By MATP Staff Member Laura Hall
Several months ago, I decided my life needed a change. As a person with Cerebral Palsy, I was spending most of my time in my wheelchair, and I could feel the effects both on my body and in my mood. I got involved with in adaptive sports, and started getting my body moving. There, I met a woman who worked with prosthetics, and I admitted to her that I hadn’t worn the orthotics (braces) that her company made for me in many years. She encouraged me to come back for an evaluation, as my chief complaint was that the braces just hurt. I finally did, and we determined that the brace that was meant to stabilize my left knee (called a knee-ankle
foot orthotic or KAFO) was simply just too much. It was cumbersome, heavy, and my body’s natural positioning pushed against the brace so hard that the pain was unbearable. Sometimes functionality trumps looks (what would make me walk straighter) and we decided to try an older pair of braces (ankle foot orthotics or AFO’s) that weren’t as restrictive.
At the orthotist’s suggestion, I began physical therapy. At first, I could only bear weight for 40 seconds before needing a rest. I was shocked at the strength and stamina I had lost. Yet, with each visit I found myself doing more. Bearing weight turned into shifting my weight from side to side and finally to taking a few steps with a walker. Unfortunately the walker didn’t quite meet my needs, as the arms handles weren’t long enough to allow me to turn around in the walker to sit. We modified it to make some to make it work temporarily and I can now walk almost 100 feet without resting, but I definitely needed a different model of walker.
Easier said than done…several medical suppliers told me that my insurance would not cover the type of walker I needed, a Kaye Reverse Posture Walker, because it was coded as a pediatric walker and I was an adult. Sure, that doesn’t make sense, and I could fight it with appeals and letters of necessity, but that could take months, and my progress was starting to plateau because of the ill-fitting equipment. I decided that I was going to need to purchase the walker myself. Luckily, Michigan has a wonderful resource in the Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund, which offers lower-interest loans specifically for the purchase of assistive technology. I applied for a $370 loan, and was approved. It doesn’t seem like a big financial burden, but $370 is a lot for my budget. Yet, the loan will allow me to spread my payments out over 12 months, and $30 a month I can handle. The interest rate is also much lower than any of my credit cards. Another benefit is that even though the loan is small, making timely payments can help boost my credit rating (for more information on credit and other financial matters see our archived webinars on Household Spending Plans. Money Smarts, Repairing and Establishing a Positive Credit History, and an Introduction to the Michigan Loan Funds).
I so excited to close on the loan and get myself a bright shiny walker for Christmas! The Michigan Assistive Technology Program wishes you a very merry holiday and we hope that you receive the AT that you’ve been waiting for too!Tweet