Physical Disabilities

Physical Disabilities

Physical Disabilities
Physical disabilities can be sensory, where there are problems with sight, hearing or speech, or they may impair motor function, so that movement is restricted or imprecise. Injuries may cause a disability, and disease such as a heart condition may also make normal exertion impossible. Some disabilities start at birth - congenital disabilities. Others are acquired during life. If you have a disability, it is almost certain that there are many others who do also. Most conditions have support groups or associations that have grown up relating to the problem. These groups may offer specialized help to minimize the effect of the condition.

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    For maximum independence if you have a disability, you can install an electric door opener. If you are unable to turn keys or open or close doors, an electric door opener opens the door for you with a remote control or keypad. And when you are inside, you can open the door remotely, “buzzing” in your guests, just like you might at an apartment entry. These devices can even be operated by pressure sensitive mats or whisper devices for the severely disabled. Electric door openers tend to be on the expensive side, however.
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    People with paraplegia who engage in adaptive scuba diving have little or no ability to kick in order to maintain their position in the water. This is why it is important that they master their buoyancy. Adaptive divers need to understand the various techniques and tools that can help them safely and effectively control buoyancy despite the inability to use foot fins. Note that a mobility-impaired diver who is a complete paraplegic will have no sensation or movement below the level of the injury, where an incomplete paraplegic may have varying degrees of movement, sensation and the ability to ambulate or walk.

    There are many variations of arm or leg impairments, so it’s important to assess the mobility of the individual early on to determine the level of assistance, if any, needed.
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    If you are still mobile but need assistance getting up the stairs from your driveway to a porch, deck, or raised entryway, an outdoor stair lift may be the answer. Just sit in the seat and let it raise you to the next level.
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    Once you are through the door, does your wheelchair, walker, or scooter make it difficult to reach the door knob and pull the door closed? You could tie a cord or rope around the door knob and fasten it to a hook mounted at a handy place that you can reach. Or, if you prefer something a little nicer-looking, a door closer is an inexpensive solution that is durable, flexible, and almost invisible. One end hooks around the door knob, while the other slips into a holder on the door where it is easy to reach and gives you good leverage for pulling the door closed. You can also remove the puller and take it with you to use on other doors while you are away from home. 
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    If you have a disability, make sure you can see where you are going by installing automatic lighting. Motion sensor lights, readily available at hardware and home improvement stores, can be easily installed with a few simple tools. Once you are inside, sound and voice activated lights can be turned on and off at will as you move through the house. There are also whole-house control systems that allow you to turn lights on and off throughout the house using a master control or a remote, the latter being nice when leaving or returning home in the dark. Look for these at home improvement or lighting stores. If you have a home security system, ask the company if they have a compatible lighting system. 
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    Getting in the door is easier if you do not have to fumble with keys due to your disability. Today, there are many alternatives. You can go hi-tech and punch a code into a keypad or use a one-button remote control, similar to the one that opens newer cars. Some can even open the door for you. Ask a locksmith, your security system company, or a home improvement store about the many options available. Also, you can search “keyless locks” on the web.
     
    If the old-fashioned way is good enough for you, there are key turners with built-up handles that give you greater leverage and make turning keys easier.
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    If you have a disability and the entry to your home is particularly high and a long ramp impractical, a vertical platform lift might be a solution. The lift works like an elevator to raise a wheelchair or scooter, plus a companion, smoothly and effortlessly up and down from driveway to entryway, patio to porch, etc... It can work from four feet to up to 14 feet in height. A lift, powered by battery or household current, is durable indoors or outdoors for even the harshest winter weather and really levels the playing field for someone living in a multi-level situation. 
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    Often the most significant barrier for people with disabilities getting into and out of the home is the entranceway itself. Level or slightly sloped sidewalks and driveways will make access to the home easier, whether you have a visual or physical disability or not. If your current home has a step to the front door, can you remove the barrier by changing the landscaping and replacing the step with a gentle slope? Ask a landscaper for ideas. 
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    When you are traveling by plane with a power wheelchair, there are several additional elements that you need to address when booking and getting on your flight. First and foremost, make sure you know what type of batteries you have. "Wet" batteries must be removed from the chair and boxed up in special containers because of the risk of acid spillage. Check with your carrier to find out if you need to box up the batteries beforehand or if they will do that for you.

    "Dry" or gel batteries don't need to be removed from the chair. When you check in (which you must do at the gate even if you already did at the ticket counter), you will be asked what type of batteries you have so that your crew is notified in advance. Sometimes, although the batteries are not removed, they are unplugged during the flight. So, when you get your chair once you've arrived at your destination and the power doesn't work, check to see if the batteries are unplugged before having a panic attack!

    And in case of a real breakdown, make sure to pack your repair tools (these will not be allowed in your carry-on so put them in your checked baggage) and a pneumatic tire repair kit. If you're traveling domestically and have access to a computer, you may want to print out and pack a list of any wheelchair or bike shops that may be near your travel destination. To be most proactive, you can even service your wheelchair before you go on your trip!
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    When traveling by plane in a wheelchair, if you want, you can get immediate assistance when you arrive at the airport. They will escort you to your gate, often allowing you to bypass long lines at security. However, you will need to get physically patted down by a security agent since you can't go through the metal detector. You can request a private area and a same-sex agent if you prefer.

    Whether you are using a manual or power chair, when you get to your gate, make sure the gate attendants know you will be boarding the flight and if you need assistance. You are always entitled to pre-board the plane to give you space and comfort to get to your seat and to allow the airline time to bring your chair down to cargo. Don't be afraid to clearly tell those helping you what your needs are and the best way to assist you.