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  • Do winter coats hinder your ability to move your arms?

    Posted by alyssa-silva on December 11, 2023 at 10:52 am

    I thought it was just me at first. But after reading the responses from my recent column and seeing the forum replies on Micaela’s struggles with staying warm and wearing thin layers, I realized this is more common in the SMA community than I thought: The challenge of wearing winter coats. 

    The older I get, the more I hate being cold. Winters never bothered me until recently, and let me tell you… the struggle to stay warm is real. Especially since I can’t wear winter coats. Anything heavy or bulky prevents me from driving my wheelchair so I often choose practicality over comfort and coziness. I wish there were a better solution though. 

    Do you have similar experiences with coats? What’s your cold weather outfit when leaving the house?

    eric-ovelgone replied 2 months, 2 weeks ago 8 Members · 16 Replies
  • 16 Replies
  • deann-r

    Member
    December 12, 2023 at 9:12 am

    Coats were my nemeses for years until I discovered the plush poncho. So much easier. A couple years ago I even found a heated one. I’d link it but I don’t think they sell it anymore. It’s large enough to cover my joystick on colder days. Funny though, kids think I have no arms and wonder how my chair is moving.

    Have you seen the armless jackets football players wear on the sidelines in inclement weather? I’ve always wondered if they’d be big enough to cover my entire chair and not get tangled in my tires.

    • alyssa-silva

      Member
      December 13, 2023 at 2:29 pm

      I think I know the jackets you’re talking about. My friend works for the Patriots, I’ll have to see if he can hook me up. 😉 Kidding but I’ll ask him if he knows anything about them.

      As far as ponchos go, I’m not sure if they’re really conducive for me. My biggest problem is that my joystick is basically in the middle of my lap. So I don’t know if a poncho would interfere with that. You’ll have to do a video on your winter attire so I can see how you wear it!

  • mark-pratt

    Member
    December 12, 2023 at 3:15 pm

    The older you get; it truly is harder to stay warm. I also have a lined poncho and use a heated lap pad that plugs into my chair that keeps me warm underneath. I don’t use it in the van because it’s hard to get the seatbelt on. It really makes a difference if you can wear some type of glove, but not everyone can.

    • alyssa-silva

      Member
      December 13, 2023 at 2:30 pm

      I love the idea of a heated lap pad. Silly question, but do all wheelchairs have outlets?

      • patrick-lenihan

        Member
        December 14, 2023 at 12:26 am

        If your chair has a port that you plug a charger into, you can use that port to charge and or power power banks, cellphones, tablets, etc… if you have a usb adapter for the port.

      • alyssa-silva

        Member
        December 14, 2023 at 9:49 am

        Interesting. I never knew this.

        @deann-r We have the same wheelchair. Have you tried using this before?

  • tammy

    Member
    December 12, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    Yes I struggled with this as well. I find that it depends on the individual coat. Some are a little more pliable than others. And then some of them are just way too stiff and I can’t move my arms. Or they are just so thick and puffy that I can’t lay my arms in the position that I need to. But Pancho’s definitely help a lot and I also wear hoodies which I can still move in. And I still do some coats like the ones that are real soft like teddy bear hair kind of feel whatever they call that. Also real thin windbreakers help underneath Panchos because they’re thin enough to move but still manage to keep you warm even though they are so thin

    • alyssa-silva

      Member
      December 13, 2023 at 2:35 pm

      Thick and puffy is my demise. I love sweatshirts but they are just oook for me. The sleeves are always 10 sizes too big (my arms are skinny) and interfere with my mini joystick. It’s so sensitive that sometimes my sweatshirt will accidentally drive me forward lol.

  • patrick-lenihan

    Member
    December 12, 2023 at 8:09 pm

    Yes, winter coats do hinder my ability to drive my chair but so does being cold. If I am only going to be outside for a short time I will wear a scarf , hat and a wool fisherman’s sweater. If I’m going to be outdoors for longer periods of time I will put adhesive toe warmers on my base layer sleeves, then put on a battery operated heated vest with a fleece lined water proof rainproof wheel chair pancho or a sweater or fleece lined flannel shirt over it as a top layer. I also wear wool knit fingerless mittens or a waterproof fleece lined cover with a pocket for hand warmers for my wheelchair controller. A friend made the controller cover for me.

    • alyssa-silva

      Member
      December 13, 2023 at 2:39 pm

      Sounds like you’re a pro at this! Hand warmers are a great idea. My hands always get cold first and then I can’t drive. I’ve tried every type of mitten and gloves to no avail. Do you have a favorite hand warmer?

      • patrick-lenihan

        Member
        December 14, 2023 at 12:28 am

        If you can drive wearing mittens or fingerless mittens ,I suggest sticking a HotHands disposable toe warmer to the inside of your mitten or fingerless mitten so that the warmer rests on the top of your hand and or knuckles to keep your hands warm while driving your wheelchair. If I am just sitting outside having a drink or meal I use a rechargeable battery operated hand warmer. If you know someone who is good at sewing, you could commission them to make a fleece lined cover for your wheelchair controller that has a pocket insert for a HotHands hand warmer near where the top of your hand is located when driving your chair.

      • alyssa-silva

        Member
        December 14, 2023 at 10:00 am

        I’ve never been able to wear anything on my hands because it impairs my ability to drive. I use my index finger to push a mini joystick. Here’s a picture of how it works.

        I’m thinking I could put a hand warmer under my left hand, though. That way, I could get some warmth. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them!

  • dennis-turner

    Member
    December 12, 2023 at 8:29 pm

    Yes they do!

    I usually use a down jacket. The nylon material slides on my arms pretty well, and the entire jacket is extremely light. My bigger issue is taking it off once I get back in.

    • alyssa-silva

      Member
      December 13, 2023 at 2:41 pm

      That’s another obstacle I have too. My arms just don’t bend that way!

  • jim-schneider

    Member
    December 13, 2023 at 11:33 am

    I’m really interested in the heated or lined poncho’s and heated lap pads. Any suggestions or links on where to finds these would be helpful. I have really come to hate winter!

  • eric-ovelgone

    Member
    December 14, 2023 at 4:01 pm

    I avoid coats as much as possible . Typically in really cold weather I will wear a sweatshirt with a thermal undershirt and a sleeveless vest. I will also carry one of those chemical bag hand warmers…the kind you shake and they heat up. I tried sewing a usb heating pad into my seat cushion cover to work via a usb phone charger…but am not really sure if it works…not used any length of time out of an irrational fear of setting my butt on fire lol.

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