Thursday, April 14, 2011

SideStix in Action

We finally got to test SideStix today in an urban park in Worcester. Dwayne Boyd has provided us with the first real run on these adaptive all-terrain crutches and the feedback I've needed to assess them for our hiking program. Dwayne is a few months shy of forty and has cerebral palsy. It was his second time testing SideStix. Both times he marveled at the reduced impact on his joints that the shock absorbing design offers.

Last month we took a short walk outside the Buffone Rink before a skating program and tried SideStix on a rapidly melting snowfield still over a foot deep. He was amazed by his ability to float on top of the snow using the snowshoe attachments. Afterwards he said, "With these crutches I could go out in the yard and play in the snow with my kids! I know this product is intended for specialized use, but I would buy them to use everyday!" Since then, he's been working every angle to acquire a pair. Dwayne has written his own account after his first use of SideStix which you can link to here.

Dwayne uses an allen wrench to swap out tips on SideStix.
In today's test adventure we tackled the beach and a gravelly acorn-laden uphill trail, scrambled over a stone wall, ambled through the paved parking lot, and took a short stroll on footpaths to get onto a wooded knoll. Dwayne's mother Linda joined us for part of the time, and treated me to a potent dose of  mother's pride. "I remember the doctor sitting down with us when Dwayne was a kid," she said. "He gave us a list of all the things Dwayne would never be able to do. I'll never forget the day when Dwayne crossed the last one off the list - that one was 'having children'." I was dying to hear what else Dwayne had crossed off the list, but I had to run to keep up with him!

On the beach, Dwayne once again discovered he had better grip on the ground with SideStix. "This would be impossible on my regular crutches," he noted. With the spike and trail basket at the crutch tip, they performed well in both wet dense and loose dry sand. SideStix gave Dwayne more efficient use of his energy - he could travel farther than on his own crutches. He also traveled faster on level ground. The rotating articulating tip gave him more secure contact with pavement and all its irregularities. He found the spike surprisingly easy to adjust to using on the trail.

Dwayne had to give the crutches up briefly to get over the stone wall, took a tumble when he stepped on the trail basket at the crutch tip by accident, and decided not to tackle a steep grade with loose gravel when he met the edge of his comfort zone. Otherwise, Dwayne would have kept going until dark I think. Playing with his daughters at our skating program was on his agenda for the afternoon. Between "sidesticking" and ice sledding, Dwayne should sleep well tonight!


Marcy Marchello said...

I should make it clear that although I did have to run to catch up with Dwayne once - after stopping to talk - his pace was not so different from his norm and did not put him ahead of a typical non-disabled ambulatory person. Still, his experience of his change in pace was significant, as was his much enhanced sense of terrain and situations he could handle on SideStix compared to his usual crutches.

Emily P said...

This is awesome! I love Dwaynes energy and his love of these SideStix! And I found that his check off list was truly inspirational!