ALS Tips and Tricks : Zippers in the pants

Bobby modeling his pants with the zippers installed.

Zippers are a magical game changer.

When we travelled to the ALS Associations Advocacy Conference in Washington DC, the number one question and comment we got were, “Are those zippers in your pants? How did you get them?”

When Aly Cat, Bob’s care giver, and I were unable to safely transfer him on our own we need to use the assistance of a hoyer lift and sling. Before our routine was to stand Bob up, pull up/down his pants, and then place him into his wheelchair or onto the commode or bed. Using the sling we are unable to do this. The first two days we would transfer Bob out of his wheelchair and onto the bed, shimmy his pants down, roll him back into the sling, and then place him on the commode. As you may imagine this took several minutes wish was wasting precious time when you feel the urge to go. We new we needed a different solution.

We had received magazines in the mail showing pants, shirts, and jackets designed for people who need to use wheelchairs. They all had fastners on the sides but were usually velcro or snaps and ran between $40 – $60 per pair. Bobby did not want to go this route for two reasons;

  1. He had just bought a bunch of L.L.Bean flannel and fleece lined jeans to help him keep warm this past winter and did not want to give them up.
  2. He was concerned with the timing it would take to get the pants on with velcro and snaps, the elements (would wind be able to get into the pants via snaps), and the wear and tear on the velcro.

For those reasons we sought another solution. We brought his pants to our local tailor and asked if she would be able to put zippers along the outside seams. She said no problem and that she would get sleeping bad zippers to put in to help with the wear and tear. Bobby was able to keep all his own pants and shorts and it cost $30 per zipper.