physical disability

  • Ways to Offer Support During Spinal Cord Injury

    A spinal cord injury is a life altering event that can be scary, confusing and emotionally draining for everyone involved. Amidst all of the changes that a spinal injury causes, it is important to be supportive. Below, we offer some suggestions to help you offer support to loved ones after a spinal cord injury.

    by-edwin-martinez1-flickr-cc

    Being Supportive After Spinal Cord Injury

    According to the United Spinal Association, near half of all individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI) need personal assistance with regular, day-to-day activities.

    Following are some tips to help you be more supportive to a loved one who has just experienced a spinal cord injury.

    #1 - Understand the spinal cord injury.

    While you may not be able to empathize with all that the person is going through, it helps to learn as much as you can about their spinal cord injury. Doing so will help you better understand how their particular injury affects them, including the types of treatment needed and emotional effects.

    #2 - Encourage exercise & physical therapy.

    Building and/or maintaining strength is important with any injury - especially a spinal cord injury. Regular exercise and physical therapy will help the person build strength as well as boost his/her mood.

    Know what types of exercises/physical therapy the person needs or is going through, and offer to go with them or exercise alongside of them. This may make an otherwise difficult task more enjoyable knowing that you are accountable to each other.

    #3 - Reinforce goal setting.

    Without clear goal setting, it is often difficult to see the bigger picture. Having and setting goals gives the person something to work towards - whether it’s finishing a specific physical exercise or finishing work on a college degree. Help motivate them to keep them pushing ahead.

    #4 - Don’t always help immediately.

    It is natural for us to want to immediately help someone who we perceive as struggling with something. However, in the case of physically disabled persons, it is sometimes better to demonstrate restraint.

    With spinal cord injuries, you can’t and shouldn’t do everything for the person. Give them an opportunity to act independently and only step in when asked or when it is more obviously appropriate.

    This will save the person embarrassment and frustration.

    #5 - Consider a spinal cord injury support group.

    Navigating spinal cord injury on your own can be challenging. Regardless of whether it’s you or another loved one you’re caring for, speaking to others who are experiencing the same thing can prove rewarding while offering the emotional support you need.

    Other Resources

    United Spinal Association - The United Spinal Association provides a comprehensive list of spinal cord injury support groups. Search by state.

    Spinal Cord Injury Associations & Organizations - Offers a list of spinal cord injury associations and organizations within the United States.

    North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association (NCSCIA) - Offers a comprehensive list of spinal cord injury support groups throughout the state of North Carolina.

     

  • Wheelchair Accessibility & Physical Disabilities in the Sports Arena

    In the past, those suffering from disabilities often faced several limitations. Nowadays, however, advancements in technology and the introduction of new equipment and accessories have all but eliminated these limitations and have allowed for greatly increased mobility among those suffering from a wide range of disabilities.

    Today, we have wheelchair vans, scooters, handicap accessible buildings, and disability-friendly places of business that serve the approximately 600 million people, or 10% of the world’s population, who are disabled.

    Carving a Path for Physical Disability in Sports

    Looking back, wheelchair-based sports seem to have gotten their start after the Second World War, when those who were confined to wheelchairs became frustrated by their situations and decided to get involved in sports as a way to release some of their unchanneled energy.

    In 1946, the California Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America played the first match of wheelchair basketball.  Not long after this event, word spread about disabled persons getting involved in sports [source].

    Sports were subsequently introduced as a critical part of rehabilitation, a fact that allowed them to evolve into recreational sports, and from there, into the competitive sports we see today, such as those in the Special Olympics.

    Wheelchair Accessibility and Adaptive Technology

    Ralph Braun is a man who perfectly exemplifies how wheelchair accessible vans, vehicles, and accessories paved the way to allow so many physically disabled persons the opportunity to experience real mobility.

    Braun, who had been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as a child, was unable to walk. By the early 1960s, he invented the world’s first electric scooter, and by 1966, he had created the first wheelchair accessible vehicle by creating a wheelchair platform lift and hand controls that were added to an old postal van [source]. By 1991, Braun (now with his own company), had introduced the first wheelchair accessible minivan.

    Today, countless disabled persons throughout the United States (and the world) rely on wheelchair vans and other adaptive technology to help them participate in sports and to function independently. From archery to cycling and from rafting to surfing, there is no longer a limit on what sports physically disabled persons can participate in. This fact is thanks, in great part, to wheelchairs, wheelchair vans, and the continued improvements to adaptive technology.

    About Van Products

    Van Products, Inc. provides freedom of mobility to physically challenged individuals throughout the Southeastern United States with wheelchair accessible vehicles, lifts, ramps, hand controls, and other handicap-accessible accessories. Visit one of our two showrooms in Raleigh, NC or Wilmington, NC, or speak to a representative today by visiting our Contact page.

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