50 Ways to Maximize Your Mobility!

From new technology and product innovations to support groups, cool Web sites, advocacy organizations, real-life heroes and educational resources, here are 52 ways -- one for each week of the year -- to maximize your mobility. Check ‘em out!

Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities

With the next crop of high school seniors preparing for their big pomp & circumstance moment, it’s also time to think about higher education. A number of organizations offer scholarships and financial aid to students with disabilities who want to attend college. Scholarship directories, available at local libraries, sort scholarships by ancestry, faith, economic status, extracurricular activities, etc., so students can search for funding under categories that apply to them. Also try Through the Looking Glass’ Web site (www.lookingglass.org) for information on specific financial aid opportunities.

Putting You First!

If you’ve ever had to “settle” for a certain type or brand of mobility or rehab equipment -- maybe because you were under the impression that your insurance company, Medicaid or Medicare wouldn’t pay for what you truly wanted -- then you know what it’s like to lose freedom of choice. The Users First Alliance feels your pain -- and wants to help! This new organization -- created by manufacturers Permobil, The ROHO Group and TiLite -- seeks to make consumers the focal point of the mobility/rehab equipment picture. They think that product choice should be based on your needs, and they want to work with you, clinicians and other industry professionals to guarantee that you have access to the proper equipment. Sound empowering? Visit Users First Alliance at www.usersfirst.org.

One-Stop Shopping

Since time is money, wouldn’t it be great if you could take care of more mobility needs at once? That’s exactly the point of Accessibility Services Plaza in Marietta, Ga. This “rehab plaza” with 30,000+ square feet of products and services includes All-In-One Accessibility (home modification and home access equipment); Handicapped Driver Services (vehicle modifications, new/used automotive vehicle sales and accessible vehicle rentals); On the Go Medical (wheelchairs, scooters and rehab equipment); and ParaQuad Nursing Services/Essential Care (home care for seniors and people with disabilities). Founder Michael Dresdner says the point of the Plaza is for consumers to “review their rehab needs in one disability-friendly environment.” Call (678) 819-7583 or visit www.rehab-plaza.com.

Cool Technology: Permobil

The RS Rehab System can be manipulated to create whatever combination of width (adjustable from 14 to 22”) and height (adjustable from 18.5 to 26.5”) is needed. Seat width/depth adjust from 16 to 22” in 2” increments. Includes Multi-Axis arm supports to provide increased proximal support, adjustable head support and VerteFlex Back to accommodate numerous complex postures. Visit Permobil at www.permobil.com or call (800) 736-0925.

Vancouver Paralympics

The Paralympic Winter Games are coming to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2010. Go along for the journey by logging on to www.vancouver2010.com and watch the host city prepare to welcome the world’s premiere Paralympians in such sports as cross-country skiing, biathlon, alpine skiing and wheelchair curling. Free stuff: Download Winter Games wallpapers for your computer desktop.

Finding the Right Rehab Provider

Creating the right rehab seating and mobility system is both art and science -- not to mention critical to the comfort and well-being of the wheelchair user. With your health on the line, do you really want to randomly choose a provider from your neighborhood phone book? There’s a better way! Go to www.nrrts.org -- the Web site of the National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers (NRRTS). Use this site to find NRRTS members in your area, investigate their credentials and get advice on how to find the right rehab technology supplier for your needs. There’s also a Consumer Info button on the NRRTS home page; click it to get answers to frequently asked rehab questions, including “What if your insurance requires you to go to a provider that is not capable of meeting your needs?”

Teaching Kids About Mobility & Friendship

“All Kinds of Friends, Even Green!” is a beautifully photographed book about a boy named Moses, who is charged with writing a school essay on an inspirational friend. After contemplating classmates, family and neighbors, Moses -- who uses a wheelchair -- considers Zaki, an iguana owned by his babysitter. Due to parasites, Zaki has lost some of his toes and has difficulty climbing. Zaki’s owner, Kate, is gently matter of fact about the disability, telling Moses, “Sometimes things like that just happen.” Moses admires the iguana’s tenacity and decides to write about Zaki. Respectful of readers’ sensibilities, the book is aimed at kids from kindergarten through fourth grade. But its lovely message will resonate with all.

