Paraplegia is described as a complete or incomplete paralysis of the lower body, including legs, bowels, and possibly the trunk. According to the national surveys, over four million people in America suffer from spinal cord injuries. Out of them 300,000 are paraplegics. (“How many People are affected by Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)” par. 2). The life of a paraplegic is hard and full of challenges. Mundane tasks suddenly become troublesome, such as moving around the house or going downstairs (York par. 1). Allowing these people to perform mundane tasks without additional help from someone else would make them feel capable and independent once more (“Spinal Cord Injury – Paraplegia” par. 8).
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This design project is orientated towards paraplegics, and might be of interest to people who have a friend or a relative suffering from paraplegia. Sometimes families do not realize how much they could do for a disabled person. It is not impossible to help them live a relatively normal life. Many different devices and mechanisms could be used to make a paraplegic’s life easier, such as rails, ramps, personal elevators, and bathroom aides.
One of the more challenging tasks that paraplegics have to face is bathing. Getting into a bathtub could be hard for people with limited mobility. However, it becomes an impossible task should one attempt it without extra help or specialized equipment. It requires not one but two strong people to put a paraplegic into a bathtub. This is a very uncomfortable procedure due to the exposure and the physical strain put on the body. In addition, this method has a very high risk of causing additional trauma, leaving it highly unfavorable.
Personal hygiene is very important for the paraplegics due to how they go about their bladder and bowel program (“Bowel Management After Spinal Cord Injury” par. 8). They are required to wash frequently. Being able to do so alone without additional assistance is a major step to improving the quality of life for the paraplegics since not only would they be able to feel independent, but it would also protect their pride and privacy.
Not everybody is comfortable with being naked in the presence of another person, even a family member. Some feel humiliated and think they are a burden, even if their family and caregivers do not think that way. Paraplegics may not say it aloud, but it is how they feel, and their feelings must be respected (Dezarnaulds 8).
Fortunately, there are devices that allow a paraplegic with the reasonable upper-body strength to perform the act of bathing on their own. They are called tub lifts. These devices are relatively simple and safe. The majority of the mechanisms are operated by either gears and levers, or by an electric engine that does the heavy lifting (Bonecutter par. 18). The latter is recommended for the elderly or those who do not possess the necessary upper-body strength.
A tub lift allows the paraplegics to lift themselves up from the wheelchair and then lower their body down into the tub without putting any extensive pressure on the spinal cords. Tub lifts are available in a varied price range to accommodate different social groups. Possessing a tub lift would be of great help to a paraplegic, and an important step towards personal independence.
Bonecutter, Rhonda. Getting In & Out of the Bathtub: Benches, Lifts, and Transfer Chairs. Web.
Bowel Management After Spinal Cord Injury 2016. Web.
Dezarnaulds, Annalisa. Psychological Adjustments after Spinal Cord Injury. Agency for Clinical Innovation, 2014.
How many People are affected by Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)? 2016. Web.
Spinal Cord Injury – Paraplegia 2012. Web.
York, Marcus. Early Challenges 2010. Web.