Assistive Devices

Advances in technology made it possible for even significantly disabled people to work. I completed my doctoral dissertation using a Dictaphone and a word processor.
Paul Longmore, 2003

Everyday life proved to be a mixture of frustration, creativity, anger, patience, and problem solving after polio. People still needed to change diapers, prepare and eat meals, drive cars, buy groceries, finish homework, and produce an income. Almost anything could be adapted to assist in a task.

Tuskegee linotype trainee, Tuskegee, Alabama, 1946
Courtesy of March of Dimes

A little boy watches a movie projected on the ceiling over his crib
Courtesy of Post-Polio Health International

A man using assistive devices to drive a car.
Courtesy of Post-Polio Health International

A person using assistive devices to dial a telephone.
Courtesy of Post-Polio Health International

Polio Living, spring 1957

"Our Readers Share Their Equipment Ideas," from Toomey J Gazette, 1959

At some [rehabilitation facilities] they emphasize ridding you of the fear of falling by making you fall repeatedly. The therapists go around kicking crutches out from under people unexpectedly, to see if they’ve learned well their falling lessons. You’re supposed to fall forward, throwing your crutches clear so that you won’t land on them and break something.
Edward LeComte, 1957
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Polio Pete picking wildflowers with his crutch
1930s cartoon courtesy of Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation

Polio Pete using a crutch with a holder for a beer mug and pretzels
1930s cartoon courtesy of Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation