Family Corner

Recommended Equipment

  1. Wheelchair
  2. Bed
  3. Shower Chair
  4. Hoyer Lift
  5. Standing Frame

The staff at Shepherd was wonderful in SO many ways. Not only the doctors, nurses, PT’s and OT’s, but the office staff, too, who handle so much paperwork “behind the scenes.” While Darren’s primary PT was the one who would write the recommendations for the necessary equipment, the office staff dealt with the vendors and the insurance company.

First and foremost, figuring out the type of wheelchair Darren would need. As with a lot of people with C level injuries, Darren was so weak to begin with, but got stronger and regained some function during his time as an inpatient. While a powerchair was scripted and paid for by insurance, it also took a long time to get and we did not want to fly home with it. So we ordered a manual chair and paid for it ourselves, and luckily had it just before leaving Shepherd’s Day Program. The powerchair was delivered to Darren after we arrived back home, and he did use that for several months, maybe more. He preferred his manual chair and used it whenever he could. The Seating Clinic at Shepherd was very good, and they gave us a lot of options when choosing his chair. They also made some really good recommendations, as we did not have the knowledge or experience to help us make the right selections. We did a fair amount of research on our own, as well, so together we decided what we thought would be best. Darren’s powerchair was an Invacare Storm; his manual was a Quickie Ti.

At Shepherd, they have found a way to convince the insurance companies that a person with quadriplegia needs a double bed. I have not found that to be true of other rehab facilities. Darren used the original hospital bed ordered for him for about 3 years (I think). While Darren had to be turned every 2 hours in the beginning, and had to be cathed in the middle of the night, the size of the bed didn’t seem to matter. But as he got stronger and was able to turn himself, roll over and otherwise maneuver around the bed, having the larger size really was helpful. He had a set of fabric loops he used to turn himself or move around the bed. And since Darren is 6’ tall, having an “extra long” length was really good, too. All these things came from the recommendations of the PT and OT at Shepherd.

Darren has used the same Active Aid shower chair since the beginning, and while it has had some problems, it has held up pretty well. We’ve replaced various parts over the years, and I am suggesting he order a new one before it falls apart for good, but so far it’s still very functional. For daily use, it just has the small caster wheels, but when we lived in California for a month to attend Project Walk, we did use the larger wheels so he could push himself. For travel, he has a NuProdX shower chair that is really easy to put together and take apart. That has been very useful when traveling by car or plane; it’s easy to transport and has its own carrying case.

When we first arrived home, we thought we would use the Hoyer Lift on a regular basis. But pretty quickly, we figured out how to use a transfer board and the Hoyer lift didn’t get much use. While it provided a safe transfer especially if only one person was available, Darren hated that mesh sling, and we really tried to master other methods of transfer as soon as possible. Sometimes it was a 2 person lift, but fairly quickly the transfer board became the preferred method of moving from one place to another. We still have the lift, though, and we did use it to get Darren in and out of the pool for one summer, until we mastered other ways of entering and exiting the pool (more on that later!). I do have the fear of Darren being on the floor at some point and needing to use the lift, but that has not yet happened. Thank goodness. (He has been on the floor, yes, but we have always managed to get him up without needing the lift!).

OK, here I am going to get on my soap box and speak about Standing Frames – the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF EQUIPMENT YOU CAN HAVE AT HOME! The results and benefits from standing and being weight bearing are many: just standing and stretching out the body from the sitting position offers many benefits to the body’s systems and organs – circulation, digestive, urinary and bowel – to increasing range of motion, improving cardiovascular health, and improving posture. Let’s not overlook the more obvious result – being upright! For many people, this is very important psychologically, and can improve one’s positive feelings and outlook on life.

At Push to Walk, we have found that clients who do stand on a regular basis have less complications than others. If you don’t have a standing frame, and could benefit from using one, check out www.easystand.com. Or do some research on the internet; I remember reading how some people built one for themselves. Maybe that was on CareCure (an excellent resource for all things related to SCI – http://sci.rutgers.edu) or Apparelyzed (another great resource – www.apparelyzed.com). Some insurance companies DO cover standing frames, and it is worth appealing if you get a denial. The challenge is – making time to DO IT! As with lots of different things we don’t really want to do, we make excuses, never get around to it, or plan on doing it tomorrow (which becomes next week, then next month, etc.). THE TIME IS NOW! Start standing, and do it on a regular basis. Watch TV or a movie while you’re standing. If you have the kind with a tray, put your computer up there, or a book. Something to help you pass the time. I know my son will even stand while he and a friend are watching a movie. Even try playing video games! The important thing is you’ll be STANDING!