Making Adaptive Equipment:
There are many common inexpensive items that can be very useful in making your own adaptive equipment. These materials can often be purchased in a discount or hardware store at a fraction of the cost of commercial adaptive equipment. Some may also be useful for making your environment safer. The materials that may be helpful in making and using adaptive equipment are only limited by your imagination. Let your mind run free and don’t allow yourself to look a particular product as only useful for its intended purpose.
Alligator Type Clips: These clips can be used for many different purposes including attaching them to buttons, knobs and other items to make griping easier and allowing more leverage. I have two clips on a piece of elastic which was given to me by my dentist that is quite useful. It can be used to hold a napkin around your neck when eating. I also use clips to attach my bed control to my shirt at night and to fasten my water hose to my shirt during the day.
Cable Ties: Ties are available in any hardware store, come in a variety of lengths and thicknesses, and can be used for a number of purposes. Placed on a zipper slide, they make the use of a zipper much easier. The ties stay open naturally. You can fasten slack wires to your wheelchair or other equipment. The addition of ties makes many items more user friendly.
Compression Bandage: These can be purchased, often in stores selling supplies for horses, in rolls of varying widths and can be wrapped around almost any surface to improve grip. I wrap it around soda bottles which I use to keep my hands in the position of function while I sleep. Also, I find wrapping it around other smooth surfaced items makes them much easier to grasp and hold.
Duct Tape: Duct tape can be used to temporarily repair many unexpected breakdowns on your wheelchair or other equipment until you get home or while you wait for new parts. Make a small roll of tape and carry it with you on your chair. I use black tape to cover on my homemade wheelchair arms.
Electric Tape: Electric tape is strong and stretchy and can be drawn very tight. It is quite useful for holding objects firmly in place.
Foam: Foam, which comes in a number of consistencies, can be used in a variety of ways. It has the ability to build up surfaces and to provide protective cushioning to mention just a few. Less dense foam can minimize pressure, if necessary. Foam sheets with adhesive backing are now available in a variety of widths, lengths, thicknesses as well as spray cans. They can be found in most craft stores and on the internet.
Friction Tape: This tape is sticky on the outside, so it improves any surface for gripping. It can be used to make “Stops” which helps provide control and can be wrapped around long objects in a spiral direction to improve grip-ability.
Grip Tape: A sheet (9” x 3’) of grip tape can be purchased at any skateboard shop for about $5.00. One side is like sandpaper and the other has an adhesive on it. The tape can be cut to a desired size and placed on most surfaces to improve grip. The rough surface can also help identify things in the dark by touch.
Hose Clamps: These clamps are available in a variety of sizes and can be placed on knobs to allow better grip, leverage and turning control. I use one on the adjustment knob on my rifle scope.
Magnet tape has an adhesive side and magnetic side. The magnetic tape can be applied to many lightweight objects like wood, metal, wood or plastic. Simply cut the length of the tape you require, peel away the backing and tape the magnetic adhesive tape to the object (see the tape on the sand shovel). Many of light weight objects can then be picked up with a collapsible magnetic.
AKA Paracord is a strong (550lbs.) narrow (about 5/32”) polyester cord that has a great variety of uses. You can purchase it on a variety of websites with 100’ costing around $8. It is ideal as a Simple Door Closer for a person in a wheelchair.
This insulation can be used to build up any tubular surface making it easier to hold if your grip is impaired and it can also be used to provide protection from bumping into objects. it is available in different diameters.
PVC Pipe: Ridged PVC pipe, which also is available in different diameters, can be used as receptacles to hold other objects. After attaching it to a wheelchair, it can be used to hold a fishing pole handle.
Rubber Hair Bands: Heavier than regular rubber bands they have a multiple number of uses. You're limited only by your imagination.
Tire Inner Tubes: Used bicycle tire inner tubes can be found at bicycle shops and are usually free. They are easily cut and have a variety of uses. (See Loop)
Velcro: Velcro can be purchased in many different styles. One type has an adhesive backing so it is great for holding objects in a single place and prevents them from sliding away. We have added them to the foot pans on my wheelchair to help hold my feet on. Pieces can be added on to existing straps to make them longer and more comfortable.
Wooden Dowels: Dowels are useful for adding on to long tool handles to increase control or to extend certain types of handles in order to control an item better.