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Catastrophic Injuries / Illness

Catastrophic Injury or Illness

After a serious accident or permanent injury, the injury victim and their family may want to continue living in their home. However, some homes are not equipped for the lifestyle and safety changes to accommodate the injury, dysfunction, or impairment. Home modifications can adapt the home to provide for the patient and provide a safe and comfortable place to live after an injury.


There are a number of modifications to the home that may be necessary or beneficial after an injury. The extent of modifications may depend on the current suitability of the home, the extent of the injury, and the permanence of the injury. Some homes may need no modification and other homes may be impractical to adapt for the type of injury. 

When thinking about home modifications, consider how limiting the standard home may be. Knob door handles can be difficult to turn for someone with limited hand strength or mobility and may have to be replaced with lever door handles. Light switches are 4 feet or higher off the ground and may be difficult to reach. In places like the kitchen, more than half of the storage space may be completely inaccessible. The following provides information for some of the types of home modifications for injury victims.   



Some injuries are temporary and may only require temporary modifications. This may involve purchasing or renting medical equipment to help the patient deal with their day-to-day needs while they recover from their injury. Some examples may include:

Some of these modifications can be set up temporarily and be put away or returned to a medical equipment rental company after they are no longer necessary. 


Home modifications begin outside the home. Outside modifications may be necessary for the individual to be able to get from a vehicle inside the home. For homes without private or separate parking, a dedicated disabled parking spot may allow the individual to park near their home. Other outside modifications may include a ramp, change in grading, change in walkway or approach material, and improved lighting. 


Many homes have stairs to the front door that can be difficult or impossible to navigate for someone with mobility issues. If there are a number of steps or a steep stairway, a ramp may not be practical and the only other options may be an elevator or motorized chair.



Your home’s doorways and hallways may seem wide enough when walking but may become impossible to navigate with a wheelchair. A wheelchair also has a wider turning radius, which may be an issue in older homes with sharp turns and multiple doorways. If moving furniture or removing doors is not enough to provide for getting around by a wheelchair, doorways or hallways may have to be widened or moved. This may require structural changes and can be a more involved and expensive proposition. 



Bathrooms regularly need modifications as they can be difficult to use for someone with a disability. Many bathrooms in older homes are small and narrow and cannot accommodate a wheelchair. Individuals also need a way to get from a wheelchair to the toilet or wheelchair to the bath. Bathtubs can present another hazard as they are slippery from water and soap and can increase the risk of a slip and fall. 

Minor home modifications in a bathroom include grab bars, raised toilet seats, and handrails. Some patients may require assistance to use the bathroom, shower, bathe, or take care of their hygiene. For assistance, the bathroom size may have to be increased to provide room for the patient, caregiver, and assistive devices. 

Showers may have to have a separate thermostat or shut off if the water gets too hot and poses a scalding risk. Individuals who are non-verbal may not be able to express pain or discomfort in water that is too hot or cold. Bathrooms may also have to be modified to allow access to the sink and address exposed hot-water pipes that may present a burn injury risk. 


The kitchen can be one of the most problematic rooms to modify, especially for an independent person who plans to cook most of their meals. High cupboards may be inaccessible and if the individual is wheelchair-bound, most of the counter space may have limited function. The sink, freezer, or microwave may also be out of reach. Kitchen modifications for some may involve dropping the level of usable space down to an area that is comfortable for the user. 



There are a number of fall hazards and burn injury risks inside the average home. These are the kinds of things parents think about when they have young children in the home but may forget about for people with a disability, paralysis, or mobility problems. Stairs and uneven surfaces present a fall risk. Sharp corners and protrusions, especially at the head level, can pose another risk of injury. 

The surfaces of a home may also have to be changed. Loose rugs can become tangled in a wheelchair or pose a trip hazard for someone with limited mobility. The surface of the kitchen, bathroom, or sidewalk may need non-skid surface materials to reduce the risk of a slip and fall accident. 


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