What is it like being a Quadriplegic?

12 September 2018

Jim Ryan

My name is Jim Ryan, I am from Canada and I am a full quadriplegic. Many people suffer from quadriplegia which means the partial or complete paralysis of all four limbs. A lot of quadriplegics will be mistaken as paraplegics as they have enough upper body strength to push themselves in their wheelchair, feed themselves and get around on their own.

As a full quadriplegic I have lost all movement and feeling below my armpits. All my movement is in my head and neck and shoulders. I am unable to complete even the most basic of tasks such as; getting up, getting dressed, shower, eat or travel. I require virtually full-time help to live my life.

That being said I use a lot of equipment that allows me to have a level of independence. My wheelchair is equipped with a “head array” with five buttons. I can program these buttons using the buttons themselves to do such things like drive backwards and forwards, turn my wheelchair and change speeds. As well my wheelchair tilts in many directions. You probably don’t notice but when you are sitting you are constantly moving in your chair. That allows you to make sure you do not get any skin sores and it keeps the blood flow moving properly. I am unable to move so I use my wheelchair to move my body back and forth. So, I can tilt my wheelchair, recline my backrest and put up my feet. And when I go to the pub I can raise my wheelchair, so I am the same height as everyone else ;-)! Very important for the social aspects of my life.

Things like running my iPhone and my TV is also possible for me through my head array. It allows me to communicate and watch more than one show on TV. And yes, TV is quite boring in Canada :-(.

Furthermore, I use all three sources of voice automation, those being: Siri, Alexa and Google home. By being able to use my voice I am capable of doing such things like operating all the lights on the main floor, opening the door and playing my music through my sound system. All three devices will tell me my schedule, the weather, the news and information that I require.

I am dictating this blog post by using voice recognition software called Dragon Naturally Speaking. It is a lifesaver. It is quite difficult to learn but once you become capable with it, it opens up a huge part of the world. It allows me to keep up on my correspondence, write my articles and blogs and do such things as my banking. I also have a mouse which I use with my mouth! Say mouth mouse three times real fast ;-). It is called a Lipsync and allows me to move around my cursor on my desktop and by using a sip and puff (blow air in and suck air out) system I can “click” the mouse just like everyone else. Again, it is a godsend.

Moreover, I have a lot of equipment that my healthcare workers use, including: an electric lift to take me from my wheelchair to my bed and back again, a hospital bed with all the hospital connections, a commode that I use to go to the washroom and for my showers.

So that, in a nutshell, is a little about my life. In the next post I will talk about my accident and some of my basic equipment. I will start with my lift that my healthcare workers use as well as my portable travel lift that we use when travelling or when I get to ride in a real car!

Thanks for reading and until next time,


Thank you Jim Ryan for sharing you incredible story with us! If you want to comment on Jim Ryan’s story, or do you have your own story? Please contact us via info@medicaldevicescommunity.com or +31(23)7548660.

Jim Ryan





Twitter: @JimRyanRTL

YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/JimRyanRTL


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