When James was 42 he lost the ability to use his legs after a motorcycle accident. He had been sporty, very active and loved life. He has a passion for motorbikes and it was this which in the end led to complete change in his lifestyle.
James's bike hit a car whose driver had failed to see him when turning right across the lane he was travelling on in the other direction. Although He has no memory of the crash, witness accounts said his bike struck the left wing of the car, tossing him 20 feet into the air. He eventually landed in the middle of a field.
He then spent 23 days in a coma, had many broken bones and a severe closed head injury. Doctors said his brain had bounced off the inside of his skull with immense force, causing memory loss and a host of other problems. The vertebrae in his spine sustained damage in two places, leading to paralysis.
As a child he always enjoyed BMX biking and jumping off ramps had been great fun. Now different types of ramp would become an important part of his life.
Adapting The Home For Wheelchairs
Getting used to a powered wheelchair was another revolution for James. While restricted in some ways, his specially adapted home provides him with a great deal of independence. The heavily modified bungalow has easy-roll surfaces throughout. Other wheelchair accessories include widened doorways and flat door thresholds.
The wet room is again seamless at ground level. Its shower cubicle is wide, easy draining and has a shower head controlled by low level levers. Sometimes he does need help, but he is able to perform many tasks without help.
He has also had wheelchair ramps fitted where steps would prevent easy rolling through the main door and to the door to the garden.
Because of relative bulk of the power chair, James’s wife Karen often uses an attendant propelled wheelchair for trips outside. This needs more planning than it used to, but she says they are now in the swing of it.
They have an adapted people-carrier with various wheelchair accessories. The
wheelchair ramps for the vehicle and six-foot long, which makes them somewhat bulky when at their extended length.
Luckily they fold in the middle and fit inside the vehicle quite easily in this state. Their length means that the gradient at which they operate is quite shallow, which increases safety. Shorter ramps would need to be much steeper to cover the incline.
The ramps are also fairly lightweight, so are suitable for other purposes if James and Karen are near enough to the vehicle.
Often she carries a more lightweight set of ramps which collapse down into a bag. These are useful if they meet obstacles which would otherwise be difficult to overcome.
These telescopic ramps are excellent to simply hook over the back of the wheelchair when not in use. They are in two sections which have raised sides, preventing the wheelchair’s wheels from slipping off.
James and his family have invested heavily in adapting almost every aspect of his practical life to this new situation. Things which used to be routine may now more complex, but are by no means impossible.
Throughout the world there are many people in similar situations to James. He and his family have used the internet to connect with them and share ideas. Not only is it a solace to discuss the situation with similar people, but it has the practical benefit of receiving and giving suggestions. Providing ideas for
wheelchair accessories has been a popular topic of conversation.
The many type of ramp now available was eye-opening. Gone were the heavy old models which were difficult to transport and position. Modern aluminium and fibreglass units offered much more flexibility and possibility.
This improves access for personal wheeled mobility aids. While fitting fixed ramps was the solution for his home, more flexible and portable options were the way forward elsewhere.