AT for Ice and Snow

It’s 4 degrees and a nor’easter is blowing as your News and Tips editor re-posts this reminder from Courtney Ness Fuchs: “Ice and Snow Won’t Stop Me from Where I Want To Go.” Thanks North Dakota Assistive!  

A lone penguin on snow and ice, wings outstretched.

Here in North Dakota, we sound a little like the Starks of Winterfell, “Winter is coming.” Winter comes every year and with it snow, and ice, and more snow, and more ice. In Fargo, and for much of the surrounding region, the last week of 2018 went out with a bang, or should I say blizzard. 10+ inches of snow and -36 degree windchill. UFF DA!

Moving about on all this ice and snow is no easy task. Check out some of the options below to increase your safety this winter using assistive technology.

Add an ice cleat to your shoes

Styles are available that cover either the entire shoe or just the heel. When purchasing, make sure to check that you are buying a size that will fit your foot. Available at a variety of online and local retailers. [Some pop off rather easily. Recommended by your AT3 Center News and Tips Editor: kahtoola]

A hiking boot with metal crampon spikes stretched across the sole.
kahtoola MICROspikes

Add an ice pick to your cane

Do you use a cane? Add a retractable ice pick that flips up when you are inside such as this one from Vive Medical. When selecting an ice pick, you will need to check that it is compatible with the diameter of your cane. Ice picks that have foam on the inside will be less likely to scratch your cane.

A retractable ice cleat that camps on to the bottom of a user's cane. Two are shown, one installed the other on its own.

Consider skis for your walker

If you use a standard walker, you may find it helpful to swap the rubber tips with walker skis. They are, after all, modeled after snow skis! Please be sure to check with your OT/PT/doctor prior to making this swap. You will need to check to make sure that the skis are compatible with your walker. Many walker manufacturers have their own versions available.

Plastic caps in the shape of small skis (perhaps 3 inches) that may be screwed to the bottom of a walker instead of rubber caps.

Consider wheelblades for your wheelchair

Are you a wheelchair user? While researching for this post, I came across this great article written by a wheelchair user from Minnesota. In it, he details various options and modifications to enable a wheelchair user to get through snow more easily. Read the article here:

How to Get Through Snow in a Wheelchair

One of the options he discusses is wheelblades. Wheelblades were invented by Patrick Mayer, a wheelchair user himself who wants, “maximum mobility and flexibility in all kinds of weather.” Wheelblades are snapped onto the front (small) wheels of the user’s wheelchair allowing them to glide more easily over ice and snow. Check out this video of Patrick using wheelblades:

[Video shows a man attaching and using wheelblades in the snow and then wheelblades attached to a baby stroller gliding over snow. Captions are not voiced in the video. They are: “These are skis for wheelchairs. Meet wheelblades. They let wheelchairs move easier over snow. One click attaches them to the front wheels. They are made to improve mobility in the winter during snowy and icy conditions. It works on baby strollers as well. They start at $159.” ]