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Adaptive Clothing Options for People With Physical Challenges

Adaptive Clothing Options for People With Physical Challenges

My name is Bill, and I have worked for 180 Medical for over 10 years. bill fAbout 26 years ago, I was involved in a motocross accident that rendered me quadriplegic. You can learn more about my story here. Over the years since then, I’ve been able to help and counsel others who are also dealing with life after a spinal cord injury. I am happiest when I am helping others, and these days at 180 Medical, I spend a lot of time just talking to our customers on the phone who are new to catheterizing.

Encountering Difficulties with Dressing Post-Injury

When I first became disabled, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to dress myself again (since I am paralyzed from the shoulder blades down, and my hands no longer function). While in the rehabilitation center, it was recommended that everyone wear sweat pants, since that was the easiest form of clothing for the staff to get on and off while dressing those of us going through physical and occupational therapy. On top of that, I had on a halo. At the time, I figured I’d be stuck wearing sweatpants for the rest of my life.

After being released from rehab and getting the halo removed, I decided one of my main goals would be to learn to get dressed without any assistance. I realized that my good old blue jeans I used to wear were going to be virtually impossible for me to put on. The first problem was that they all had buttons, which made it too difficult for me to manipulate due to my limited hand dexterity. When someone else put them on for me, I noticed that it was hard to keep them up especially when transferring in and out of the wheelchair. The back of the pants were always coming down, and I was unable to pull them up by myself. I did eventually find some standard pants with elastic, which worked better, but I still had the problem of the back of the pants being too low.

A New Option for Clothing

While searching on the internet one day, I found out that there are clothes specifically designed for people with physical challenges — from shirts all the way to specialized shoes. I was especially excited to see adaptive pants: jeans, dress pants, and more. These are designed for people who are sitting and also for those with limited hand dexterity, like myself.

Adaptive Pants and Their Unique Features

Adaptive pants are designed for people who are sitting (as well as those with limited hand dexterity like myself. Here are some of the main features that I and many others find helpful in getting dressed daily.

  • Higher back side and lower front side. This works well, especially when you are in a wheelchair, so you don’t have to worry about too much skin showing from the back. This also keeps the front of the pants from bunching up as much as regular pants do. 
  • No pockets on the backside. This eliminates as many seams and grooves as possible in order to prevent getting pressure sores. Speaking as someone who is in a wheelchair for the majority of the day, this is a very important feature, as I have been susceptible to pressure sores before. 
  • Elastic waistband to help keep the pants up during normal wear. Since my abdominal muscles have deteriorated a little, due to my condition, my waistline changes from when I am lying down versus when I am sitting in my chair. The elastic helps accommodate for these size fluctuations and alleviates the need to wear a belt.
  • Wide variety of different closures (versus standard pants). Some pants offer zippers, Velcro, or hook and eye closures which are easier to manipulate than the standard button closures on regular pants. Some companies still leave the button on the outside, so it still looks like a regular button and eye closure. For those who are unable to use a zipper, the Velcro closure is a great option, because it’s easy to use and strong enough to stay closed.
  • Longer/wider opening on the crotch of the pants, which makes them easier to get on and off. It also helps in gaining access to the urethral area for people who catheterize, especially women.
  • Fabric loops that are sewn into the inside of the pants so no one can see them.  These are designed to help people with limited hand dexterity to help pull the pants up.  


Techniques in Getting Dressed Independently

There are different techniques people use to get dressed. I prefer to get dressed while lying in bed.  I get the pants pulled up on both legs while sitting in bed and then I lie down and roll from side to side while pulling them up. Some people find it easier to get dressed while sitting in their chair.  It basically comes down to whatever is easier for you.

While I have mainly discussed the kinds of pants for those who are able to get dressed independently, they also have styles that open up the entire front of the pants as well as some that open up in the rear for easy access. They also offer pants that the entire legs can be opened up. It is amazing how many options are available, whether you can dress yourself or whether you have someone that helps you put on your clothes daily.

Like I mentioned earlier there are quite a few companies that offer adaptive clothing. I am very thin and have a hard time finding the right size to fit me, but I’ve found that many companies will offer to make the necessary alterations to provide you with the proper fit. If you type “adaptive clothing” in the search engine on your computer it will bring up a large variety of companies to choose from. I recommend checking out the various companies to see which one best fits your needs.

Questions about the best catheters for your intermittent catheterization needs as a person with physical challenges? 180 Medical can help. Please contact us and a friendly specialist will be glad to help you find the right product for you.

Call Toll-Free (877) 688-2729

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About the Author
Bill worked for 180 Medical for over 10 years. He loves peer mentoring, sharing his first-hand experiences as a quadriplegic, and helping those with in-depth questions about self-catheterization. He enjoys spending time outdoors, as well as watching and attending motocross events.