Living with a physical disability can present a range of challenges, particularly when it comes to mobility and independence. However, thanks to advancements in assistive technologies, the lives of wheelchair users have been significantly improved.
These technologies not only enhance your ability to move with ease, but also promote greater independence and participation in various aspects of life. At Karma Mobility, our aim is to help wheelchair users experience life to it’s fullest, so join us as we explore some of the remarkable assistive technologies that are transforming the lives of wheelchair users and promoting their independence.
What is Assistive Technology?
‘Assistive technology’ refers to products, systems that assist people with disabilities and mobility impairments to perform daily activities that would otherwise be difficult.
Top Assistive Technologies
Smart home integration
Smart home integration, whilst not intended as such, can improve the ease with which wheelchair users live their lives, thus promoting independence.
Smart home devices offer convenience by controlling all electronic aspects of your home from your hand, or even just your voice.
For example, the following everyday functions that can be typically difficult for a wheelchair user to control can be access from smart apps on your phone:
- Doors and locks
- Leak detectors
- Curtains and blinds
Apps are an informative app
- AccessAble: AccessAble is an assistive website and app that provides accessibility information to help people with disabilities work out whether a location is suitable for your needs. This helps to prevent any issues with taking chances on your days out.
It covers a wide range of venues like cafes, cinemas, theatres, shops, pubs, train stations, universities and even hospitals.
- Blue Badge Parking: Blue Badge Parking is a user run app that shows whether locations in your area have blue badge accessible parking spots. Because it is user run, if you find a location that does/does not have blue badge parking and isn’t marked on the app, you will be able to help other people with disabilities by updating that location yourself.
- Changing Places Toilet Finder: No matter how inclusive a location is for wheelchair users, without an accessible toilet, you can find yourself caught out at the time when you least need the inconvenience, which is why the Changing Places Toilet Finder makes going out independently so much easier.
Although Changing Places toilets are generally designed for dependent use, they make independent travel more convenient for wheelchair users, so you can plan a day out by yourself without needing to worry.
- Red Panic Button App: The Red Panic Button app helps dissuade any worries that you might be stranded if you go out in public and something happens to you.
Many wheelchair users have other health complications that can make it scary to go out without a family member, friend or carer with you, but this App allows you to simply click the red button and alert multiple contacts of your location.
- Wheelmap: Wheelmap, similar to AccessAble, helps wheelchair users find accessible places across the globe. Each location is ranked by how accessible it is, from fully wheelchair accessible to not wheelchair accessible, as well as unknown accessibility.
You can mark how accessible you find locations you visit to help other wheelchair users.
- Wheel Fit: Wheel Fit is a workout app designed specifically for wheelchair users. It provides workout and training plans as well as fitness-based nutrition tips for people of all abilities to help you work out wherever you want to and however you want to.
Automated pill dispensers have been designed to help people keep on top of their medication, and take the correct pills on time. Many wheelchair users require medication as part of their routine and, whether you are responsible for taking your own medication, or you rely on a carer to do so, an automated pill dispenser can make this task much easier.
This is particularly useful for those who have limited mobility in their hands because pill cases and bottles can typically be quite fiddly, as well as anyone who struggles with memory loss.
Health trackers have grown into a trend that allows people to monitor their physical activity, diet and overall health but there are many benefits these can have for promoting independent exercise for wheelchair users.
Unfortunately, there are limited versions that attune themselves to the specific needs of those who live in a wheelchair.
But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t options:
- Apple Watch: Apple users can switch on the Wheelchair setting from the Health section on the Apple Watch app. After conducting extensive research, they designed a wheelchair tracking function that monitors the number of pushes rather than steps to achieve a ‘rolling goal’.
- Invictus Active Trainer Smart Plus: This wheelchair specific treadmill monitors your distance, rolling speed, heartrate and calories to give a rounded overview of your fitness journey as you train from home.
If the space in your property allows, you might be able to install a home lift. This smart technology gives you the freedom to move around your home without needing assistance with stairs, whether this is from a carer or a stairlift.
Wheelchair lifts come in various forms, from platform lifts that move a wheelchair user from one level of the home to another, to inclined platform lifts that are designed to move a person and their wheelchair up the staircase on a moving platform.
Whilst more expensive than traditional stairlifts, home lifts can be far easier to use, particularly for wheelchair users who have limited mobility in their hands and arms, or are completely paralysed from the waist down.
Robot vacuum cleaners
Robot vacuum cleaners were originally designed to take the hassle out of cleaning homes, but they are also an incredibly useful tool for wheelchair users.
Anybody who has tried to use a traditional vacuum in a wheelchair can tell you what a hassle it is. From wires that create a hazard on the floor, to bumping into the hoover when you try to move, and even angling yourself to hold the handle that is set at just the correct height for someone who’s standing, it turns into a task that is far more difficult than it needs to be.
Robot vacuum cleaners are wireless and can navigate under tables, chairs and furniture that you might not be able to reach. You simply need to switch it on, put it on the floor and watch it collect dust.
Mobility friendly beds
Mobility friendly beds provide increased comfort for wheelchair users by giving you the ability to adjust various features including:
- Inclining the upper and lower body
- Tilting adjustment
- Height adjustment
These come in single and double sized, with the addition of only one side of the bed being adjustable. Certain models are fully electric which means you can adjust everything whilst in bed without needing to shift your body uncomfortably, and change the configuration depending on your needs at the time.
Electric beds aren’t much more expensive than traditional beds, but they might need a bit of extra budgeting.
Wheelchair accessories range from powered, technical options to simple lap trays, all of which can greatly improve the independence of wheelchair users.
Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that make the biggest difference to your life.
Karma Mobility is a leader in forward-thinking mobility equipment and Wheelchair Accessories that are designed to improve the everyday lives of wheelchair users.
Limited mobility certainly doesn’t mean you must give up on your independence.
Indoors or outdoors, powered/electric wheelchairs provide manoeuvrability and keep up with the demands of your life. At Karma Mobility, we work with a range of local dealers that pride themselves on their range of Powered Wheelchairs, designed for an exciting and independent life.
For more information and guidance on daily living aids from the Karma community, follow Karma Mobility on social media.