Adapting to life with mobility impairment can feel overwhelming, particularly if the news has come following an unexpected injury or illness.
At KARMA Mobility, we don’t believe in sugarcoating the difficulties that do arise when you find out that you have become or are going to be disabled. Instead, we wish to provide you with tools that help you adjust to your new life with less barriers in place.
So what is mobility impairment and what does it mean for you? Let’s take a look.
What is mobility impairment?
Mobility impairment is a category of disability that includes people of varying disabilities that are permanent and have a long-term impact on your ability to carry out daily tasks.
This could be getting dressed in the morning, walking or engaging in conversation.
Disabilities that are considered within mobility impairment include:
- Lower limb loss
- Upper limb loss
- Manual dexterity
- Coordination disabilities
This could be caused by injury, a degenerative disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, amputation, heart disease and a number of other reasons. In some cases, respiratory disorders, epilepsy and autism can result in mobility impairment.
How mobility impairment might impact your life
If you’re in a position where you have a mobility impairment then the likelihood is your doctor will have already explained how this is likely to impact your life. You will be aware that certain tasks might not be as easy as they were before, but over time you will adjust to a new way of performing activities.
This will be different, but just as you adjusted to carrying out those activities as an able bodied person, you will adjust to carrying them out with your mobility impairment too.
However, if you have recently been diagnosed with a degenerative disease or are preparing for disabled life pending amputation, this might not ring true for you. It is important at this stage to speak with a medical professional about the changes to come and how you are able to adapt your environment to make the transition easier.
It can also help to research disabled communities online as well as bloggers who share a similar disability to yours. They will have the best advice and knowledge on experiencing life with your needs.
How to adapt to life with mobility impairment
Disability can sometimes be hardest to adjust to when it has come unexpectedly. You may feel as though you’ve been given a new body to learn, one that can’t commit quite as easily to tasks that were simple beforehand. However, there are many ways that you can adapt your environment and the tools you use to suit your new needs:
1. Find suitable accessible clothing
Living with mobility impairment can make it a struggle to put clothes on and take them off. However, there are a myriad of brands that specialise in creating accessible clothing that is more suited to disabled bodies.
We discuss our favourite accessible clothing in our blog: The Best Accessible Clothing for Wheelchair Users.
2. Discover living aids that work for you
You may require a few basic living aids around your home to improve your motability and make day-to-day tasks less complicated.
The following living aids are NHS recommended:
- Grab rails
- Raised toilet
- Reclining armchairs
- Comfort grip cutlery
- Disability food prep boards
- Angled cutlery
- Perching stools
- Anti-slip trays
- Scoop dishes
- Kettle tipper
- Intercom system
- Walking aids
3. Make your home accessible
Your home should be a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed, especially if you are living with mobility impairment.
In our Wheelchair Access Guide, we have dissected some of the most important things to know about wheelchair access in the home. Whether you require lower counters in your kitchen, a hoyer lift to help you in and out of bed or ramps at your doorway, this guide will provide you with the best advice on updating your home to suit your needs.
4. Find ways to keep active
Finding ways to exercise can be one of the greatest things you can do for your physical and mental health. You may need to check with a medical professional or physiotherapist to discover which activities are safe for you but depending on the nature of your ability you’ll be able to find some truly amazing sports and connect with like minded people.
Take a look at our guide, 8 Sports for an Active Life for some inspiration.
5. Surround yourself with the right support
Whether it’s family, friends, teachers, teammates or even professional doctors, therapists or charities, building a strong support network around you can make all the difference.
Set yourself realistic expectations and allow the people around you to remind you of all the things you can do in times when it feels like you can’t. Whether this is related to your emotional state, your ability to work, or to continue participating in hobbies.
How to define your disability
Your disability is yours to define.
Although mobility impairment is used to determine the category of disabilities, we understand that the word impairment can have negative connotations. Your disability is not a weakness, and this term is not designed to imply that. You are defined by the parameters of what you are capable of achieving, and you choose what that is.
Your boundaries are yours to set, and you can describe your disability in any way that feels right for you, because everybody’s disability is different.
For more information, advice, and support, follow KARMA Mobility on social media.