Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Exoskeleton and me

Wikipedia image
I like my skeleton. I've only broken it three or four times. And the article about the "it may cost $70,000" experimental exoskelton in Slate today doesn't really describe my sort of thing—I probably couldn't use it—but at least it's another step toward accommodation rather than the cure philosophy.

Choosing the crip lifestyle is expensive. My first power wheelchair, paid out of pocket since I was employed, was about $1500. That was sometime in the 1970s. My current one -- thanks to Medicare and private insurance -- was $26,000, delivered a few months ago. I don't know how much I'll share in that yet. I wouldn't be surprised if the amount exceeded what I paid for that first wheelchair.

Wheelchair accessible van? You can find junkers reasonably enough, sure, but if you want a new van, you're moving into Lexus and Cadillac territory: $50,000+. 

The last two houses -- $10,000 mods on one; $20,000 mods on the other. (Universal design would help with that. It'd be nice to be able to think about visiting someone without worrying about an accessible dwelling entrance.) 

Few crips have the kind of wallet that would allow the purchase of Exo-man if it came on the market, no doubt the exception being those injured by someone with lawsuit-deep pockets. Me? I was paralyzed in 1959. I don't remember anyone even thinking about or suggesting what happened to me was lawsuit-worthy. 

 The key things to remember, really, are about 50% of crips aren't employed, and only a few are employed at jobs that pay the big bucks. The second thing is a logical assumption based on that first fact: crips need mainstream education and those good jobs. 

Then maybe a $26k wheelchair or a $50k van or a $70k exo-skeleton suit might be something other than a fantasy.

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