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What home modifications will you need after a spinal cord injury?

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury that has caused some degree of paralysis, you'll likely have to make some modifications inside and outside your home. The good news is that these are easier to have done than they once were.

As our population ages and more people are living with mobility issues, designers are increasingly turning their attention to adapted and specialized designs that allow people with all levels of mobility to live together comfortably.

Ironically, thanks to laws mandating accessibility for people who use wheelchairs and other assistive devices, people who are newly paralyzed may have an easier time getting around in public than in maneuvering through their own home. That's why it's necessary to determine how your home needs to be modified as soon as possible.

It can be hard to know where to start. Fortunately, there are a number of resources available. AARP has information on companies and organizations that specialize in home modifications. The Christopher Reeve Foundation is a good starting point as well. They have representatives available via phone to offer guidance.

Every person with a spinal cord injury has unique limitations and needs. However, the following are a few things to consider when planning modifications to your home:

  • Eliminating steps and thresholds to entrances and exits
  • Widening doorways
  • Installing railings around porches
  • Multi-level countertops
  • Pull-down clothes rods and multi-level shelves in closets
  • Roll-in showers with grab bars and adjustable shower heads
  • Additional electrical outlets
  • Lower peepholes in doors

It's wise to shop around and get the best modifications at a reasonable price. However, modifications always need to be installed by people who know what they're doing. This isn't an area where saving money should be your first priority.

That's why if the spinal cord injury was the result of someone's actions or negligence, it's essential to hold them legally responsible and to seek the compensation you'll need -- not just for medical care, therapy and home health care support, but for accommodations that will allow you to live a safer, more comfortable life.

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