After I sustained a C6-7 spinal twine harm once I was 16, I rapidly found that my fingers had been less than the problem of sizzling rollers, aerosol hairspray and a curling iron. Whereas I used to be in rehab, my greatest buddy styled my hair with sufficient hairspray to destroy Earth’s environment. It was the late Eighties — what can I say? However once I returned dwelling from rehab, it was obvious that my mother had completely no capability or time to do my hair every morning. Inside six months, my hair was shoulder size.
I now benefit from the ease of a shorter coiffure that I can handle myself. However I admit that I nonetheless envy the ladies who preserve their lengthy tresses.
I interviewed a number of quadriplegic ladies to see how they handle their hair independently. Listed below are six hair ideas if in case you have impaired hand perform or stability.
1. Give it Time
“A variety of my hair was left on the freeway,” says Chelsea MacDonald, a C6-7 quad with minimal triceps who was injured in a automotive accident. “I had 30 staples in my head. My hair turned a unique texture. I had completely different layers all through my hair from my accidents within the accident.”
MacDonald’s feedback aren’t unusual. Cassandra Brandt, a C3 full quad, frolicked in a nursing dwelling after her harm, and a scarcity of upkeep left her hair so matted that she needed to reduce most of it off. “It grew again however took time,” she says.
Vicki Kowaleski was injured in a diving accident at 22, which left her a quad. Following the trauma of her harm and hospital keep, her hair grew again slowly however with “child hairs coming in in every single place. … It seemed actually awkward. I trimmed it each month to maintain it from getting shaggy.”
Time permits your hair to develop whilst you study what schedule, equipment and merchandise work greatest for you. Whereas MacDonald and Kowaleski each reduce their hair after their harm, they let it develop lengthy once more after the primary few years.
2. Skip a Bathe, However Not a Hair Wash
As a quad, having a shower could be exhausting, or inconceivable when the bathe is inaccessible, no caregiver is on the market or low blood strain makes one unsafe. When a full bathe isn’t doable, Sandy Redmon, a C6 quad with no triceps, has found out methods to wash her hair on the sink. “My kitchen sink has a twig nozzle that extends from the tap. I tilt again in my energy chair to clean my hair to make it simpler.” Even with out triceps, Sandy has found out methods to make the kitchen sink a workable bathe different. “It’s not fairly and could be a little messy, but it surely’s price it.”
“Earlier than I found out a great system for laundry my hair, it might get so soiled,” says Brandt. Showering is tough for her, and he or she says that her hair stayed too soiled earlier than she figured methods to wash her hair outdoors of the bathe. “After some time, I found out methods to keep in my Hoyer carry and wash my hair with a cup and basin,” she says. “It was a recreation changer.”
When a bathe isn’t an choice — whether or not resulting from inaccessibility whereas touring or restrictions after surgical procedure — an opens in a brand new windowinflatable washing basin is my go-to for clear hair. The basin simply inflates and features a drainage tube to empty the water right into a trash can. As soon as it’s deflated, the transportable basin simply suits right into a suitcase.
Simple-Use Product and Accent Ideas
- Select brushes and different equipment based mostly on the deal with. A bigger or ergonomic deal with could be simpler to carry. Additionally, search for opens in a brand new windowlonger brushes, which might make it simpler to get to hard-to-reach spots for anybody with arm and hand energy points.
- Flip-cap tops could be simpler to open. MacDonald pushes the bottle towards her chin so the product goes into her palm.
- Switch liquid merchandise like detangler or curl enhancer right into a opens in a brand new windowsteady spray bottle.
- Use dry shampoo or child powder to squeeze in yet one more day earlier than a hair wash. Redmon sprays the shampoo onto the comb, then brushes her hair.
- For shorter hair kinds, decorate with headbands or fascinators for a trendy look.
- Yerman makes use of a opens in a brand new windowscalp scrubber to get the roots of her hair additional clear.
3. Greatest and Best Hair Kinds
The very best coiffure is the one which works on your way of life, hair texture and actions. “My lengthy hair helps me to really feel female and delightful,” says Stefanie Putnam, a C4-5 quad. However her lengthy hair does double obligation. “The primary motive I don’t have quick hair is as a result of I wish to preserve my hair at a size that’s braidable.” Putnam retains horses and competes in “mixed driving” — a sport during which horses pull a carriage — so the braids assist preserve her hair out of the best way.