Cool Technology: Assistive Technology

Looking for a ramp van that does its job, then gets out of the way? Visit the virtual home of Assistive Technology, who manufactures an accordion-style wheelchair ramp for minivans and full-size vans -- www.xxramp.com. The Flex-Ramp stores behind a van’s side doors and out of the way when not being used. Flex-Ramp for a full-size van weighs less than 33 lbs., but has a distributed weight capacity of 780 lbs. Extensions can be added to build ramps of longer lengths, including those for commercial vehicles and residences. Assistive Technology, based in Elkhart, Ind., can also be reached in the physical realm at (800) 478-2363.

Picture Books for Kids

“Mama Zooms” is about a pre-schooler who imagines himself as a racecar driver, a pilot, a train engineer and a jockey while he sits in his mother’s lap and she scoots around in her wheelchair. “Rolling Along: The Story of Taylor and His Wheelchair” is about a boy with cerebral palsy who prefers his chair to his walker and manages to keep up with his brother and friends just fine. Both picture books, intended for children aged pre-school through early elementary school, work to inform children who have disabilities as well as siblings, classmates and friends.

Cool Technology: i2i Head & Neck Positioning System

Stealth Products has a great answer for wheelchair users who cannot hold their heads up for an extended time or who have a great deal of extensor tone, but poor head control. The i2i Head & Neck Positioning System is designed to allow freedom of movement of the neck, but with boundaries to limit neck extension and anterior flexion (when using chin prompt). The system includes flip-down, adjustable-removable link hardware and chin prompt. Contact Stealth at (800) 965-9229; www.stealthproducts.com.

Living with Transverse Myelitis

So much about transverse myelitis (TM) -- a neurological condition in which the spinal cord becomes inflamed and in which symptoms and paralysis can literally appear overnight -- is unknown. Television scriptwriter Allen Rucker seeks to dispel some of the mystery with his new book, “The Best Seat in the House: How I Woke Up One Tuesday and Was Paralyzed for Life,” which tells of his experiences with TM. The condition is thought to be caused by a person’s autoimmune system, which mistakenly attacks the spinal cord; Cody Unser, daughter of auto racing champion Al Unser Jr., is among the well-known people to be living with TM. For more information on TM, go to www.myelitis.org.

Cool Technology: TracAbout

The TracAbout IRV 2000 incorporates a track system designed to enable this power chair to traverse such diverse terrain as indoor carpet and sand on the beach. Go to www.tracabout.com to view videos that show the IRV 2000 maneuvering over hills and through snow and water, as well as indoors and in urban settings. Consumers can contribute to Photo Album and Testimonials sections on the Web site. Call (800) 458-8616 for more information.

Kids’ Camps: Pass the S’mores!

Every child should have the chance to tell ghost stories around the campfire and sleep under the stars. The American Camp Association (ACA) Web site gives parents the ability to search for summer day or residential camps using a variety of criteria, including children’s ages, camp costs and locations, and types of disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to muscular dystrophy. To start looking for the perfect summer camp for your child, go to www.acacamps.org.

Building a Better Road Trip

So you need a minivan or van that can accommodate your scooter or wheelchair. Or you need hand controls installed in your Mustang. Or you’re not sure whether a vehicle lift or ramp would be the better choice for you. In fact, when it comes to choosing your next ride, you don’t know where to start. Regardless of your driving or passenger needs, start with the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA). The organization can help you find a mobility dealer who’s qualified to make vehicle modifications, from simple to custom. And NMEDA dealers can help with funding and financing, manufacturer rebates and assessing exactly what vehicle will work best for you and your family. Go to www.nmeda.org and get cruisin’!

