I did get the rental TENS unit. So far, so good... mostly. The trick with this unit is that, like practically every electronic gadget, it has a screen. I worked with my physical therapist on learning the buttons, which is possible since the buttons are like raised circular bubbles. It isn't hard to tell which button does which function, and they're not the "soft" buttons that change function. Up is always up, slight pain is always slight pain.
One can, theoretically, use the tens unit independently as a blind person. Since you go by what feels comfortably tingly, I can technically set the unit.
The unit uses several "programs" that tell you what "shape" the electrical waves are in. The good thing is that unless you change it, the program stays where it was the last time you use it. The unit starts out with no current flowing when you turn it on, so one can theoretically tell how much juice they're giving themselves. The problem is that the buttons that adjust the current don't always go up by whole numbers. Sometimes, they will jump up two, or go up by only a half a step. This makes it hard to self-gage how much juice you're getting. Yes, I can go by feel, but I like to know that both leeds are giving out the same amount of current. Since each leed has two electrodes that go on me, I end up with four electrodes. The problem is that the swelling sometimes masks the feel, and it's hard to follow a leed up to the unit to know for certain that I'm need to adjust the right or left leed.
This will probably be something I learn about in time, and that I'll get a feel for (punn not intended). But it's amazing to me that there are no completely accessible TENS units.
I know AFB's
has reviewed medical products in the past. But I don't think they ever did TENS unit.
It's shocking to me that my physical therapist and I are forced to have me go by feel. It's 2006! Why isn't this equipment more accessible? There has to be a way. Couldn't each leed have a beep for when it goes up by a whole number? Or something?
Sadly, I'm not sure how to make this better. I don't know enough about designing medical equipment. But that being said, I might try to figure out a way to make suggestions to the medical companies. I'm becoming more aware each day that when I advocate for things to be better for my access, if I do it right, I'm paving the road for others as well.
Thankfully, the access challenges don't make it unsafe for me to use the unit. I can tell when I'm giving myself too much or too little current. It's not a bad idea for me to have this, since it really does seem to be helping. It has made me wonder why medical equipment, which may need to be used by people with disabilities isn't accessible. Kind of like how there's a lack of accessible parking, or no elevator at some doctors' offices. My favorite was an orthopedists office with stairs. Yeah, that's real smart!
Is it possible that medical manufactureres just aren't aware of these struggles. It wouldn't surprise me if it hadn't crossed their minds. I also think there are social factors, i.e., people can't imagine being blind. And, if they were blind, wouldn't that be so horrible that they wouldn't care about the pain?
I've had some conversations that followed this logic. It's not intentional, I don't think. But it really makes me wonder... It's one of those imponderable questions I guess.