Leg & Back Rests
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Tch Typist Armrest H&P Typist Armrest
Building Stilt Keybd
Building Kbd Holder
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Make Back Support
Computing on Back
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Recliner with Desk
If you have a bad back and can't bend, you hate putting on shoes and socks and pants and undies, and taking them off is no better. Picking up things you've dropped is a painful and hated task. If you have a bad neck that hates tilting up and down, you hate getting cans off that high shelf you reach on tiptoes, and you males like urinals but hate neck craning over a toilet. But you have to do all these things, so you're in a real bind.
Before you spend a fortune getting a hired helper, or decide to bother a spouse or roommate to help with these things from now on, look into getting a Lighterweight 40-inch EZ Reacher w/lock for $25.95. You may be in for a grand and glorious surprise! I purchased ours from E-ZEE Supply Company. If you're shorter, they have shorter reachers.
To use a reacher, put the grippers on either side of the object and squeeze the pistol grip. When you're grabbing cans or other heavy stuff like that, use the lock so the item doesn't slip out of your grasp. And now here's the good news for people who get a reacher: your days of painfully picking up shoes, socks, undies, pants, or dropped items are gone! A reacher will pick up paper, a coin, a pill, a bb, a pin, a can, a box that's not too wide or over 5 pounds, string, a book, a VCR tape—in short, most anything it can get its grippers on.
You need to have it with you to use it, but having one at home and one at work and one in your car is reasonable considering their low cost. The one place you for sure need one is at home; consider one for each floor of your home.
Here's how you use it in the bedroom: I'm going to teach you a new way to dress now, but don't worry—I promise not to look! If you can sit, you simply do whatever you can in that position without bending your back and do the rest standing, but use the reacher to replace bending actions, especially picking things up. However, the rest of these directions assume that you cannot or choose not to sit.
If your undies, socks, shoes, or pants are on the floor, the reacher will pick them up. Now that they're all on the bed, hold the undies in front of you as you stand with your thigh pushed against the bed for support and your hand ready to brace against the bed's top if your balance becomes unsteady. Hold them as open as you can and as low as you can without bending and insert your leg quickly in a lift and drop motion that doesn't require holding the leg up as you fumble around, since this is what leverages the spine and causes the pain.
If your bed is too low to be a good brace object, find something higher or raise the bed. Experience will tell you whether you keep the right leg against the bed while the right leg is inserted or whether you need to turn around the other way and have your left leg against the bed while your right leg is inserted in those pesky undies.
Some people will have good enough balance not to need their legs touching the side of their beds for balance and will prefer to be a couple of inches away but ready to thrust out a hand for bracing. Others will need the bed brace only at first but not later.
Do the same lift and drop with the pants—the looser they are and the faster they go on the leg the better. Tight pants may win you friends of the opposite sex—and perhaps a few of the same sex—but is the booty display and all the foxes following you home (I've an active fantasy life) really worth all the pain? The "bottom" line here is that they're hard to get on.
With socks, the lift and drop method is again critical, and you must have already found the heel and have it lined up right and must have the sock rolled down and held open so wide that the target is easy. By far the best way of assuring a fast lift and drop is switching to diabetic socks—they're loose enough to feel better and be a cinch to get on and off. A person with a very delicate back is asking for pain if he uses regular socks.
The right method of getting shoes on depends on the shoe type. By far the least stressful shoe to use is one you can step in and out of without needing hands, like a loafer. The second best type of shoe is something that you can keep loosely tied at all times, never untying it. A person with a very delicate back should avoid shoe tying.
A shoe with a Velcro fastening that you can fasten and unfasten with your other foot is good. (Or use a 3-foot piece of ½-inch dowel with a small L-shaped shelf bracket or shoehorn fastened to one end with duct tape.)
I like using athletic shoes with loose laces and tightly double-knotted lace knots—one ties the shoelaces like this on the day one buys them and never touches them again.
If you find you can step into a shoe but the tongue rides down a little, an athletic shoe is good because the tongue is long enough to be grabbed with a reacher and pulled up.
If you need to or choose to use your hands to get into shoes, get into them as with socks, above, keeping them as open as possible. Hold the shoe by the tongue in front of your midsection and as low as possible without bending. Swing it forward and backward until you get a pendulum feeling going. Now, at the apex of the forward swing, swing suddenly backward vigorously. Note that the shoe tends to get more vertical for a second. This verticality second is exactly what your toe will be aiming for.
Here's the caper: you'll do the lift and drop with your leg at the same time you do the swing and jerk (this is beginning to sound like a dance step). Your toe should be highest off the ground at precisely the split second when you jerk the shoe suddenly backward so the shoe toe points vertical. Your toe will have the shoe jerked onto it and by the time the foot touches the carpet again, the shoe will be mostly on and only require your heel pushing into the heel of the shoe. It takes a bit of practice.
Getting undressed is easier than getting dressed. Use the toe or side edge of one shoe on the heel of the other shoe to get it started and lift out your foot; then let the stockinged toe of the unshod foot help with the other.
Next rub your diabetic-socks-clad feet backward on the carpet to loosen (or remove) your socks-then step down hard on the loosened toe of the sock of one foot with the toe of the other and pull your foot backward out of the sock; likewise with the other foot.
Make sure the shades are down (unless you're looking to make friends with your neighbors). Drop the pants and undies without bending, and once they're on the floor, step out of them. This may require a bit of assisting with the sides and heels of your feet holding down the bunched pants around the opposite foot as your first foot works its way free. If your pants are too tight or thick for this to work, get lighter, looser, thinner ones—perhaps exercise pants.
Now use the reacher to put things where they belong. It's helpful to store shoes and socks on a shelf so you needn't use the reacher to pick them up in the morning.
(Note: You may find that there are also useful devices in disability assistance equipment catalogs—some may even help with dressing.)
Reachers can help with opening low dresser or refrigerator drawers, picking up broken glass, and even reaching half way across an elevator for a playful pinch on someone's rump (while you remain innocently looking straight ahead and four feet away). If this latter gets you in trouble, remember, I didn't advise it—I merely mentioned the possibility! On the other hand, if you meet a new friend this way, please send me either the juicy details of what happened or a finder's fee.
Using a Reacher