Written by Abbie Spackman, AgrAbility PA Project Assistant and PATF Funding Assistance Coordinator; Dwight Heller, OTR/L, CHT; and Susie Daily, PATF Communications Director
Is an injury, pain or a disability affecting your ability to operate farm equipment?
Safe and successful use of equipment is vital to all agricultural operations. Injury, pain or a disability can impact the ability to operate equipment effectively, thus decreasing overall farm productivity and safety. More specifically, back and neck pain, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and many other health conditions can affect one’s ability to properly monitor implements pulled behind the tractor and to check surroundings.
It is also important to consider secondary injury that could occur during equipment operation.
“Repetitive movements, as well as prolonged static positions of the head and neck may lead to symptoms of muscle strain, joint deformity, and nerve compression. This results in pain, muscle weakness, and interferes with the farmer’s comfort while operating farm equipment,” said Dwight Heller, AgrAbility PA’s occupational therapist.
Adding assistive technology to equipment can help maintain or improve one’s ability to monitor their surroundings. One type of assistive technology to consider is a cab camera, sometimes called a back-up camera. For many operators, this device can help them return to safe and independent equipment operation.
Cab cameras are like back-up cameras that come in many newer vehicles and come in many configurations with a range of functions. Basic cab cameras include a monitor that mounts in the cab and a camera that mounts on the outside of the equipment at the needed location and angle. Some options include hardwired or wireless cameras, multiple cameras, magnetic cameras and more.
Adding a cab camera allows an operator to view what is around the equipment without having to turn one’s head or body, thus:
- Improving ergonomics and eliminating strain on neck, shoulders and back;
- Increasing productivity by reducing the number of times climbing in and out of equipment; and
- Increasing safety by enabling an operator to better see people and objects around equipment.
“A cab camera offers a great opportunity to relieve stress on one’s neck muscles, joints, and nerves. Cab cameras allow farmers to see the farm landscapes around them and give them greater ease while monitoring operating equipment,” said Heller.
Check with a local equipment dealer or contact AgrAbility PA for assistance locating cab cameras for equipment.
Need financial assistance for purchasing a cab camera system? Consider a Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) Mini-Loan. These loans (between $100 and $2,000) have a 0% interest rate and no fees.
Also, if considering a device or modification that costs more than $2,000, PATF can offer to extend a Low-Interest Loan with an interest rate of 3.75%.
Who is eligible to apply?
- PATF is a program for Pennsylvania residents who need assistive technology devices and/or services. If you can explain how something is assistive technology to you, PATF will consider funding it.
- PATF helps people of all ages, disabilities and health conditions.
- PATF helps people of all income levels. Unlike a bank or credit union, PATF takes a holistic view of every applicant and can provide financing to people who may not qualify for a typical bank loan. An applicant must demonstrate an ability and willingness to repay a loan.
“Even if you aren’t looking for a loan, we help people find funding resources for all kinds of technology, adaptations, and devices,” said Tracy Beck, PATF’s Operations Director.
Note, two options include:
AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians (AgrAbility PA) is designed to assist farmers and other agricultural workers with disabilities or long-term health conditions by providing the resources and support they need to live independently and to continue working in or return to production agriculture.
AgrAbility PA is a project funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Special Projects 2017-41590-27105 in collaboration with Penn State Extension. AgrAbility PA is administered as a statewide partnership between Penn State Extension and UCP Central PA.
For more information, visit the AgrAbility PA website or follow AgrAbility PA on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. Contact AgrAbility PA at AgrAbility@psu.edu or (814) 867-5288.
Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF), founded in 1998, provides education and financing opportunities and advocates for people with disabilities and older Pennsylvanians, helping them to acquire assistive technology devices and services that improve the quality of their lives. It is headquartered in King of Prussia, PA and uses a network of Funding Assistance Coordinators across the state to assist prospective borrowers. The organization’s website is www.patf.us. Contact them at (888) 744-1938, or firstname.lastname@example.org. PATF is also on Facebook and Twitter.