We’re still going strong with our Asking Your Questions series. If you’ve missed the first few why not check them out? We’ve asked: ‘Why is rehab/ exercise important after injury?’, ‘When should rehab begin after stroke?’ And ‘What does sport mean to you?’
As we dive headfirst into the Christmas shopping season, with back-to-gym January just around the corner, independence can make a big difference.
Introducing question #4…
What does independence mean to you? And how have you achieved it?
You guys all prioritised the everyday things, and it’s great to hear how you adapt tasks to work for you – we love innovation at Active Hands.
“For me independence means that you don’t have to ask someone else to do everything like your family your friends etc. Independence is the power to do whatever you want when you want to. Unfortunately disability and independence are two difficult words to gather. If you work hard you will reach a good level of independence but the world still not adapted to us.
At the beginning it was difficult for me to put on my clothes. I was very slow so it was easier to ask some help for my family. After, simple things like going to the supermarket and taking your stuff from your car to the house are still complicated. And you always have a risk of falling so for me you can’t be 100 % independent.
But it’s important to work as much as you can because you will feel very free after!”
[Oksana, author of ‘Association Kondor’ website]
“Independence to me means being able to dress myself completely from head to toe unassisted, being able to transfer unassisted, living on my own, the ability to drive, being able to walk using a walker and leg braces, and just living life on my own terms.
I have achieved some levels of independence, I can undress myself completely unassisted, I learned in a day. I can transfer completely unassisted, still working to perfect the technique though. I can go to the bathroom by myself, wash myself and my hair, put on shirt and a bra; I can get into my power chair from the floor. I can get out of both wheelchairs independently. I can iron/wash my own clothes. Make my own cereal/sandwiches, make my own bed. I can get in/out of bed both from the chairs and the floor. I would love to be able to push my manual wheelchair consistently.” [Kiana, Instagram]
“Finding ways to do things for myself. The usual way is not the only way.” [Jack, Instagram]
“My mum taught me to be independent from a young age. No such words as “I can’t, ‘medically not allowed to’ is totally different. I live on my own. There are only a few things that I found I need help with. I drive an adapted car. I go to the gym. I do the everyday things others do I just do some of them differently.” [Callie, Instagram]
Everyone has their own #LifeHacks & our storage room is full of them! Check out our website for great innovations – they could gain you even more independence!
Thank you to everyone who contributed answers. If you have reduced hand function and are looking to get back to a more independent and active lifestyle, check out our website www.activehands.com where you will find a wide range of products to enable you to ‘get a grip’ of gym and sporting equipment, as well as kitchen and gardening gadgets and many other items! For further motivation, become a part of our wonderful community on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you have a burning question, why not message our page – we’ll do our best to post them – and, hopefully, you can answer each other’s questions!
Here at Active Hands we love nothing better than getting feedback from you. Whether you email to share how you have used your gripping aids, or message us with an idea for a new product, we love hearing from you. Having listened to lots of feedback, we began to work on a brand new gripping aid and we are excited to now be able to launch the Small Item gripping aid. This versatile and simple solution to gripping small items is the ideal tool for holding toothbrushes, pens, art equipment, make up brushes and much more.
The Small Item gripping aid is a 2-part product. The first part consists of a glove made from comfortable neoprene, which fits around the hand and wrist and is secured using two Velcro straps. As with all Active Hands products, the straps can be tightened using plastic rings, even with little or no finger strength. The second part is a palm pad, which contains a plastic clamp. This clamp is used to hold the item in place and is closed by pulling two loops. The palm pad then velcros to the glove and you are ready to go.
The unique design of our 2-part product means that items clamped in the palm pad can be placed into your palm at any angle, making a wide range of activities accessible. Hold your pen upright, your toothbrush sideways or mascara wands at just the right tilt. If being creative is your thing, the Small Item gripping aid has proved very successful at holding items such as paintbrushes with comfort, precision and confidence.
The clamp mechanism can be easily opened and closed to switch between items. Alternatively, palm pads can be purchased separately, enabling you to pre-load commonly used items and simply switch between palm pads without having to remove the glove each time. In this way, the aids can promote greater independence in many activities of daily living. Pens and pencils can be left clamped in a palm pad on a desk or in a pencil case, ready for work or school. For creative activities, several paintbrushes can be clamped in separate palm pads to switch between colours more easily. At home, the Small Item Aid is ideal for items such as make-up brushes, toothbrushes, razors etc, enabling you to create a far smoother, more independent personal care routine.
