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« With all the due distinctions and the necessary attention to the specificity of the individual cases, we feel that the product can target those who are affected by spinal cord disease or injury, paraplegias, multiple sclerosis, Parkison's disease, or by muscular pathologies such as muscular distrophy, and those who find it difficult to perform activities that require lifting such as the elderly. »
by Carlo Marchesini,
"Technology for autonomy" specialization course
(Cattolica University in Milan and Don Gnocchi Foundation)
1999-2000 academic year
The Struzzo is also called: autonomic hoist, or transfer aid or standing frame. But what does this actually mean? Let’s have a look in the dictionary: auto=self and nomos=law, so someone or something that is autonomous has made it own laws or follows it own laws. That is quite something!
But very recognisable for clients of and those interested in the Struzzo. Their first wish is always to be independant, to stay this way or become this way. In the transfer world this used to be a rarity.
When a person cannot place himself anymore from, for example bed to chair, what are then the options?
This dependancy on others who had to work with the hoist (meaning highlow control, pushing the hoist, and place the person in correct position in bed or chair) was for many people a bitter pill to swallow. And sometimes the reason to struggle on for years and exhausting themselves to the very end. It was not so much the lifting procedure itself (though sometimes that too), but the obligatory waiting for someone. Your own rhythm of the day, your activities, in other words, your own NOMOS (law) was gone or severely disturbed.
I have sold hoists for years. And suddenly… there was Struzzo. An Italian design, in wood, made by an architect who had a spinal chord laesion. He made for himself a standing frame, and when he stood, he thought ‘ Now I also want to drive, otherwise I still won’t get anywhere’. He also already made a first toiletseat but this was not taken into production at the time. (see ABC-T) Concerning the design of Struzzo there is a lot to say and study and will in part be dealt with in these blogs. But the VERY MOST IMPORTANT idea behind the Struzzo is AUTONOMY, independance, for those people for whom this is a possibilty, physically and mentally.
Getting up at the time when you wish to, getting to the toilet when you need to, going to bed at the time of your choosing (so also after a party…), sitting on the couch with your family, doing some chores in the kitchen, get a glass of water when thirsty, make a ride through your tiled garden and tweet some plants at heights, join the choire in your home in a standing position, welcome your guests standing…
There are so many examples of the stories that clients have shared with us that it may cause us to ask the question: why has it taken so long before the autonomous hoist became a fact and got itself a place in the market.
My view on this is that it has to start with 1 person who does not comply with the situation and AUTO-NOMOS gets to work. This was furthered by a company which fully and actually supports the notion of autonomy and for years has improved and refined the product. This will never end and that is the most beautiful thing about this product. To get your autonomy back, even in part, is a wonderful gift, but it also asks something of you. When you are prepared for this and able to, Struzzo might give you some new directions for your AUTO-NOMOS.
P.S. this blog is not intended to give the impression that every one with a hoist can change over to a Struzzo.
People with severe abduction spasmes in the knees.
Approach the Struzzo™ as usual, having the seat in a horizontal position at the height of the wheelchair seating position. Bring the knees in a wider position, if needed, also put both feet in a wider position on the floor or on the frame of the Struzzo™. Place the toilet seat about 10÷20 cm underneath your upper legs whilst sitting in the wheelchair.
Lean forward to grab the side handles or the handgrips on the tabletop. Move forward onto the toilet seat, by pulling or sliding or wriggling. Place the feet behind the heel cups. Make sure the knee supports are in a supportive position.
Bring the seat with help of the remote control to a standing position. Slightly adjusting your body position, whilst this movement takes place, may be needed. If you can stand up straight, you may do this all the way. If you want to use the seat in half-standing position, is also possible.
For lowering the clothes: lower the T seat a little bit, and lean forward to the frontal support. There should be space of some centimeters now, to lower the clothes (trousers, underwear). Don’t lower the clothes to the knees but keep them at the top of the upper legs. (don’t lower a dress or skirt, but is better pulled up).
When you are undressed, lower the toilet seat OVER the toilet to the horizontal position. There is space on the toilet seat to move forward or backwards a little bit, in case one needs to make procedures like cleaning, bringing in catheter or bowel drainage.
