While the topics vary a little bit based on their majors, there are certain concepts which apply regardless of the field, to creating and making adaptive equipment. I thought it might be helpful if I put some of these on Handihelp along with a video explaining what I have learned over 18 years of making and adapting equipment for myself. Andy Dahmen, who is also a C6 quadriplegic, as also had great deal of impact on this topic.

The single most important concept to grasp is the understanding that there are almost ALWAYS alternative ways for doing a particular task. Accepting that concept is ESSENSIAL to discovering alternative ways of doing a certain task. Why, because the belief that a solution is feasible will keep one working when others would have given up.

Often to prove the point I would discuss,the number of methods of catching a fish or the some of the different ways to start survival fire or make electricity. Hopefully people will begin to understand there are quite a variety of ways to complete a certain task.

Other important suggestions include:

  * More than one way to solve a problem

  * Know there is a way

  * Try to keep things simple

  * Don’t get discouraged and give up

  * Think of failure as an opportunity for learning and  growth

  * Think outside the box

  * Be willing to change and modify your approach

  * Be open to the suggestions, ideas and help from others

  * Creating and adapting should be looked at as a process

  * Revisit “finished” products often to improve


Need is always the motivational factor for me. If I wish to participate in, or solve a certain challenge the process begins. Over the years, a general approach had developed in my mind and when I began talking to groups I wrote it down for part of my PowerPoint Presentation.

Process Model

In the following video I’m going to show 2 concrete examples of the process  gone through developing adaptions needed to participant in activities I loved. The first was Mounting a Firearm on a Power or Manual Wheelchair. The second was the making a Fishing Pole Holder. Please look back at my suggestions for making and adapting equipment to see examples of different points I made.  Notice how the process continues to make improvements or modifing existing adaptions for a different application.

Video pic


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Speaking at Ft. Drum

Fishing with Dean

Kayaking with Marge

Andy and me at FT Drum

Workshop at Cortland

Rotary Sportsmen Show

SUNY Cortland

For solders at Drum

Outdoor Adventure Day

Andy and son Max

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