” The gripping aids can allow me to do countless activities. Make up, brushing my teeth, as well as drawing or painting on a canvas with watercolours, being able to use some cooking utensils, grooming my small dog by attaching his brush to the gripping aid, I can attach a lint roller to tidy up my clothes…it holds pretty much anything that has a smooth handle.”
“Pre-loading [several] palm pads definitely made it easier and is what I will do every time I use it because the items will just be ready for me to grab and use immediately. ” Brenda Besos
For more information, or to see our full range of gripping solutions, visit our shop page.
If you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground, you’ll know all about our #AskingYourQuestions series. We’ve had a couple of weeks off from this series due to some serious excitement at Active Hands: you can read about it here!
We’ve already asked ‘Why is Rehab/ Exercise Important After Injury’ & ‘When Should Rehab Begin After Stroke’ and our wonderful community have not disappointed! In this mini-series we’re publishing responses from across our social media sphere and some individuals we contacted directly.
Our first two questions focused on rehabilitation and when it should begin, now to talk about the ‘Active’ in Active Hands. Introducing question #3…
What does sport mean to you?
“Freedom” [Chisholm, Facebook]
“Everything. I wouldn’t have half my friends without sport.” [Lauren, Facebook]
“Ever since I was little my parents sent me in sporting/activity holidays. It was a massive confidence boost to be able to canoe or do archery and abseiling with only one hand. I assume that’s why they sent me. To learn new skills and to show me that anything is achievable. I grew up doing karate and got to a brown belt before teenage hormones kicked in and sport went on the back burner. The last few years I’ve been doing Thai boxing but that got to the point where I was damaging my little hand and Crossfit took over. To say I’m hooked is an understatement. Contacting Active Hands to help was the best move I ever made. My Limb Difference aid helps me swing kettle bells, practice ring work, lift heavy barbells, row, bike… actually the list is endless. It gives me a massive confidence boost to know I can take part in sport and not be left on the side lines. I want to show that just because I was born with a condition (amniotic band syndrome) I am able to do everything I ever wanted. Crossfit gives me confidence but it also sends out a message loud and clear that I’m capable of so much more than the doctors ever said I would be.” [Tina]
Clearly you guys really value sports: the freedom, independence and fellowship it can produce!
Thank you to everyone who contributed answers. If you have a disability and are looking to have an active lifestyle, check out our website www.activehands.com where you will find a wide range of products to enable you to ‘get a grip’ of gym and sporting equipment, as well as kitchen and gardening implements and many other items. For further motivation, become a part of our wonderful community on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you have a burning question, why not message our page – we’ll do our best to post them – and, hopefully, you can answer each other’s questions!
Our week started off in a fairly ordinary manner with the normal routine of dispatching your orders, posting on social media and whatever it is that Rob and Mel do as directors! However, we knew we had some excitement on the horizon as I had been contacted by the BBC to see if Active Hands would be interested in doing an interview…
Active Hands recently won a Board of Trade award recognising our success in exporting to over 50 countries and this seems to have attracted the attention of the local media. Reporter, Joan Cummings, accompanied by camera man, John Cherry, came into the office in a whirlwind on Wednesday morning – they seemed very excited to visit our small, product-filled office. We were pleased to show them a wide range of our products, from the gripping aids that we design and manufacture, to the handy, well-designed items we stock from other companies. They spent the whole morning here taking footage of Rob answering questions and demonstrating products, and Mel hiding in the stock room!
Starring on Midlands today (and my famous lunch bag)
The footage was aired on Midlands Today (British local news programme) on Wednesday evening (it caught us all by surprise as we were expecting it to be on Thursday). Rob and Mel did a fantastic job of explaining our products and how they help people around the world to achieve more and be able to access both new activities and return to pre-injury/accident passions. Sadly, I was not in the footage but my pink lunch bag did make an appearance – see if you can spot it in this video:
Power 100 List (Rob ‘The Influencer’ Smith)
The excitement continued on Wednesday evening when Rob travelled to London to attend the Shaw Trust Power 100 event. Rob has been recognised as an influencer in the disability world for his business skills. He had a great evening meeting other influencers including Alex Brooker and Sam Renke (an actress who I recognised from the Maltesers advert)! Rob was able to give Alex Brooker some of our Limb Difference aids and Alex said he was keen to try them out in the gym. We have decided, in the office, that Rob now has a new title – he shall henceforth been known as Rob the Influencer! For more information on the Power 100 see our separate article about it here.
