In this Off the Shelf Solutions blog post, we’ll show you how we converted a common item to help Alexa swim safely with her family and friends.
Finding a way for Alexa to join in all the fun with her sisters in the swimming pool, without someone having to hold her, led us to try some of the various vests, doughnut and neck style devices available from the medical supply stores. We tried some of the low-priced items with little success. Luckily, we were able to experiment with one or two of the expensive devices at her rehab/water therapy sessions. Nothing seemed to work and none of them provided the freedom and safety that we desired. We assumed we would have to purchase a $500 specialty floatation device for adults who have disabilities. We thought it was our only option.
However, one day, Kathy came home from shopping with some large diameter noodles that had holes cut through the diameter as well as down the length. She plopped them on the patio near the deck and challenged Shay, Lauren and me to ‘make something work out of these’. After a lot of experimentation with some really wild designs that looked like she was in the middle of a modern art sculpture, we finally devised a floater that worked better than any of the store bought devices!
It usually took two of us to transfer Alexa from her wheelchair and slide her into the ‘hoop’ of the floater. Once in, we would cinch up the noodle that went under her arms that kind of ‘locked her in’. It was actually fairly difficult to get her head under water, so we felt it was a huge success. Alexa was so light when she first started using these noodles, that we had to put ankle weights on her feet to keep her perpendicular in the water. We would tow her around, splash with her, yank her feet… all the rough and tumble that everyone else was experiencing. However, even as safe as this creation was, Alexa was never alone in the water.
Equipment and supplies used
Tools we used: Scissors
Supplies: Large diameter noodles with holes drilled crosswise, smaller noodles with diameter equal to the diameter of the holes in the ‘cross drilled’ noodle, ankle weights, patience
We started by pressing a regular noodle through the cross drilled holes of the larger diameter noodle to form a hoop that Alexa would fit into. We then added noodles as necessary to help with flotation and balance. There is no right or wrong way to do this. We were constantly experimenting. You should expect to do the same.
Lots of inclusive fun for everyone!