Monday, May 5, 2014

Reaching Rod

My friend, a fellow quadriplegic, and I often jokingly express our envy of paraplegics and their functioning hands. I've heard it said that quadriplegics just want to be paraplegics, paraplegics just want the able-bodied, and able-bodied people want to be Superman. True or not, it would still be nice to have proper dexterity and even be able to use the common gripper-extension arm with a pistol style handle that can be squeezed to close the pinchers at the end to aid in picking things up off the floor. Even those are mostly unusable by us as they require us to use two hands to squeeze the trigger and typically that needs to be done directly in front of our chest using stronger arm or pectoral muscles which negates the reach advantage it is supposed to provide.

With a bit of creative designing and a few imperfect results, my dad and I came up with the above product. By slipping the T-shaped end into The Gloves I have a very helpful extension to my arm to aid in many tasks. My primary uses are reaching certain light switches in our home, assisting in opening the kitchen blinds whose pull cords are just out of reach and, most importantly, gently closing our barbecue when enjoying the pleasures of cooking with it.

The only modification made over time was the addition of a few wraps of hockey tape to increase the friction of the surfaces it comes in contact with. The rubber hose that covered the T and hook ends had deteriorated so I improvised with hockey tape. Without it the plane, smooth, painted steel would occasionally slip off of the surface I was using it on.

Regarding the photo, as previously mentioned and in the interest of full disclosure, I do very little digital manipulation of my photos. This one was one exception where the fishing line used to suspend the rod was removed digitally.

Source: Any beginner welder should be able to fabricate something like this for you and a similar device probably could be manufactured just by heating and bending a single piece of steel rod.

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