Three penguins walking across ice.

Here in North Dakota, we sound a little like the Starks of Winterfell, “Winter is coming.” Winter comes every year and with it snow, and ice, and more snow, and more ice. In Fargo, and for much of the surrounding region, the last week of 2018 went out with a bang, or should I say blizzard. 10+ inches of snow and -36 degree windchill. UFF DA!

Moving about on all this ice and snow is no easy task. Check out some of the options below to increase your safety this winter using assistive technology.

Add an ice cleat to your shoes. Styles are available that cover either the entire shoe or just the heel. When purchasing, make sure to check that you are buying a size that will fit your foot.  Available at a variety of online and local retailers.

Picture of a shoe/boot from the bottom with an ice cleat added to it

Do you use a cane? Add a retractable ice pick that flips up when you are inside such as this one from Vive Medical. When selecting an ice pick, you will need to check that it is compatible with the diameter of your cane.  Ice picks that have foam on the inside will be less likely to scratch your cane.

On the left of the picture is a light blue, rubber-tipped cane with a retractable, five-prong ice pick installed on it. On the right is the ice pick alone.

If you use a standard walker, you may find it helpful to swap the rubber tips with walker skis. They are, after all, modeled after snow skis! Please be sure to check with your OT/PT/doctor prior to making this swap.  You will need to check to make sure that the skis are compatible with your walker.  Many walker manufacturers have their own versions available.

a pair of walker skis

Are you a wheelchair user? While researching for this post, I came across this great article written by a wheelchair user from Minnesota.  In it, he details various options and modifications to enable a wheelchair user to get through snow more easily. Read the article here:

One of the options he discussed is wheelblades. Wheelblades were invented by Patrick Mayer, a wheelchair user himself who wants, “maximum mobility and flexibility in all kinds of weather”.  Wheelblades are snapped onto the front (small) wheels of the user’s wheelchair allowing them to glide more easily over ice and snow.  Check out this video of Patrick using wheelblades:



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