BBC Coventry & Warwickshire
To complete the triptych of events, Rob was also asked to feature on the radio this morning! We tuned in to listen to BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, at 8:20am, to hear Rob speak about how Active Hands came to exist as a result of his frustrations after his spinal cord injury. Rob did a great job of sharing part of his personal journey through his accident, how this inspired him to create Active Hands and how our products can make a difference in people’s lives. He also managed to name-drop that he had met Alex Brooker the previous evening!
What a wild week of media events for Active Hands! We are all feeling star-struck!
We are thrilled to be able to announce that our director, Rob Smith, has been awarded a place in the Shaw Trust Power 100 List: a list of the most influential people with a disability in the UK. Recognised for his contribution to business, as well as his sporting success, Rob enjoyed a night celebrating in London last night with the other awardees at the official unveiling of the list.
The Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List is an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. It is compiled by an independent judging panel, chaired by Kate Nash OBE, who received over 700 nominations to consider for the 100 places.
Kate writes, “What we have is an incredible list of ‘powerful’ individuals who are really creating waves, breaking down barriers and working hard to create a more inclusive world for everyone.”
The Shaw Trust has been supporting disabled people since 1982 and this year’s Power 100 List saw more nominations than ever before. While selecting the top 100 was a difficult task, the judges were
clear on their criteria. They were looking for individuals who are highly visible in their communities or whose sphere of influence was wide-reaching. Above all, they were looking for role models for the young and talented leaders of tomorrow.
Speaking to the Shaw Trust about his nomination, Rob says, “there is nothing better than realising the horizon of what you thought you could achieve has suddenly expanded. From my own experience and from customer feedback, I know these changes can have a huge knock-on effect on someone’s life.”
The award ceremony took place in the South Bank Centre and was attended by some very recognisable faces. Topping the list was The Last Leg’s Alex Brooker. Not wanting to waste an opportunity, Rob took the chance to show him our Limb Difference gripping aid. Alex was immediately impressed and was delighted to take it away with him, looking forward to using it in the gym.
Other famous faces included actor and disability campaigner Sam Renke, as well as Warwick Davis, Adam Hills and Jonnie Peacock MBE.
We are proud to see Rob’s determination and insightfulness recognised in this way, as well as the contribution Active Hands makes to many people’s lives. For more information about the Shaw Trust and their Power 100 List, click here.
This month, we’ve been running a series of short articles taking a look at some of the common questions our customers discuss. Harnessing the power of our community, we’ve been asking you all the big questions, in the hope that we can advise and motivate each other. In part 2 of this series, we speak to stroke survivors and those who work with them, about their approaches to rehabilitation. Here we publish some of their responses (If you missed it, check out part 1 of our series here).
Now for question #2…
When should rehab begin after stroke?
It is important to remember that no stroke – or injury for that matter – is the same, so it’s important to discuss your own personal case with your doctor or physiotherapist to find what’s right for you.
When we put this question to our amazing community you were all in favour of early rehabilitation – although you did favour different types of rehab!
“Rehab should begin immediately because talking about what’s happened/ happening, reassurance and one to one counselling is the most important stage of rehabilitation especially if the person can’t speak, establishing a means of communication is imperative! I am a stroke survivor, so I ‘speak’ from experience.” [Lilian, Facebook]
“For “Acute Rehabilitation” right away if they: have stable blood pressure when sitting up, can tolerate an hour or more out of bed for activity in a chair/wheelchair. However frequent rest breaks are necessary. Brain scans do show increased inflammatory processes during increased activity in the injured area of the brain initially. But the sooner the unaffected brain tissue can make sense of what it can do, the better. Learning new actions takes time to recruit the brain’s neuroplasticity.” [Diane, Facebook]
“As soon as the patient is stable and recovered enough from for instance surgery. The sooner patients got rehab, the better.” [Nienke, Facebook]
“As soon as the patient is stable.” [Ana, Facebook]
“At least a couple days after their stroke. They need to rest; their brain and body are going through a lot and any rehab beyond standard mobilizing (if they are able to) is rather futile and could lead to fatigue and slow the initial recovery. This is what we learn in physio school in Canada. A lot of healing happens in the first year post stroke- why rush it? Allow the person time to cope and understand what is happening and slowly ease them into their lifelong journey of rehab.” [Sara, Instagram]
Thank you to everyone who contributed answers. If you have recently experienced a stroke, or are looking to get back to an active lifestyle, check out our website www.activehands.com where you will find a wide range of products to enable you to ‘get a grip’ of gym and sporting equipment, as well as kitchen and gardening implements and many other items. For further motivation, why not become a part of our wonderful community on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? If you have a burning question, why not message our page – we’ll do our best to post them – and, hopefully, you can answer each other’s questions!
