Necessity has been the mother of invention for an Arkansas man who uses a wheelchair. Like many other wheelchair users, he has the ideas and the ability to make his mobility device something more.
Ingenuity is part of the human spirit. Ingenuity and the spirit of innovation have driven human society since the earliest stages, and this spirit continues today. Often, it’s not always necessity that drives ingenious ideas, but simply a desire to make things easier, more comfortable, or more efficient.
Don Bragdon, an Arkansas retiree, suffered an aneurysm which confined him to a wheelchair in the early 90’s. Instead of accepting the limitations his new means of mobility, Bragdon sought other ways to do all the things he previously enjoyed. This included modifying not just his wheelchair, but his furniture and work equipment as well to make it easier for him to continue having a dynamic quality of life.
“Life’s too good. I like life. Why waste it?” Bragdon says. “It’s another way of life. It’s not the same, but it’s my way.”
Bragdon grew up around his father’s body shop, so he is adept at mechanics and knows his way around cars. This knowledge allowed him to modify his tractor to cut the grass, push dirt, spread sand, and otherwise landscape his property.
“I have everything for it,” he says. “I have a sweeper I can put on the front. Just hook it on, sweep the drive. I have blade on it, so I can push dirt or snow. I got a spreader for spreading sand in the winter time.”
Bragdon created an electric winch to pull him up onto a ramp, which then lifts and secures him in place. Forklift-like controls allow him to steer the device, and he can attach a trailer to the rear of the tractor to allow him to haul debris and other heavy objects. He has even designed a modified rototiller to help with gardening, and a car lift that he can use to change the oil in his van.
He has now begun to speak with veterans who have suffered disabilities, to help them see that just because you have a disability, that doesn’t mean your life is over.
“When I woke up, I was pretty bitter,” he says. “It took a while but then I thought, ‘Why should I do nothing? I should do something, you know? I just can’t sit around feeling sorry for myself.'”
From that moment, he’s been making life—and his wheelchair—work well for him. One thing is sure: Don Bragdon can always say ‘he did it his way!’
Watch the video to see what Bragdon has accomplished. If you’ve made changes in equipment to suit your lifestyle, we’d love to hear about it!