August 24, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
Learning that you’ll be living with paralysis is a shock. There’s no question that your day to day life will never be quite the same again, but you don’t need me to tell you that. Fortunately, there is a lot that can be done to help you adjust to your new situation. Your occupational therapist will work with you to find changes you can make to your lifestyle. They will also do an evaluation of your home, to help identify changes that you can make to your environment which will make it easier for you to lead a more fulfilling and productive life.
As it’s likely that you’re going to be spending a lot of time in a wheelchair, and that will also be your primary method of getting around, there are a number of modifications you can make to your home to facilitate getting around. Widening of hallways, if it’s possible within the structure of your home, can give you a lot more mobility when you’re in your wheelchair. A wheelchair ramp is one of the most common alterations you can make, to keep you from having to struggle quite so much to get in and out of the house.
Depending on the structure of the current entrance to your home, it may be more or less difficult to install a wheelchair ramp. In some situations, for example, if your front door is at ground level with no step up, the ramp may not even be needed. But this would be rather uncommon. In most homes, the entrance is raised at least a small amount above ground level, and the doorstep itself is usually raised. In addition, there is often at least a small porch that requires a step or more up before entering, if not a flight of stairs. For that type of structure, a wheelchair ramp will definitely ease the challenge of getting in and out.
As with just about everything, there are different types of ramps available. For starters, you may have the choice of a wooden ramp or an aluminum ramp. While a wood ramp may seem like an easier solution, particularly if you need a customized design, it may actually be more expensive than its aluminum counterpart. Since wood needs to be refinished, it will almost certainly require maintenance and therefore additional cost in the long run. Additionally, since aluminum ramps are sold in a modular format, they can often be assembled much more quickly than a wood ramp, which is likely to require a custom carpentry job.
It’s also important to make sure that the ramp is long enough that it’s not on too steep of an incline, which would make entering or exiting difficult or even dangerous. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides guidelines for such factors as width and pitch, to ensure that your ramp is safe to use.
Installing a wheelchair ramp can be an expensive proposition, potentially running into thousands of dollars. Funding may be available through your existing health insurance provider or Medicare. It’s also worth looking into local or state government programs that may provide financial assistance as well as other agencies which may offer grants for such home modifications.