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Workshop modifications help with arthritis and other conditions in the farm shop.

The workshop is an area that may be overlooked when looking to do accommodations to make farming easier. With limited grip strength related to arthritis or other chronic conditions, it may be hard to grip hand tools or move things around. There are many modifications available that can make the workshop an easier place to work.

One major consideration is accessing the workshop itself, and the workbenches inside. Standard doors may need to be widened to allow for wheelchair access. The height of workbenches, light switches and electrical plugs may need to be lowered as well to allow easier access, depending on the type of wheelchair a person is in. Maneuverability within the shop should also be taken into consideration.  

A very inexpensive modification can be adding foam or padding to the handles of hand tools such as wrenches, hammers, and pliers. The foam increases the size of the handle, allowing people with reduced grip force to still use the tools. There are custom grip versions available that will mold to the shape of your hand, while foam insulation or other padding found around the shop can be used by attaching with rubber bands or tape.

Reachers come in handy for accessing items that may be set back on a work bench or on a shelf that may be inaccessible from a wheelchair or that are dropped to the floor and cannot be reached. Commercial grabbers are available in hardware and discount stores. Homemade version can be made by attaching a magnet to the end of a dowel and are useful in obtaining small hardware.

As always each situation is unique to the person and farm. For more information, please contact Kelly Ewalt at Michigan AgrAbility by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or at 989-227-6455.

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