Disability in Mythology


Key Takeaways about Disability Representation in Early Mythology


  • Disability is a common theme in mythologies across cultures, often represented by gods and heroes
  • Hephaestus, the disabled Greek god of blacksmiths and artisans, is a prominent example of disability representation in mythology
  • Mythological narratives often reflect and shape cultural perceptions and attitudes towards disability
  • Examining disability in mythology through a critical disability studies lens reveals problematic tropes like the “super crip” and disability as divine punishment
  • Modern interpretations and retellings of myths are an opportunity to challenge stereotypes and promote more nuanced, empowering disability representation

Why study disability in mythology?

Mythology has long been a powerful medium for exploring the human experience, including the lived realities of disability. Disabled gods, heroes, and figures feature prominently in the mythologies of many cultures, reflecting and shaping societal perceptions of disability.

By examining these mythological representations through the lens of critical disability studies, we can gain insight into the historical and cultural contexts that have influenced attitudes towards disability, and identify opportunities for more inclusive, empowering narratives.

Disability in Greek Mythology

Hephaestus is shown in his forge, surrounded by flames and working on a mythical weapon, with intricate symbols and alchemical motifs integrated into the background.

An image of Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire, blacksmiths, craftsmen, and volcanoes, portrayed in an early 20th-century esoteric art style. This depiction should blend ancient Greek mythology with the mystical and arcane aesthetics characteristic of esoteric artwork from the early 1900s

Greek mythology is a rich source of disability representation, with the god Hephaestus being perhaps the most well-known example. Son of Zeus and Hera, Hephaestus was the god of blacksmiths, artisans, sculptors, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes. He is described as being born with a disability – either a congenital impairment or as a result of being thrown from Olympus by his mother Hera.


Despite his disability, Hephaestus was a skilled craftsman and integral part of the pantheon. He created many of the gods’ iconic accessories, including Zeus’ thunderbolts and Athena’s shield. In some versions of his myth, he uses a wheeled chair or chariot to move around, demonstrating his ingenuity in adapting to his impairment.

Tiresias is depicted as a wise, elderly figure with his eyes covered, symbolizing his blindness. He holds a staff, representing his journey and prophetic power. The background is filled with mystical symbols and arcane motifs, emphasizing his connection to the divine and the prophetic visions that guide him.

An image of the blind prophet Tiresias in an early 20th-century esoteric art style. Tiresias is depicted as a wise, elderly figure with his eyes covered, symbolizing his blindness.

Other disabled figures in Greek mythology include the blind prophet Tiresias, who was compensated with prophetic abilities, and the centaur Chiron, a revered teacher who suffered from an unhealable wound. These myths raise questions about disability as a divine punishment or “trade-off” for extraordinary gifts.

Chiron is depicted with a horse body and human chest and head, embodying the figure of a revered teacher. He is shown holding ancient scrolls or a book, symbolizing his wisdom and status as a mentor to many heroes. An unhealable wound is visible on his side

Chiron the centaur is shown holding ancient scrolls or a book, symbolizing his wisdom and status as a mentor to many heroes. An unhealable wound is visible on his side, a poignant detail highlighting his vulnerability and the source of his deep knowledge of healing.

Disability in Norse Mythology

In Norse mythology, the god Odin is a complex figure associated with war, wisdom, and poetry. According to legend, Odin sacrificed an eye in exchange for a drink from the well of wisdom. This “divine impairment” and its association with knowledge challenges the notion of disability as a weakness.

Odin is depicted as a powerful, one-eyed figure, with a contemplative expression, emphasizing the depth of his sacrifice and the wisdom gained. He stands near the mystical Well of Wisdom, surrounded by ancient runic symbols and the Yggdrasil tree,

Odin, the one-eyed Norse god, stands contemplatively by the Well of Wisdom, his sacrifice for unparalleled knowledge etched in his powerful stance amidst the Yggdrasil tree and ancient runes, rendered in dark mystical hues with golden accents

Another prominent example is the god Tyr, who lost a hand to the monstrous wolf Fenrir. Tyr’s sacrifice is portrayed as an act of bravery and a symbol of honour, suggesting that disability could be acquired in service of a greater good in Norse culture.

