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Subsections for How Polio Changed Us are Disabilty RightsSocial EffectsScientific and Medical Legacy March of DimesFranklin D. Roosevelt The Medical WorldRehabilitationAssistive DevicesThe Iron Lung and Other Equipment
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How Polio Changed Us, Assistive Devices

Quote. Advances in technology made it possible for even significantly disabled people to work. I completed my doctoral dissertation using a Dictaphone and a word processor. End quote. Paul Longmore, 2003

Everyday life proved to be a mixture of frustration, creativity, anger, patience, and problem solving after polio. People still needed to change diapers, prepare and eat meals, drive cars, buy groceries, finish homework, and produce an income. Almost anything could be adapted to assist in a task.

Left photo. Man typing at a linotype machine
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Right photo. Boy in a crib watching a film projected onto the ceiling
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Left: Tuskegee linotype trainee, Tuskegee, Alabama, 1946 Courtesy of March of Dimes
Right: A little boy watches a movie projected on the ceiling over his crib Courtesy of Post-Polio Health International
Left photo. Man in a wheelchair driving a modified truck
Right photo. A patient's foot dialing a modified telephone while in bed
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People using assistive devices. Left: to drive a car.
Right: to dial a telephone Courtesy of Post-Polio Health International

“At some [rehabilitation facilities] they emphasize ridding you of the fear of falling by making you fall repeatedly. The therapists go around kicking crutches out from under people unexpectedly, to see if they’ve learned well their falling lessons. You’re supposed to fall forward, throwing your crutches clear so that you won’t land on them and break something.”
—Edward LeComte, 1957

Photo of several crutches
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This selection of crutches shows a diversity of designs and materials. Whether homemade or manufactured, the goals are to make them stronger and lighter, and to reduce stress on wrists, shoulders, and armpits. Crutch second from right is a 2005 lightweight model. Courtesy of Tom Fetterman
Cover of Polio Living magazine
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Polio Living, spring 1957

Page from a mazagine.
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"Our Readers Share Their Equipment Ideas," from Toomey J Gazette, 1959

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