Cool Technology: Nuprodx

Ever notice how “accessible” hotel rooms often aren’t -- or often aren’t available? Nuprodx’s Multichair 6000tx comes to the rescue. It features an adjustable cloth back with swing-away push handles, two swing-away locking arms, adjustable swing-away footrests, total-lock brakes on 5” casters, adjustable seat height and a seamless padded Ensolite seat cushion. There’s a removable bridge section that enables you to close the shower curtain. Multichair 6000tx has a weight capacity of 300 lbs., but weighs just 40 lbs. For more information, call (888) 288-5653 or go to www.nuprodx.com

Disability Etiquette 101

Maybe the waitress asks your dining companion what you’ll be ordering instead of asking you directly. Maybe total strangers hang all over your chair without asking. If you’re a person with a disability, you probably have a thousand horror stories about people behaving badly. Or maybe your child has a disability, and you’d like to brief the new teacher and classmates before they do something embarrassing. Try sending them to www.easter-seals.org. Easter Seals has a terrific section on its home page called “Easter Seals Info.” Click on “Disability Facts,” and you’re taken to a page with etiquette tips and answers to frequently asked questions on disability. The information may save you a headache or two -- and keep people around you from constantly having to extract their feet from their mouths.

Field of Dreams

Playing on a baseball team is one of the great rites of American childhood, and the Miracle League is devoted to making sure that children with disabilities get their chance to enjoy team camaraderie, learn sportsmanship and build self-esteem on the diamond. Miracle League rules require each player to bat and score a run every inning. Volunteers, including neighborhood kids, act as “baseball buddies” to assist Miracle Leaguers when needed. It’s a win-win situation! To find a Miracle League in your neighborhood or for information on how to start your own league, go to www.miracleleague.com or call (770) 760-1933 for the national Miracle League office.

Cool Technology: Innovation In Motion

Expand your horizons with Innovation In Motion’s X4 Extreme -- designed and built to be the ultimate four-wheel-drive power chair experience. A passive steering system makes it easy to drive through sand, snow, mud and rough terrain. Innovation In Motion also offers a mid-wheel-drive all-terrain power chair, the X5 Frontier, for times when tight turns and optimal maneuverability are also critical. For more information, call (800) 327-0681 or visit www.mobility-usa.com.

How the Camera Views Disabilities

“Murderball,” the Academy Award-nominated documentary about quad rugby, is probably the best-known film in recent times to discuss disability. But there are literally thousands of films with disability as a theme -- if not always the central one. The Web site www.disabilityfilms.co.uk/ was created as a sort of database of films dealing in some way or another with disabilities, and was originally aimed at teachers and students. While not all the films have disability as a major theme -- and many of the films aren’t “Murderball” caliber, either -- the database itself is a fascinating commentary on how society alternately responds to or tries to ignore disabilities of all types.

An Online Community to Lessen MS Stress

Stress can be more than just a literal headache to people who have multiple sclerosis (MS): The National Multiple Sclerosis Society says stress can actually worsen symptoms of MS. That means relaxation should be a major priority for MS patients looking to improve their quality of life. For information on how to cope with MS through relaxation, humor and such everyday therapies as pets, music, gardening and yoga, go to www.MSLessStress.com, developed by Darcy Rapp, who is living with MS. The site also features a chat room and a monthly newsletter to keep visitors connected.

Cool Technology: Adaptive Switch Laboratories

Here’s where all those hours in front of the TV pay off big time: ASL’s PSDC looks like something out of a video game, but serves an even greater function: efficiently driving a power wheelchair and operating seat and mode change functions. Here’s a “joystick” that all the kids in the neighborhood will envy. Contact ASL at (800) 626-8698 or go to http://asl-inc.com.

