We have many reasons to do home modifications after spinal cord injuries, regardless of health, safety or comfort. And we also need to know how important planning and making the right home changes are. This post will involve some main home modifications that can help us to improve independence and comfort.

Home Modifications for People with Spinal Cord Injuries

External access modifications

The first thing for an accessible home is an accessible front entrance. We can use a ramp or zero-threshold doorway to replace the steps, which helps our wheelchairs go through.

The front doors may need widening to a minimum of 36 inches and have a reachable door handle. A smart lock with voice control and a proximity sensor is also helpful.

We can also install a smart security camera that helps us know who is there and communicate with them before opening the door. It should be accessible with a smartphone or smart home system powered by Google, Alexa or other smart home systems.

Living Room modifications

To improve maneuverability, we need to maximise the floor space using some methods. For example, we can remove unnecessary furniture and move the TV from a stand to the wall.

Carpets are replaceable with laminate, low-pile carpets, wood or vinyl flooring to improve the wheelchair’s movement.

An increasing number of electrical sockets help us more easily connect medical equipment. A more suitable installation height makes the sockets more accessible for wheelchair users.

Additionally, an electrical standing desk with adjustable height can bring us a customisable and comfortable position.

Bedroom modifications

We first need to consider widening the doorway, and the regular door is replaceable with a sliding door. Same in the living room, the carpets can be replaced with laminate, low-pile carpets, wood, or vinyl flooring. Using underfloor heating can give us more space and safety. Furthermore, a profiling bed will help us move and transfer between the mattress and a wheelchair.

With a control panel next to the bed, we can easily control lighting, air conditioner, doorbell and more. A wardrobe with a sliding door and pull-down rails is another beneficial modification for enhanced accessibility.

Home Modifications for People with Spinal Cord Injuries

Bathroom modifications

A widening door improves the access for the wheelchair. Using a non-slip floor is another essential for bathroom modification.

A regular toilet is replaceable with one with a wash/dry facility and accessible controls. A padded seat helps us transfer onto the toilet. Moreover, we can add handrails in the bathroom for enhanced safety.

With an adjustable shower head and hose, the shower unit is always easily accessible. A built-in thermostat ensures the water temperature is always at a safe level.

The shower unit consists of a shower head and a reachable shower hose. A built-in thermostat ensures the water temperature can stay at a safe level when we have a shower.

Kitchen modifications

An accessible sink is essential for a modified kitchen. With a clear space under the sink, we can easily access it, and our legs can rest comfortably under the sink. Meanwhile, to keep cabinets accessible, we need to set them at suitable heights and angles that allow us to reach the upper shelves with a grabber.

When the lower cabinets are there, a lower counter is necessary to improve accessibility. And one or more parts of the counter should have nothing underneath to work perfectly with a wheelchair.

In addition, a side-by-side fridge is better than a fridge with a freezer on the top or bottom in a modified kitchen. To avoid bumping into cabinets or appliances, we need to reserve a turning radius for the wheelchair.

Home Modifications for People with Spinal Cord Injuries

More about home modifications

We featured some home modifications above that can cover almost all rooms of our house. However, there are still more helpful modifications, such as the wheelchair stair lift, open-ended sofa in the living room, hot water dispenser in the kitchen, and more. It’s challenging to include all the methods and tips in one post, and home modification involves lots of work. So we have built a factsheet about the topic. Please access the factsheet if you’re interested.

In addition, the NDIS may fund reasonable and necessary home modifications based on detailed and complex home modification assessments. If you have any questions about it, please access our NDIS Support Coordination service. Our professional, experienced, friendly team members are always there to help you through the process.

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Funded by Australian Government Department of Social Services. For more information visit DSS.GOV.AU