Time for the penultimate article of our Asking Your Questions series! If you’ve been hibernating for the last few months you can check out the first six on our news page!
Time for Question #7…
How can I get involved in sport/ exercise with a disability?
You guys are clearly very active – lots of ideas and motivation to get out there!
It’s so easy to get involved in sport even with some sort of disability. I compete with a fantastic group of adapted athletes of all varying degrees of ability (Team Adaptive Crossfit) on Facebook and there really is no excuse to not take part. Crossfit is all inclusive. I train at Crossfit Cumbria and the coaches are amazing. You can find so many groups on social media and Instagram and ask any one of us and we will point you in the right direction. My lack of hand doesn’t hold me back. In fact it’s quite the opposite. It drives me forward, keeps me positive and has introduced me to so many adapted athletes who all have the same positive outlook as me. [Tina]
Look up your local paralympic chapter, or collab with a facility or organization to start classes or wellness activities. [Teejay, Instagram]
Find activities you love. Find a gym/club/trainer/class that will give you the adequate support. Then go for it, as scary as it seems. [Tayalh, Instagram]
I joined a local gym, do the classes, including weight-lifting with everyone else & do it my own way. No one comments, people help if I take longer to tidy up. HIIT classes will never happen, they are way too fast for me to keep up. But others are fine. I have had some embarrassing experiences, but at least I make people laugh. [Philippa, Instagram]
I lost my right hand in Afghanistan. I weight lift every day. Research online for lifting prosthetics. Also research disabled athletes online and follow their exercises. [Troy, Facebook]
Look out for ‘disability sports fests’ where you can try lots of different sports in one place. My daughter swims and wheelchair fences (she uses the Active Hand strap when Fencing) we need more Wheelchair fencers in the UK – come along and have a go. [Helen, Facebook]
Seek out social media postings, because sports/exercise events for disability don’t advertise in papers and TV and such. [Bucky, Facebook]
It’s always great to hear how you stay active – we love receiving pictures and videos of our gripping aids in action, just tag us!
A big thank you to everyone who contributed answers! If you are looking for an active lifestyle, check out our website www.activehands.com for 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 and enjoy the remainder of our Christmas countdown series!
We’re still going strong with our Asking Your Questions series. You can check out the first five on our news page!
Time for Question #6…
Where can I exercise with a disability?
Once again we were overwhelmed with responses – here are just a few!
Everywhere, I did kids activity holidays every summer in foreign countries. I canoed around Brittany without any aids. I did archery and horse riding and bouldering in many different locations. I grew up doing martial arts before choosing Crossfit. Don’t let your disability be your limiter. Go out there and show the world we can do what everybody else can. I tried many different companies to get a lifting aid before I found active hands and it was a game changer. Don’t give up. Dream big and have fun. [Tina, Facebook]
With the right adaptions (Active Hands) – literally anywhere. Personally I love using the same equipment everyone else does in the gym. Because when I’m there I’m part of a community, not just stuck to the side resorting to using one machine. [Ben, Instagram]
Try looking at pure gyms. Mine (York) has many options for people with a disability or of limited ability, its level access has changing and bathroom including accessible shower. [John, Facebook]
It’s always lovely for us to hear how our gripping aids help so many of you get involved! If you have anything to add let us know!
A big thank you to everyone who contributed answers! If you are looking for an active lifestyle, check out our website www.activehands.com for 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 and enjoy the remainder of our Christmas countdown series! 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!
As the days get shorter and colder, we’re all looking for ways to make our lives simpler. Here at Active Hands we’ve scoured through ‘lifehacks’ 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 brilliant gripping aids.
We love those little things which make life easier, and we know that Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists love to visit our online shop for all their clients’ gripping needs!
So, here we’ve ranked our top 10 winter disability ‘lifehack’ products:
1) Socks with loops – the typical Christmas gift! The handy loops sewn onto these high-quality socks provide a simple way for those with reduced hand function to put their socks on independently and without problems. Available in thermal material with a tog rating of 2.45 to help keep you warm this winter!
2) Zip grips – zips can be fiddly, especially if you have limited hand function. These zip grips attach to existing zips and all you need to do is slide your finger through the loop and pull. A great way to help keep warm this winter.
3) Muggi – the Muggi isn’t just practical, it’s sociable too. This drinks tray has individual holes for 4 mugs and catches any drips, meaning you can carry cups of tea for 4 from the kitchen to the living room with ease and without ending up covered in it yourself. Why not use it this Christmas to carry the Mulled Wine through to your friends?!
