Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich was heavily pregnant when paralysis suddenly appeared in her right leg. As a mother of three, she was then suddenly dependent on a wheelchair. But she rose to the challenge and is proud of it. How she manages her everyday life, which aid is indispensable for this and how she rolls otherwise, she tells us on REHACARE.com.
Name: Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich Age: 31 City: Region of Aachen, Germany Occupation: Paramedic Impairment: Monoplegia right leg
Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich: When my kids are laughing, the battery of the C-Brace is full, there is coffee in the house and ideally the sun is shining.
Which auxiliary means or daily living aids are indispensable for you?
Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich: For me, the C-Brace from ottobock is indispensable. It gives me the freedom to do anything I want and to remind myself every day how incredibly valuable that is. It has not only helped me learn to walk again, but also to be grateful from the bottom of my heart and to sincerely appreciate what a gift it is to be able to walk.
What would you like to see from society and your fellow people in dealing with people with disabilities?
Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich: I would like society to start with their children and show them that people are simply people and aids are aids. When children consciously see a bicycle for the first time, they marvel at it, which is perfectly okay for most parents. In this way, normality is conveyed to the child. At some point, they will be familiar with bicycles and will no longer stare with interest, but will simply know in a neutral way: That's a bicycle.
This is exactly how children would react to people with disabilities if they didn't feel embarrassment from their parents when they looked curiously. Adults can actually learn a lot from children.
Which assistive device would urgently need to be invented and/or improved?
Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich: A waterproof C-brace [laughs]. That's probably selfish thinking now. But because there are probably a thousand things, because there are just so many different disabilities, I have now answered for my case.
What has been your biggest challenge so far that you have mastered – and what has helped you?
Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich: I was heavily pregnant, had a 13-month-old daughter and a 6-year-old son when I suddenly had my paralysis. Two months later, my youngest daughter was born and, as a newly wheelchair user and mom, I still managed my daily life on my own so that my husband could go to work. That was hard, but also helpful and I am proud to have managed it. What helped me was the firm belief that there is always a way and that happiness is not defined by ability or inability.
What can the assistive technology industry learn from the Corona pandemic to make life easier and/or better for people with disabilities in the future?
Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich: That many processes can also take place online and do not necessarily become less professional as a result. It often saves a lot of time and that is a very important factor for many people.
If nothing would be impossible: Who would you like to meet one day and why?
Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich: My 18-year-old self. I'd recommend letting off steam mightily while I'm still young and free of responsibility.
What was your best REHACARE experience?
Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich: Test sitting in the Wolturnus wheelchair. In fact, I got exactly the wheelchair I tested there and am very happy with it.
What I wanted to say ...
Ann-Kathrin Ulbrich: Everything is simply more beautiful with glitter, so always have enough glitter on hand!