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.
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
If you order a Hot Pink or Mini gripping aid from us, you’ll probably find something unexpected arrive in your parcel!
Here at Active Hands we’ve been supporting Breast Cancer Care UK for several years, in honour of our founder Marion who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2008.
Breast Cancer Care UK are the only UK wide charity providing care, information and support to people affected by breast cancer. We at Active Hands want to support their goal to help every person affected by breast cancer to get the best treatment, information and support.
If you choose to order our Hot Pink gripping aid, you’ll also receive a small Breast Cancer Care badge, representing the £2 donation we have made to Breast Cancer Care to make a difference.
For the last year we have also been making donations for every Mini aid sold. Our Mini aids are designed for children with limited hand function, so we decided to make the donations to Back Up Trust Kids.
Back Up works with children with spinal cord injuries. They provide wheelchair training, telephone support, and even courses in new activities like canoeing, climbing and abseiling!
For every Mini aid sold, you’ll receive a Back Up bug in your order to represent the £2 donation to the Back Up Trust.
From all of us at Active Hands, and on behalf of Breast Cancer Care and the Back Up Trust – thank you, for your support.
Adam (thecpsavage) is a 30 year old from North West England with Cerebral Palsy. He can be found listening to rock music, binge watching TV shows, or playing playstation. But mostly, he enjoys lifting heavy things. Very heavy things.
How does your cerebral palsy affect you?
Adam has Cerebral Palsy (left sided hemiplegia). He explains, “it affects my balance on stairs, I can’t ride a bike, or run fast, that sort of thing.” However, the main area that is affected is his left arm, which lacks muscle mass and grip strength as well as being shorter than his right arm, meaning holding things without handles or pressing weights overhead is not possible. “My right side compensates a lot for this, hence why it is really strong.”
What sport can you access with Cerebral Palsy?
Keen to be active, Adam spent years training in boxing and mixed martial arts 5-6 days a week. But while browsing Facebook, he came across an advert for the World’s Strongest Disabled Man 2016 being held in Manchester. “Until that point, I was oblivious to the sport. I had always loved Strongman but thought I’d never do anything like that as I thought there was not a disabled category – I was wrong. As soon as I saw the event in Manchester, I knew this was what I was meant to do!”
Adam attended Trojans Fitness Gym in Bristol for a strongman event in November 2016. While there he met Gina, an adaptive martial artist who was using Active Hands gripping aids to do seated deadlifts.
“I asked her via Facebook, a few weeks after the event, what the gripping aids were. She sent me the link and I ordered one then and there. They help me loads with things like deadlifts, rack pulls, cable rows and smith machine overhead press, as these require grip from both hands to be done effectively. They can all be done with one arm, but using two helps to activate more muscles and maintain balance throughout the body.”
What is coming up for you in the future?
Adam’s first Strongman competition is England’s Strongest Disabled Man on Monday 2nd April at Brands Hatch Racecourse. “I’ve been training hard for this competition ever since I decided to back out of Britain’s Strongest Man last year, as I felt I needed more time to prepare.”
Adam’s training takes him to the gym 4 to 5 times per week. “I don’t really train Strongman events. I just lift a lot of weights and have fun doing it. I train certain body parts on certain days and adapt things that need adapting. Otherwise I’m like everyone else – I love to lift and to get bigger and stronger. The gym is my second home.”
What are your goals for the future?
“This sport is my life now and I want to get to the top of the mountain one day and be the World’s Strongest Disabled Man. But I have to start small and be realistic that it’s going to take time, effort, determination and a fair few more years competing to achieve that goal. I want to be known as the strongest Cerebral Palsy athlete in the world. I’m working on it!”
What advice would you give to someone with a disability, looking to start out in sport?
For Adam, the Strongman events provide a community that is encouraging and motivating. Finding the community, and playing his part in it, has been transforming. “My advice would be, don’t be afraid to start training and competing. You will be amazed by how supportive and encouraging people are.”
The gripping aids that Adam uses, along with our full range of gym aids, are all available on our website activehands.com. Adam now trains at The Warehouse Gym, Southport, which can be found here, or you can follow him on instagram @thecpsavage. If you would like to share your gym photos, we’d love to see them! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or post them to instagram and tag @activehandsco.
Getting to grips with cooking can be really challenging with reduced hand function – it can be hard to feel independent when it comes to making meals or enjoying baking. Earlier in the year, we set Nino, a quad/tetraplegic from Slovenia, the challenge of baking us something delicious, completely independently, using kitchen products from our website. And we can’t stop watching the result!
As Nino shows, with the right tools, the kitchen can become accessible and you can discover a passion for cooking. All of the products Nino uses are available to buy on our shop page. To help you get started in the kitchen, we now offer all of these items in one handy Kitchen Pack, giving you a massive saving of over 20%, compared to buying the items individually.
The Kitchen Pack includes:
– One-touch can opener; Jar opener, anti-slip coaster, all-purpose knife, push whisk, nimble and a set of cutlery grips, all for the fantastic price of £54.95/$94.95/€74.95.