Tyr, the Norse god of war, in an early 20th-century esoteric art style, who lost a hand to the monstrous wolf Fenrir. Tyr is depicted as a brave and noble figure, with one hand missing, symbolizing his sacrifice.

Tyr, who lost a hand to the monstrous wolf Fenrir, depicted in an early 20th-century esoteric art style

Disability in Hindu Mythology

Hindu mythology also features disabled gods and figures, such as Ashtavakra, a sage who was born with eight physical deformities. Ashtavakra’s story subverts expectations by presenting him as a spiritual authority and intellectual equal to able-bodied scholars.

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Dhritarashtra, the blind king of Hastinapur, is a central character. Though his blindness impacts his ability to rule, the narrative explores the nuances of his experience and relationships rather than reducing him to a one-dimensional trope.

The Role and Perception of Disability in Mythology

Across cultures, mythological representations of disability serve various symbolic and narrative functions. Disabilities are often used as a sign of divine disfavor or punishment, as in the Christian characterization of the Greek god Hephaestus as a “fallen” figure akin to Lucifer. Alternatively, a god’s impairment may be compensated with supernatural gifts, such as Tiresias’ prophetic abilities or Odin’s wisdom.

Disability is also frequently deployed as a plot device or source of conflict. The disabled god or hero must overcome challenges related to their impairment to prove their worth and be accepted by their able-bodied peers. This “super crip” trope, while ostensibly empowering, can promote unrealistic expectations and erase the everyday realities of disability.

Mythological narratives also explore the intersections of disability with other aspects of identity, such as gender and sexuality. Hephaestus’ disabled masculinity is a source of mockery from the other gods, and his marriage to Aphrodite is portrayed as non-normative. These myths reflect and reinforce cultural stigmas around disability and desirability.

Modern Interpretations and Influence

Contemporary adaptations and retellings of mythological stories have the potential to perpetuate or challenge traditional disability stereotypes. Rick Riordan’s popular Percy Jackson series, for example, features Hephaestus as a character but does not deeply engage with his disability identity.

In contrast, some modern interpretations use mythology as a vehicle for exploring disability experiences and promoting positive representation. Neil Gaiman’s novel Norse Mythology humanizes the disabled god Tyr and portrays his impairment matter-of-factly. The Disability in Kidlit website features reviews and discussions of disability representation in children’s and young adult literature, including mythological retellings.

Disability activists and scholars are also drawing on mythological figures to celebrate disability identity and challenge ableist narratives. The Disability Visibility Project, founded by Alice Wong, aims to amplify disabled voices and foster community through storytelling. By reclaiming and reimagining mythological characters like Hephaestus, disabled people are asserting their place in the cultural imagination.


Disability is a significant theme in mythologies around the world, reflecting the ways in which different cultures have historically perceived and constructed disability. While many traditional mythological narratives perpetuate problematic disability stereotypes, they also offer opportunities for subversion, reclamation, and the creation of new, more inclusive stories.

By applying a critical disability studies framework to the analysis of mythological representations of disability, we can better understand the cultural roots of ableism and work towards more authentic, empowering portrayals of disability in contemporary media and storytelling. As disabled people continue to reclaim mythological figures and forge their own narratives, we can look forward to a richer, more diverse disability mythology for the modern age.


Best Bottom Wiper 2024

composite image of bottom wipers and text "Best Bottom Wiper"
The Best Bottom Wipers for Personal Hygiene

Maintaining personal hygiene can be challenging for people with limited mobility or flexibility. Reaching to wipe after using the toilet strains the back, shoulders, and hips. Fortunately, there are products called “bottom wipers” that extend your reach to make self-wiping easier and more comfortable.

