How To Be An Active Participant In Your Assistive Device Journey

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You bite down on your lip as frustration builds. “I can do it.” You mutter as they swoop in to do it for you. They retreat. You fumble around for a few more seconds until you slump over. You reluctantly accept their help; when did this become so hard? A knot builds in your gut as you feel your independence, your control slipping away.

If this sounds familiar, chances are you or a loved one is struggling to do something they once took for granted. Regardless of whether that struggle is unexpected or in line with a predictable path of disease progression, an assistive device may be the key to unlocking your ability to participate in the activities that make life worth living. But before that can happen, you need to find the right fit for you. A quick Google search may leave you feeling overwhelmed at the number of different devices available. Some people may be lucky enough to have a clinical team to help guide them through the device selection process, but, as the device user, you are an important member of that team! In a world of ever-expanding assistive device selection, it is more important than ever for individuals to be active participants in the device selection process.

Here are 4 tips to ensure you are participating actively in your assistive device journey:

1. Know your goals

As the device user, you need to know and be able to communicate what it is you want and need to do. Do you want to be able to go for trail walks? Walk your dog? Button your own shirt? Get in and out of your office cubicle? Grocery shop? Whatever it is, write it down, record it and/or share it with your team. You can’t be too specific. The clearer you are with your goals, the more likely you will end up with a device that fits your needs. Don’t hold back; with the right device/modification any goal is achievable!

2. Know your strengths AND, just as importantly, your limitations

Be honest with yourself and with your team. Evaluate your personal strengths and limitations but also your environmental ones. Where do you struggle? Is there a specific room in your house that poses a challenge? What supports exist in your life already? Your clinical team can assess your personal performance in a clinical setting, but often, it will be up to you to determine where you may struggle at home/work/in the community.

3. Do your homework

You wouldn’t walk into a car dealership with no idea of what exists on the market, so why take that approach with assistive devices? Be aware of what devices are out there. What are others with your abilities using? Make a list of devices you feel may be appropriate for your capabilities. While you may need help to determine what device is the best fit, it is important to have a basic understanding of your options. Check out evika’s Resource Page to search for devices by device type or diagnosis.

4. Be Flexible and Open-minded

Just because your brother’s, dentist’s, dog-walker’s, ex-wife uses a specific device for her condition, does not mean it will be the best fit for you. Be willing to try different options. It may take a few tries to find what you need. Listen to and work with your team to find the best device for your situation. Check out evika’s Resource Page to read up on how certain assistive devices can be used and who could be using them.

Choosing Assistive Devices

Lastly, don’t shy away from recommended devices. Too often, people sacrifice engagement in life to preserve a false appearance of ability/independence. For some, an assistive device may be a visual representation of challenges; however, we challenge you to reframe it as a tool that allows you to achieve your goals and participate in your life. Don’t settle for sitting on the sidelines or struggling for the sake of appearances. Just because you can swim in jeans, doesn’t mean you should. Much like a swimsuit to swimming, an assistive device makes participation in activities much safer and much more enjoyable.

Whether you are working with a team or searching for a device on your own, you are the expert when it comes to your wants and needs out of life. Participating actively in the assistive devices process, not only ensures you get a device that best suits your current needs, but empowers you to overcome future challenges, replacing frustration and uncertainty with confidence.

Get started on your assistive devices journey at evika.io!

How can evika help you?

evika is an educational platform. We don’t sell anything!

We provide information that can help people with disabilities make decisions about what technology can help with their specific needs.

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