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Independent LivingVolume 22 No 4

  published in December 2006

Featured Articles

Vehicle Variations - modifications for wheelchairs

Vehicle modifications are complex and expensive. Matching modifications to individual needs requires a holistic approach and regard for state government regulations.

Car travel is an important aspect of Australian life. Many wheelchair users rely on vehicle modifications to enjoy the benefits of private travel. Unfortunately most wheelchair users experience frustration, disregard for safety and financial stress when trying to organise modifications.

For example, one wheelchair user purchased a new people-mover vehicle only to discover it was unsuitable for modification within the state transport code of practice. He was forced to sell the vehicle and purchase another before he could proceed with modifications, thus incurring a significant financial loss. In another case, a wheelchair user was incorrectly restrained in a taxi. The wheelchair user sustained serious injuries and long term hospitalisation when the taxi was involved in an accident.

Accessorise to the Max - wheelchair accessories

The aim of wheelchair accessories is to enhance everyday living, provide a sense of ownership and a feeling of empowerment. Just as an accessory can enhance an outfit, a wheelchair accessory can enable a user to do more tasks independently and comfortably.

Generally, wheelchairs are as adaptable as the people who use them, whether they have acquired disabilities through illness, injury or ageing. Wheelchair and seating designs are evolving at a rapid rate to keep pace with user demands. In addition to personalising a wheelchair, accessories provide solutions for functional tasks, comfort, security and storage. They can make the difference between doing something independently or with support.

Clean Comfort - using an electronic bidet

'Can an electronic bidet improve independence and quality of life for a person with a disability?'
Edited paper presented at the 2006 ARATA Conference, Fremantle, WA.

A young woman in her teens is home alone while her mother ducks out to the shops. While her mother is gone she realises that she needs to go to the toilet. She has never done this alone before but is concerned she might not be able to wait until mum gets home.

Since their bathroom and toilet have been recently made more accessible, she wonders if she can do it herself: so she gives it a go. She wheels into the toilet and is pleased to find that with the new grab rails, she can transfer to the toilet. She manages her clothing and does what she came to do, but is unable to clean herself, so sits and waits for mum to get home.