10 Useful Gadgets Brought to You by People With Osteogenesis Imperfecta
Having Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bone Disease, certainly poses some unique problems for those of us with short limbs and limited mobility. Here are ten gadgets/adaptive technological advances that help actual people with OI as well as other disabilities.
1. Wheelchairs: This one is pretty obvious, but most of us with the more severe forms of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Types 3/4) use electric wheelchairs for mobility. Most of us use one of Permobil‘s models because they are technologically the most advanced and extremely stable. Read about mine, here. (Teryl – Daughter has OI and uses a Permobil K450)
2. Trekking Pole/Cane: For those OI-ers that are a bit more mobile and can walk, they often feel more comfortable carrying a cane or trekking pole for stability. A fall can be extremely detrimental for someone with Brittle Bones, and we generally try to avoid those at all costs! (Christopher from Seattle, WA)
3. SmartDrive: This is a really neat gadget that connects to a manual wheelchair and essentially makes it partly electric. It uses a motor to give the manual chair that extra oomph to travel over long distances quickly or through rough terrain or thick carpet. It’s controlled with a bluetooth wristband and its battery lasts for about 12 miles. Max speed is 5.5 mph. (Kirrily says that her SmartDrive gets her places by herself she wouldn’t ordinarily be able to go without help.)
4. Jar Opener: Even people without disabilities have trouble opening jars. When your hands are weak or you have a broken bone, this gadget can be a lifesaver! It will make sure you get into that peanut butter or pickles when you want and without having to wait for help! (Athena is a marketing specialist and uses one of these all the time in her kitchen!)
5. iPad: When we break our arms, fingers, or shoulders, it’s really hard to move our upper bodies. Even small movements like moving a computer mouse or typing on a full size keyboard is hard. iPads are great inventions for us. They allow us to check email, play games, do our banking, and surf the web without moving much at all. (Pat says that since she hurt her shoulder, her iPad has been wonderful!)
6. Portable Folding Wheelchair Ramps: I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have gotten somewhere and not been able to get in due to a single step up or a curb. As a wheelchair user, it’s very difficult to navigate when there are large thresholds or bumps up. I personally own several sets of folding aluminum wheelchair ramps of varying lengths, two sets of which I keep in my car at all times. My two-foot ramps are great for curbs, and are only $59 on Amazon Prime. The six-foot ones are more expensive but can handle three or four steps. I highly recommend getting a least a set of short ones if you are in a wheelchair.
7. Kindle or eReader: When your arms are weak and fatigue easily, it’s hard to hold a book. I encountered this issue a lot in school and had all sorts of methods for propping up textbooks. Now that I’m out of school though, I still like to read and just don’t want all the fuss of having to “set up” to read. For people like me, Kindles are amazing inventions. I know you don’t get to FEEL the book, but honestly, it’s just too physically hard for me to feel the book! My Kindle gives me some independence when it comes to something as simple as reading when I feel like it and not having to ask someone for help.
8. Butt Wiper: Now, this one might be a little bit TMI, but when you have upper body or arm pain, it’s REALLY hard to wipe when you go to the bathroom. Even worse, some of us don’t have arms that are physically long enough to get the job done at all. This is a pretty cool invention in helping that issue! (Kelly and Jane both use theirs every day!)
9. Back Scratcher: This one may seem pretty basic, but I use my back scratcher all the time! Again, my arms are really short and there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to scratch an itch. And with the monster mosquitoes we have down here in Louisiana, this little guy sits by my computer day and night!
10. Bruno Van Lift: One major issue wheelchair users (especially power wheelchair users) have is transporting them from place to place safely. As you guys have read in my blog about the process of getting a new chair, these pieces of equipment are highly specialized and very expensive. You don’t want to risk damaging them in transport, so it’s important that you get the right type of car set up for the chair you have. I have a Bruno lift like this one in the back of my van, and it can be operated by pretty much anyone. It has a few drawbacks, but overall, it’s been a great system for me. (Ignore the old guy in the picture. It was the best one I could find!)
Bonus: If you are a power wheelchair user, you NEED this product. This is one of the coolest things I have ever bought. This gadget plugs into the power outlet (where you charge your chair) and allows you to charge any electronic with a USB adapter from your wheelchair battery. Now, granted, you need to make sure your wheelchair battery is charged and watch how much you drain it, but I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve used this to charge my phone or my camera at a concert. They aren’t cheap, but 100% worth buying.