A woman from Essex who has been suffering with a spinal condition for nearly 40 years has had her second Stiltz Homelift installed eight years after becoming the company’s very first customer.
Kim Carpenter has Degenerative Disc Disease – a condition which affects around 30 million people every year and involves the discs collapsing and causing the facet joints in the vertebrae to rub against one other causing pain and stiffness. The 60-year-old has suffered with the back problem since the age of 22, in 2010, the situation became so bad that the only way she could go upstairs, was on all fours.
In 2010, Mrs Carpenter and her husband, Brian had a Stiltz Duo Classic Homelift installed in their four-bedroom detached home in Ongar which enabled her to move independently between floors at the touch of a button rather than having to struggle on and off an old-fashioned stairlift. The Essex couple were the very first homeowners in the UK to embrace the company’s new domestic lift concept which was devised in Australia.
Recently they have invested in a second-generation Stiltz Duo+ Home Lift; a newer and even more stylish model installed in the home. The free-standing domestic lift travels through the floor and was included in a renovation project which involved connecting an extensive library room to an upstairs mezzanine area in a brand-new extension. The Stiltz moves on self-supporting rails and plugs straight into a normal domestic 13 amp power socket with no hydraulics or load-bearing walls required. This enables these unique and innovative home lifts to be positioned almost anywhere in the home.
Mrs Carpenter said: “We originally came across Stiltz at The Ideal Home Show in London when we were in the process of renovating our property and it turned out that we became their first customers in the UK. I was never keen on a stairlift as they take up too much room on the staircase and I never fancied moving to a bungalow because I always wanted a house with a swimming pool.
“We’ve got the rid of the pool now but the homelift has helped make our home fully accessible for me and, along with the spinal stimulator, has improved my life immeasurably. The lift is ideal for sending up the laundry and the vacuum cleaner rather than attempting to do it myself and is so easy to use.
“We recently had some more building work carried out and decided to buy the second generation Stiltz Home Lift which is a completely different shape and looks very smart and sophisticated. We’re really proud of the fact we are again unique in the UK as having an original Stiltz homelift alongside one of their newest models. The older one looks more like a time capsule, whereas the new one is clear on all sides making it light and airy, but I love both and I couldn’t be without them.”
A year ago, Mrs Carpenter’s back condition became so painful that she contacted the London Spinal Clinic in a desperate plea for help. It proved perfect timing as the Harley Street-based centre was weeks away from trialling their new Spinal Cord Stimulator implant.
Mrs Carpenter readily agreed, becoming one of the trial’s first volunteers – and it has worked wonders although she still does not feel comfortable enough to walk up the stairs and continues to use both of her Stiltz domestic lifts to move around the home.
Mrs Carpenter, who was forced to give up working as a chiropodist at the age of just 35, said: “I was desperate. Degenerative Disc Disease was taking over my life. I’ve had loads of operations and my spinal surgeon had retired so I needed to find a solution. I spoke to the London Spinal Clinic to see if there was anything they could do and they asked me if I would like to be one of their ‘guinea pigs’ for the Spinal Cord Stimulator. They were very confident it would work and I was willing to try anything. I couldn’t stand it any longer.”
The SCS device had to be surgically placed under Mrs Carpenter’s skin and works by sending mild electric currents from a pulse generator to the nerve fibres of her spinal cord via a small wire. “It works very much like a TENS machine,” said Mrs Carpenter.
“It confuses the signals going to the brain and stimulates the nerves in the area of my back where I feel the pain most. It has made me so much more mobile and has taken away at least 80 per cent of the discomfort I was feeling before. The only thing is I have to ‘charge’ the stimulator for about half an hour every morning and evening – a bit like a mobile phone. Once the battery level is charged, I can move around again.”