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Tue 17

Ravalli People First

October 17 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Wed 18

Women on the Move

October 18 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Wed 18

Missoula Valley People First

October 18 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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Tips from Tom

When to Shift: A Discussion of Mobility Devices

For people with mobility-related disabilities, choosing which mobility aid to use, or even having one at all, is a complex and personal decision. I use a walker, along with a recumbent bicycle, to get around.

I discussed this issue with various colleagues who also use mobility devices. One colleague recently transitioned to using a power wheelchair from a manual chair.
He said he changed to using the power chair after having some seating issues with the manual, and, in doing so, he noticed some pros and cons. He has more energy when using the power chair because he doesn’t have to propel himself, but he has noticed his arms becoming weaker and that he has gained weight. He said if there were better seating options available, he would continue using the manual chair instead.

Personally, although I have sometimes have balance problems, I choose to use my walker instead of a manual wheelchair. I do strength and stretching exercises to work on my balance. I prefer to use the walker because, although it’s more physically demanding, I keep muscles in shape that I wouldn’t be using in a manual chair.

My mother walked for many years with a cane. When she moved to a new home with a wheelchair-friendly environment, she transitioned to using a manual wheelchair—and never walked again. Her muscles atrophied and she lost too much coordination. I want to retain my walking ability as long as possible.

There is a time for many people when using a more accommodating mobility aid may be necessary. I personally recommend using the device that engages as many muscles as possible as long as possible—use it or lose it.

Tom H Thompson is a peer advocate in Missoula and can be reached at tomskilaw@gmail.com

By | 2016-10-31T23:23:34+00:00 December 20th, 2014|Peer Advocates|Comments Off on Tips from Tom

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