If you have a loved one who faces some longer term disability as a result of their brain injury you may need to make some modifications in order to make your home more accessible and more comfortable.
Below are some of the common modifications that may be required.
Ramps - Getting in and out of the house is the first order of business. If you need a wheelchair ramp there are a number of different materials to choose from. You can use treated lumber, aluminum, concrete, or the newer composite decking material.
Some important design issues to keep in mind are found in the ADA guidelines. The ramp should not have a slope greater than 1:12. That means for every one inch you need to go down you need 12 inches of ramp. A 1:16 slope is more comfortable and if you have the available space is my recommendation, especially for a manual chair user. When measuring do not just measure the height of the steps. Measure from the top of the steps to the point where the ramp will end. This way you account for the slope of the yard.
Make sure you follow the ADA guidelines
regarding railings and curb stops. You will need to add a
non-skid coating if you build with wood. Also, there are
guidelines that call for a 5'x5' level platform at changes of
direction and also level in-line platforms for long runs. When
in doubt, over-engineer. A power wheelchair can weigh 400 -500
lbs empty, then add the weight of the person.
Door Widening - Wider doorways make it
much easier for the person in a wheelchair to navigate. Even
though the wheelchair may be 26" wide remember to account for things
like elbows. Try maneuvering a power wheelchair, it is not as
easy as it looks. If your loved one has vision or fine motor
deficits they may need all the space they can get.
Go with 36" wide doors if you can. If you
can not widen the doors you may want to consider offset hinges to
provide a little more usable space. Some other options include
double doors or pocket doors. Use lever handles throughout.
Threshold Ramps - A common problem is that there may be thresholds throughout the house that include a drop-off taller than the 1/2" recommended maximum. Again, you don't think about it until you are in the chair and the drop-offs rattle your teeth. There are aluminum, recycled rubber, or wood threshold ramps you can add to alleviate the problem.
Ceiling Lifts - We are seeing an increase
in ceiling lifts as agencies are instituting tighter "no-lift"
standards on their nurses and aides in order to avoid back injuries.
These lifts run on a track system that is mounted to the ceiling.
they can be motor driven or free-wheeling, permanent or
portable. If you are unable to help your loved one with
transfers, you may want to inquire about these lifts.
Roll-In Showers - A roll-in shower
as the name implies allows the person to roll directly into the
shower while in their shower wheelchair. The advantage is you
avoid a very dangerous situation of trying to transfer someone
without clothing and while they may be slippery. These units
can be custom built with tile or use a fiberglass panel assembly.
Grab Bars - Grab bars are another
important safety device. Make sure the bars are either 1 1/4"
or 1 1/2" in diameter per ADA guidelines. I like the 1 1/4"
for use by people with smaller hands. I use a connector to
attach the grab bars that is easier and stronger than a trying
to center them on the studs. I typically use a 36" and a 16"
bar in a tub/shower.
Door Openers - There are power door
opening units that will open and close the door for the person to
enter and exit the house unaided. The timing of the open and
close settings can be adjusted for each person. There are also
options such as different types of switches, digital keypads,
electric strikes, and outdoor access buttons.
Feel free to call and I will try to give you some advice for your situation.