Finding Luxury and Comfort in Handicapped Conversion Vans

With such a wide selection of handicapped conversion vans for sale, those in the market are sure to find one that meets their needs.  More than that, though, comfort and safety are equally important. Luckily, you can find convenience, comfort and luxury in handicapped conversion vans.

There are many conversion dealers out there that will help you locate and/or create the best van for your lifestyle and budget. Of course, it would help if you knew a bit about the conversion process.

First of all, you want to make sure you have enough space—this can be ensured by a lowered-floor and raised roof. You’ll also want to make sure you have enough room for wheelchair access. In terms of space, you will want to make sure that you have plenty of headroom and enough room for proper seating when the wheelchair has been loaded. Modifications must also be made to the doors to allow easier access and enough headroom for the handicapped individual to enter and exit the van.
Handicapped conversion vans can also be made for luxury as well as the needs of your lifestyle. These conversion options include, but are not limited to: CD/DVD players, premium seating for maximum comfort, air and heating controls in the back, and custom paneling and accents. These options are proof that handicapped conversion vans don’t always have to be only about necessity; they can allow you to ride in style, too!

Some of these conversion features can be found in pre-converted vans. By purchasing a pre-converted handicapped van, you are going to save money on the maintenance, but you must be sure that you aren’t simply settling on something that isn’t 100% right for you just to save a bit of money.

When it comes to searching for handicapped conversion vans that you plan to fully customize, you should always have a good idea of what sort of budget you have available. You’ll be most please with your handicapped conversion van when you can make your budget and your essential needs together.

Traveling Canada by Train: A History

With modern-day air travel, most people haven't experienced the wonder of train travel. Canada offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, and a first-rate way to see it is to take a train ride. Trains offer riders a chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful scenery without the worries of driving or the hassle of flying. Whether the trip is a quick jaunt between cities, or a tour of the entire country, the Canadian rail systems present numerous travel options for those wanting to get around this friendly North American country. Riders can imagine themselves back in time, when train travel was chic, and everyone waited for their cue from the conductor: All aboard!

History of Canadian Railroad

Canada is a country that was built on its railway system. Because the country boasts some of the toughest terrain in the world, settlers could only establish themselves in areas where, at first water travel, and then train travel allowed them. Canada incorporated its first railway system in 1832. This incorporation was a venture between Champlain and St. Lawrence railroads, and construction of the rail system was completed in 1836. Numerous other railroad projects followed suit, some even connecting with northern U.S. railway systems. Unfortunately, these railway systems were shoddily constructed and managed, and the Canadian government took over the failing systems after WWI. Fortunately, the Canadian citizens understand the importance of Canada's railway system and pay additional tax to keep them afloat.

The History of Canadian Railroad

Significant Dates in Canadian Railway History

Major Canadian Railways

The two major Canadian railways are the Canadian National Railway Company, which runs its trains on 14,096 miles worth of track, and the Canadian Pacific Rail Company, which runs trains on 7,961 miles of track. The remaining Canadian railways are referred to as regional or shortline railways. These trains run smaller routes and some offer localized services. Tourist trains travel on all tracks throughout the country.

The Atlas of Canada's Rail Transportation Infrastructure

Canadian National Railway Company

Canadian Pacific Rail Company

Major Train Stations

The major cities in each Canadian province have centralized train stations to facilitate the passengers who use the railway system daily. Visitors to British Columbia will find major train stations in Vancouver, Victoria, Courtenay, Prince Rupert, and Prince George. Alberta travelers will find the major stations in Edmonton and Jasper. The aptly named Saskatoon Station is the Saskatoon province's primary train station. Manitoba boasts major stations in Winnipeg and Churchill. Those visiting Ontario will find stations in Toronto, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls, among others. The French-speaking province of Quebec houses larger train stations in Montreal and Quebec City. Those visiting the Atlantic side of the country will stop in Moncton and Halifax. Canada also has numerous smaller station stops in between the major ones.

