A Quadriplegic's Wish List

Written by
an AbleThrive community member
Content via Community Submission
Community Submission
Written by
an AbleThrive community member

After I became an incomplete quadriplegic in 2012, I discovered there were many inconveniences, both major and minor. The major included the fact that I could not walk or use my arms, of course, while the minor included such things as waiting for people to help me, that I was no longer on my own schedule, etc. As I got used to my condition, I began to accept these as there is nothing I could really do about them. But as time goes by, I find there are things that would make my life easier, if only they existed. So, since this is a little early for my letter to Santa, I’m writing this wish list in the hopes that these issues would eventually be solved and make my life and that of others’ easier:

An electric wheelchair that is voice controlled

image of a wheelchair

When I was in the rehab hospital, the therapist there first tried to get me into an electric wheelchair. However, although I have some lateral movement in my right hand, I have no feeling there at all. However large or small the joystick was, I was great on the straightaway and could even turn left and right, but I had no feeling on whether or not I was lifting my hand up to stop the chair. After wiping out the candy bar section in the gift shop two times, they decided that the manual wheelchair was what I needed. This means I must be pushed around by my caregiver, which limits my mobility. With the voice controlled wheelchair, I’d be able to move around by myself and even take “walks” by myself. When I searched on Google, I found that someone had built a prototype in 2014, but I don’t know whatever became of it. But the voice controlled electric wheelchair is at the top of my wish list.

A telephone that I can answer, dial, and hang up without using any hands

I know there are applications on cell phones that you can dial with just your voice, but getting to that application requires a lot of pushing of buttons, something I can’t do. As it stands now, when I get a call, someone has to go answer it, give it to me, and hang up when I’m done. Something that would not require me to push buttons would give me more privacy when making calls and more freedom for my caregiver. Again, this might have to be a voice controlled item.

Wardrobe items that are easier to get in and out of

A major US designer recently came out with a line of shirts, pants, and skirts especially tailored to the needs of children with disabilities. Rather than buttons and zippers and all the other stuff on regular items, this line has little magnets that attach that hold tightly. I don’t think it should be too much of a problem to extend this to larger sizes for adults. This would not only make my life and that of my caregiver easier, I think it would also be very helpful for those with arthritis, Parkinson’s, and other diseases that prevent your hands from working properly.

Medicare/insurance that pays for physical and occupational therapy until the job is done.

As things stand this year, Medicare and those insurance policies that follow Medicare guidelines pay for about 24 visits a year for physical and occupational therapy. These visits are the same for people with such things as knee replacement surgeries or me, and incomplete quadriplegic. What this means for me is that I reach a certain level of ability and regaining muscle strength before the insurance runs out and I have to wait for the new year to begin it again. No matter how much I do my exercises at home, I just don’t have the equipment and the expertise to do what can be done in outpatient therapy. So when the new year starts, I am basically starting from zero and working myself up to a certain level, only to regress. The thing is, I think it would be a lot less expensive in the long run if I could continue until I reached my maximum level of strength, and then I wouldn’t have to return. At one time I was walking with just someone holding on to my gait belt and even taking steps up and down. I’ve never reached that level again and I miss it.

dandelion blowing in the wind

So these are my four top “letter to Santa” items. I’m hoping some of them will come true in the near future because it would take a lot of inconvenience off of both my and my caregiver’s daily life.

What about you? What items would be on your wish list? Share them with us for a chance to be featured on AbleThrive!

Thanks to Virginia Hoefler Schwarzkopf for sharing her wish list. You can learn more about Virginia by visiting her blog One Girl’s Journey With a Spinal Cord Injury.

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