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Living an active life in a wheelchair

Attitude and ingenuity
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Posted at 6:29 AM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 00:16:49-05

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN) — KGUN 9’s special project called Two Americas is dedicated to the idea that your neighbors may live a life very different from yours, that gives them a very different perspective on life. In this story, KGUN 9 introduces us to a woman who went from an active life to adapting to life in a wheelchair.

People who’ve never experienced life in a wheelchair may still understand how big a barrier a simple staircase can be, but there is much more to understand about rolling through life in our Two Americas.

Andrea Cronrod strains to move from a living room chair to a wheelchair. She says, “When you do this all day long, believe me, it gets old.”

For Andrea Cronrod retaining even some of the freedom and mobility you might take for granted takes planning and a detailed understanding of every place she might go.

“If I go to a certain area or a shopping center or whatever, I always know the best place to go if I need to use the bathroom or open the door, or this door is too heavy. Doors is another one. I started out opening all the doors myself and now if somebody wants to open the door, fine.”

Even at home she plans where items are so there’s no needless movement and few things that would interfere with her path through the house.

“In all my doorways, I’ve taken off all the doors and part of the door jambs. Of course I have a raised toilet seat and a grab bar.”

Most kitchens assume you’ll prepare food standing up. Andrea has re-designed her kitchen so almost everything is lower and in easy reach.

“I have this table. It goes up and down if I want. There’s a crank.”

Andrea is able to drive a van but she had to develop a careful choreography of movements to make it into the driver's seat.

There’s sophisticated new technology to help people without Andrea’s knack for invention. At Mobility Plus, there’s a range of power chairs and scooters for a wide range of needs.

There are even stairs that transform to a ramp.

Some devices recognize people in wheelchairs—see the world as if they were only as tall as a child. But Gary Ross at Mobility Plus says there are chairs that can lift someone so they’re eye level with an adult who is on their feet.

He says, “This chair brings you into a completely different perspective. You're able to walk side by side with your friends, have a conversation without having to look up and really live your life in the perspective that everyone else is around you.”

But Gary Ross, and Andrea Cronrod know attitude helps someone move through the world as much as a good wheelchair.

“People say all the time, I couldn’t handle that, what would I do and I just think we all need to be open to that it could be us one day, with anything. I hear stories about people who have worse things than I do, and in the grand scheme of things there’s a lot worse stuff going on that people have to deal with. I think we all have to be open to the possibility that our life could change tomorrow in any modality and it’s up to us to adapt.”

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