Here at Active Hands we know how valuable the experiences of others can be when you’re faced with a life-changing disability, or trying to adapt to something new with an existing disability. Finding a community to share tips with or ask advice from can be invaluable, no matter what stage of life you are in. So, with this in mind, we decided to ask all of you the questions that our customers regularly ask us, in the hope that we can advise and motivate each other. In this article mini-series we’ll be publishing the responses from across our social media sphere and from those that we contacted directly.
Time to introduce our first question…
Why is rehab/ exercise important after injury?
It is important to remember that every injury is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. Ultimately the best thing to do is to discuss your rehabilitation with your doctor and physiotherapist.
However, when we sent this question out to our community, the responses were overwhelmingly positive about the many benefits that the right exercise routine can have. From physical fitness and improved mobility, to greater independence and improved mental health…you guys are certainly keen advocates for getting active. Here are some of the best responses.
“Exercises and independence are clearly linked! After my accident I went to the re-adaptation centre so I started with some basic exercises for the arms. If you have strength, you will be performing in your every day life so your mental well-being will be better.” [Oksana, author of ‘Association Kondor’ website and a big fan of Crossfit]
“[Exercise] lets you gain autonomy and independence and also stay fit.” [Oscar, Facebook]“Because we want to get a blood supply going at the newly growing muscle, tendon and bone sites.” [Cindy, Facebook]
“Pain management.” [Moises, Facebook]
“Rehab and exercise are crucial after an injury to help the muscles heal and regain strength and to re-train muscular and nerve pathways to movements which are both familiar and new. Both elements ensure less atrophy (muscle and movement loss)” [Jess, Instagram]
Ultimately, the consensus was that exercise is very important after injury.
Thank you to everyone who contributed answers. If you are newly injured, or are looking to get back to an active lifestyle, check out our website www.activehands.com where you will find a wide range of products to enable you to ‘get a grip’ of gym and sporting equipment, as well as kitchen and gardening implements and many other items. For further motivation, become a part of our wonderful community on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you have a burning question, why not message our page – we’ll do our best to post them – and, hopefully, you can answer each other’s questions!
Philippa shares a flat with a housemate on the outskirts of London, and loves running, hiking, dancing and seeing friends.
In her early thirties Philippa found herself returning home from hospital after losing her fingers. She was so relieved that the pain had ended that she hadn’t even considered the impact this new disability would have on her life.
She so loves being active that she went on a cycling holiday in France in between operations on her hand!
When her surgery was done, she had lost three fingers and part of her palm on her left hand and two fingers on her right. Initially, she really did believe that it would be easy to adjust, but the resulting weakness, easily sprained tendons and ‘clawing’ of the remaining fingers made it difficult for Philippa to ‘Get a Grip’.
With this newfound difficulty, Philippa could have accepted her local council’s offer of ‘meals on wheels’ and resigned herself to being unable to exercise like she used to, but she refused to allow her disability to get in the way of the active lifestyle and independence she loves.
In the kitchen, Philippa has found that most equipment isn’t easy to use without fingers, but she hasn’t let that stop her! Philippa’s adopted microwave cooking as her new speciality – she’s branching out from ready meals and cooks from scratch, chopping fresh vegetables with her right-angled knife from Active Hands! Her sister found some double walled plastic bowls online which can be picked up from underneath without burning her hands. She uses gadgets to help with everything: taps, jars, tins, bottles, and making sure she has a good grip on the frying pan handle! See the range on our website for great gadgets!
“Finding products that made life easy again, meant I could still do what I enjoy, not be reliant on others and continue where I left off.”
She loves her Ungrip which saves her phone from many a fall and is great for texting (she can hold it with 1 finger and text with her thumb!
