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Office modifications

Denise has cerebral palsy, which particularly affects her legs. In her job as a disability advocate she spends most of her eight-hour work day sitting at her desk, and she was having a great deal of difficulty resting her feet on the floor when she was sitting.

“My feet were dangling and they swell when they’re not on a surface,” she said. She also has muscle spasms, particularly when she is tired. She tried commercially available footstools but they didn’t suit her – and she once cut her ankle when her foot was caught under the stool.

Enter TAD volunteer Bill Todd and physiotherapist Weh, who visited Denise at her office. “They understood the problem in a practical sense and knew what was wanted,” Denise said. Bill designed a footstool which was built by another volunteer, Ian McClelland.

Ian used lightweight ply to make a box-shaped footstool with an angled top which has a 10° tilt. At 700mm across, it is wider than a standard footstool to accommodate involuntary movements of Denise’s legs.

Ian put six strips of anti-slip fabric on the base of the footstool to stop it slipping on the carpet and another strip along the top to prevent Denise’s feet from sliding off. There are also small handles at each side for easy moving.

Denise’s second request was for a holder for her crutches. She was leaning them against her desk just inside her office door, and this was causing a safety issue as they partially blocked the entrance. Also, they would sometimes fall and it was difficult for her to pick them up.

Denise had used a wooden crutch holder at school, and Bill was able to produce something similar in 10mm rigid plastic. The first design called for a simple L-shaped arm, but Bill added a short return to the long side to reduce the chance of the crutches slipping out.

He glued this to an adjustable clamp and mounted it within easy reach on the far corner of the desk, so the crutches wouldn’t block the doorway.

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