Key Points Table

Key Points Table

Section Sub-sections
Introduction – Importance of Personal Hygiene Aids
– Challenges Faced by Individuals with Limited Mobility
Understanding Bottom Wipers – Definition and Purpose
– How They Enhance Independence and Dignity
Key Features to Consider – Ergonomic Design
– Material and Durability
– Portability and Discreetness
– Grip and Release Mechanism
Using Your Bottom Wiper – Step-by-Step Guide
– Tips for Effective Use
Safety Precautions – Safe Use of Bottom Wipers
– Avoiding Injuries
A Brief History of Bottom Wiping – Various Civilizations and Their Wiping Methods
Buckingham Easywipe Original
Buckingham Compact Easywipe (launched 2010)
Buckingham Pocket Easywipe – launched 2015
The importance of hygiene for disabled people – Challenges Faced by Disabled People in Maintaining Hygiene
Disability And Water Access Globally – Physical Barriers
– Social Barriers


A brief history of Bottom Wiping!

Based on historical articles, here’s a table showcasing various civilizations and their unique methods of bottom wiping:

Civilization Wiping Method
Ancient Romans Sponge on a stick (xylospongium)
Ancient Greeks Pottery shards (pessoi) and stones
Ancient Chinese Early forms of paper
Medieval Europe Hay, moss, and cloth
Indigenous Peoples Leaves, corn cobs, and natural fibres
19th Century America Newspaper pages and corn cobs

The first bottom wiper of the types we are reviewing was invented by Chris Buckingham of Buckingham Healthcare in 2005.

The Buckingham Easywipe Bottom Wiper is a clever tool invented by an experienced Occupational Therapist to help people who struggle to reach and clean themselves after going to the bathroom.

Chris was working with a client with MS. The lady found it impossible to keep herself clean because of her illness. She had to ask he husband and sons to help her after using the toilet and this was very embarrassing. When Chris got home she decided to create the first bottom wiper and made it to the specifications that the client needed. It was important that it held the toilet paper and released it without the person needing to touch the paper. – interview with Simon Buckingham


It was made to be super easy to hold and use, thanks to Chris’ experience of helping patients in her work as an OT and her ability to create smart designs. This tool is all about making sure everyone can take care of their hygiene easily and comfortably, no matter their mobility issues. The original Easywipe was launched in 2007.


Buckingham Easywipe Original

The original Easywipe model has a fixed 15-inch length. Its durable plastic and smooth silicone head are gentle on the skin. The curved handle and angled wiping surface provide ideal access for self-wiping. A slot secures standard dry toilet paper or moist wipes.

diagram of how to use a bottom wiper showing 3 drawings

Key Features:

  • Ergonomic design by OT
  • Secure grip and easy paper release
  • Works with tissue or wipes
  • Smooth, rounded edges

They can be purchased for UK and international delivery here

Buckingham Compact Easywipe (launched 2010)

foleding easywipe in a blue carry case

This folding version has the same excellent functionality but collapses to half-size. The compact Easywipe fits into its included carrying case for discreet transport and storage. It extends to a full 15 inch length for use.

photo montage showing a hand attaching tissue to the bottom wiper

Key Features:

  • It folds down to a compact size
  • Handy travel case
  • Identical features to the original
  • Discreet personal hygiene aid

These are available to buy for UK and International Delivery here

Buckingham Pocket Easywipe – launched 2015

Extremely portable and pocket-sized, this tri-folding bottom wiper tucks into a bag or large pocket. At only 6 inches long when collapsed, it reaches 15 inches when extended for use. The soft pouch allows subtle transport.

photo composite of the comapct easy wipe, jointed in two places and folded up


Key Features:

  • Tri-folds into a very compact size
  • Fits in a pocket or purse
  • Ideal for travel
  • Soft carry pouch included

Buckingham Healthcare’s Easywipe range offers high-quality bottom wipers to suit different needs. The ergonomic designs provide proper reach and angle for effective personal hygiene. Convenient folding models and cases allow discreet transport for active lifestyles.

In our opinion, they are the original and still the best models out there! For the many other types available click here.

No products found.

