On Super Bowl Sunday, a special delivery came from Amazon. You may be wondering if it was a brand new television to watch the world’s most boring Super Bowl. Or an Xbox, a new phone or another trendy electronic device. When the doorbell rang, I got excited over…wait for it….a brand new Rehabilitation Advantage Tray for my wheelchair! Not quite the treasure you may have had in mind!
You may be worried about me at this point. Has my life become so mundane and boring that a hunk of plastic is the highlight of my week? Well, in the dead of winter in Wisconsin, the answer may actually be yes! However, there is more to my excitement. The past few months I have been struggling with finding an adequate tray for my chair. I had a custom made Plexiglas tray which I loved. However, over time it pretty much fell apart.
Wheelchair Trays and Insurance
Medicaid and most insurances do not pay for non-medical accessories for a wheelchair. While I understand that costs need to be kept down, a tray for a quadriplegic or severely physically disabled individual like myself is essential for independent living. As mentioned in my previous blog, my chair is too high for most standard tables. As a result, I need a tray to eat independently. I also need a tray to read, hold my drinks, brush my teeth , and even work. So you can see what an important accessory a tray is for my personal well being and independent living.
Not having a tray is actually more costly to my insurance company. You may be scratching your head wondering how this could be true. Without a tray, I would require more assistance from caregivers, who are covered under my insurance. I would have to be fed every meal and snack. I would need a caregiver to assist me every time I needed to take a drink. A caregiver would have to hold a book for me, hold my laptop, etc… Even taking my medication morning and night would require extra assistance. Currently, my meds are placed on my tray and I take them at my own pace. I think most would agree it makes more sense paying for a tray, than extra care giving hours.
Now let’s talk about dignity for a minute. I am a 26 year old male who can feed himself. I may not be the neatest eater, but I take pride in performing these tasks on my own. No one wants to be fed unless absolutely necessary. In public, being independent with eating and drinking does make me more approachable. I wish this was not the case. What a wonderful world this would be if differences were celebrated or even simply overlooked.
Trays ordered on line are an option, one I obviously have taken. However, there is a downside to this. Finding a tray that fits perfectly on a wheelchair is like finding your soulmate on POF! It may happen, but chances are it won’t. Every wheelchair has a tray option direct from the manufacturer. However, these trays run about $200-$300. That is beyond my affordability. When my Plexiglas tray fell apart, I opted for a cheaper particle board tray. That lasted as long as the announcers table on WWE Monday Night Raw. Ironically, they are both made out of the same material.
Rehabilitation Advantage Plastic Molded Wheelchair Lap Tray
I doubled my original budget and this time ordered a heavy duty molded plastic tray from Rehabilitation Advantage. When I tried on the tray, it was very lightweight, durable, and much to my surprise, had two cup holders! Two cup holders! Now that can come in handy on a Friday night after a long week! It also has a pencil well. I will have to find other creative uses for that feature considering I have never written a single word with a pencil or pen. However, it is the perfect size and shape for a beef stick! Hmmm…
The tray also features a rim which surrounds the entire tray. I drop more drinks from my tray than Verizon drops calls, so this is a really nice feature! The tray also comes with 2 sturdy Velcro straps which easily attach to my armrests. However, I think the tray will far outlive the straps. I could not find any replacement straps offered my Rehabilitation Advantage, but I did find other straps on Amazon that may work. It would be nice though if the company offered replacement straps or included extra straps with the tray.
These Velcro Straps are sturdy and hold tray in place
The tray was delivered right before we headed out to Trails End for the Super Bowl. I was really impressed with the strength of the Velcro straps. Maneuvering with the tray attached was flawless and it did not interfere with the joystick. I left my apartment and entered Trails End without causing any damage or broken toes!
On the way to Trails End, I kept the tray on in the car. I was super excited about this, as it will make road trips pretty sweet. However, on the way home, the tray kept hitting the gear shift, so we will have to work on the positioning of the tray, as shifting into Neutral on the highway is never a good idea! Overall the tray from Rehabilitation Advantage is a winner!
Tray Challenge for Readers
Although it’s wonderful to have a tray, at times I have flashbacks to my highchair days. My new tray actually looks exactly like my old highchair tray. I am 26 years old. I am a man who eventually would like to find a partner in life. Do you know how hard it is to attract a beautiful woman from behind an over sized highchair tray?! Even with the smoothest of lines, it is hard to be taken serious.
I would like to put a challenge out there! I need someone to “flip my tray”! Or to start from scratch and design a totally rad new tray for my chair! A tray designed for a 26 year old in mind! If you are up for the challenge or have ideas for me to try, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! Holla! Holla!
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ And Keep Smilin’!