Tom, 51 from Washington USA, is an active lover of the outdoors who contracted ALS several years ago. Tom became depressed because he was stuck indoors, as his powerchair couldn’t take him where he wanted to go. It negatively impacted his mental health.
Tom agreed to help Magic Mobility with a study into the connection between getting outdoors and improved mental wellbeing. This included meeting personal challenges and having greater independence and freedom. The results were startling.
“Not having an outdoor wheelchair greatly affected my life,” explained Tom. “I was getting cabin fever: not getting out and about with my friends and my family. My knowledge and expertise of the mountains and backwoods was confined to my living room, helplessly locked away in my mind.”
Tom’s OT fought hard to get him the right indoor-outdoor wheelchair
With help from his OT, Ron, Tom got funding for a Frontier V6 AT powerchair from Magic Mobility. It’s enabled him to get back into the backwoods where he’s spent so much time before his illness. Tom now spends a lot of time outdoors. He is exercising his mental and physical capabilities, seeking out new and stimulating experiences, and regaining his sense of personal achievement.
“The emotional difference since taking delivery of the V6 AT has been like night and day,” said Tom. “When you’re out, beating your way through the backwoods you’re totally in the moment. You are present in your mind and aware of your surroundings. The difference is, you don’t feel like you’re dying, you feel like you’re still living.”
Tom’s OT, Ron, was very positive in his assessment of the benefits of indoor-outdoor mobility. “Being able to access the outdoors greatly improved Tom’s mental health, his wellbeing and perhaps even his longevity with his life threatening disease,” Ron said.
Magic Mobility believe that having access to robust wheelchairs, taking people wherever they want to go, is crucial in supporting positive mental health.
“It’s no surprise that when people are restricted to their homes they can feel trapped, which can lead to depression and ultimately to poorer health.” said Ashley Daff, Magic Mobility Founder.
Magic Mobility recently presented its paper titled “Is Indoor-Outdoor Mobility Medically Necessary” at the International Seating Symposium in the USA. We presented the mounting evidence that time spent outdoors, getting into nature, can have the same therapeutic benefits as expensive drugs or counselling.
Would you participate in a study about your experiences of indoor-outdoor accessibility?
Are you deprived of the opportunity to pursue meaningful occupations because you’re trapped indoors? Have you come out the other side thanks to improved indoor-outdoor mobility? If so, we’d encourage you to register your interest here to participate in a further case study to support this Views from the Chair initiative.