Primary Canadian Train Station List

Canada by Rail Train Station Map

Canadian Railway and Tourism

Modern-day commerce has flourished on the train tracks, and Canadian tourist trains offer visitors the chance to see the entire country in ways they never imagined. These tourist trains offer packages for just about any occasion. Travelers wanting to see Canada from coast-to-coast can book a scenic train route across the country. There are weekend getaways for those just taking a few days from the real world, and, yes, this is Canada, so ice hockey train packages are available that take fans from one game to the next.

Canadian Tourism Website Train Information

Canadian Rockies by Rail; Jim Gullo -- CBS News

Canadian Vacations by Rail

Trains and Disabilities

Travelers with disabilities shouldn't fret; Canadian trains are prepared to accommodate visitors with special needs. This includes travelers who require mobility assistance, special meals, and those traveling with companion animals. Each train company is different, so travelers should discuss their needs with the service provider prior to making reservations. It is not likely, however, that a visitor with special needs will not be accommodated.

Rail Assistance for Travelers With Special Needs

Rail Adapted Transport Information

Kids and Trains

Kids who love train rides will also enjoy traveling Canada by train. Kids can learn about the very trains they are riding in, the tracks they are riding on, and the scenery they are viewing from the train all while enjoying the trip. Many tourist trains offer children's videos, literature, and games that kids can play during the train ride. Most trains also have Wi-Fi access, so children can play interactive games to learn about trains on the computer while en route. Children can also learn about the variety of animals they will be able to see from the train's windows, including elk and bears.

Rail Safety and Kids

The Kids Site of Canadian Trains

Play The Adventure Train Canadian Train Game

A New Life on Wheels... How to Cope With Your Loss, and Move On

Facing Disabilities

A person can become disabled through an unexpected illness, deteriorating medical condition, or in an accident. This sudden change will dramatically alter the life they once led. Everything will be different, even the sense of self. Losing control of bodily functions or dealing with limited mobility can cause depression and a severe feeling of grief. These are all normal emotions and they must be examined and dealt with in order to accept a new way of life. The truth of the matter is that things will be different but different doesn’t have to mean bad. Accepting the loss and meeting the challenges head on can ensure a positive and healthy outlook. A strong support network and organizations are there to help individuals adjust to their circumstances.

Dealing with Grief and Loss

Losing a part of yourself is a frightening and overwhelming experience. It is perfectly natural to feel a great deal of grief and anger in your experience. You are mourning the life you once had and you are forced to deal with new changes which can make you angry. These feelings will be intense and strong, allow yourself to feel them. These sorts of changes force people to change their self-image which isn’t easy. A support system is vital to healing; seek the help of a licensed counselor, doctor, or friends and family.

Every situation is different. But disability can bring on a variety of concerns for the future. Financial questions must be addressed: Will you receive disability? Can you continue working? Do you have medical care? Medical expenses? It is important that you discuss these important questions with your support system. There are organizations that will help you and your family make decisions about the future. As you look forward it is important that you set realistic goals for yourself. Focus on the things you can do and begin adjusting to your new life tools (walkers, wheelchairs, conversion vans, ramps). Understand your new limitations and work on ways to manage daily activities. An occupational therapist can help you adapt to your new situation which can provide you with a sense of independence and freedom.

Changes to Expect

Disabilities and handicaps require home and lifestyle accommodations. It is imperative that the home be safe and accessible. There are a few important home factors to consider when preparing for a newly disabled or handicap person.  

A wheelchair does not fit through a standard door size. Standard doors are usually 28 to 32 inches wide. A wheelchair and some walkers usually need at least 36 inches of space. Switching out door hinges for hinges designed for wheelchairs can give you an extra few inches. If you need more space talk to a licensed contractor. Switch out any standard door knobs for levers which will be easier for someone with limited hand mobility. Examine the home, if there are any steps or stairs it is crucial that you install ramps. Examine the flooring of your home. Thick carpet can be difficult for wheelchairs, consider changing out carpets for wood, laminate, or tile flooring.  

