Shared peer advice from polio survivors about what works for them.

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Canes – Pick the Right Stick

Brian Tiburzi

A cane may be adequate if you need minimal support. First determine the correct length of the cane. If it is too long and your elbow stays bent when you lean on the cane, the triceps muscle at the back of the elbow has to stay contracted. This can lead to muscle fatigue and pain in your shoulder. To prevent …

How to Use Crutches on Stairs

Brian Tiburzi

Approach the stairs and have your therapist stand by for safety until confident of abilities. Keep crutches down on lower level and do not place upward on the steps. Push down hard on the crutches with your arms. This lifts the body upward. Then, step up first with your strong leg to the first step! Bring up your weak leg …

Of Crutches and Canes

Brian Tiburzi

Have you thought about using a cane or crutch but dismissed the idea because you’d be self-conscious? Think you’ll look “disabled”? Figure that you’ve gotten along okay without walking aids so far, so why start now? Good question.I know that feeling well and talked about it in “Facing Reality.” But ask yourself if you are really getting along okay. Do …


Brian Tiburzi

If you’re at risk of falling or have some balancing problems you might want to consider using a walker. It is imperative that your walker is properly fitted with comfortable handgrips and that it is the correct height for you. To determine the correct height, stand inside the walker, let your arms rest at your sides and match the crease …

Roll Models: Scooters and Wheelchairs

Brian Tiburzi

Many of us who had polio used canes, wheelchairs and bracing on our path to recovery and gradually were able to relinquish them. Others of us have developed different chronic conditions that have managed just fine until now without mobility equipment. But as we get older our bodies change, our symptoms escalate and daily activities use so much more energy …

Computer Comfort

Brian Tiburzi

Whatever difficulties you are grappling with – visual or hearing impairment, mobility challenges, invisible disabilities and chronic conditions – there is a way to access cyberspace. Computers bring the world to you and enable you to enter the world. Communication, education, entertainment, shopping, employment–it’s all available thanks to ongoing technological advances. It isn’t possible for this chapter to cover the …


Brian Tiburzi

Many survivors need to work because their jobs provide a necessary source of income as well as health insurance and retirement benefits. Many derive a sense of satisfaction or an identity from work. However, some face the dilemma of fulfilling work obligations and demands which can increase the strain on overworked muscles and increase “global” fatigue affecting mental acuity. The …


Brian Tiburzi

Ergonomics is an interdisciplinary field concerned with the performance and safety of individuals at work, how people cope with the work environment, interact with machines, and, in general, negotiate their work surroundings. Applying this knowledge to all environments, tools, tasks, and jobs produces ones that are safe, comfortable, and effective. As strength and endurance decrease, the use of ergonomic principles …

Reasonable Goals for Physical Therapy.

Brian Tiburzi

Nearly every polio survivor comes to health care providers initially with the hope – whether clearly evident or secretly buried – that someone will be able to “make me as I was.” Because of this hope, some survivors are initially reluctant to hear about suggestions a PT may make regarding lifestyle modifications, equipment options, etc. Often, polio survivors consider accepting …

House Remodeling

Brian Tiburzi

HOUSE SMART (REMODELING) DOORS, FLOORS, RAMPS AND REVAMPS If you are fortunate enough to be building or remodeling your home, you can include all the modifications you need to accommodate your physical condition. Most of us need to live with what we already have, but we can make alterations which do not require large expenditures. Adapting your environment can be simpler than …