A few years back we made me into a pirate ship (I was the sail) with our cat as a pirate on my lap. This is much better though. Happy and safe Halloween to everyone.
I know this is meant as a joke, but it should be a real product. People with tremor-inducing conditions like Parkinson's may find it difficult to perform fine motor tasks like fitting a key into its slot. This guiding key hole would nicely address that issue. Maybe someone will see this gag and make it a reality.
The situation seemed perfectly normal. I had done it dozens of times before; arrive home from my parents', sling the backpack care package onto my back, grab my cane, and limp into the house. Only this time was different.
The backpack was new. I hadn't worn it before. As I hefted it over my shoulders, I realized that the straps were far too small, so small that I couldn't pull it on all the way. No problem, I reversed course and tried to take it off. It wouldn't budge. I couldn't get it on, I couldn't get it off. I stood there like a deformed chicken with my scrawny, ineffectual wings contorted behind my back, unable to move.
Some physicists postulate that every time two possibilities arise, the universe splits, and both things do happen in alternate realities. In this world, I struggled, shook, and danced for a few harrowing minutes and managed to free myself. But my mind watched in horrified bemusement as the other universe's tragedy played out.
I'm stuck. No matter how I squirm, pull, or stretch, I am stuck. My right arm is too weak to be of much assistance. Both shoulders are inflexible and unyielding. I simply cannot move the backpack. My left hand fingers fumble with the clasp, trying desperately to release the tension, but they're too uncoordinated. The angle is too awkward. After exhausting every Houdini-esque maneuver I can muster, I stop trying and lean against the car.
I analyze my options. My cane is in the car. Even if it were within reach, I couldn't use it with my arms behind my back. I could stand here for a while, 20 minutes, maybe an hour, but then what? I'd be in the same position but more tired. I could sit partway in the car, but I doubt I could get back up. I could take my chances walking and try to get help from a neighbor.
I settle on the last choice and attempt to shuffle out of the garage. The first few steps are easy as I lean against the car for support. Daylight and the possibility of freedom are just feet away. I tentatively step away from the car and... tumble to the ground. If my balance is usually bad, and it is, it's positively horrible with 10 pounds of home cooking strapped precariously to my back.
All I can manage is to wobble from my back to my side like a cruelly inverted turtle. I wobble and I call out. "Help!" I resist the urge to add, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" I yell and yell as best I can, but no one hears.
The end comes quickly. I can't drink my own urine like a survivalist dying of thirst. I can't cut off my arm like a trapped mountain climber. All I can do is yell when I have the strength and lie there and wait, lie there and hope. But nobody comes; no neighbors, no mail carriers, no curious passers-by. This cold, oily concrete will be my grave.
Then I see the headlines, "AREA MAN KILLED IN FREAK BACKPACK INCIDENT". I hear the news reports, "We go now live on the scene where the 39-year-old man was found dead just hours ago, trapped in the straps of a cruel backpack." At least I get my 15 minutes of fame in this alternate universe. And every backpack gets a new warning label, "DANGER: Keep out of reach of small children and cripples."
Back in this reality, I lengthened the backpack's straps. I lengthened them as far as they would go. Then I put them over my shoulders, grabbed my cane, and limped into the house.
--Photo by ToastyKen - http://flic.kr/p/3eyDGz
In the nearly seven years since breaking my neck, I have almost never slept through the night. This article expounds on one of the reasons and a solution I've recently been using.
One thing that many people don't realize about living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) or I assume other neurological disorders, is the effects on the bladder. In addition to the big, visible muscle problems like arms and legs being paralyzed and having spasms, similar issues occur internally. The practical effect is that it's harder to urinate on command and harder to "hold it".
In daily life this can this mitigated by staying near a restroom. During the night, however, it means waking often and dealing with the hassle of getting up and going. Perhaps I'm a little slow, but I've just recently started using a strategy to help: restricting fluid intake late in the day. For me this means the only water I drink after about 8 pm is that needed for swallowing pills. Further, caffeinated beverages have an even greater diuretic effect, so I must avoid them after about 6 pm.
Typically in the past I had awoken at least once to go to the bathroom, and often it was more, sometimes as bad as four or five times. Since consciously limiting my liquid intake, I've gotten up zero or one time. My sleep has greatly benefitted. Unfortunately I still wake up every two or three hours due to pain. Another post will discuss my attempts to deal with this problem.
Photo by vivianejl - http://flic.kr/p/56as3
There's a story in the NY Times about a man and his souped up truck. It is special in that the driver was paralyzed from the chest down when 17 and has no use of his hands or legs. Anyone who needs a modified vehicle to drive can be inspired by his tale.
A story to warm your heart's cockles..
An eleven year-old cancer survivor with a prosthetic leg was carried across the finish line of a triathalon by a US marine after the boy's leg failed.
A Japanese company has a prototype wheelchair that can use its wheels like legs to climb curbs.
Unfortunately it looks like this will only work with one or two low steps. The other "innovation" of turning in a tight circle looks even worse than existing functionality on center-drive power chairs. It's also less functional overall than the iBot and look what happened to that..
The company says it will set up focus groups next. What are the odds this becomes available in less than five years? If so, what are the odds it will cost under $100k?
Saw this on Facebook today. It's almost a year old but definitely worth watching.
D-PAN White Stripes
"In a settlement reached this week, Netflix said it will provide closed captioning on all television shows and movie content it streams by 2014."
I hadn't heard the term "universal design" before. It refers to architecting places for greatest accessibility. This blog post likens universal design to just plain "good design".
Dusty (CrassPip) received a master's degree in special education in 2005. That same year he broke his neck, putting him in the 'disabled' category himself. Due to this experience and his computer background, this blog will focus on disability, especially assistive technology and SCI news.