26 Oct User Spotlight: Natasha, Founder Of VacayAbility Living With Sjögrens Disease
After seeing an Instagram post of Natasha at the North Pole with her M+D Crutches, the M+D Team was curious about how she traveled so far north with her M+D Crutches. We reached out to Natasha and were pleasantly surprised to hear Natasha travels all over the world with her mobility aids.
Natasha lives with the autoimmune condition Sjögren’s disease, along with POTS, arthritis, and neuropathy. These conditions cause several symptoms including joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and numbness in her limbs and hands.
Although Natasha deals with many mobility challenges, she continues to stay motivated as she works as an adjunct professor at Temple University in Philadelphia where she resides. In her free time, she works towards her goal of creating a platform that helps individuals with mobility challenges plan a travel vacation.
“Travel planning tends to be more stressful when you have an extra layer of accessibility to worry about.”
Natasha loves to travel. “Traveling is like my thing! I love going to new places. I love experiencing new things, but it’s very hard to travel sometimes when you have mobility-related issues. I need to think about not just mobility-related issues, but other types of accessibility needs that sometimes don’t have anything to do with mobility,” Natasha said.
To solve the problem of planning a trip when one has an “extra layer of accessibility” to consider, Natasha founded VacayAbility. VacayAbility is an emerging online platform that crowdsources reviews from people who live with accessibility challenges. “It’s kind of like a TripAdvisor or Yelp, but specifically for accessibility,” Natasha said.
Natasha was inspired to start VacayAbility after traveling to Scottsdale, Arizona for a doctor’s appointment at Mayo Clinic. She had a bit of free time in between appointments and wanted to figure out how to fill the time by exploring Scottsdale. “If you Google ‘Top 10 Things to Do in Scottsdale’ almost every result is hiking related and, obviously, I’m not going hiking. So it took a lot of time and effort to find something that was accessible for me to do and that’s when I realized there needed to be a one-stop-shop for people with all types of disabilities.” Today, VacayAbility is full of reviews to help the disabled community plan their next adventure and explore the world.
“Disability is not a one-size-fits-all”
Like many of our users, Natasha is an ambulatory wheelchair user who uses a cane or crutches the majority of the time. At the beginning of the day, she considers what her day may look like and chooses what mobility aid to use based on how far she may have to travel by foot.
“I have issues with both balance, leg fatigue, fatigue in general, and chronic pain, so if I’m just doing regular activities or traveling more and I’m not walking a lot, I’ll use my crutches. Otherwise, if I’m going long distances, I’ll use a wheelchair.”
Before she found the M+D Crutches, Natasha was using a cane and or wheelchair to get around. Although her cane would relieve pressure from her legs, it would add unnecessary pressure to her hands and wrists that was likely causing longer-term damage. “I have numbness in my hands and the cane was just not working out because I would get so many more issues with my hands, and it wasn’t worth it.”
At Mobility Designed, we recommend speaking with your doctor or physical therapist before purchasing our product to make sure it is the right fit for you. Fortunately, Natasha learned about the M+D Crutches through her physical therapist. “She recommended your crutches because I can use my forearm and the handles move down and out of the way. The crutches were going to be safer on my hands,” Natasha said.
“The M+D Crutches are so much more ideal than using my old cane.”
Natasha purchased a pair of the Refurbished M+D Crutches and uses them 100% of the time day-to-day. Some days she only uses one crutch, but when she experiences a flare-up, she will use both of her crutches. “It’s just so much more enjoyable for me to move around using my crutches,” she said.
“It’s so much easier to function with the hands-free mode.”
Our co-founder, Max, watched his dad struggle with picking up and setting down his mobility aids when he needed to grab something. For this reason, Max wanted to design a crutch that fixed this problem, and he came up with “hands-free mode.” Natasha expressed that this feature was one of her favorite parts about her M+D Crutches. “The hands-free mode is definitely one of the perks for me because I still do a lot within my house. Because I’m traveling or going out, like getting in the car, it’s just so much easier to not have to put something down to then pick it up.”
Here at Mobility Designed, we love when we find a user like Natasha who has a mission of creating a better world for people with mobility challenges. Mobility Designed shares this mission and we hope that organizations like VacayAbility may continue to grow and impact the disabled community in a positive way.
To learn more about VacayAbility, click here.
To follow Natasha’s journey through Instagram, click here.