I thought it might be interesting to share some of the disability aids I use and how they help me lead a fairly normal life, two years on from my life-changing accident. I have seen a few videos on YouTube on this topic and found them interesting. I’m sharing mine to hopefully help others, and provide information about these aids. I knew nothing about these aids before, and it’s all been a steep learning curve.
- Double handrails on the stairs: my husband put this extra rail up for me while I was still in rehab. I would really struggle with the stairs without it. Unfortunately, needing to hold on with both hands means I can’t carry things downstairs, except in my pockets. It cost about £200 to put in. The white rail is a newel rail, needed because of the style of our 1930s stairs, which my OT got for me.
- Grab rails: I have grab rails in the shower, and at the front and back door. These really help me manage the steps. I also have some in the downstairs toilet, but I tend not to need them much.
- Three wheeled walker: Got this for £10 second hand in a local charity shop. The good tyres help me get round our large garden, and I can carry my stick and some tools in the pouch.
- Four wheeled walker: I was using this outdoors for 14 months, but now I have got a better one for dealing with paths, wonky pavements and tricky thresholds. It also has a seat, which enables me to increase the distance I can walk, by letting me take a quick rest when I am in pain. There is a pouch under the seat, the brakes are not great, so if I am sitting on it, I have to back up against something to feel safe. I realise my original walker is really meant for indoors! My new walker, an Evo Suspension, has a much bigger bag attached at the front, and when it is folded, it stays folded! I bought the original one because it was the type I had used with my physio. My new one is much better, but of course, dearer! It’s important to try walkers out and find the best one for you. Walkers basically allow you to walk naturally but without the risk of falls.
- Helper trolley aka kitchen trolley. Another second hand buy (£20). My OT recommended it. I didn’t really like pushing it because I felt I was tripping over the wheels. It’s not the prettiest aid either. But it does help me transport stuff, however, these days I find I am using it as an extra work surface in my study. The two shelves are handy, but it’s one I might repurpose long term.
- Zimmer Frame: given to me by the NHS. I only use it at night and when fetching clothes from my wardrobe, because I can hang things across the top of it. It gives me stability for night-time bathroom visits where there is a danger of falling. I am almost past needing it, and it lives upstairs.
- Metal stick: another piece of NHS equipment. This is a very simple aid, and I mostly use it in the house or on paved areas of the garden close to the house. I have one upstairs and one downstairs. It’s great. The only downside is finding somewhere to put it when I am not using it but need it nearby. It can easily fall down.
- Wheeled table: I loved these in hospital and rehab so when I knew I was coming home, I ordered one. They cost around £32 new but can often be picked up second hand. The wheels make it easy to reposition. I have my laptop on it and use it as a work table.
- Outdoor handrails on steps: I already had one handrail before my accident, but the NHS provided two more, one at the front and one at the back. Steps used to really scare me so these handrails enabled me to get out of the house without fear, at three different exits. We have recently finished a balcony area at the back, which is only a tiny step down and is a really safe way for me to get fresh air when I am on my own in the house and don’t want to take risks. It has a glass barrier so I can still see my garden.
- My OT got me a ‘bathing bubble’ so I can have a bath. These are quite expensive to buy so I am grateful for its long term loan. It has 4 suckers which fix it to the bottom of the bath, and it is inflated using a pump. I sit on it and it is then deflated and lets me sit on the floor of the bath. Re-inflated, it allows me to get out of the bath safely.
A few other simple things help: A simple plastic but sturdy chair in the bathroom, so I can sit at the sink; food prepping at the kitchen table, a footstool to put my legs up in the evening, and having arms on chairs and sofas to help me up.