Wednesday, July 18, 2018

New scooter broadens the life of Logan man

portrait of John
John Montour
LOGAN--John Montour  doesn't remember why he passed by the Utah Assistive Technology Program's lab in Logan, or exactly when it happened. He just remembers seeing lots and lots of wheelchair parts, and people working on wheelchairs.

But the memory came back during desperate time in his life, after he had received one bit of bad news after another. His health was failing and his world seemed smaller and smaller. Doctors recommended he not stand for long periods. Then he was told not to drive. He could not walk too much, or climb stairs. He had to stop riding the BMX bike that he regarded as his friend.

It seemed the only times he got out of the house were for medical appointments--and those were not happy occasions. Meanwhile, he faced a long wait for equipment that would help.

"I was just stuck. Stuck. There was no way I could find a way outside at all," he said. But as he remembered watching the people working on wheelchairs at the Utah Assistive Technology Program's lab, he wondered if they could help him find a solution.

"He came in and explained his situation," said Clay Christensen, who coordinates the UATP lab in Logan. He showed Montour some scooters the program had available.

Montour is using one on loan. And now, as he puts it, he is free.

He can go to the library, the Senior Citizens' Center. He shops at the grocery store, and the former chore feels like a privilege.  He's been to the Logan zoo with Common Ground in Logan. He even tosses bread to the duck he's been looking out for--the one who is always at the end of the line, getting picked on by the others.

Recently, he made the trip back to UATP's lab, to tell Christensen how his life had changed. He agreed to share his story.

"If another person can find what I've found... for me it was a reprieve from the destinies that were isolating me," he said.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The difference a wheelchair makes

Jennifer Holland

SALT LAKE CITY--Jennifer Holland's new-to-her wheelchair from the Utah Assistive Technology Program gives her more than the freedom to go to the grocery store. It gives her the strength to shop once she gets there.

"Before, it took so much energy to use my walker to get to the bus stop or whatever, but then I couldn't do anything else. So this is great!"

Jennifer's eyes are closed as she arches an arm over her head
Jennifer practices wheelchair yoga
on her new-to-her device.
Jennifer embodies the freedom that assistive technology offers people with disabilities. She received her chair after a visit to the Judy Ann Buffmire Building in Salt Lake City, where UATP coordinator Tom Boman worked with her to find the right fit for her needs. Ken Reid of the Utah Center for Assistive Technology also assessed Holland to make sure the chair was right for her.

The chair--like hundreds of others--was donated to UATP, then refurbished in its Salt Lake warehouse. Holland received it after paying a service fee. Typically the fee for a chair is less than an insurance deductible.

After one month in her new wheels, she has more freedom to participate in favorite activities, like wheelchair tennis or other adaptive sports offered through the TRAILS (Technology Recreation Access Independence Lifestyle Sports) program in Salt Lake City.

It also maneuvers over bumps, offering a smooth ride she didn't have before. "I do more now than I did before I accepted [I had] disabilities," she said. "It makes it so I can go places, especially in this particular chair, because it makes the ride so much easier. ... I feel safe."

An added feature doesn't have much to do with mobility, but it adds a lot to Jennifer's quality of life. The chair reclines, making it easier for her read. She can find the right angle, making a favorite activity happen with a lot less strain.

Reclining in her chair, Jennifer reads in her living room

Salt Lake's Utah Assistive Technology Program Coordinator Tom Boman said that soon after he and Ken had assessed Jennifer's needs, the perfect device appeared at the warehouse. It doesn't always happen that way, but when it does, it's a beautiful thing to see.

"It came in, we cleaned it off, put new batteries in it and kicked it out the door," Boman said.

If you need mobility equipment, the Utah Assistive Technology Program can help. Hundreds of people have received wheelchairs, scooters and other devices though UATP's operations in Salt Lake, Logan and the Uintah Basin. The affordable fee-for-service program helps people regardless of whether they have insurance.

To find out more, call 800-524-5152.