 The importance of hygiene for disabled people:

Maintaining personal hygiene can be challenging for many disabled people due to mobility limitations, health conditions, accessibility barriers, and lack of caregiver support. However, hygiene is critically important for health, dignity, and quality of life.

Inadequate hygiene increases risks of skin breakdown, infections, and illness.

For those with spinal cord injuries or incontinence, hygiene is also essential for preventing dangerous pressure sores

The ability to independently attend to personal hygiene promotes autonomy and self-esteem. Adaptive aids and routine assistance enable more freedom and participation.

Unfortunately, many disabled individuals cannot access adapted facilities and struggle with self-care. Better disability awareness and accommodations are needed.

Caregivers require guidance to properly assist clients while respecting dignity and preferences.

With suitable support, disabled people can maintain hygiene, health, and self-determination.

The disability community deserves fully accessible and inclusive options for this basic human need.

symbolic image showing abstractr symbols and a lack of accces to toilet facilities

Disability And Water Access Globally

The acronym WASH, invented by the United Nations, stands for “water, sanitation, and hygiene.”
Access to clean water and proper sanitation (WASH) is crucial for everyone, but people with disabilities face unique challenges. These can include:

Physical Barriers:

  • No toilet at home
  • Far or crowded public toilets
  • Steps and narrow entrances
  • Poorly lit areas
  • Difficult-to-use doors and handles
  • Slippery floors
  • High controls for flushing and washing
  • Lack of support aids for toilet use

Social Barriers:

  • Discrimination and ignorance from society
  • Need for assistance compromising privacy
  • Extra time needed in facilities leading to issues at school or work
  • Limited opportunities to voice concerns


Wheelchair Push Rims & Handrims – your secret weapon for push and grip

The Many Benefits of Wheelchair Pushrims

blue pushrim covers on a wheelchair wheel

Wheelchair pushrims, also called handrims or push rims, are an important part of manual wheelchairs. They allow the user to grip and propel the wheels forward through pushing motions. Selecting the right pushrims is crucial for wheelchair performance and preventing injury. This article will explore the clinical, functional, and design benefits of various wheelchair pushrim options.

What Are Pushrims and Why Do They Matter?

composite image of young lady with pink pushrims and text"Pushrims the secret weapon of pushing"


Wheelchair pushrims are the circular bars that surround the rear wheels of a manual wheelchair. As the name suggests, wheelchair users grip these rims and push forward to propel their chair. This moves the drive wheels and controls speed and direction.

Choosing an optimal set of pushrims is important for several reasons:

  • Mobility: Good pushrims improve propulsion and make the wheelchair easier to maneuver. Their grip, size, shape and material impact mobility.
  • Injury Prevention: Bad pushrims can strain the hands, wrists and shoulders. Ergonomic options prevent overuse injuries.
  • Function: Pushrims must match the user’s strength, range of motion and coordination. Custom options suit different needs.

In short, pushrims act as the critical interface between wheelchair user and chair. Their design directly impacts mobility and health.

The Clinical Benefits of Pushrims

Research confirms that pushrim design has tangible clinical benefits.

Well-designed pushrims can prevent upper body overuse issues like carpal tunnel syndrome or rotator cuff injuries. How? Through improved grip, better biomechanics and reduced strain during propulsion.

Specifically, ergonomic pushrims:

This lessens the risk of chronic pain or injuries to the hands, wrists and shoulders.

In one study, wheelchair users reported immediate pain reduction when using an ergonomic pushrim model. The benefits are clear.

Of course, pushrim needs depend on the individual. A good fit considers hand strength, sensation loss and joint mobility restrictions.

Pushrim Materials and Durability

Pushrims come in a variety of materials, shapes, diameters and other options. Materials impact grip, comfort and durability.

