Late last year my Occupational Therapist recommended that my sister and I use our CAEATI funding to buy two Hippocampe Beach Chairs.
At first I was sceptical; I mean even though we live in a coastal town and many beaches were close by, I’d kind of gotten used to not visiting them because of the chair. Plus I needed other equipment a lot more, I didn’t really desperately need a beach chair. However, one of the guidelines for CAEATI funded equipment is that it must enable access in the community for the individual. This ruled out the pool hoist I’d been wanting to buy for our pool at home, and left me looking at the Hippocampe instead.
We trialled them a few weeks later and I found myself suitably impressed. They weren’t as uncomfortable as another beach chair I’d previously tried, and they moved a lot quicker through sand than I thought they would – but then again it depends how strong the person is who’s pushing you.
It’s not like I could go to the beach on my own in the Hippocampe (even if I didn’t have FA); for starters there are no self-propelling wheels, and it’s really wobbly in the water which means someone always needs to stabilise it.
It wasn’t until I went to the beach one day with a bunch of my family that I began to really enjoy using it. I was able to go get in the water with them, I even got out of the chair and floated around. I watched my dog running along the beach, and was able to feel sand slipping through my fingers. I felt so included, it was really nice.
I would definitely recommend the Hippocampe to other FAers – for those who have really sensitive feet, like me, make sure you wear runners or reef shoes because the netting around your feet can feel like sandpaper at times. The biggest downside for the Hippocampe is cost, they are about four grand each. I know I wouldn’t have been able to afford mine without government funding, try talking to your local O.T about what funding is available for you.
Find out more about the Hippocampe by going to http://www.wickedwheelchairs.com.au/hippocampe.html