Thursday, May 31, 2012

Help Purchasing Modified Vehicles and Adaptive Equipment

Many people with disabilities, and their family members, are aware that there are now many different makes of modified vehicles on the road. Most of these individuals are also aware of the high cost of modified vehicles. What many people do not know is that several automakers have programs in place to help individuals acquire modified vehicles.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fred’s Tips: How to Make Your Front Door Accessible Inexpensively

What happens when someone is newly paralyzed and is about to return home after being in the hospital for quite some time? While the individual has changed drastically, it is likely that their home has not. Fred Sandberg is going to share his insights, based on 34 years of experience as T-8/T-9 paraplegic, adaptive equipment and home modification expert, in a recurring feature on Disability Insight. Fred’s feature is designed to allow newly injured individuals and their families to learn cost-effective ways of making their home accessible.
By: Fred Sandberg:
The patient gets out of the hospital and back to their home and there is a 4 or 5 inch step up to get into the front door of the house; now what do they do? First, we will look at cost and having it done as fast as possible, with the presumption that the front door is already wide enough for a wheelchair user to get through the door.
Hopefully, before the patient gets home somebody has either built a ramp or bought a ramp for them, considering that the patient has probably been in the hospital for several weeks. Custom made aluminum ramps save wheelchair users money in the long run as they will not have to go through the ramp purchasing process twice. Custom made aluminum ramps are generally the best option for a Florida-like climate because they are held down by two screws mounted at the base and can be removed in case of a severe storm or hurricane. Aluminum ramps are also lighter and less expensive than stainless ramps. Thinner gauge aluminum is used to carry less weight and heavier gauge aluminum is used to carry more weight. If the wheelchair and its user combine to be extremely heavy, then its important that heavier gauge aluminum is used. If the wheelchair user has a high budget for the purchase of a ramp and would like a stainless steel ramp, that's also an option used by some, albeit a much more expensive option than an aluminum ramp.

The rule of thumb is for every inch of height you go up you have to go out one foot. So a four inch step would require a four (4) foot ramp. The ramp should be made out of at least ¾” plywood with the proper supports. It can be made fast and cheap.  But importantly, whoever makes the ramp should know what they are doing. The surface of the ramp should have a non-skid material. If the wheelchair user is in an electric wheelchair then the ¾” plywood must be doubled for added strength and support.
The newly paralyzed individual is no longer a patient and is now a wheelchair user, so he or she must now be able to shut the front door and any other door in the house that they are using. How is he or she going to be able to do this? It is doubtful that his or her family is going to put a nice handle and drill a hole into an expensive front door. If it’s a rental home then the family likely cannot drill a hole into the front door and put a handle on it. In addition, if a handle is placed on the door, it needs to be placed as close to the inside of the house as possible.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Teenager Longboarding the Length of Utah to Raise Money for Friend with a Spinal Cord Injury



A 15-year-old Utah boy named Ben Smith is longboarding (a version of skateboarding) the entire length of Utah during his summer vacation to raise money and awareness for the needs of his friend, Gates Hunsaker, who was paralyzed in a snowboarding accident last year.
Hunsaker has now progressed in his recovery to the point that he would be able to drive a modified vehicle. Smith is hoping to raise enough money to allow Hunsaker to be outfitted with a modified vehicle with hand controls. At the same time, Smith is also bringing awareness to the needs of individuals with spinal cord injuries.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

U.S. House Passes Expansion Initiative for TBI and PTSD Treatment

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bipartisan amendment to expedite new and novel treatments to veterans and active-duty soldiers who have sustained Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) or are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Alabama's TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Program Bill is Passed by the Alabama Legislature

A few months ago, Disability Insight ran a story about a proposed Alabama law designed to provide money for spinal cord injury research. On the last day of Alabama's 2012 legislative session, the bill passed and the TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Program was established.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Brain Injury Survivor and Author Graduates From College

Eileen Rudnick sustained a traumatic brain injury as the result of a severe car accident in the fall of 2000. Subsequently, Eileen has continued therapy since the date of the accident and has achieved an incredible amount post-injury, even referring to her crash as "my rebirth".

