Friday, March 30, 2012

Chicago's Improved Taxis for People with Disabilities

The number of wheelchair accessible cabs in Chicago has risen by 50% since the beginning of the year. Chicago has added 47 new wheelchair accessible vehicles to its taxi fleet. In order to offset the cost of such vehicles, the city has determined to allow the its new wheelchair accessible taxis to remain on the streets for five years instead of the typically mandatory four year period.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Proposed Alabama Law to Provide Money for Spinal Cord Injury Research

 A bill that has recently passed the Alabama Senate called the T.J. Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Act would require drivers violating Alabama's traffic laws to pay an additional $1, $5, or $10 on top of their ticket for spinal cord injury research at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Florida Charter Schools Failing to Serve Students with Disabilities

In the U.S., charter schools are publicly funded and privately run. Thus, charter schools are required to follow federal laws prohibiting discrimination against students with disabilities. Increasingly, charter schools are failing to follow federal anti-discrimination laws designed to protect the rights of students with disabilities.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Five Year Old with Cerebral Palsy Banned from Using Walker at School

Kingwood, Texas- Lakey Roberts, a five year old girl with cerebral palsy, was recently banned from bringing her walker to school. She cannot walk without the assistance of the walker. She recently fell while using her walker and the school deemed the walker to be unsafe to have at school. She had been using her walker school for almost two years. Her mother, Kristi, filmed Kings Manor Elementary School's director of special education, Gary Lemley, explaining to her why her daughter can no longer bring her walker to school.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Brain Injury Awareness Month: Alabama Head Injury Foundation

Different organizations across the country have worked to increase awareness about traumatic brain injuries throughout the month of March, Brain Injury Awareness Month. Recently, the Alabama Head Injury Foundation had a Mobile Traumatic Brain Injury Citizen Advocacy Training Day in which they taught brain injury survivors and their families how to use their experiences to change public policy.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wheelchair Accessible Events: St. Patrick's Day Recap

Many wheelchair users have experienced being in large crowds at large events and having to spend much of the day watching someone's back, trying to find a parking space, an accessible bathroom, and dealing with many other obstacles. Sometimes, people with disabilities avoid large events altogether in order to avoid the annoyance. Add the hundreds of thousands of people drinking green beer to the mix, during St. Patrick's Day in Savannah, Georgia, and you have the situation Barry Helmey chooses to partake in annually.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

4th Annual Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities

The 4th annual Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities will be held at Spanish River Park in Boca Raton, Florida on Saturday, March 24, from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM. The Bash is the largest free, fun-day in the U.S. for people with disabilities and is expected to attract over 2,500 people.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Woman with Spinal Cord Injury Goes Bungee Jumping

Karim Ladki sustained a C7 vertebrae fracture in 2007, eventually recovered from his injury, and started 9Lives Adventures after meeting several athletes with disabilities. 9Lives offers adrenaline fueled tours for people with disabilities.

Positive Changes for Americans with Disabilities

PBS newswoman Judy Woodruff is also the mother of a son with disabilities. Recently, she wrote an article expressing her positive feelings towards the recent enforcement of the 2010 federal guidelines which require recreational facilities to be accessible for people with disabilities. Mrs. Woodruff also explained her excitement regarding recent techonology advances that have changed the lives of many individuals with severe disabilities.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Device for People with Spinal Cord Injuries

For several hundred years, the wheelchair has been used by individuals with spinal cord injuries. Wheelchairs have been improved over the years, and different variations of wheelchairs are now commonly used. Modern day wheelchairs can even be standard manual chairs, sleek sport-specific manual chairs, power chairs, or essentially whatever the user requires.

However, improvements in wheelchairs have failed to fix problems with pressure sores, transferring and stress placed on the user's shoulders. The traditional wheelchair often leads to slumped over posture and eventual shoulder surgery for the user. Wheelchairs have also never been designed to allow the user to reach objects in high places in their home or to allow the user to be in a locked, standing position to help alleviate circulation problems, including pressure sores, which can lead to infections in certain cases. Wheelchairs have also never been designed to be as narrow as a standing human being, requiring wheelchair users to often have trouble navigating short aisles at stores and sometimes requiring wheelchair users to widen doors in their homes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Brain Injury Awareness Month: Brain Injuries in the NFL

Super Bowl winning quarterback Jim McMahon, formerly of the Chicago Bears, is one of many former National Football League (NFL) players suing the league for alledgedly covering up the effects of head trauma over the course of several decades. He claims that his short term memory has practically disappeared due to his brain injuries caused by repeated head trauma.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Angels Settle Lawsuit, Forced to Improve Accessibility for People with Disabilities at Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Many people with disabilities, often wheelchair users, have experienced problems with accessibility issues at stadiums. Stadiums typically have one small area designated for people with disabilities and the area usually does not have the best seats. Also, despite only having a limited area to choose from, people with disabilities typically have to pay a competitive price for a ticket despite the fact that they could not sit higher up in the cheap seats if they wanted to do so.

Friday, March 16, 2012

UW-Whitewater Sweeps Men's and Women's NCAA Wheelchair Basketball Championships

Both the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater men's and women's wheelchair basketball teams recently won national championships. The women were able to defeat Alabama in the championship game while the men got past Illinois. This was the tenth national championship for the men's team and the first for the women.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Brain Injury Awareness Month: SmartPhone Concussion App

As many of you know, today is the start of the NCAA tournament. Like many years, the University of North Carolina (UNC) is a #1 seed in the tournament and many of you have likely picked them to win the title in your bracket. However, UNC is not only fighting to win a National Championship on the basketball court, but is also fighting to increase awareness of concussions.

