Before I became disabled, I didn’t realise just how important mobility aids are and the impact they can have on a person’s life. When I received my first manual wheelchair, it didn’t give me a good quality of life, it made me depressed and I had no independence whatsoever because the wheels were heavy and the wheelchair was not supporting me at all. This was due to a poor assessment and not acquiring a wheelchair that was best suited to my needs. Ultimately, this convinced me that all mobility aids were a negative thing.
How wrong I was…
I was reassessed for a new wheelchair and now I have a lightweight manual wheelchair which I can manoeuvre myself in – albeit I can only propel myself in spurts but it’s so much more than I was able to do! If it were not for my mobility aids, I wouldn’t have the quality of life that I do now, I wouldn’t have achieved the things I have.
Furthermore, and not just my wheelchair, but my walking frame and Ross Return have enabled me to do so much! For example, in August, I was able to cross the finish line with my walking frame (and Hannah!), at the Superhero Tri! Plus, my wheelchair enabled me to marry the love of my life!
Mobility aids are often perceived as a negative thing and a sign of weakness. We’re here to remove this misconception!
With their own mobility aids, these ladies agree too.
I would like to introduce you to the lovely ladies who are collaborating with me on this post,
Chloe Tear – “Hi, my name is Chloe Tear and I have Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain and I am registered as partially sighted. This means I use a range of mobility aids to get around depending on how I am feeling that day. I work on Scope’s online community and I have been writing a blog for 6 years.”
Hannah Deakin – “My name is Hannah, I am 28 years old and a powerchair user, since an injury at the age of 14. I am an ambassador and disability and lifestyle blogger, with the aim of reaching out to others and making a positive impact on the world.”
Miranda Oakley – “I’m Miranda. I’m a Christian thirty-something who happens to be completely blind. I’m a published author and a motivational speaker. I have spoken to kids and adults about why inclusion of people of all abilities matters. If you find yourself liking my work you can follow my blog!”
Arabella – “I’m Arabella, the oddball and writer behind the blog, Lost In The Story. I’m mainly a mental health and book blogger, but over the past year I’ve started to open up and talk about chronic pain on my blog more in the hopes of raising awareness.”
What is a Mobility Aid?
A mobility aid is a piece of equipment that supports a person with mobility difficulties or someone who has an illness or impairment and needs assistance when moving around. But, in actual fact, mobility aids are so much more than just an aid which helps to assist disabled people.
Mobility aids can be:
- Wheelchairs, Powerchairs/Electric Wheelchairs & Mobility Scooters
- Walking sticks, Canes and White canes
- Crutches, Anterior Walkers
- Walking frame, Posture walkers, Rollators
- Hoist, Stair-lift
- Ross Return (standing aids that help you to transfer)
…and many more!
The Importance of Mobility Aids
Chloe – “A mobility aid can not only aid mobility, but also aid independence. For me, using my cane means I don’t have to rely on people as much to navigate. My cane can alert me to obstacles in my path so they can be easily avoided. I think it is important to know that these aids may make certain elements of our disability visible and people often assume it will hinder independence and that an aid is a bad thing. However, I can assure you this is not the case! Without my cane I can feel lost and disorientated, like I could bump into something at any second. Independence is often what we strive for, mobility aids can allow us to achieve this.”
Arabella – “Let’s be real here, getting out and about when you have chronic pain, or any other issues that impairs your mobility, is difficult. The more days I spent in pain; my view of my body’s capabilities decreased. I started to think I was made of glass and as a direct result even when I was having a ‘good’ day I still didn’t want to go out, scared that something would happen to cause a flare up. It’s so easy to just not go out when doubt creeps in but having my mobility aids sometimes feel like my own little cheerleading team shouting ‘you can do it! You’ve got this!’ Instead of thinking that I can’t go out because I’m not too stable on my feet or one area is hurting particularly bad, I feel more motivated to try just because I know I have something that can help me.”
Perseverance & Perception
Miranda – “As people with disabilities, we know that we live in a world filled with many people who view disability as a negative thing. Because of stereotypes and lack of education, people often believe that disabled people cannot thrive alongside those without disabilities. As disabled people we need to persevere despite the limitations placed on us. We need to remember and teach the younger generation that limitations are only placed on us if we allow them to be. Many blind people, including myself, have not always enjoyed using a white cane because it often sets us apart from people and keeps them from getting to know us.”
