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Sexual Positioning Devices
Having a chronic disability complicates eroticism, whether it’s an amputation or a spinal cord injury, but being disabled does not debilitate eroticism. In the past, the products, supports groups, and literature available to these patients may have received limited exposure due to societal taboos and practitioner discomforts. However, the medical world has acknowledged that intimacy and disability are not mutually exclusive and this fallacy is being exposed by encouraging patients to seek out satisfying sex lives. A number of products have been developed to encourage more fulfilled sex lives in those who have chronic disability. The devices that will be explored in this article are constrained to positioning devices. Absence from this article does not preclude an item from existing or being a very viable option. Many avenues and resources are available beyond the scope of this article and, where possible, links have been provided for further assistance.
The Thigh Sling
The thigh sling is made of leather for durability and is easily folded up for storage. The sling fits snuggly around the neck and has adjustable, padded loops for thigh straps. This helps a patient maintain an elevated and open position for easy contact. With creative positioning of additional leverage the thigh sling requires little to no motor control to achieve enjoyable sex.
The intimate rider  is a rocking chair that, with minimal upper body effort, can facilitate a pelvic thrust. The intimate rider was designed by a c6-c7 quadriplegic but is recommended for stroke, arthritis, back pain, multiple sclerosis, amputation, and cerebral palsy as well as spinal cord injury. It is suggested for someone with moderate trunk stability and able to perform transfers however transfer legs are available for simplification. The Intimate Rider is low to the ground making many sexual positions accessible and can be purchased with accessories such as the positioning strap and liberator wedge. The intimate rider is a very safe alternative to the many variations of the sex swing which may or may not be stable and supportive.
Liberator shapes are effectively pillows and cushions for wedging and rocking. These can be used to attain a desired position or they can be used to facilitate the necessary motion for intimacy. Liberator shapes come in many forms, the most common of which is the wedge. The crescent, the bean bag, and the double camel humps (not shown) are also useful for achieving new positions.
The Body Bouncer
The Body Bouncer is like the Intimate Rider in that it allows a disabled individual to achieve greater mobility during intimacy while other positioning devices are simply used to help one hold a given position. The body bouncer achieves this by using a spring activated seat. With slight momentum shifts the seated partner can achieve 8-9” of thrusting motion. By allowing the user to have a more dynamic sexual role the Body Bouncer can help break the mental barrier that disabled intimacy should only exist in a passive role.
The Love Bumper
The love bumper is a different take on the previously discussed Liberator Shapes. Though there are fewer contour designs available for The Love Bumper it comes with an opening which facilitates the use of a dildo or a vibrator during intimacy or self pleasure. Choosing the right love bumper shape and design may depend on the disability and an honest discussion between partners.
Gary Karp is an internationally recognized public speaker and author. He has been living, fully, with a T12 spinal cord injury since 1973 when he was injured in a fall from a tree at the age of eighteen. Here he speaks about how his sexual life has evolved with his disability:
If you have questions or don’t feel like you have someone that you can discuss your intimate issues with then there are many support groups specific to sexuality of the disabled.
The Sexual Freedom Coalition - A British organization devoted to reformation. www.sfc.org.uk/default.htm
International Professional Surrogates Association (IPSA) – An organization which refers therapists and clients to surrogate partners who have been trained by the organization
Whether it is disabilities for gay/lesbian or information specific to cerebral palsy intimacy that you are looking for there are hundreds of external sources out there (so don’t stop looking!). Not all of these resources have been sampled by the author of this article so please proceed with caution. Here are a few of the most popular sites, books, and videos which you may find helpful:
http://www.fpnsw.org/categories/Bookshop/Disability/ (books and dvd’s on sexuality)
www.bentvoices.org (self titled ‘crippled’ gay men)
Disabled Dykes Produce Culture, ed. By Shelley Tremain
The Amputee’s Guide to Sex by Jillian Weise
My One Legged Lover (60 min. Film) www.beyond.com.au
How to Get Virtually Screwed: Finding Yourself Sexually in the Online Underworld. www.mainstream-mag.com/gimpsex.html
www.comeasyouare.com (sexual toys and disability specific information on adapting toys)
The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability – For all of us who live with disabilities, chronic pain & illness By: Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg and Fran Odette
- [The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability] Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg and Fran Odette. Copyright 2007.
- [PleasureABLE - sexual device manual for persons with disabilities] Kate Naphtali, Edith MacHattie,Dr. Andrei Krassioukov, and Stacy L. Elliott. Copyright 2009.