Jason Mihalik, an assistant professor of Exercise and Sports Science in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, and Gerard Gioia '84 of the George Washington University School of Medicine, co-authored a smartphone app designed to allow individuals to answer a series of questions to determine if someone has recently experienced a concussion.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Brain Injury Awareness Month: Youth Concussions

Due to the efforts of brain injury advoctes and doctors, the exposure of concussions in the National Football League and brain injuries suffered by U.S. soldiers in war, public awareness of concussions has never been higher. This awareness has started to create a trickle down effect in which legislation is being passed throughout the country requiring youth athletes to be removed from sporting events and evaluated by a doctor if they are exhibiting the signs of a concussion. For example, Florida's Legislature recently sent a bill to the Governor to sign which would require the same, and also require youth athletes to be evaluated by a doctor before returning to practice or games. This is similar to Florida's legislation previously passed regarding high school athletes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Organization Spotlight: Second Chance of NW Florida

Panama City, Florida- A few months ago I had my first chance to visit a wonderful facility called Second Chance of Northwest Florida, Inc. Second Chance is a facility that is designed to help brain injury survivors and their families achieve an improved quality of life. I found a unique facility in which brain injury survivors are given a large degree of autonomy to actually take control of the facility and make it their own. Brain injury survivors who have learned to live successfully with their injury are able to provide positive mentors for those with new brain injuries who begin attending Second Chance.

I recently had a chance to speak with the President of Second Chance of Northwest Florida, Inc., Sherl Morden, who told me, "Second Chance serves adults with brain injuries. At the Second Chance Day Program we work together to keep Hope as a reason to go on, confidence for those who doubt, strength when you feel weak and support for survivors and their families as they learn to adjust to a new way of life and success is knowing you have done the best you can to help others in their struggle."

Second Chance does a tremendous job of increasing independence for brain injury survivors in Northwest Florida while helping to support their families and educate the local community about the effects of brain injury. Second Chance is a unique brain injury rehabilitation facility in that it receive no state or federal funding and is supported 100% by the local community. 

It only seemed right that the first "Organization Spotlight" on would be Second Chance of Northwest Florida, Inc. during March: Brain Injury Awareness Month. To learn more about Second Chance check out their website at and continue reading. 

The Public's Perception of Wheelchair Users

The New York Times recently ran a great op-ed piece by Ben Mattlin, author of the book, "Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity". The piece gives great insight to the day-to-day interactions between wheelchair users and able-bodied strangers. Mr. Mattlin points out that he is frequently mistaken for Stephen Hawking, his friends are often asked if they are his nurses and his wife is often asked if she is his sister. The old adages of thinking before one speaks and not judging a book by its cover are displayed in a modern context, regarding people with disabilities, in the link below...

Monday, March 12, 2012


By Victoria Beck

Being stared at was a real eye-opener for a long-time friend of mine who recently became temporarily disabled.

People stared while her husband pushed her wheelchair.

A couple days later, other people stopped her and asked what happened. It was hard for her to accept the blunt rudeness. It was even more difficult for her to respond; detained and unused to crutches, she was having trouble keeping her balance.

When she called me to share the revelation that people stare and ask intrusive questions when they see disability, I, out of respect for our friendship, only said “uh-huh.”” What I wanted to say was “No kidding!” Or worse.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Potential Positive Effects of Surgery Within 24 Hours for SCI Patients

New research has shown that individuals who experience a spinal cord injury (SCI) and undergo surgery within 24 hours now have a 20% chance at recovery. This is great news for the newly injured, and without the help of people with disabilities pushing legislation and raising money for organizations like the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, these advances would not be possible. The newly injured enter a new world in which they are often unaware as to how it was shaped. The advocacy of people with disabilities over the past half-century has greatly improved the lives of the newly injured today. One of those ways, is with the improvement in medical research due to the advocacy of people with disabilities. To learn more about the reasearch related to SCI surgery, please check out the link below...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Returning to School After a Concussion

Hundreds of thousands of children suffer concussions annually. When a child suffers a concussion, the transition back to school can be difficult and it is important for parents and teachers to understand signs and symptoms of potential problems for the child as they return to school. The link below is a great resource for parents, teachers, and those concerned about pediatric brain injuries and their effects on children in school...

New Findings on Brain Plasticity and Neuroprosthetics

The past decade has taken prosthetics to new heights as doctors have attempted to incorporate brain waves to control disembodied objects. A recent study performed at Cal Berkeley has demonstrated that the brain is more flexible and trainable than previously thought. This discovery is likely to help doctors create a better connection between the brain and prosthetics, creating realistic, thought-based movement of prosthetics by amputees. To see more, check out the link below...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Congenital Amputee Climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro

The link below will take you to an incredible piece about Kyle Maynard. He is a congenital amputee who was able to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro despite being a congenital quad-amputee. Mr. Maynard's story displays the amazing feats possible when someone refuses to let anything get in the way of achieving a goal.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Nurse's Perspective on Brain Injuries...

Attached is a great article from a nurse in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas about her experiences treating people with brain injuries and the importance of wearing a helmet...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brain Injury Awareness Month Begins

As we begin Brain Injury Awareness Month, I wanted to share a message from the Brain Injury Association of America...

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. A brain injury can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. Brain injuries do not discriminate. Did you know that 1.7 million people will sustain a brain injury each year? An injury that happens in an instant can bring a lifetime of physical, cognitive and behavior challenges and early, equal and adequate access to care will greatly increase overall quality of life.