Steph Hammerman: Putting On Shoes With Cerebral Palsy

This article contains a video
Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via Steph Hammerman
Steph Hammerman
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

Steph Hammerman, born with spastic cerebral palsy, demonstrates how she independently puts on shoes. “Sometimes (putting on shoes) can take me up to ten minutes or it can take me about two minutes. It just depends on how my body’s reacting,” she says. 


“You’re going to notice the way I put my shoes on might be a little different from someone you know who has CP or something different that you’ve done for yourself. But, this is what works for me.”

Steph states that sitting in her power chair is where she feels most comfortable putting on her shoes. Steph starts with her left side. She begins the process in an unconventional way, by putting the shoe in her mouth as she brings her leg up to cross it over her other leg. This process is trial and error as it may take a few times for her to get her leg in the right position. To bring her leg up into the correct position, Steph pulls on her pants leg. “I try to create as much resistance in the pants as possible,” she says. 

“I’ll often tell my legs to relax, and I’ll just use the word “relax”.”

Steph uses verbal cues to get her legs to relax so she can bend them in the right position. After time, she states she can feel the muscles relaxing. With her foot in the right position, Steph holds her ankle with one hand to keep her leg in position while she slides the shoe on with her other hand. With her shoe on, Steph lets her foot fall back on her footplate and then bends down to tie her shoe. When her left shoe is on, Steph starts the process all over again with her right shoe. 

Steph states that when she first learned how to put on her shoes that one shoe used to take her an hour to put on. She has drastically cut down on time which proves that practice makes progress! However, Steph discusses the reality of putting shoes on independently. There are times when she has to let her legs calm down, and there are even days where she has to ask someone for help. 

Steph concludes by saying, “It is very rewarding to know that I am able to do this and hopefully my struggles or my experiences with it (because it’s not always a struggle) will be an example for other people.” 

At the end of the video, Steph’s fiance Ty does a simulation for people without cerebral palsy to get an idea of how it would feel to put shoes on like Steph. He uses resistance bands to simulate the spasticity in her body.

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