One product for many points of contact: creating more stability

As someone with progressive ataxia, I have lived through different levels of access. What worked for me in high school doesn't work for me as an adult. I have used a closet-full of mobility devices, and each one supported me in different ways, but a similarity amongst them is that most gave me more points of contact.

The same can be said for many “adaptive” products used by people who have decreased proprioception and balance. For me it feels like a leverage-point that can be leaned on and depended on for stability. And the more of these/ the farther apart they are the better.

When I used to walk regularly I carried around a folding cane with me in a messenger bag everywhere I went. For the most part it actually made the act of walking harder when I had it out because it became one more thing to keep track of with my decreased coordination. But it was very useful when I stopped and just stood. In this case I would lean on the cane directly in front of me. I could make a wide triangle out of my three points of contact (feet and cane) and feel more stable. A quick word of caution here- “a chain is only as good as its weakest part”. What made this position unsustainable for me in the long term was my knees would give out. Although the cane has no inflection point, my legs do.

Adding points of contact not only works for gross motor movements (transferring, sitting up, doing yoga poses/ anything that changes your center of gravity) but also in fine motor movements. Typing is much easier with palms touching the table- as is writing long-hand, cutting, and using utensils. The mezzaluna knife, for example, allows the user to “lift up” the knife while maintaining contact with the cutting board. Instead of functioning in a 3-dimensional space, being able to keep contact with a surface lets you move in a 2-dimensional plane. This allows me to be more accurate and stronger with the movements that I do make.

Products mentioned in this blog:

Soft Grip Folding Cane by Carex - Available at Carex, Amazon, WalMart

Mezzaluna Chopper / Rocker Knife by Checkered Chef - Available at WalMartAmazon 

(Note: The particular KitchenAid rocker knife used by Liam is no longer available. We have suggested this similar product in its place.)

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