Mike Edighoffer has operated a lawn care and leaf collection business with one arm since 2002. He employs a full time helper during summer and fall when work is busiest. He owns a full line of modern and well maintained lawn care equipment including two joystick-controlled zero-turn mowers, backpack leaf blowers, line trimmers and a Trac-Vac leaf collection system. A full-size pickup truck and trailer are used to transport equipment to the 30+ job sites where work is done.
Mike has a left-hand operated joystick control on his Country Clipper zero-turn mower. He uses boat trailer rollers to load his ramps with one arm. His tie-down straps are self-recoiling and bolted to the trailer so he can spool out the strap and hook it without the ratchet falling to the ground.
Mike was born with cerebral palsy. As a result, he is unable to use his right arm for gripping, pushing, pulling or any other task. His right leg is moderately affected, but Mike is able to ambulate efficiently without the use of assistive technology. In the fall of 2012, Mike started suffering from tears in ligaments and tendons in his left forearm. The extreme use of this arm to accommodate for the lack of right arm strength had resulted in these strain injuries.
Physical therapy has helped to regain strength in the left arm, but the pain persists as well as the concern of re-injuring the tendons and ligaments. The most difficult task requiring strenuous use of the left arm is dumping the Trac Vac leaf collection trailer. The trailer holds up to 500 pounds of leaves and must be backed into the woods, tailgate lifted out of the slots, trailer tipped up, trailer pulled ahead to dump leaves, trailer lowered back into position, and finally replace the tailgate into its slots. This process is completed up to 50 times per day for 5 days a week for up to 5 weeks during the fall. DisabilityWorkTools helped Mike design and fabricate a powered dumping system so Mike can now unload his leaf trailer by flipping a switch instead of lifting the trailer dump box.
Mike also had his line trimmer modified so he can control the throttle with the same hand he guides the trimmer with. A shoulder harness from Stihl with an added strap supports the weight of the line trimmer. A remote throttle from Stihl was then fastened to the hand grip for Mike to hold and control.