Finding a Place to Play

What good is a playground if you can’t use the swings because you lack the balance to sit upright in them? If you can’t climb steps to reach the top of the slide or can’t venture into the sandbox because of your wheelchair? Boundless Playgrounds is an organization dedicated to uniting children of all abilities through interactive, safe and fun play. Among the accessible playground solutions are swings that children can recline in, bridges and platforms wide enough for wheelchairs, and accessible picnic tables. To find an accessible playground near you or to learn how you can start one, go to www.boundlessplaygrounds.com.

Cool Technology: Diestco Manufacturing

Going under cover has never been so easy -- or so worthwhile! Diestco’s new specialty covers for scooters and power chairs include a four-corner slit design for power chairs on platform lifts, and full back-slit covers for scooters that use docking arm-style lifts. Diestco designs covers to fit a full range of mobility vehicles, from mini/travel scooters to super-sized power chairs. Check out all these products and more at www.diestco.com, or call (800) 795-2392.

A Leeder Among Men

When you need to laugh at life’s absurdities, turn to Leeder O. Men, the animated hero of DizAbled. Penned and drawn by John and Claire Lytle, the DizAbled comic strip follows Leeder through enhanced everyday adventures, as seen through his unique (and slightly eccentric) eyes. The strip often makes pointed fun of accessibility -- or lack thereof -- as well as the general ignorance people have about disabilities. But DizAbled also shows, through heroic Leeder, that you can’t keep a spirited cartoon character or his trusty chair down. Go to www.dizabled.com to view the strips and read fans’ comments.

Cool Technology: Nor-Cal Vans

Sometimes, size does matter -- for instance, when larger and taller wheelchair users need a van that’s up to the task. Nor-Cal MAX is a fully compliant, full-sized Ford E-series van with a 9” drop floor. It offers 62” of interior headroom and 56.5” of entryway clearance to deliver in a big way. Find out more about Nor-Cal Vans by calling (866) 892-0150 or visiting its cyberspace location: www.nor-calvans.com.

Real-Life Superheroes

The world tends to throw around the word “hero” far too easily -- such as when crowning the latest batch of TV reality show winners. To see some real superheroes, go to www.colourswheelchair.com. The Web site’s opening montage of includes teenager Aaron Fotheringham turning a backflip in his wheelchair (we advise you not to try this at home; Aaron is a pro). One of our favorite links, also available from the Colours Wheelchair home page, shows episode 49 of The Fit Show. In the episode, Victor Konovalov shares his fitness routine and tells what it was like at age 20 to injure his spinal cord and land in a wheelchair. Konovalov, who has modeled for this publication in the past, says that when he was hospitalized, he would pray not to wake up in the morning: “I just want to die,” he recalls thinking. Now a successful bodybuilder, industry advocate and role model, Konovalov not only shows how far he’s come, but inspires others to become heroes as well.

Cool Technology: Pride Mobility Products

You need just one hand to separate this sporty scooter to prepare it for transport. The Elite Traveller Plus 4-Wheeler features a Delta tiller with wrap-around handles, a front frame-mounted seat post for added stability and three interchangeable panels in blue, red and silver. The Elite Traveller Plus is built to be maneuverable and conveniently portable. See this and other scooters and mobility vehicles at www.pridemobility.com, or call (800) 800-8586.

Giving Drivers (and Passengers) a Helping Hand

The ability to drive means a sense of independence; the ability to be a passenger means traveling to places well beyond the four walls of home. But how do you determine how your medical diagnosis will affect your ability to safely drive? Or if you are a driver who will be regularly transporting a passenger with a disability, how can you assess the best vehicle or seating configuration for the task at hand? Members of the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED) assess both drivers and passengers and can make recommendations ranging from what sort of vehicle adaptations are needed and whether a person is capable of safely driving. For more information, go to www.driver-ed.org.

Cool Technology: Ranger All Season Corp.

Heavy-duty doesn’t have to be hard. The Ranger Solo Heavy D proves that durability can still be convenient, thanks to an adjustable tiller and an overall quick-disassembly design. The Solo Heavy D comes in three- or four-wheel models and in blue, hunter green or red. The colors are impregnated into the plastic, then sealed with a finish to resist fading. And the heaviest piece of this scooter weighs just 43 lbs. How’s that for heavy-duty convenience? Visit Ranger virtually at www.rangerallseason.com, or call (800) 225-3811.

