Bladerunner

It always hurts when one of your champions falls from grace. Seeing the headline "Double-amputee Olympian charged with premeditated murder" was as unexpected to me as a meteor exploding over Russia. I’ve always had a special admiration for amputees and others in the Mobility Challenged Club excelling at anything to the point of gaining national and worldwide acclaim. Many of us who are mobility challenged feel like it is a good day when we can get ourselves out of bed, showered and dressed before getting onto our wheeled steed to face another 24 hours. Watching videos of Oscar Pistorius whipping around the track on a couple of metal blades filled me with the hope a mobility challenge can't keep a good man down. It was just [...]

Brace Yourselves! Change is in the Wind

The next few months are going to bring some interesting changes to the mobility equipment acquisition process, and you may find some real savings if you bring a pile of cash to the table. In process for over a year now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) new competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) is expected to slash CMS payments by as much as 45%. Mobility equipment providers had already been expecting cuts in the 32-35% range and even at that rate,  a number of the smaller companies had been considering closure. Right now, CMS payments in behalf of over 100 million beneficiaries makes them the largest consumer of durable medical equipment. This [...]

Guns & Roses: How Firearm Control Affects the Disabled

There's no doubt in my mind that Congress is going to get into a shootout over gun control in the coming weeks and months. As is all too common, the disabled probably won’t have much of a voice even though firearm legislation affects them more than most. The reality is that the disabled are especially vulnerable to violence, gun-related or otherwise. On the other hand, they also stand more to gain from the protection of a personal weapon like a firearm. The controversy on Capitol Hill hasn't prompted me to rush to the nearest gun store so I can start packing heat, however. I remember target practice with a .45 caliber automatic pistol when I was younger. It packed quite a punch! At this age, seated on a mobility scooter, I doubt [...]

Happy 131st Birthday FDR!

How does a great leader approach a serious mobility issue? To find out, I took a look at one of the most famous disabled of all time: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR contracted polio the same year I was born. Until my research, I never realized his circumstances shared many similarities with my own. Of course, I most likely will never be presidential material and I wasn't fully diagnosed with multiple sclerosis until I was 73. FDR, on the other hand, was paralyzed at 39 while campaigning for the office.  But the actual details, many evident in the new movie Hyde Park on the Hudson, were largely unpublicized. FDR was paralyzed from the waist down. Though I am not paralyzed myself, we both have the similar bowel and urinary issues, [...]

Eye-Tracking Technology to Keep an Eye on

Assistive technologies are making daily mundane tasks that many take for granted a whole lot easier for the disabled and mobility-challenged. The overall goal for researchers that work on these technologies is to help the client achieve more independence. Imagine trying to use a computer without the use of your arms and hands. How would you control the mouse and keyboard? That's the problem that Tobii Rex and eyeCan are currently trying to fix. Tobii Rex With the Tobii Rex, you can control the cursor using just your eyes. Currently, the user must click a button on the keyboard in order for the device to “click” what you’re looking at; however, the technology is still quite impressive, and I’m sure accessibility can only get [...]

Charging Stations and Traffic Rules Proposed in Macon

Macon-Bibb County in Georgia, the country’s first “Age-Friendly Community” according to the AARP and the WHO, has proposed new legislation to help motorized wheelchair and mobility scooter users navigate city streets. In this article by Jim Gaines of Macon.com, he writes that City Councilman Frank Tompkins isn't taking the AARP title for granted; as a strong advocate for the disabled, he is asking for four charging stations for mobility aids in high traffic areas of downtown Macon. This will allow for electric wheelchair and mobility scooter users to make a brief pit stop to recharge before setting back out in the city. Gaines is also proposing some laws to help keep scooter and wheelchair users safe on the streets of Macon. Traffic [...]

GUEST POST:
How Research Can Change Lives

My first real experience with designing for people with disabilities came right after my senior year of college, when I was tasked with creating an improved self-catheterization tool for incomplete quadriplegics. It was quite an eye opening experience and a wonderful opportunity for me – an able-bodied 22 year old – to put myself into the shoes of someone who was no longer able to easily complete many of the mundane tasks that I took for granted every day. I realized that I had a passion for designing products that sincerely consider the cognitive and physical capabilities of the people that will be using them. I entered graduate school at Georgia Tech to further advance my design education and concurrently took a position at the Georgia [...]

Violence Breaks out between Turkish Wheelchair Basketball Fans

“Violence Breaks out between Turkish Wheelchair Basketball Fans”—this might sound like a headline straight out of a gag magazine, but believe me, this ACTUALLY happened, and there's video proof. The Huffington Post reports that this past weekend, a brawl broke out at a Turkish wheelchair basketball game between the fans of the league rivals.  The fight became so intense between the Galatasaray and Besiktas club fans that the police had to intervene with tear gas to disperse the rioting crowd. While arrests were of course made, what’s upsetting is that many of the athletes were injured and their wheelchairs and other property destroyed. Rivalries definitely make watching sports more intense and exciting, but isn’t this a [...]

Nerve Stimulation: Future Cure for Paralysis?

Similar to our last post on paralyzed dogs regaining mobility, today’s featured article is about restoring functionality after spinal injury. US News Health ran an article a couple of weeks ago on a small study performed by stimulating nerves in the brain and wrist. In this study, the stimulation of nerves allowed temporarily increased hand movement in those with partial spinal cord injuries. While the study focused on short-term effects, researchers are hoping that these findings can help open doors in terms of regaining better hand mobility after cervical spine injuries. The cervical spine is the upper portion of the spinal cord, and damage to this area can often times cause partial or full impairment in the hands and arms. The [...]

Paralyzed Dogs Regain Mobility After Cambridge Study

In a new study, thirty four pet dogs with paralysis in their hind legs were given the chance to hopefully walk again. ABC News reports in this article that olfactory “ensheathing” cells were extracted from the dogs’ noses and then implanted into their spines. While not too much is known about why this worked as well as it did, something about these regenerative cells helped to restore mobility to the dogs’ legs. In one of the subjects, the dog was only able to walk on a treadmill using his front legs as his hind legs hung limply. Three months after the treatment, he was able to walk on all legs using the harness for support, and after another three months, he was able to walk without the harness altogether. Much more research [...]