When you live with a spinal cord injury, your mobility changes. That’s why many people with these types of injuries make home modifications, find technologies that assist with therapy and treatment, and obtain a service dog to assist with activities of daily living. If you are looking for ways to make living with a spinal cord injury easier, consider our tips.
1. Make Necessary Home Modifications
Depending on the type of home you have, you may be able to make minor modifications to suit your needs. For example, you may install door handles that are easier to grip or turn. Or, you may install an exterior ramp to make entering and exiting your home possible in a wheelchair. Other people find that they need to make more significant home modifications, such as remodeling a bathroom to make it more accessible or widening doorways to accommodate a wheelchair. If you aren’t sure where to begin with your home modifications, check out spinal cord injury survivor Mason Ellis’ tips.
Fortunately, there are financial assistance programs in place to help you afford home modifications. Many people with spinal cord injuries are eligible for grants for disability accommodation in the home. Grants require more work on your part to explain how you will use the funds and why you should receive benefits over other applicants, but you won’t need to repay the money should you be awarded the funding.
There are many grant programs available for specific segments of the population. For example, veterans have the option of applying for the Specially Adapted Housing Grant and the Special Housing Adaptation Grant, while many low-income civilian families qualify for help from Rebuilding Together. You also can check with the Department of Disabilities in your state or the U. S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment to get funding for your home modifications.
2. Discover New Technologies for Individuals Living with Spinal Cord Injuries
Typically, doctors treat spinal cord injuries with surgical decompression of the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. They also manage pain with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs. But, these treatments do not always eliminate the patient’s pain or return functionality to paralyzed patients. That’s why doctors and scientists work tirelessly to create advanced technology to improve life for people with spinal cord injuries.
For example, Mieron offers virtual reality (VR) neurotherapy solutions to assist in physical therapy, rehabilitation, pain management, and quality of life for spinal cord injury patients. They work to “make the possible a reality” and help patients move beyond their perceptions of their abilities to help them excel in their favorite activities in a virtual environment. They also offer immersive VR experiences and responsive games based on neurofeedback, locomotive training, and physical therapy with the goal of helping spinal cord injury patients achieve more.
Many treatments for spinal cord injury patients involve real-time feedback for therapists that help inventors and engineers create sophisticated devices to aid in treatment. For example, robotic mobility aids provide stable platforms for patients to exercise in upright positions, and some include walking. From REX Bionics Ltd., robotic mobility aid REX is available to patients with limited upper limb control, unlike robotic exoskeletons that require patients to control walking sticks with their arms.
3. Get a Service Dog
Service dogs provide companionship and assistance to people with spinal cord injuries. Their services include assisting with movement such as guiding a wheelchair, reminding people to take medication, and helping you combat depression. Several organizations around the country provide service dogs for people with physical disabilities, including those specifically for wounded veterans.
For example, America’s VetDogs and Warrior Canine Connection provide veterans with dogs. If you aren’t a vet, contact Canine Companions for Independence, (CCI), The Service Dogs for America/Great Plains Assistance Dogs Foundation Inc., Canine Assistants, or Summit Assistance Dogs to start the process of obtaining a service dog.
If you have a spinal cord injury, make life a little easier by making necessary home modifications, asking your doctors and therapists about new technologies to assist with your therapy and treatment, and contacting an organization to get a service dog.