Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto…

pic 1 mr robatoThere are many health benefits to the simple act of physically standing in an upright position. The bipedal part of society does not need to concern themselves with this issue as they already reap the ambulation awards. Bone density strengthening just from baring weight onto your lower limbs seems small but is vital in life. This bone deterioration was a quizzical concern that NASA had to contemplate to help their astronauts when they return from space. After being in orbit, your bone density weakens by one percent each month that a space person is in zero gravity. NASA finally found an exercise machine that allows an astronaut to have resistance similar to the gravity on earth while in space.

Standing also helps with spasticity in the muscles caused by issues like bad positioning, circulatory problems, and poor posture, to name a few. The bipedal propulsion position encourages proper blood flow, which is difficult while seated. Even when an ambulatory individual is sitting at the office, many of these issues plague them as well. These concerns and the fact that many people are aware of health encouraged the resurrection of the standing desk. These physical difficulties make the simple act of standing an essential part of life.

collectionFor several years at my old house, I would stand using a grab bar and a sink in the bathroom to do five squats, and calf raises hourly. When I moved, the size and shape of my new house made this procedure more difficult to continue because of the travel time and inconvenience. The stopping of my mild exercise program forced my leg muscles to deteriorate, making getting into cars challenging. Wanting to reverse my lower limb loss, I decided to go to the VA for physical therapy with the sole purpose of learning to stand at home by myself safely.

While at the VA physical therapy, I was able to stand with minor assistance while using the parallel bars. I thought that standing repetitiously at the bars would reward me with positive results.
I desired to strengthen the needed muscles that would allow me to continue rising at my house with no assistance.
Sadly it is not in the cards for me to stand unassisted ever again.

power stand chairWhen the physical therapist and I talked, she explained that my goal was sadly unattainable. The topic of conversation quickly evolved into power standing wheelchairs and the benefits that I could expect. I clarified my intention of not going to a power chair until it was a physical requirement that I could not ignore. I want to use my arms until I lose my arms, I exclaimed fervently. The therapist saw that I was steadfast in my ideals and quickly clarified that it was not an either-or issue. She gave details telling me how many of her clients have both types of chairs and uses either depending on the day and how they feel. However, they stand a lot at home using the standing chair because more benefits are received as more standing is achieved.

The next thing that we did was schedule a power chair representative as well as the veteran rep to visit my home. The delivering duo came to my house and brought out one of these mechanized monstrosities to show its capabilities. Most power chairs have a limited number of skills, only moving anywhere on a single plane like forward and backward. Because of its limited abilities, the motor is small and sits directly under the driver of this chair. This action means that the footprint of these armchair accommodations is relatively small for such a big seat. On the other hand, a standing power wheelchair must counterbalance a standing human and has a larger footprint.

ek jumpWhen the power chair rep pulled his minivan in front of my house, he began unloading various motorize marvels. I went out to look at the selection he brought, and I asked what the differences were specifying how they would benefit me. He explained that he just came from a trade show and that only one of the four chairs would work for me. The chair that was chosen for me was wheeled into my living room so that I could see it up close. The sales rep sat in the chair and began moving levers and wrapping straps, showing me how it worked. They then asked me how best to position the chair so that I could safely transfer into this colossal contraption.

When I pulled alongside this massive machinery, two things stood out and made me realize that a transfer would not occur. The first thing that stuck out to me like a burnt potato chip in a bowl of chips was the six-inch gap between the two chairs. Next was the four-inch height difference on the other side of that six-inch gap. Just like Evil Knievel jumping over Snake River with his jet-powered motorcycle, this would be a failure if I tried.

final picThis story now has to be put on hold as two things have slammed the breaks on this endeavor. First and foremost, the COVID-19 virus has thrown a monkey wrench into an already arrested adventurer. Second, they are trying to contemplate how I can transfer from one chair to the other safely without assistance. Now I wait until the viral dust settles and the transfer calculations come back as safety is of the utmost importance.

Machines will save our lives, not de-humanize.

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