Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The helpful new product for kids and adults with disabilities, created by a mom

This guest post is by Tamra Logan, mom to a daughter with disabilities and the creator of Skneeksflexible, tear-resistant knee pads (aka sneakers for your knees) for children and adults with disabilities. Here she shares how she made it happen.

My middle child, Birkley, has been through a lot in her life. She has profound hearing loss and cerebral palsy. Yet at 11 years old, she is a spunky girl who always wants to do what everyone else is doing. That's why as a parent, I've found ways to give her the best experiences possible—and when I couldn't find it, I created it.

After Birkley was born, she failed her hearing screening and after more tests, they confirmed she was deaf at around 2 months. Months later, she wasn’t hitting her milestones or sitting up, so we started seeing more specialists. No one had answers. As a last resort, through family connections, we saw a well known neurologist in the Netherlands. When Birkley was 18 months old, we found out through a letter we received that she'd contracted the CMV virus during pregnancy. The letter said she looked stable. It was such a relief to finally know what was going on.

Over the years, Birkley has had cochlear implant surgeries as well as multiple botox treatments to treat her hypotonia and muscle tone issues. She’s also had hip surgery due to hip dysplasia. Still, she is unstoppable. She has the best giggle. She is very aware, and figures out way to do things.

I've always been crafty, and so I made her cochlear implant headbands so she could hear but keep the weight of the implant off her ear . I created an on-the-go playmat so I could bring it with me wherever I went, since she was on her back for the first 3 years of her life if not assisted. I also sketched and made a prototype of a walker, which a neighbor built out of wood, leather and wheel castors. It gave her the ability to cruise around on her feet.

When Birkley turned 4, she was finally able to be mobile on her own by using her knees—she did sort of a scoot/crawl. She would lean forward, put her hands down, pull in her knees and repeat to move. Later she would literally walk using her knees or knee walk. Then she started to run on her knees.

It was so exciting to see her progressing but now I needed something to protect her knees. I wanted her to be able to do and get everywhere but there were no knee pads out there that would work on cement, asphalt, stairs at the park or just on hard surfaces.

I started out using baby leg warmers and glued denim to the knee. I then added silicon to the rim and inside of the knee pads so they wouldn’t slip down her leg. I would put them on her legs before putting on her AFO’s and shoes. But they wore out fast. My husband brought up biking arm sleeve warmers. These had the silicon I needed so it wouldn’t slip down her leg. I glued on padding and denim. Knowing the denim wouldn’t last forever, my husband brought up the idea of using Shoo Goo, an adhesive he'd used to repair tennis shoes. I added it to the knee pad to create a coating, making them more durable.

Once I started making these for Birkley, I'd run into parents at the park who'd see the knee pads on her and tell me that their kids needed them. They weren't a quick product to put together, and I began looking into ways to produce more. I tested out different fabrics and materials for the knee, researching the best silicon elastic grip and more. It took a lot of time, especially with three kids and one with special needs, but I knew that if we had a tough time finding this particular product, others were as well.

My daughter finally had her independence—Birkley could move on her own for the first time, without our assistance or a walker—and I felt it was important to share and be able to sell this product to others and possibly help them too. As a family, we could enjoy the park, a neighborhood cul-de-sac party, the water park and just hang without worrying about Birkley getting bloody knees or falling and hurting herself.

I officially started Skneeks (pronounced "sneaks") after six years of making homemade knee pads for Birkley. And I know they have made a difference. A parent who recently purchased them for her 4-year-old daughter with motor delays wrote, "OK she loves them and wanted to wear all afternoon and night!  Thank you so much! Allie loved being independently mobile at the pool. And I love not worrying about her knees getting torn up. This is seriously going to be a game changer for the summer!"

As of now we are still small and work with a small manufacturer here in Denver, Colorado. We're working on funding to create more Skneeks and other adaptive products under my adaptive brand, GoLiiv. We are working or talking with larger manufacturers as well. This our first product but more inventive, inclusive/adaptive products for people for recreation are on the way. Kids and adults deserve it all, and inclusion is everything!

Birkley started walking last year, just before Halloween. Now that she is walking, life has definitely been more exciting but she still wears her Skneeks because she’s not fully stable and falls on her knees when she gets tired. She is also still on her knees a lot. There could be more surgeries and hurdles to overcome, but we just keep moving forward.

You can follow Tamra and Birkley on Facebook here.

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Thanks for sharing!

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