There are many health benefits to the simple act of standing in an upright position. However, the bipedal part of society does not need to concern themselves with this issue as they already reap any ambulation rewards. Strengthening bone density from bearing weight onto your lower limbs seems small but is a vital part of life. Skeletal deterioration was a quizzical concern NASA had to carefully contemplate to help astronauts when returning from space. When visiting the cosmos, your bone density weakens one percent each month in zero gravity. NASA finally designed an exercise machine allowing an astronaut to exercise and feel gravity like on earth.
Standing also helps with spasticity in the muscles caused by pitiful positioning, circulatory slowing, and poor posture. The bipedal propulsion position also encourages proper blood flow, which is difficult while seated, causing more problems. When an ambulatory individual is sitting at the office, many of these issues plague them as well. These concerns and the fact many people are heedful of healthy habits inspired the resurrection of the standing desk. These physical challenges make the simple act of walking on two legs an essential part of life.
For several years at my old house, I would stand using a grab bar and 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. In addition, the stopping of my mild exercise program encouraged my leg muscles to deteriorate, making many tasks a struggle. 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 with limited assistance.
While at the VA physical therapy, I was able to stand with minor assistance and use the parallel bars. I thought standing repetitiously at the bars would reward me with positive results, yet sadly, it is not in the cards for me to stand unassisted. The physical therapist and I talked, and the conversation evolved into power-standing wheelchairs and the benefits I could expect from having one. I clarified my intention of not going to a power chair until it was a physical requirement I could not ignore. I want to use my arms until I lose my arms, I proclaimed fervently. The therapist saw I was steadfast in my ideals and quickly clarified it was not an either-or issue. She explained many of her clients have both types of chairs. They use each 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 we did was schedule a power chair representative and a 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 limited 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 the footprint of these armchair accommodations is relatively small for such a big seat. However, a standing power wheelchair must counterbalance a standing human and has a larger footprint. 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 to transfer into this colossal contraption safely.
When I pulled alongside this massive machinery, two things stood out and made me realize a transfer would not occur. The first thing that stood out to me like a burnt potato chip was the six-inch gap between the two chairs. Next was the four-inch height difference on the other side of the six-inch gap. Like Evil Knievel jumping over Snake River with his jet-powered motorcycle, this too would be a failure if I tried.
I started this blog entry four months after the beginning of the pandemic. It is part one in a series talking about attaining and maintaining my power-standing wheelchair. I had to wait for the VA to figure out my options for getting into the chair by myself. The possibilities for me, self-mounting this motorized mechanism were plentiful but none yet successful. The task is essential, making options extensive. Stay tuned for the next episode, where I discussed the battle to plop my posterior to the proper position to transition this Titan Into a training tower to teach my leg bones to build more density.
Machines will save our lives, not dehumanize.