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nerve Transfer Surgery Allows Quadriplegic to Use His Fingers Again

Doctors recently used "Nerve Transfer Surgery" to allow a 71-year-old quadriplegic to make use of his fingers once again. The surgery takes nerves that are used to bend the elbows and rerouting them towards the hand, by attaching these working nerves to the non-working nerves in the individual's hand, so the individual can make use of his or her fingers. While it takes some time for the individual's brain to figure out what is going on with his or her nerves, eventually the brain grasps what has happened and the new nerves are used to bend the fingers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stephen Sullivan, Former Mayor of Vancouver and Quadriplegic, on the New Ways People with Disabilities are Viewed

Stephen Sullivan is remembered by most as the mayor of Vancouver who held the Olympic flag at the closing ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics. However, those that have heard of Stephen Sullivan and those who have not, likely do not know his back story.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Study Shows Wheelchairs Breaking Down More Often

According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, more frequent wheelchair breakdowns are causing people with spinal cord injuries to be left stranded causing health and safety concerns. Researchers have found that Medicare and Medicaid may be partially to blame.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bucs Sign Eric LeGrand, Paralyzed While Playing College Football

Eric LeGrand was a standout football player for Rutgers who was paralyzed due to a hit he sustained in a football game against Army in 2010. One year after his injury, he lead the Rutgers football team onto the field, but he always remained a motivational, integral part of the Rutgers program. After this past college football season, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano was named the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Claire Lomas, Paralyzed from an Accident, Completes London Marathon

Claire Lomas was paralyzed from the waist down in a horse riding accident in 2007. She has been unable to walk for the past five years. Yet she entered the London Marathon with the hopes of completing the 26.2 mile race while walking in a $75,000 bionic suit. The suit has motion sensors which detect when she is losing her balance and help her to correct her balance.

The London Marathon started 16 days ago. Each day, Claire Lomas would walk between 1-2.5 miles then she would start the next day at the exact same spot which she ended the day before. She raised well over $100,000 for spinal cord injury research by completing the London Marathon. Because she was unable to finish the London Marathon in one day she was not awarded a medal for completing the race. When word got out that she did not receive a medal, several runners gave her their own medals and she was awarded a trophy from Virgin, one of the race's sponsors.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ralph Braun Honored by the White House for Improving Accessible Transportation Options for People with Disabilities

Ralph Braun, founder of the Braun Corporation, was recently honored by the White House as a "Champion of Change" for his work in creating better transportation options for people with disabilities. Over the 40 year history of the Braun Corporation, improvements in accessible transportation for people with disabilities has allowed thousands of individuals the chance to live, work, and travel throughout the world in ways that were thought to be impossible prior to Ralph Braun's creation of the Braun Corporation.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Estrogen Hormone May Limit Inflammation and Damage Due to Traumatic Brain Injuries

With roughly 1.7 million people suffering TBIs annually around the globe, researchers are constantly looking at ways to improve the treatment options for people with TBIs. Recently, evidence of a potential new treatment was presented during Experimental Biology 2012.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

FacingDisability: A New Way for Families to Cope with Spinal Cord Injury



A spinal cord injury impacts the entire family.  It can seems like no understands their new situation or the road of recovery that lies ahead.  That is why the Hill Foundation of Chicago created FacingDisability.com, a new website designed to connect families suddenly facing spinal cord injuries with others who’ve been there before them.

It contains over 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of people with SCI, their families, caregivers and experts.  People with spinal cord injuries, their parents, spouses, siblings, children and friends were asked the same 48 spinal cord injury questions, and only the best answers are posted on the site.  Questions include: “What was your greatest fear at first?” “Where did you get the best financial help and information?” “How has the injury affected your family relationships?” and “How do you see your future?”  Here’s what a few interviewees had to say.

Nick, who became quadriplegic at age 17, said, “People need to understand that having a spinal cord injury is not by any means the end of the world. It may seem like it might when you first wake up in the hospital and try to grasp the concept of a spinal-cord injury, especially when there's limited exposure that you have prior to the injury, but there's definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. There's definitely hope, there's definitely potential and possibilities. There's ever-day progress with laws, and technology and acceptance in society. So, it's definitely not the end of the road. It's just the start.”

Mary Ellen, whose daughter became quadriplegic at age 15, was surprised about how normal her life has become. “To a large extent, we're in many respects to where we were before the accident, and I never in the early years thought for a moment that we would reach that point. Certainly, we have to do things differently; family vacations are different and there are some things we can do, some things we can't do. But we're still able to pretty much do all the things as a family we did before. And instead of her disability being front and center, it's become sort of a sideline.”