It is getting ever harder to get John into a jacket. A bulky winter coat is even harder.  We bought a winter poncho that you can just put over his head.  It definitely has its benefits, but one of its problems is that he doesn’t have access to his hands.  Also, it has to go over his wheelchair controls and then he has to drive without seeing them.

I had a couple ideas to try and I had a hand-me-down jacket that I could try them on.  The way we put a jacket on John is that we first put in one arm.  We pull the coat around his back and then try to shove his other arm into the other arm hole.  But when you can’t bring the coat around very far, and when the arm is essentially stuck at a right angle, this doesn’t work very well.  My first idea was to put a zipper down the back of the coat so I could bring it around farther.  My second idea was stolen from an accessible coat I saw that cut out the back below the waist so it wouldn’t be quite so bulky and bunch up — since he’s sitting anyway.

Here’s a picture of the front and back of the jacket.  I bought a 9″ zipper for a couple bucks at Joann Fabrics.  I nervously cut down the back of the coat, slid the zipper in and sewed it back up.  All in all it only took me about 20 minutes.  A record considering my sewing ability.  I measured the length of John’s back to his waist, then cut out the extra material.  I sewed a quarter inch or so from the raw ends just to keep the jacket from falling apart.  This is definitely not fashion wear.

We haven’t had a lot of cold days yet to really test it out.  We only really have put it on/off to try it.  It’s better, you can pull it farther around his back with the zipper down – but it’s still not easy.  The arm holes are just too narrow still.

But this is a good start to play around with and maybe improve on.