4) Bottle opener – heading into winter, social occasions can be many and often. We stock a push-down bottle opener specially designed to make opening bottles easier for those with hand function issues.
5) Reacher – this ‘handy’ Reacher is great for picking up things you’ve dropped, reaching high shelves (get that Brandy Butter out the fridge!) AND it works brilliantly for putting up Christmas decorations… or stealing a friend’s hat! Operated by a flex of the wrist so no need for finger function or an ability to give a firm squeeze!
6) Nimble – the Nimble is a must-have year-round. This one-finger safety cutting device is easy to use & brilliant for opening parcels, food packets & letters – and perfect for cutting a neat square of wrapping paper!
7) Winter Sports Gripping Aid – if you’re planning a ski trip this winter, or if you live somewhere really cold and need to grip things whilst outdoors, the Winter Sports aid could be perfect for you. Designed to be used over thick winter gloves, these gripping aids allow you to grip all kinds of objects, including ski poles.
8) Push Gloves – if you’re in a wheelchair, control matters more than usual with paths being more slippery at this time of year. 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.
9) Ungrip – not actually designed as a disability product, the Ungrip is great year-round. If Santa is bringing you a new phone, attach one of these finger loops to the back of your phone to prevent costly drops.
10) Zubits – these go brilliantly with #1. After sliding your socks on with ease, simply slide your feet into your shoes and with these magnetic laces you can clip your shoes together with your gloves on! Zubits come in a variety of colours so they’ll blend in no problem – great if you need to slip into smart shoes for a Christmas party!
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.
We’re still going strong with our Asking Your Questions series. You can check out the first four on our news page!
Time for Question #5…
Does exercise affect mental well-being?
We had an overwhelming number of responses to this one! You guys clearly value exercise a lot – and our products can certainly help with that!
“Personally I find that sport and exercise does help with mental well-being. It’s common to hear about how sport/ exercise releases endorphins, however I think that’s just a small part. When I first got ill and needed a wheelchair, after six months I started at a disabled Riding centre. At the time it wasn’t just horse riding but also my physiotherapy. Horse riding is important to me partly as it’s something I can do independently and without my wheelchair but it also gives me a boost of self-confidence and self-image as it was more how I used to see myself. When I achieve something I’ve been working on either in the gym, at a competition with Riding or wheelchair racing it gives me a mental boost and then I try harder. As well as these things being disabled can be fairly isolating, especially if you’re not well enough to socialise often, the social side is important as it gives a boost , whether it’s having the chance to socialise with other wheelchair users at training, and giving me friends that are in wheelchairs also, outside of the sport. Or showing non-disabled people exactly what I can do and overcoming some of their misconceptions towards wheelchair users.” [Alex Turley]
“I can’t ride at the moment following major surgery to my wrist three weeks ago. Only another two months and six days in plaster but I’m already bored senseless and as miserable as sin.” [Kevin, Facebook]
“I’m a physiotherapist for people with learning disabilities and just done a presentation on this. Definitely, exercise is for all and has many benefits including improving mental health!” [Helen, Facebook]
“Wow yes!! I could write pages on this!! As a C5/6 tetra being part of activities and certainly sport! Wheelchair Rugby —- just for health even … but loved playing really made a big difference to my life. The wider population are recommended to be outdoors more!! Fully accessible countryside is so important!!” [David, Facebook]
“Definitely for me. Not only does it increase my strength and stamina, but it makes me feel that I’m doing something positive and proactive for myself.” [Kate, Facebook]
“I’m a student OT & there are loads of studies promoting exercise for well-being” [Jamie, Facebook]
“Having a high-level spinal cord injury, my arms are only barely strong enough to push a manual chair, and even then, only indoors for short distances. However, I am lucky to have an FES bike which allows my legs to do meaningful work pushing the pedals. The sessions where I am riding are literally the only times that my body is not completely paralyzed. It gives me great satisfaction to ride for an hour, two hours, or even more. Over the past five years, I have now ridden almost 25,000 km. Priceless!” [Stewart, Instagram]
“Joining the gym and exercise classes saved me from my anxiety and stress last year. I was having panic attacks, not sleeping and generally in a bad way. What got me through that time until I could make bigger changes (such as changing job) and seek help, was exercise. Having that time to block everything out and focus solely on moving, got me through the days. I think that if you have the means to find accessible exercise for you, whatever that may be, then definitely try it as personally I’ve found it invaluable for my mental health.”
A big thank you to everyone who contributed answers! If you 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!
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!