Guest Author - Jeanetta Polenske
Attractive clothing really does make us look and feel better. While there are some necessary adjustments that are needed for disabled persons, there is no need to sacrifice fashion for practicality. Even so, there are certain things to consider when looking for adaptive clothing.
First, the fabric must be comfortable. That’s a given for anyone, but particularly for someone who is sitting or lying down all day. Consider the feel of cloth pressed against skin for long periods of time. Will it scratch, is it warm, does it have sewn décor that will be irritating, is it too textured?
Next, it is recommended that seams be sewn flat. The most common seam would be a double sewn seam much like on blue jeans. Buttons and ties are very challenging for those with poor fine motor skills. It makes more sense to replace those with snaps or Velcro.
Take into consideration that limbs may be stiff or unable to bend in directions to put on certain clothing. The clothes may need to be modified to accommodate missing limbs or made easier to pull on. Is there a catheter bag or gastric tube that needs an inside pocket?
There are several options when looking for special need clothing. There are sources for purchasing ready-made clothing, some of which can be custom made. One can alter clothing that is already part of a wardrobe or have a tailor do the alteration. And, at last, some companies are starting to produce patterns for clothing for the disabled if you prefer to sew your own.
Here are some suggestions for clothing adaptations for the disabled:
-Larger necklines for pullover styles
-Open at shoulder seam(s) with snap or Velcro closing
-Open back with tie closing
-Open underarm seams with snap or Velcro closing
-Cut longer to stay tucked in
-Inside pocket for gastric tube appliance
-Cape to go over head and shoulders
-Jacket open front and back for dressing ease with snap or Velcro closing
-Cut with more fabric in back for those sitting in wheelchairs
-Loops at waistband to help pull on
-Front flap to pull down for toileting needs
-Back flap to pull down for toileting needs
-Pockets removed from waist; pockets added to pants thigh
-Open at under-leg and side seams to waist with snap or Velcro closings
-Inside pocket for catheter bag
-Roomy rather than fitted
-Open on one side
Always consider comfort, durability, wash requirements, function, and ease of dressing. But don’t forget to think about the human need for individual fashion and fit