Gerry Price's story
But Gerry's time and energy weren't always being used as efficiently: he spent a great deal of effort trying to operate tools that were designed for able-bodied people. His occupational therapist thought there might be ways to improve the accessibility in his shop, so she suggested him as a candidate for the CanAssist-WorkSafeBC initiative.
"Gerry has to work extra hard to use standard equipment, which is hard on his body and his patience," says Mike Jackman, a member of the team from CanAssist that visited Gerry. "His limited grip strength, dexterity and fine motor control make using certain devices challenging and fatiguing."
Gerry's physical challenges are the result of an accident that occurred in 1995 when he was living on Salt Spring Island and working for the regional government's engineering department. He fell off a ladder and spent the next 11 months in hospital and at the GF Strong Rehab Centre.
"After becoming a quadriplegic, I realized how important it is for disabled people to be active in there communities," Gerry says. "I spend my time developing and adapting devices for wheelchair users that allow them to be more active in recreational pursuits."
To improve his ability to do this important work, two projects were identified: adapting his drill press and modifying a shop vac so both would be easier to use.
The drill press has a small handle that the user rotates to adjust the height of the working surface. Gerry, who has difficulty gripping onto things, needed more leverage in order to rotate the handle.
"Gerry had been operating the drill press by himself, but it really took a lot of effort," explains Brandon Fry, who designed a larger easy-grip handle to replace the old one.
"Creating a larger handle for the drill press was really straightforward and made it much easier for him to use."
Being such a prolific machinist, Gerry needed to be able to clean up after himself. But he had a hard time holding and maneuvering his shop vac's wand and changing the cleaner's attachments.
So Mike created a customized handle and brace that clamp onto the wand of the heavy-duty vacuum cleaner. The simple C-shaped brace allows Gerry to force the sections of the vacuum together without having to grip them. The larger handle is cushioned and adjustable, so Gerry can find the precise angle that is comfortable for him while vacuuming.
Mike and Brandon enjoyed talking with Gerry about the devices he creates in his shop - after all, all three of them develop devices designed to improve the quality of life of people with special needs.
"Having the good grip handles that Can Assist made and installed on my Radial Arm Drill Press and Shop Vacuum has been a big improvement," Gerry wrote to us recently. "I can now spend more time and have more energy to do tasks in my workshop and easily use the shop vac to clean up after myself."Return to the list of WorkSafeBC-related articles.
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