With naturally curly hair, MacDonald discovered that she additionally prefers conserving her hair lengthy. “I attempted slicing it, however my hair was tougher to fashion when it was quick,” she says. Her styling routine consists of washing, combing, utilizing curl cream and diffusing her hair on low warmth. Whereas it’s plenty of work, she solely has to clean and elegance her hair each 5 to seven days. Chelsea fought her curls for a time and used a flat iron. “That was tough and led to burns. Working with my pure curl works higher than killing myself with the flatiron.”
Redmon has her hair lengthy and straight. “I preserve it fairly fundamental. I blow dry it from my brow towards my again so it stays out of my face naturally, after which I tuck it behind my ears. If the blow dryer has a curved or ergonomic grip, it’s simpler to carry,” she says.
Bree Williams is a C6-7 quad with some triceps. “As a Black lady, I’ve dreads. My mother did my hair, however now I am going to the hairdresser to take some strain off her,” she says. As soon as her dreads are full, Bree can fashion her hair independently. “If my arms have to be above my head to place in bobby pins or pull it again, I lean over onto my mattress so I don’t lose my stability and my arms don’t get drained.”
4. Communication, Persistence and Belief
Educating a caregiver to do your hair can take time and could be irritating. Persistence and good communication are necessary.
Redmon says that getting on the identical web page with a brand new caregiver takes time. “I ask caregivers to bear with me and provides me time to convey what I would like,” she says. “In the event that they don’t do it the best way I would like, I’ll say, ‘Let’s strive once more.’ … It’s necessary to discover a center floor, even when it’s not proper at first.”
MacDonald says she adapts to the capabilities of the individuals serving to her. “I’ve been working with my burly husband for 19 years, so I by no means ask for one thing too difficult. He can pull my hair again right into a messy bun or a claw clip. It’s extra necessary for it to be purposeful.”
Slowing down and giving caregivers suggestions helps Putnam stay in management. “My head is sacred. It takes plenty of belief to permit somebody to the touch my head or my hair. The sensations could be overwhelming at occasions and are heightened when my physique is wired or run down,” she says. “This course of can create a higher bond with my caregivers, or it could actually trigger rigidity and be disruptive to my day.”
5. On the Salon
Whenever you discover an accessible salon, you could determine: to switch or to not switch?
Since Williams solely washes her hair throughout salon appointments each two months, she takes the time to switch into the salon seat for the hair wash. She transfers again and stays in her wheelchair whereas the stylist twists her dreads, after which stays in her wheelchair to dry her hair. “The switch to the salon dryer is basically low, so I deliver a conveyable dryer.”
Kowaleski and MacDonald each select to remain of their wheelchairs. “I at all times wash my hair earlier than I am going and have the hairdresser transfer the chair for the reduce,” MacDonald says. “It’s simply simpler for everybody.”
Kowaleski says as soon as she lastly discovered a salon that was considerably accessible, she tailored. “I don’t switch out of my wheelchair for a hair wash. As a substitute, I lean over the shampoo sink, and my hairdresser places a towel down so I can cowl my face.”
6. The Dyson Air Wrap
This text wouldn’t be full with out mentioning the most well-liked hair accent available on the market. The opens in a brand new windowDyson Air Wrap makes use of air to draw and curl the hair across the barrel. The Air Wrap permits Kaley Yerman, who capabilities at a C6 stage together with her tendon transfers, to independently curl her hair. “It’s not a standard curling iron because it’s not sizzling,” Yerman says. It does take some work to separate items of lengthy hair, however “it’s light-weight, and the buttons are simple to push with my knuckles.” Yerman makes use of the opens in a brand new windowLively Palms glove to securely maintain the Dyson.
The one disadvantage of the Dyson is its value. At roughly $600, this accent offers some critical sticker shock. A number of knock-off variations, together with the opens in a brand new windowShark Flexstyle ($300), at the moment are obtainable at on-line retailers.
Mastering your hair after paralysis might take a while, however Redmon says the method is price it. “When you wash and elegance your hair by yourself, be sure to rejoice that win.”
Whether or not you select to go quick or lengthy, depend on a caregiver, or fashion your hair by yourself, Putnam believes that our hair represents extra than simply an outward look: “My hair has change into necessary to me, and I’m studying to maintain it. It permits me to have some self-love for my physique and soul.”