“Now that I am older, I think of my cane as something I should always have with me. I find when I am out traveling, I need my cane to keep me safe. I believe it is important that we continue our advocacy work to help change perception surrounding disability. We need to show the world that people with disabilities deserve the same opportunities in life and that having a disability doesn’t mean you cannot live a fulfilling life.”
Arabella – “The thing with mobility aids is that you can’t really miss them, sure sometimes they come with some unwanted attention but there are also positives that comes with that visibility. Being so young and not looking like I have anything wrong with me, it’s hard to always have the confidence to ask people to let me have a seat on public transport. Often on a busy bus when I don’t have my crutches or walking stick, I’ve stood the whole journey home despite being in a lot of pain simply because I don’t have the confidence to ask people to give up their seat.”
“Not being open about having chronic pain is a very real issue for me and it comes with some very real consequences. When I use my mobility aids, I have no other option but to be more open about my issues because everyone is going to notice a young woman on a bus with a bright purple, glittery walking stick. Using my aids invited me to become more open with my needs in public, what in turn makes journeys out a lot more pleasant in whole and when I do get home, I’m not needing to spend the next day in bed because I pushed myself too hard.”
Ami – “Two of my many symptoms is tiredness and muscle weakness, when these affect me, more than usual, I need to be rational. Not just for my own safety but others too. A year ago, I didn’t own any mobility aids and newly diagnosed with Ataxia – walking was profoundly difficult and dangerous as I kept having falls. I am able to use a walking frame but only for a very short distance before my legs start shaking. I must use mobility aids – I have to be rational.”
Ami – “It took me a long time to build up trust with my Ross Return and my walking frame. I fully depend on these two aids to help me transfer and to stay mobile. They have become a part of me and my daily life, they are my friends and I cannot help but get attached because of how much they have improved my quality of life. Although I need additional support when using these, I have more trust in what I am using rather than the people assisting me, most of the time.”
Attitudes & Acceptance
Miranda – “No matter where you live in the world, there are so many negative attitudes surrounding disability. This approach is not good because this negativity can be turned into the way disabled people are portrayed. I believe we need to change the conversation about disability into a positive one. If you see a person with mobility aids, get to know them because those people are more than their devices.”
“All of us, including those with sight, should do our best to remain positive about the white cane because once we learn our surroundings, the white cane allows blind people to independently get from place to place. The cane alerts us about objects on the ground, upcoming stairs and more. We need to discuss challenges to bring about change, but we need to also show people that with the right attitude and support, dark moments can be turned into moments of light. Having a positive attitude will give you a better outlook on life whether you have a disability or not.”
“Acceptance because as disabled people we need to learn how to accept ourselves for who we are. We need to understand that our differences make us into the people we were meant to be. Sometimes it is not easy having a white cane or any mobility device for that matter because these aids are what keep people away, but I would like you to know that if you are struggling right now, it always gets better. You will eventually find those people who accept you for who you are and these are the people who matter the most.”
“I believe we need to be in a place in life where we understand that there are differences in all of us and that includes people without disabilities. I believe it is so important to thank those people who are showing acceptance and positivity towards disability. It is these people who are setting a great example for the world and helping bring about the change that this population so desperately needs.”
Hannah – “I need my wheelchair. It is not a sign of failure, weakness or a choice. It’s a need not a want. With it I can move. Get around my house and go out. Without it I am bedbound. I can’t get anywhere, I would not have a quality of life.”
Chloe – “By using a certain aid, we are looking after ourselves. At the beginning it can be extremely difficult to be open to the idea that we need this bit of extra support. A mobility aid can make our disability become visible and this can be extremely difficult to adjust to and accept. I’m here to say it’s okay. You’re looking after yourself every time you use that aid and it’s often what our body needs.”
“Caring for yourself in this way can allow us to have more energy and less pain, this is something we deserve. I fully appreciate the anxiety that can be attached to using a specific aid, and this is completely valid. I use a wheelchair on a part time basis, a walking stick and a long white cane (not all at the same time!) and I can honestly say that I wish I would have started to use them soon because they’ve really helped me look after me.”
Enable & Empower
Hannah – “I could not decide on one word as both words are so important and relevant! My wheelchair enables me to live! It enables me to move from ‘A’ to ‘B’, to go outside in the world, see friends and family, go to physiotherapy and hospital appointments, to be an ambassador, raise awareness and give speeches. It empowers me to take on the world! To achieve and make a difference. Take part and contribute. To be a valued member of society.”
Do you use a mobility aid? What has your mobility aid enabled you to do?