Building Camaraderie Via the Web

If you have a medical condition, a disability or a loved one with a disability, at some time you probably have thought, “If only I could talk to someone who knows how I feel or what I’m going through!” Internet chat rooms can be good ways to network on everything from health issues to questions on employment, travel, relationships, religion or assistive technology. Disabilities-R-Us offers a live chat room for those with disabilities, but able-bodied participants are also welcome. If you don’t have time for a live chat -- or don’t feel comfortable chatting in real time -- you can post questions in the Community Forum and discuss topics at your own pace. Go to www.disabilities-r-us.com/ to get started.

Cool Technology: Shoprider Mobility Products

Shoprider’s Dasher 9 scooter combines easy portability -- the heaviest piece after disassembly weighs 35 lbs. -- with convenience, thanks to a swiveling seat and a built-in charger compartment. Plus, the Dasher 9 throws in a dash of style and flexibility by including three sets if interchangeable moldings in blue, champagne and red. See Dasher 9 at www.shoprider.com, or call (800) 743-0772 for more information.

Making Every House a Home

Given a choice, most people would much rather continue to live in their homes than move into a hospital or other long-term care facility. And in many cases, a relatively few changes -- such as a threshold-free entrance to the home, a ground-floor bedroom and bathroom, perhaps an elevator or patient lift -- could enable a senior or a person with a disability to stay at home. So if you’re looking for ways to either build an accessible home from the ground up or to renovate an existing home, a great place to start is the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. Its Web site includes building plans for universal design and accessible homes, information about universal design principles and helpful links to find more information. Start your search at www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/index.htm.

Express Yourself!

The Arts We Need (www.theartsweneed.org) and VSA (formerly Very Special Arts; www.vsaarts.org) are two organizations dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate in and express themselves via fine arts of all types, including music, dance and visual arts. Whether you write jazz compositions, paint or sculpt, these organizations can help you make the most of your talent -- and can direct you to exhibitions, concerts, recitals and other celebrations of great art in your neighborhood and across the country.

Cool Technology: Sunrise Medical

A mid-wheel-drive power chair with the emphasis on power? With the Quickie Rhapsody, the answer is yes! The Rhapsody’s suspension system has been enhanced to provide added stability by keeping all six wheels in constant contact with the ground. At the same time, the Rhapsody’s get-up-and-go power means that maneuvering through doorways and over uneven sidewalks and obstacles is easy. Rhapsody also has the benefit of being able to accommodate clinical seating and positioning needs. Take a look at www.sunrisemedical.com, or call (800) 333-4000 to find a dealer near you.

Destination: The World

Whether you’re looking for an accessible condo for a family week at Walt Disney World or tips on planning a romantic trip to Paris with your significant other, Accessible Journeys has valuable information on how to make your journey memorable. Topics covered by the Web site include accessible cruise lines, group tours, travel gear, air travel, property rentals and photos from happy travelers. Go to www.disabilitytravel.com to get going.

Cool Technology: Aquatic Access

Visit www.aquaticaccess.com to view answers to such frequently asked pool lift-related questions as “How do I tell which lift is right for my pool?” and “Are there any tax breaks for small businesses making improvements such as adding a lift to comply with the ADA?” The Web site also features a page dedicated to explaining Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements relating to pools and spas, plus a product page with price lists and video clips of lifts in action. For more information, call (800) 325-5438.

Caring for Caregivers

You care for your loved one -- a parent or spouse or child with a serious medical condition or disability. Who’s taking care of you? Caregiving is hard work -- and that’s why the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) would like to help. The NFCA’s Web site offers a wealth of resources, networking opportunities for caregivers and educational materials. The message here: Caregivers are not alone in their labors of love. Go to www.nfcacares.org for more information.

