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Stairway to Meditation

Everyone needs a hobby; something to enjoy away from life’s responsibilities. But sometimes living with a disability can make it much more challenging to do the things you want to do.

Michael goes to a regular meditation class in Sydney. He has paraplegia and uses a wheelchair to get around. His meditation class is held in a space above a flight of 20 stairs. To tackle this problem Michael used a commercially available stair climber, a device that clamps onto a wheelchair and lifts it up the stairs. This was working well until Michael got a new wheelchair which was not compatible with the stair climber.

“The new wheelchair has a cross bar behind it to support the back of the chair,” explains Michael. “This prevented the arms of the stair climber from reaching the wheelchair to lock onto the sides.”

Michael contacted the manufacturer to see if there could be a solution to the problem but they couldn’t help. During this time, he had to crawl up the flight of stairs and back down again when the class was over.

Michael got in touch with TAD and came for an assessment with TAD physiotherapist Brendan and volunteer Jim.

The cross bar on the wheelchair was thrusting the chair forward and making the sides of the chair too far away from the clamps on the stair climber. Jim’s solution was to move the clamps on the stair climber forward in a simple manner.

“I got a piece of aluminium and cut a bar of about 40mm by 40mm to make a spacer,” explains Jim. “I then had to cut the spacer to match the profile of the stair-climber’s existing arm to make a tight fit.” Jim then riveted a clip onto the stair climber to ensure that the spacer couldn’t fall off. The second part of the problem was the adjustable bolt that slides the clamp back and forth to adjust. This needed to be longer.

Luckily someone from the mediation centre had long bolts that could easily be inserted,” says Jim. “This completed the job off well. However, if that hadn’t worked I had a second solution to add clamps to the cross bar of the wheelchair. Luckily we didn’t have to do that – but I’ve found there are always many ways to get the job done!”

Michael was pleased with the result, “I got the stair climber back within a week which was great because I was due to go to a retreat in two weeks’ time so I was able to use it there which was excellent!”

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TAD acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to elders past, present and emerging.