Disabled or handicap individuals will have an easier time showering if a walk-in shower is installed. If this is not financially possible, install a shower chair. It is also helpful if you replace all standard toilets with handicap toilets.

Depending upon the disability, the use of a mobility aid might be necessary. Walkers, canes, or wheelchairs will all help to improve mobility and function. Discuss with your doctor which aid is better for your particular situation.

Being disabled doesn’t mean you are confined to your home. You can still have the added freedom of driving. There are plenty of handicap accessible vans, all with equipment designed for you to drive. There are a plethora of options depending on your particular disability.

Moving Forward

Being disabled or handicapped is a difficult challenge for anyone. Talk to others, there are occupational therapists, counselors, doctors, friends, and family who will all help you to rediscover your life and happiness. Do not isolate yourself. Focus on adapting to new tools, whether it be mobility aids, a conversion van, and ramps. All of these accommodations will make your life easier. Make sure to take time to care for yourself emotionally. Focus on your spiritual, mental and physical health. Express your emotions to your support system and seek out the help of different organizations.

The following links can serve as resource guides for dealing with disability.

Adjusting to Disability – Information on how to cope emotionally when dealing with a disability.

Masters in Counseling – Top 100 counseling resources on the web

How to Deal with Paralysis – Information on dealing with paralysis and the loss of muscle power.

Financing An Accessible Home – How to retrofit a home to be accessible while staying within a budget.

Emotional Adjustment – How to adjust emotionally when having to use adaptive equipment.

The American Association of People with Disabilities – Support and information for people with disabilities.

Designing Accessible Communities – A nonprofit organization that promotes education about accessibility.

Disabilities – A website connecting the disabled community to opportunities and information.

Disability Resources – Resources on numerous topics including conferences, assistive technology, and more.

Disabled American Veterans – A nonprofit organization dedicated to building better lives for disabled veterans.

Independent Living – A website promoting the self-determination of people with disabilities.

The National Organization on Disabilities – Promotes the participation of Americans with disabilities in every aspect of life.

Through the Looking Glass – A nonprofit organization that offers training and services for families dealing with disabilities.

World Institute on Disability – An organization dedicated to eliminating barriers to social integration and increase employment.

National Dissemination Center – Information on disabilities in infants, toddlers, children, and youth.

The Impact of Childhood Disability (PDF)– Information for parents struggling with children suffering from disabilities.

Coping With Disability: A Challenge At All Ages – An article discussing how to cope with disabilities regardless of age.

Stigma of Disability – An article on understanding and coping with the stigma that comes along with disabilities.

Dealing With Disability – A day by day guide to dealing with a disability.

Making your Home Wheelchair Friendly

Nearly 2 million Americans living outside an institution use a wheelchair or a scooter for mobility. When addressing various ways home interiors can be modified to improve independence for people who are mobility-challenged, it is important to note the difference between two terms used frequently, especially within the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Accessibility refers to a building, a facility, or a site into which a physically-disabled person may enter. Adaptability means how flexible interior elements of the home, for example, kitchen sinks, bath and shower areas, even closets, can be modified depending on the resident’s degree of disability.

An average adult wheelchair, according to ANSI (American National Standards Institute), can be up to 50 inches long and up to 32 inches wide. The average seat is 20 inches high, and the armrests are about 30 inches from the floor. There are wheelchairs made for sport usage; the seat is slightly lower and wider than the average wheelchair. Consequently, the reach capacity above the head is lower than the average model.

The adult wheelchair requires 60 inches of space to make a 360-degree turn. A minimum of 36 inches is required for clear hallway passage, and at least 32 inches for doorways. The doorway threshold should be less than 1/4" off the floor. Where door handles must be pulled to open a door, there should be at least 18" of clear space. Door handles should be no higher than 48" from floor or ground level. They should be operable with closed fists, which is why a popular choice is a lever-type handle. If door mats are present at doorways, they should be no higher than ½-inch, and all edges should be securely fastened to the floor.