Philippa is the proud owner of both Limb Difference and General Purpose aids. She actually wasn’t sure how much the General Purpose aids would help her – but she keeps finding uses for them that she never would have expected:
- Carrying two cat boxes to the vets on the bus
- Pulling a suitcase (and not a light one at that!)
- Rowing across an Alpine lake in a storm!
- Riding a Dutch bike (where you pedal backwards to brake)
- Going to barbell classes at her local gym
- Doing pull ups and weights
Beyond gadgets, Philippa is great at finding other little ways to make her life easier – she’s sown her keys and Oyster card to her bag so that she can commute at a normal speed in busy London without worrying about dropping them in rush hour!
Philippa’s outlook is simple: “It’s not that I can’t, I just do it differently.”
Everyone loves a good life-hack.
Here at Active Hands we’ve scoured through life-hacks for poor hand function and now we can proudly say we stock more than 25 of the best products we’ve come across (as well as our own wonderful gripping aids!).
Back in December we shared with you our top 10 winter disability life-hack products, so 6-months later it must be time for a summer edition!
So here, for you to muse over, are our top 10 summer life-hacks!
#1 Automatic Bottle Opener – heading into summer, social occasions can be many and often. With this bottle opener just press down and off pops the cap!
#2 Swimming Hand Paddles – fancy a swim? These paddles form a cup so you don’t need to!
#3 Gardening Tools – love gardening but struggle to grip the tools? We sell trowels and cultivators with right-angled handles to help ease wrist strain! Pair with the arm cuff or our General Purpose aid to get an even stronger grip!
#4 Bread Knife – it’s BBQ season! Make slicing those rolls even easier with this handy bread knife! The right-angled handle minimises wrist strain, and you can pair this with our General Purpose gripping aid for a firmer grip.
#5 Muggi – back in December we loved the Muggi for its tea-carrying capabilities… now it’s warmer it’s equally brilliant for carrying delicious refreshing drinks (you pick: water, fizzy pop, beer, G&T!)
#6 Zubits Magnetic Laces – make heading out even easier! With these magnetic laces you can clip your shoes together with no fuss, AND they come in a variety of colours so they’ll blend in no problem.
#7 Kitchen Pack – if you really want to make the prep for that BBQ easier (and all meals for that matter), then what you really want is our new kitchen pack! This includes: a Nimble, a push whisk, a jar opener, an anti-slip coaster, an all-purpose knife, a one-touch can opener AND cutlery grips!
#8 Storage Pouch – this handy pouch can be used to carry wheelchair tools on a summer day out, carry around your sun-cream, or just keep your belongings out of the sand on the beach!
#9 Ungrip – not actually designed as a disability product, the Ungrip is great year-round. A handy loop which attaches securely to the back of your phone and helps prevent costly drops. Some designs now on sale!
#10 Push Gloves – wanting to get out and about as much as possible in the nice weather? The wheelchair push gloves we stock are designed to be more comfortable than most, allow you to use your wrists for braking, and the highly textured rubber palm pad has been positioned to direct your energy where ever you need it most.
Check out these products, and more disability and gripping aid ‘lifehacks’ on our website: www.activehands.com
Get a grip with Active Hands. Helping you live life your way.
If you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground you’ll probably know that we released our Limb
Difference Aid in September 2017.
This year, we entered our Limb Difference Aid into the Blackwood Design Awards competition, and
we made the final! Check us out alongside the other finalists here.
Since its release last year, we’ve sold loads of Limb Difference Aids to grateful customers, allowing them to grip things they never could before!
Take Fiona, who was able to work on the bar in her gymnastics training with the help of the Limb Difference Aid…
Or Tina, who has gone from strength to strength in her Crossfit training with the help of the aid, and came second in the adapted division in the Battle of Britain Throwdown 2018…
The Limb Difference gripping aid is designed for users who have a limb difference affecting their hands or fingers. This may include those with dysmelia (conditions from birth), or those who have sustained a limb difference through amputation, injury or illness later in life. The gripping aid is perfect for those who have some or all of their fingers, or parts of their hand, missing. As long as you have at least some widening at your wrist, our grip should work for you (A wider section of the wrist is required as an anchor point to transfer the pulling force to when using the gripping aids). If you have reduce grip but have all your fingers then our General Purpose Aid will work best for you.
You can check out our Limb Difference Aid on our website here.
By Jo Walters