Having finished the procedure, bring yourself to the standing position again, bring the clothes back up whilst standing. Lean forward to create some space to pull up underwear and trouser and drive to your wheelchair or other place where you want to go by Struzzo™.
1. Take out the long or short seat.
2. Place the docking device in the Struzzo™.
3. Insert the toilet seat over the top.
Are people ever too old to start working with a Struzzo? Very often we hear that people are being told by others, just comply with sitting in your wheelchair, nothing is going to change anymore, who bother with other supporting aids, they are too expansive anyway...This can be said sometimes by family members, doctors, therapists, all with the no doubt good intention to let the person in the wheelchair come to terms with their situation. But...there are other people as well who jump on the occasion when it presents itself to them, sometimes literally. Meet Mrs Moonen, her age is 73. She has been diagnosed with MS 20 years ago. She has done all she could in her life to stay as well as possible, by exercizing, therapies, and a positive outlook on life. With help of a devoted husband she is a delight to meet. She is on Struzzo twice a week with guidance of therapist and now would love to expand the usage. Coming at her home for the assesment, she literally jumped on the seat of the Struzzo and was on it before I knew it. Why? Because her friend was there, and she was very keen to show herself standing. Another friend turned up (more cups of tea for the husband to arrange..) and her eyes were wide open from the surprise of meeting her lady friend standing and driving around through the living room. When asked by her friend what it was like for her to stand, Mrs Moonen said:' It feels great to feel the earth back under my feet'. So simple, and yet so fundamental. Who is ever to old to reclaim his or her standing life, with both feet on the earth?
Multiple Sclerosis: Mrs Moonen testimony, Holland - 2013
For Mrs Moonen and all who like to feel the earth under their feet,
remember the song I Feel The Earth Move - Carole King -
"I don't have words to describe my enthusiasm, joy, surprise, when yesterday in only 30 seconds I was in erect position in complete autonomy and with my hands completely free and with the opportunity to move autonomously at home, reaching all those places in the last five years I was not able to reach as I'm seated. But let's go step by step. I had the need for a standing device, but the local public assistance office proposed one who was inconvenient, difficult to use, cumbersome and I wasn't able to use it in autonomy until I saw the advertisement of this aid. I said this to my physiatrist to whom I gave all documentation downloaded from internet because I wanted that he informed himself about the possibility to try it but, almost after a month the all public procedure didn't go on and I didn't know the reason, thus I took the matter in my hands and in a week I got a demonstration at home directly by the firm informing the physiatrist about the date and time and finally yesterday I could realize the genius of this aid. Only 30 seconds were enough and in autonomy I found myself standing, free to move at home, transfer is possible with motor units and joystick and thanks to strict dimensions I can access to all the house, a fantastic emotion to be able to see the world from above. The company which produces this is CHINESPORT from Udine and the aid is called Struzzo Plus, you can see it on www.chinesport.it but it isn't ended here because the aid can be paid by the Italian Health National System with a complete reimbursement. So who wants to get again an erect position can contact this firm and with the maximum availability and kindness you could verify directly what I said and don't think that I'm involved in any way with this manufacturer because I'm ill exactly like you, I'm EDSS 8 and my unique interest is to inform you about a different aid more useful than that normally proposed by the local public unit."
Multiple Sclerosis: Mr Cuoghi testimony, 50 years old - Italy, 2009
"My name is Tessa, and I'm 43 years old. Because of a car accident, some 6 years ago, I'm now sitting in a wheelchair, due to a complete spinal cord injury at T11. After the accident my right shoulder has a limitation that makes transfers more difficult. Furthermore I have developed striker feet, which can only be solved by using my own weight by standing up.Since the Struzzo came into my life, these struggles are resolved and my life is positively changed. My independence and my sense of self-worth are increased enormously. No transfer is too difficult and no height is too high with the coming of the Struzzo, I have furthermore noticed that a human being is not made for sitting all day. By standing up regularly, I feel much better in body and mind. In my view, everybody who is in a wheelchair should have a Struzzo, because my life with the Struzzo feels like what it was before my accident: "Normal"."
