Dustin Franklin: Joint pain didn’t mean the end of farming

Dustin Franklin standing in front of tractorFourth generation farmer Dustin Franklin has been actively involved with farming since he was six years old and has always wanted an agricultural lifestyle. However, because of the combined effects of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and compressed discs in his back from decades of heavy lifting, he was afraid his custom hay-cutting business would have to end. He endured tremendous pain each time he rode in his tractor or performed needed farm tasks. In searching for alternate ways to continue farming, he heard about Colorado AgrAbility.

An occupational therapist from AgrAbility visited Dustin and his family at their farm to provide a no-cost worksite assessment and make recommendations for modifying his equipment and work practices. AgrAbility then partnered with the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to make changes to the Franklins’ farming business.  The technologies VR provided included extra steps for Dustin’s tractors, extended mirrors to reduce the need for him to rotate in the tractor seat, automatic hitches for his balers, air-ride swivel seats to make tractor entry and exit easier, and a utility vehicle for safer and more efficient transport on the farm. The AgrAbility/VR collaboration has, for this family, meant the difference between remaining in farming or leaving their beloved way of life. Dustin says, “AgrAbility gives a new-found hope for that person looking for what they need…I am a better person for getting their help and will talk to anybody about AgrAbility and help them get the help I have gotten.”