Tales from a Mobility “Madman”

It’s been around awhile, but deserves to be recognized again, particularly for those new to the mobility scene. Wheelchair Junkie (www.wheelchairjunkie.com) remains an opinionated force to be reckoned with and a source of empowerment to consumers. The man behind the self-proclaimed madness is Mark E. Smith, a wheelchair user who is unafraid to take on any ludicrous behavior he observes, from bureaucracy that seeks to define him by his disability to mobility equipment he thinks isn’t quite up to par. Smith also gives other mobility equipment users the chance to network, voice opinions, learn about assistive technology, rant, praise and give support on a variety of everyday topics. Smith works for mobility manufacturing giant Pride Mobility Products, but Wheelchair Junkie remains, very proudly, a community voice unto itself.

Cool Technology: Med-Lift & Mobility

If you could use a little assistance getting to your feet after sitting down on the sofa or in an upholstered chair, Med-Lift & Mobility has a suggestion. Its lift chairs can be ordered in a variety of fabric styles, chair sizes and upholstery styles to seamlessly match just about any room’s decor and space. But these chairs have a hidden talent -- when it’s time to stand up, they gently move the sitter up and forward to assist in the rising process. Heat and vibrator options are available in many models to maximize the luxurious lift chair experience. For more information on models and options, go to www.medlift.com or call (800) 748-9438.

Finding a Faithful Companion

Today’s service animals can assist with a great range of tasks, from helping to pull a wheelchair or fetch items for people with mobility difficulties to informing patients with epilepsy when a seizure is about to occur. If you’d like more information on service animals or if you’d like to volunteer to work with them, try these organizations: All Purpose Canines (www.allpurposescanines.com); Assistance Dogs International (www.adionline.org); and Assistance Dogs Institute (www.assistancedog.org). All of the Web sites detail the types of services these amazing animals are capable of and help visitors determine if owning a service animal could be beneficial.

Calling All Jocks!

Gone are the days when being in a wheelchair meant watching sports from the sidelines. Now, not only are sports like quad rugby, basketball, tennis, racing, skiing and hockey thriving -- there’s a whole industry of specialized wheelchairs and other equipment to help athletes go faster, turn more sharply, keep their balance and generally take it to the opposition. Try Wheelchair Sports U.S.A. (www.wsusa.org), the U.S. Quad Rugby Association (www.quadrugby.com), the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (www.nwba.org), the International Tennis Federation (www.itfwheelchairtennis.com) or if you qualify, the Paralyzed Veterans of America (www.pva.org) to get started.

Flying Friendlier Skies

Even under the smoothest of circumstances, traveling by air can be a challenge in times when carrying too much shampoo on board is forbidden. The situation becomes far more complex if you’re flying with a wheelchair or other mobility equipment. Fortunately, doing a little homework ahead of time can make the experience a little better. In addition to reading up on such subjects as what items can and cannot be carried in checked and carry-on luggage, go to www.empowermentzone.com/horizons.txt to read the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “New Horizons for the Air Traveler with a Disability.” The document covers topics such as when airlines can require passengers with disabilities to travel with attendants and what accessible features airports and airplanes must include. The Air Carrier Access Act can tell you what accessibility features and services airlines are -- and are not -- mandated to offer (www.disabilitytravel.com/airlines/acaa_details_2.htm).

Cool Technology: AMS Vans

Yes, AMS -- as in Adaptive Mobility Systems -- sells accessible vans and minivans from its headquarters in Norcross, Ga. But its Web site is far more than just a virtual storefront. Check out its Wheelchair Van Resources, which serves as a library of information on various medical conditions, home modifications, aging, insurance, accessible equipment and even fun family activities. But if you’re shopping for a van, you’ll find plenty of information on that topic, too -- there’s even a classified section where consumers can list their vehicles for sale. AMS lists its own inventory offerings, and visitors can click on such categories as mileage, make, model and price to prioritize the vehicles for sale. Go to www.amsvans.com, or call (800) 775-VANS.

