“To go where no-one has gone before”

You are not a no-one; you are someone that was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Now it is required that you make modifications to where you live that will make your life easier. These modifications are for you not a group of other people but the individual you. A goal is to minimize the energy requirements that are typically overlooked if you do not have MS. To clarify, energy required to reach items from a wheelchair, open doors, place items storage, stand, maintain balance, utilize cutting instruments, etc. present the possibility that you will become fatigued and unable to accomplish miscellaneous activities. Furthermore, the challenges may present a safety concern.

[Warning! Geek alert] This document describes how I approached these limitations through understanding what they are and how I could modify my environment to help conserve energy. I used a simplistic safety engineering approach to conquer challenges that were presented by the MS. This approach has basic controls that are presented by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to control hazards. I methodically applied this logic to select a preferred, cost-effective method to respond to MS challenges.

True these controls were never meant to respond to MS challenges, however by using an approach similar the OSHA approach to hazard control these MS challenges were corrected methodically. The controls are used in a priority order by first eliminating the challenge, next utilizing a substitute for the challenge and thirdly engineer out the challenge. Next implement a change in procedure or technique to reverse the effects of the challenge. Lastly place a barrier between you and the MS challenge. These modifications were chosen and implemented to maintain safety and my independence.

Given this introduction, how does this work? The following table presents examples of challenges from the MS and how I responded to the challenges. I used a table format to keep my thoughts organized such that a possible solution was not overlooked. Step one was to identify the MS limitation and step two was the gathering of possible responses. Lastly step three was the selection of most feasible and cost-effective response to the MS limitation.

This table is not all inclusive however, to save your time; it presents possible responses to challenges from MS. These responses have been helpful yet they are not complete. This implies that the MS is a long process and the modifications in this table are not all that I have done but merely function as examples.

Challenge: Diminished balance and reach

Selected Response (examples):

  • Strategically placed grab bars (demonstrated where the preferred location of a grab bar prior to placement)
  • Ensure items are placed within reach while holding a grab bar or seated in a wheelchair (items that cannot be reached are aggravating and could be a safety concern)
  • Lowered to Cabinets in the kitchen
  • Extended fan and light cords
  • Used remote control to operate lights and fans
  • Lowered light switches
  • Lowered shelving and clothes rods in closets
  • Installed motion controlled lights
  • Used colored duct tape to facilitate repeated proper placement of items (colored tape was selected and is beneficial if there are visual limitations)
  • Removed upper shelves in refrigerator and cabinets to avoid temptation to place items out of sight or reach

(Use plastic dishes, etc. to avoid breakage)

Arm and shoulder weaknessSelected Response (examples):Placed anti-slip mat for items on the kitchen table (used material found on the bottom of drawers to save money)Installed multilevel tables (this with anti-slip material facilitates pouring of milk)Connected a rope is connected between doorknobs and a fixed object that facilitates closureCarpet removed (easier maneuvering of wheelchair and avoidance of trip hazards)Secured ropes across mattress (ropes are anchored to bed frame and are safer than pulling on the sheets to move across mattress)Wear shower shoes in shower to avoid slippageInstalled textured grab bars in shower that improves gripInstalled textured ramps to prevent slips on slanted surface Made use of low profile electric can opener to open cans (low profile helps keep can opener from tipping over)(Installed spiral ramp to raise wheelchair’s seat to mattress height, etc.)Leg weaknessSelected Response (examples):Installed parallel bars to facilitate objective of standing and walking. This has been successful in that it facilitated me standing and taking steps.This table is not complete but it gives an idea of how to confront MS methodically and successfully.

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