Toilet seats should be no higher than 19 inches, and bars for grabbing and lifting should be no higher than 36 inches both behind and next to the toilet. Sink rims should not exceed 34 inches high, and again, a closed fist should have no trouble turning the faucet on or off. Bathroom, and for that matter, ALL mirrors should be hung with the bottom edge at no higher than 40 inches. Bathrooms and halls must have a minimum of 36 inches width, free from all obstructions, and should include a circle, or “T” that is 5 feet in diameter to that the individual in the wheelchair is able to make a 180-degree turn. Hardwood floors are ideal but if there is carpet, it should be a low pile, tight-weave type.

Light switches and other wall-mounted controls should be no higher than 54 inches for a sideways reach; if accessed by a forward reach, controls should not exceed 48 inches in height. Table and counter tops should be between 28 and 34 inches in height. The area for knee placement should be a minimum of 27 inches in height, at least 30 inches in width, and a depth of 19 inches. 

Such modifications may add to the cost of a new home construction; according to ADA, it should add between 3 and 10 percent.

Most homes will require a ramp for access from the outside. A ramp must be at least 36 inches wide, and grade is written in this manner- 1:12, which means that for every inch of incline, or decline, there needs to be 12 inches of length. The ramp must have hand rails that do not exceed 34 inches from the ramp’s surface. The hand rails must extend at least one foot beyond the end of the ramp, and the hand rail ends must be rounded, or designed so that they curve downward and reach the floor. At every 30’ length, a flat ramp is required for a resting point. The ramp should resist weather and be covered with a material that is both non-slipping, but also does not create difficulty.

For a shower to be accessible by a wheelchair it should be no less than 3 sq. ft. and there should not be a “lip” or curb to hinder entering. In the bathroom and shower, the floor should be an anti-slip material. Safety thermostat devices should be placed on the faucet to prevent sudden, drastic water temperature changes. A hand-held shower head should be installed, and at a level and location that can be easily reached. Grab bars should be present around the entire shower interior.

Living independently includes being able to maintain, even in an emergency situation such as a sustained power outage, or hurricane, etc. If a disaster requires the person in a wheelchair to exit the home quickly, there should be more than one exit, especially if one becomes obstructed. Emergency phone numbers should be kept close to telephones; make arrangements for either neighbors or relatives to check in periodically during extreme situations.

The links that follow provide helpful information and advice on what changes are necessary for accommodating a wheelchair in the home, as well as tips for planning ahead for a disaster.

Disaster Preparedness for people with Disabilities

This gives the individual all the things to think about and how to plan ahead for potential disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, etc.

U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Here is a list of specifications necessary for wheelchair ramps and for showers to have wheelchair access.

Motorhome Modifications

This site discusses modifications one can make to a motor home to make it more accessible.

Preparing for an Emergency

Especially for those with mobility challenges, this is a checklist for planning for an emergency.

Widening Doorways

On this web page, one of the needs of individuals who use a wheelchair is wider halls and doorways for a wheelchair.

Plan Ahead

Additional tips are found here for being prepared in the event of an actual emergency.

Dimensions

This is a brochure that lists minimum dimensions for hallways, and the diameter of space required to make a turn in a wheelchair.

Remodeling

This site gives step-by-step instruction on how to coordinate a remodeling of a home in order for the mobility-challenged resident to maintain independence.

Rebuilding Together

This is a checklist to note where there are accessibility challenges in the home so that changes can be made.

Accessible Home Design

This site provides some design plans for making a home more accessible for a wheelchair.

Home Modifications

Here is a list of questions to ask in determining whether home modifications are needed to improve accessibility.

Home Changes

This page discusses home modifications that would make a home more wheelchair accessible.