Incorporating Pilates Into Your Fitness Routine

Interested in Pilates, but not sure if it’s right for you and your medical condition or disability? The book “Pilates for Rehab” might help you and your physician, physical therapist or rehab therapist discover if and how to include Pilates into your lifestyle. The 223-page book includes clinician tips on how to adapt Pilates according to specific diagnoses, case studies, references and resources. For more information, call publisher OPTP at (800) 367-7393, or visit www.optp.com.

Cool Technology: Independence Technology

Let’s face it: Too often, the world isn’t built to the specifications of a wheelchair user. While Independence Technology’s iBOT power chair has a range of different functions, the two that attract the most attention are the ability to climb stairs and to rise up and balance on two of the four wheels. iBOT uses gyroscopes to accomplish both of those functions, and while stair-climbing is probably the most head-turning feature, the benefit of rising up and looking people in the eye -- not to mention reaching independently into taller kitchen cabinets -- cannot be overstated. For information on iBOT, call (866) 813-0789 or visit www.ibotnow.com.

Cool Technology: SureHands Lift & Care Systems

Caring for a loved one with a medical condition or disability can be a physical challenge in addition to an emotional one. In particular, performing proper transfers -- from bed into a wheelchair, onto the toilet, into a bathtub and back -- can be very difficult. Improper transfers can result in shear or pressure injuries to the person with the disability -- not to mention serious injuries to caregivers. SureHands lifts come in a variety of models -- including portable/mobile, wall-to-wall, ceiling and swimming pool -- to perform safe, convenient transfers. Thanks to a range of weight capacities and sizes, it’s easy to find a patient lift for most applications and environments. Call SureHands at (800) 724-5305, or visit www.surehands.com for more information.

Cool Technology: Symmetric Designs

One of the greatest challenges of wheelchair positioning is finding a seating configuration that works -- that is, meets clinical/medical requirements of proper positioning, while also being comfortable for the wheelchair user. Symmetric Designs says its new second-generation Pro Forma Matrix seating system is both lighter in weight and stronger -- and the new improvements make it easier and faster to configure a seating system. There are fewer components now when the system is assembled, three-dimensional shaping is easier to accomplish and there’s a major reduction in seating requirements. Sound like just what you’re seeking in a seating system? Call Symmetric Designs at (800) 537-1724 or visit http://symmetric-designs.com for more details.

Cool Technology: Therapeutic Alliances

Everyone knows exercise is important, but keeping fit can be a challenge if you’ve had a stroke or a spinal cord injury. The folks at Therapeutic Alliances have designed their electrotherapy and rehab equipment especially for people with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and strokes -- the ERGYS, for example, uses computerized functional electrical stimulation to enable people with little or no voluntary leg movement to pedal a stationary leg cycle. The smooth, natural pedaling is designed to lessen muscle spasms and prevent muscle atrophy caused by lack of use. See more Therapeutic Alliances innovations at www.musclepower.com, or call (937) 879-0734.

Managing Stress Can Help Manage Post-Polio

Post-polio syndrome can be a draining medical condition that weakens muscles. The symptoms, experts say, can be worsened by stress, therefore putting people with so-called Type A personalities at even greater risk. With their need for control and tendency to be workaholics, Type A personalities who also have post-polio syndrome tend to take fewer rest breaks during the day and are more likely to resist using mobility equipment, such as scooters or canes, that could help. Managing stress through calming exercises and even yoga can help; visit Post-Polio International at www.postpolio.org/ipn/fact.html for more information.

We Got the Beat!

Drumming as physical therapy? As self-expression? As stress-buster, as art and as a way to increase strength and hand-eye coordination? Absolutely, says the Disabled Drummers Association (www.disableddrummers.org). And it’s not the only one drumming up support for the benefits of drumming. Try also the Coalition for Disabled Musicians (www.disabled-musicians.org), another organization that believes in the healing powers of music and drumming.

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