A Letter to Kaye Products: The Quest for a Better Walker

Below is a letter that I have written to the assistive device and therapeutic equipment company, Kaye Products.  I have recently discovered some issues with their Posterior Walker that do not meet my mobility needs as a person with a disability who leads a very active lifestyle and also as a group ex instructor.  After seeing the success that 16 year old Matthew Walzer had after writing to Nike to ask them to make him a shoe that he could put on independently, I decided to post my letter to this blog in the hopes that it might catch someone’s eye.  Please read my letter below and feel free to share if you are so moved.  There are so many people out there besides myself that could benefit from these small adjustments.

May 14, 2013

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Molly Carta. I am 24 years old, have Cerebral Palsy and have been a customer of Kaye Products since I was a toddler.  My parents and therapists have purchased many products from your company to assist me throughout daily life.  As an adult, I still use the Posterior Walker for daily mobility.  While this product has been useful and critical to my mobility for years, I am writing to you with a recent concern and request about the walker.

Despite having CP and difficulties with motor control and balance, I am a very active person. I have always understood the importance of staying in motion and taking control of my body and my health, so that I can live the life I want to live and not let my disability hold me back from anything.  This mindset shifted even more when I started working out at a gym after my insurance company stopped covering physical therapy.  In an effort to maintain the hard work and progress I had put into my life thus far, I began taking spinning classes while in college.  I had always wanted to ride a bike, but my balance issues prevented me from doing so.  A stationary bike that kept your feet on the pedals seemed like a perfect fit.  Even though this was challenging for me, I was so proud and excited to be taking part in a fitness class so mainstream that those feelings outweighed the difficulty.

Over the years, I began to take more classes and try new things.  There were few classes on our weekly gym schedule that I didn’t try at least once and my passion for health and fitness grew by the day. This past September, I decided to take this passion to an even greater level when I signed up for a Group Exercise Instructor Certification course through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. I didn’t only want to take classes, I wanted to teach them.  I knew that this was going to be a mental and physical challenge for me, but that had never stopped me before.  About a month ago, I began teaching a class geared toward people with disabilities and other limitations.  The class is taught from a chair and focuses on general strength and low impact cardio.  However, I would eventually like to expand the class to be a fully functioning group fitness class.

I am writing to you in the hopes that Kaye Products will be able to provide me with some assistance with the difficulties I have noticed with my Posterior Walker.  One of my main concerns I have been struggling with is the ineffectiveness of the rear brake system.  I currently use silent rear wheels with internal brakes.  Not only do these wheels seem to wear out very quickly (the last pair I had lasted not even a full year), but the brakes do not seem to work on many surfaces.  When I am taking and teaching classes, my walker is constantly sliding backwards both while I am holding on and if I do have to let go for any reason.  You can imagine how difficult this is, and the additional energy it takes, to always make sure I’m not going to slide.  My balance is effected greatly by my CP, and my walker is supposed to aide in me feeling more secure.  Instead, I am constantly worried I am going to fall while standing due to the brakes not working.  This seriously impedes my ability to adequately progress when taking or teaching classes.  I was hoping that Kaye Products might be able to come up with some sort of add-on or block for the brakes in order to keep the walker a safe and secure assistive device. I know that Kaye Products manufactures All-Terrain wheels, but I am concerned that these wheels are too large and would also not address my needs.

In addition to this, the Kaye Products walker frame and setup is not the most easily maneuverable and agile. I understand the need to create a walker out of durable and sturdy material, but with that also comes a very heavy product.  I find it very difficult to fold my walker and lift it in and out of my car when driving. It is also very bulky and gets in the way when I am trying to complete certain exercises or demonstrate them for my class participants.  I am well aware that my needs and concerns are not that of a “typical” person with CP or another disability, if there is such a thing.  However, it is clear that there is no other market for assistive devices or people with disabilities who might be more active or need special modifications in addition to those provided.

Having been a longtime Kaye Products customer, I have always been pleased with your company’s products, customer service, and responsiveness.  It is my hope that you might be able to help me in at least coming up with a solution to the rear wheel brakes so that I may feel more secure when standing briefly.  I also hope that you will be compelled to think of ways to improve your product for those of us who live more active lifestyles.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you to discuss these issues further.

Sincerely,

Molly Carta

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The Movement has begun!

Alright readers, I need to stop making a habit of this two month long hiatus I keep doing with my blog. It’s unfair to both of us; I feel like I’m not getting to share enough with all of you because I’m trying to fit everything into one post and then you are all stuck reading about “that one really awesome thing” that happened months ago. Sorry, I’m really going to try to be better (how many times have you read those words, huh?). I can promise that you’ll get at least two posts from me this week, since tomorrow is Blogging Against Disabilism Day 2013 and I’m signed up to contribute again!

So much has gone on in the past two months. I finished interning and grad school, went to California for Rehabilitation Counseling Conference and…oh yeah, started teaching my group fitness class! You know, that little thing I could not stop talking about. We had a free workshop at the gym for my first class and there were about 40 people there. My energy was all over the place, but I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome into this world surrounded by everyone that has helped me get to this place in my life, and some new faces too! And from what I was told, I did pretty darn good for my first class. It’s only gone up from there. Now that the regular classes have started, I have 9 people coming and they all seem to like what they’re seeing/doing! As with any other class, there are varying levels of fitness, limitations, and goals, so finding the balance has been a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I’ve waited so long to face. I’m still getting a lot of my kinks out with cueing and all that (instructor right and left anyone?! I honestly have to write a little L and R on my hands every week), but it’s getting there. For once in my life I don’t expect something to happen overnight. 🙂 I’ve included some workshop pictures at the end of this post, courtesy of Marisa Pellerin Photography once again. She’s amazing.

I wish I could share more about it all, but it’s so personal and perfect to me that I can’t even access so much of what went on that day, because I felt like I was living in a dream. I don’t praise myself, I don’t let others praise me, but this time I will. This is something that I have worked so hard for. Even at times when I didn’t know it. And now it’s here, and I’m living it. Sure there are pieces of the puzzle still left unturned, but it’s all room for the dream to grow a little bigger!

Check back tomorrow for my BADD post, a good one for sure! And check out the Fitness Rehab Movement on Better CT this past week!!

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