Common choices include:

  • Stainless steel: Offers good corrosion resistance and a sleek look. Not the grippiest choice.
  • Coated aluminum: More lightweight than steel. Can add grippy coatings. Prone to scratches.
  • Titanium: Extremely strong yet lightweight. Low maintenance and durable. Very expensive.
  • Plastic/composite: Affordable option for basic to moderate use. Last well even with frequent/rough use. A brand this is often recommended are Rehadesign Pushrim Covers;

In general, metal pushrims offer the best durability for frequent or rough use. But plastic is cheaper for basic needs.

Added grip coatings (like rubber) provide extra traction and comfort on any material. This helps optimize contact and push mechanics.

Ideal Pushrim Design Qualities

Beyond materials, certain design qualities make for excellent pushrims:

  • Ergonomic shape: Contoured to fit the hand’s natural closed grip. Reduces strain.
  • Grip surface area: Wide enough for whole-hand contact. Prevents fingertip pressure.
  • Mounting: Quick-release and easy to remove. Enables maintenance.
  • Visibility: Color contrast against the wheels and chair frame. Improves safety.

Of course, individuals have unique needs and preferences. But these qualities optimize function, mobility and injury prevention.

Specific Pushrim Models and Features

Many pushrim models offer distinct features and benefits. A few top options:

  • Natural-Fit: Ergonomic shape fits hand contour. Black rubber coating prevents slippage
  • Q-Grip: Cushioned rubber surface improves grip. Easy to mount without tools
  • Surge: Replaceable silicone grip insert on aluminum rim. Bright green color aids visibility
  • Rehadesign Ultra Grip – affordable and durable rubber push rims that are easily mounted in seconds

Mobility shops can help find the ideal model for one’s needs and environment.

Research on Power-Assist Pushrims

Recent studies analyze the benefits of power-assist pushrims. These motorized wheels sense and amplify the user’s push force.

The reduced strain could prevent upper body overuse issues. Power-assist shows great promise to boost function.

Of course, these wheels add expense and width to a chair. But the independence and mobility gains appear substantial.

Innovations in Wheelchair Pushrim Design

Some novel wheelchair designs separate the pushrims from the drive wheels. This offers new advantages:

  • Improves wheelchair maneuverability and control[]
  • Allows wheel/pushrim customization to user size and needs
  • Pushrim location prevents contact with dirty drive wheels

The separation ensures hands stay clean after propulsion. This can help reduce secondary infections and pressure ulcer risk.

As technology advances, we will continue seeing pushrim innovations. The quest for improved propulsion and injury prevention persists.

Conclusion: Matching Users and Pushrims

Wheelchair pushrims serve critical propulsion and braking functions. Their grip, diameter, material and other factors impact mobility and health.

Choosing the right pushrim involves matching user strengths, range of motion and coordination abilities. Ergonomic shapes provide a better fit and reduce strain.

While often overlooked, pushrims deserve careful selection consideration given their profound impact. Consult mobility rehab experts to explore options and find the best possible fit.

With some research and customization, wheelchair users can reap substantial benefits from their all-important pushrims. Mobility, independence and pain-free wheeling await.

For wheelchair users who have poor grip or are tetrapleglic, this post discusses the best choices of handrims.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pushrims connect the user to the wheelchair – their design impacts propulsion, control and injury risk
  • Ergonomic shapes distribute pressure evenly and require less force to push
  • Power-assist pushrims boost efficiency and obstacle climbing while lowering repetition
  • Separating pushrims from drive wheels aids maneuverability and hand hygiene
  • Matching grip type, diameter and material to user ability and environment is key


About the Author: Duncan Edwards

  • Married to a spinal injured person, I’ve navigated the complexities of wheelchair accessibility and accessories firsthand.
  • My expertise extends to wheelchair pushrims, where I’ve spent years identifying the best options for comfort and efficiency.
  • Collaborating with Disability Horizons, I’ve reviewed countless wheelchair accessories, always seeking to enhance mobility and independence for users.
  • Supporting my partner and engaging with a community of wheelchair users has deepened my understanding and passion for accessible solutions.
  • My background in welfare benefits and managing Disability Horizons Shop has equipped me with a unique perspective on the needs of disabled individuals and their families.