Iron Man Helps Mobility-Challenged

Come on, admit it, at one time or another we've all had superhero fantasies. My favorite just happens to be Iron Man. There is something about his personality that I can really identify with. Lately, there have been a slew of developments in the robotics arena called wearable exoskeletons that may eventually mean new mobility freedoms for the mobility-challenged. They've got me thinking maybe I could be a little like Iron Man after all. Take HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb), a cyborg-like wearable robot developed by the Japanese firm CYBERDYNE, Inc. HAL was designed to supplement, improve and expand physical capability. According to the company's website "When a person attempts to move, nerve signals are sent from the brain to the [...]

The Story of Inspiration

There are some books that have transformed my life forever. “As I Am, A True Story of Adaptation and Disability”, written by Garret Lee Frey and Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot, is one of those books. “As I Am” is an amazing autobiography about a boy that survived a tragic event and how he overcame unbelievable obstacles. Garret Lee Frey was just like any other four year old boy, but his life took a drastic change on April 24, 1987. Garret experienced an event that would leave him paralyzed and dependent on a respirator for the rest of his life. This amazing story guides us through Garret’s life and it intimately acknowledges the depression he struggled with and the anxiety he experienced with the outside world, especially during [...]

Medium with Two Sweeteners

Every now and then, you run across a news story originating in another part of the world which describes a curious incident, and you wonder how it would work in your own environment...on a power scooter. "How about a drive-through cup of coffee to go?" "Could I get one on a scooter?" It happened in Ottawa recently and makes you wonder what would happen here. As reported in the Ottowa Citizen, Tim Hortons restaurants (well-known Canadian coffee shops) are telling customers in wheelchairs or mobility scooters that its drive-throughs are off-limits due to concerns for their safety. Rick Daigle suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and has been using a mobility scooter for the last three years. He found out this week [...]

Wheelchair Zen

I am a huge advocate for the practice of yoga. Yoga, in my opinion, builds strength, peace of mind, discipline, and courage. You may wonder why I chose the word “courage,” but it takes a big leap to sign up for your first class. I remember my first yoga experience. I was a “newbie” and pretty lost. Luckily, I was able to catch on to the basics pretty quickly. A well-organized yoga class begins with a centering of awareness with the practice of breathing. Once you get the breathing down, participants continue through the poses with the same, repetitive deep breathing techniques. Yoga has many benefits for everyone, including individuals who use wheelchairs or scooters. Chair yoga is a type of yoga practice that does not require [...]

Mobility-Challenged Politicians

In just a few weeks voters will go to the polls as usual, voting for "normal" candidates. But  in four states, the ballots will include rolling candidates, those who have overcome mobility issues with an active life in political service. With election day just around the corner, I thought I’d mention some of the mobility-disabled candidates running around the country. All four have not let paralysis of one form or another prevent them from moving into the political arena. Three are first timers, but they all desire to do something with themselves for their state and country. For a little over a decade, Jim Langevin, (D) of Rhode Island has actively represented his district in the U.S. House of Representatives and has been instrumental [...]

Come Together, Right Now!

Love and friendship are wonderful things. The comfort of a friend can transform a difficult situation to something bearable. We are only human and whether we want to admit or not, we need each other. I am thrilled to provide some great resources to help get you connected. There are many organizations out there that offer assistance when searching for friendship, support, or a new love interest. Hey, we are never too old to find love or a new best friend! Datingdisabled.net is a great resource for individuals who are in the mood for love or a relationship. Datingdisabled.net provides free trial and paid membership options, like most dating sites. The site allows you to set up your own personal, secure profile with pictures and videos. There [...]

Logan and her Creative Spirit

I am inspired every day by my students, but writing for Allmobility Advocate has opened the door to many more remarkable stories about extraordinary struggles and accomplishments. I am more certain than ever that we need to use our abilities to the fullest, no matter what they may be. I think Robert M. Hensel, profoundly expressed this belief when he said, “Know me for my abilities, not my disability.” (http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/disability-quotes.php). Hensel was born with a birth defect that’s left him wheelchair bound his whole life. He’s also the world record holder for longest wheelchair wheelie—more than six miles! I recently had the wonderful opportunity to connect with Logan Olson and her mother, Laurie. Logan’s [...]

Accessibility: Talking a Good Thing

There is a lot of talk these days about mobility scooters and power wheelchairs improving quality of life and assuring independence for the mobility-challenged allowing them to go when and where they want. If only that were completely true... Many of us live in older cities where Americans with Disabilities Act (enacted two decades ago) changes move at the speed of molasses in both public and private sectors. It is the small things that ruin a mobility scooter excursion; sometimes the tiniest obstacle can obstruct the biggest journey. Most just require the rider to take a dangerous detour or make a minor traffic law violation. Others are practically impassable. Here are a couple examples in the public sector where I have contacted [...]

Comfort Plus Accommodation

I do not consider myself to be “up” on the latest fashions by any stretch of the imagination, but I know how a new, comfortable piece of clothing makes me feel. I have more confidence and I not only feel comfortable physically; my mind feels comfortable as well. Clothing can be a painstaking challenge to individuals who have physical impairments. Based on experience, it is also an uphill battle for a caretaker or teacher to help adjust and manipulate someone else's clothes. You do learn quickly about what positioning techniques work better than others, but clothing modifications can significantly reduce the time and difficulty of the process. We all deserve our dignity and sense of independence. Clothing modifications can make life [...]

Mountain Climbing

If you’re mobility challenged like me, you might feel a sense of complacency or even smugness sometimes when you’re riding around on your mobility chair or scooter. It’s easy to feel high and mighty cruising along effortlessly, especially if it’s a new found luxury. But every time this happens, I’m always humbled by the determination and fitness of someone else. Most recently, I heard about someone who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with just his hands. It happened a couple months ago when Spencer West, 31 of Toronto, scaled Africa's highest mountain using just his hands in a seven-day grueling and inspiring trek. At 19,000 ft. Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain. Hearing about the incredible climb got me interested in what [...]