Tessa 44 years Holland Spinal Cord injury at T 11
“I find the Struzzo a very useful aid in the life of a disabled person. Personally, it enables me to do many small things that normally I couldn’t do seated. Now I can do the housework without leaving aside the windows and high shelves; I move around with great ease while looking at my new world - contrary to before - from up high and not from down below and can look the people around me straight in the eye. Moreover, I use Struzzo as a verticalizer; it allows me to do the same exercises that I could do with the static one without having to have so many cumbersome aids in the house. Struzzo helps me on a daily basis both from a physiotherapeutic point of view for my exercises as well as from a psychological point of view because I no longer have to ask for help with many things, making me feel much more autonomous. In short, it’s an aid that changes your life by making it simpler”.
Lucia Fettolini, 24 years old - Rogno BG Italy
Spinal Cord injury at L2 - L5
Height 168 cm, Weight 54 kg
"I have seen very surprised responses from children of different ages to see one of their parents in an upright position. From laughter, being stunned, surprised, shocked, a bit afraid, all sorts of reactions can be anticipated. This little boy of 3 thought it very funny that his mother, after living for 13 years with a spinal chord injury, suddenly got out of her wheelchair and was suddenly much bigger than him! So, that was reason for a game, who- is- biggest? Mum had been in the Struzzo before, when she was pregnant and was the first person in this condition that we helped to a standing up position. At that time she thoroughly enjoyed it, and never forgot about it. She is now motivated to stand more often and wants to clear up the mess this little kiddy is causing and be able to put it in the highest cupboards!"
Thank you Mirella, for sharing this.
I have a lack of coordination in both legs and one arm. I suffer from muscle spasms and contractions. But despite the physical challenge - that's how I see them, not as a handicap - with two jobs I have a fully independent life in the house I bought myself, and I don't have a nurse to help me or home care or whatever. And this is, in part or mostly, thanks to Struzzo because life is a puzzle that has to be reassembled every day and the Struzzo is a piece of vital importance to me, and that's why I took this picture.
I wanted the Struzzo to live my life as a fully independent person which I succeeded.
Tim Wijngaarden - first Struzzo's end user in Holland after many years
This winter I went to a concert, I don't know the band, they are Dutch. It was in an old building, I go there every year. That was the first time with the Struzzo and it was also the first time I could see them. Normally everybody standing up and in my normal wheelchair I could not see over them but now I could see everything, it was so great. Another level! Sometimes I bring it to a bar or when I know people will be standing, or when I do a sports presentation, because it is easier to converse when standing higher than when you sitting down.
Usually my legs are very cold, like ice, but when I get up with the Struzzo in about 20 minutes they’re getting warm. So it really helps.
Housework have changed a lot with the Struzzo. Normally I ask someone else to clean at this level, this height. I can do everything at this level, but not at this level. Now I can do everything by myself, I don't have to ask for anything and I can take things from the cupboard without asking anyone.
They can't talk over you, on your feet, when you standing up. It helps a lot and they don't do it anymore. And when you standing up they talk to you, not above you. It's a whole other thing!
Myriam de Koning - Struzzo's end user
Paralympics swimming champion
Hans Nelemans - Struzzo's end user
Director building business
Independency: for me is extremely important that my disability does not have control and does not take over my whole life. I want to live a life that is as normal as possible. I would like to live a life as anyone else. I actually do not have any time for my handicap.
I ordered the Struzzo and I'm still independent. The standing function is very important for the overall well-being of the human body. The doctor told us before. I use the Struzzo every day while standing inside and outside my house. And it helps my bone to maintain the strenght responsive as much as possible. The Struzzo make several transfers possible and therefore I can live a life as normal as possible.
Can you imagine what this would mean for someone to help
someone else while using the Struzzo? All person with disability would be
independent. All people with injuries could maintain their standing skills in
health care institutions, rehabilitation centers. No heavy lifting, there would
be no dangerous transfers and only one assistant would be enough instead of