People living with disabilities face significant changes in their lives. Not only do they suffer from emotional and mental pain, but also from mobility abnormalities which limit them from doing physical activities.
The Australian Network on Disability states that more than 4 million people have a disability in sensory, intellectual and physical aspects. However, only 4.4 per cent of Australians use mobility aids such as wheelchairs.
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a common disease in Australia which greatly affects 15-24 and 65-74 year age groups, and is more prevalent among males (84 per cent) than females (16 per cent). This condition attacks millions of nerves in the spinal cord when damaged, resulting in a complete or incomplete disability depending on the degree of injury.
Facts About Spinal Cord Injury and Coping Mechanisms
According to the Australian Spinal Injury Alliance, around 15,000 Australians live with SCI. Among the States and Territories, Northern Territory has the highest incident rate, with Western Australia coming in second and South Australia acquiring third position in the list. The data was based on the number of patients getting hospitalised because of the ailment.
Some of its causes include motor-related incidents, falls and being hit by a heavy object and water-related activities such as diving and swimming.
This year’s Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week theme, “I can,” aims to challenge people’s perceptions of having this form of disability. Spinal Alliance puts emphasis on what these people can do despite their condition.
Whether your loved one or someone you know has been diagnosed with SCI, one effective way to provide support and help in the recovery process is to turn your home into a place that promotes and improves quality living.
Building Access Ramps for Improved Quality Living
Highlighting the importance of having mobility aids such as grab rails, wheelchairs and access ramps can make a huge difference in their lifestyle. For instance, if a friend or a family member is new to having the injury, some considerations may require buying a suitable wheelchair, widening doorways and investing in ramp installation.
Wheelchair or access ramps play a crucial role in gaining smooth access to residential houses or buildings. They act as specialised walkways to reduce the risk of obtaining injury and instil independence among people with SCI.
You can tap your local carpenter or builder to give you recommendations on buying ready-to-assemble or asking the tradie to build custom made access ramps for your home or in your business place.
How Modifying Your Home Helps
It’s important to consider significant home modifications whether it’s a minor or major change. A recent survey from the Australian Network on Disability shows that almost 500,000 people made alterations to their homes such as installing grab rails and access ramps as well as modifying their bathroom and laundry area.
Not only does it bring an impact in making the environment safer for people with spinal cord injury but also help them regain confidence and independence.
Here are few but essential considerations when conducting structural and non-structural home modifications:
- Building handrails and ramps
- Removing screens
- Installing bath seats
- Lowering chair platforms
- Applying non-slip treatment
- Adding emergency alarms and security automation
- Relocating power points and light switches
If you plan to have these projects implemented in your home, it’s best to ask for qualified tradies to ensure safe and quality workmanship. Before hiring someone for the project, make sure to verify the credentials and work experience to help safeguard your property and family. Getting permits from your local council is an important factor to consider to know the necessary requirements before the job commences.
Government funding assistance for home modifications is also available depending on your State and the situation of the affected people. For instance, eligible residents from Victoria receive support from the Aids & Equipment Program (A&EP) when it comes to equipment and home modifications. Some may include funding for walking and standing aids, bed accessories, wheelchairs and building a ramp.
Becoming aware of the qualifications is essential to know if you’re eligible to obtain the necessary funding support from the government.
Don’t Forget Yourself Too
Looking after a loved one who suffers from spinal cord injury is not easy. Not only does it involve your time and finances but also your physical and emotional aspects.
Make sure to get enough rest and sufficient exercise to obtain the needed energy for taking care of someone.
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