Adaptations for the Home

This provides a thorough look at recommendations for home interior design that make it accessible for wheelchairs.

Everything including the kitchen sink

Here is a site from an individual who requires accessible housing; there are photos with explanations of different features that improve quality of life at home.

Before & After Modifications

This presentation illustrates different types of accessibility modifications that can be made to any home.

 

ALS: Lives Confined to Wheelchairs & Scooters

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are an estimated, "…30,000 people in the United States who have the disease (ALS)." The International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations states that there are, "…120,000 cases diagnosed worldwide each year." Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that can affect people of all ages, but mostly strikes people in middle age. ALS affects the motor neurons and causes severe muscle weakness. Individuals with ALS lose control of voluntary muscles in their arms and legs. In addition, a patient may have trouble talking and swallowing.

ALS is also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. Lou Gehrig was a famous baseball player of the 1930s who had ALS. The celebrated physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking also has ALS. The tremendous successes of these two men in their chosen fields can serve as inspiration for others with ALS. The following are some resources that may be of help to individuals with ALS as well as to the people who care about them.

Resources for People with ALS

  • Facts and Helpful Information on ALS: Learn about ALS, find information on support groups, and much more.

  • An Explanation of ALS: Read a descriptive explanation of ALS, the prognosis, as well as treatment information.

  • The ALS Association: The ALS Association is a national not-for-profit health agency dedicated to fighting ALS through research, patient and community services, public education, as well as advocacy.

  • ALS Research: Find out about the research on ALS being conducted at the Robert Packard Center.

  • Information and Research on ALS: Learn specifics about ALS and find some resources regarding ALS research.

  • MDA ALS Division: Discover facts about ALS, research news, and many more sources of information concerning the disease.

  • Learning about ALS/MND: Read about ALS/MND (motor neuron disease) and find out more about the work of this international organization.

  • A Look at ALS: Study some information on Lou Gehrig's disease including what it is, the diagnosis, treatment, and more.

  • Interview with Stephen Hawking: Look at an interview of Stephen Hawking (who has ALS) to learn about his tremendous accomplishments.

  • An Examination of ALS: Learn information about ALS from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, read details regarding the National Registry.

Hospitals Specializing in the Care of ALS Patients

  • ALS Clinics: Find the names of clinics that deal with patients who have ALS. This list of clinics contains the pertinent information connected with each one.

  • Specialty Hospital: Learn about an ALS clinic in Maryland.

  • An ALS Clinic: Read the details regarding an ALS clinic in Minneapolis.

Lou Gehrig

  • Biographical Information on Lou Gehrig: Checkout facts concerning the early life of Lou Gehrig, his success in baseball, and his struggle with ALS.

  • Profile of Lou Gehrig: Look at the successes of Lou Gehrig in baseball and read about his experience with ALS. One interesting fact in the article explains how this beloved baseball player earned the name, "Iron Horse."

  • Life of Lou Gehrig: Find out the interesting details of Lou Gehrig's childhood, baseball career, and fight with ALS.

  • The Life and Baseball Career of Lou Gehrig: Discover facts about the childhood, baseball career, and ALS diagnosis of Lou Gehrig.

  • Facts about the Life of Lou Gehrig: Read a detailed article about the life and accomplishments of Lou Gehrig. Also, read the heartfelt speech Lou Gehrig made to his fans.

  • A Look at the Life of Lou Gehrig: Find out about the early life of Lou Gehrig as well as his successes in baseball. Also, learn about the lives and backgrounds of Lou Gehrig's mother and father.

  • Well-Known Individuals with ALS: Learn about the lives of several famous individuals, including Lou Gehrig, who have dealt with the disease of ALS. Among some of the other well-known individuals with ALS were actor David Niven and musician Charles Mingus.

In Memory of Those Who Have Died of ALS

Medical Resource: Multiple Sclerosis

               

Multiple Sclerosis (MS), also known as demyelinating disease, is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, particularly the brain and spinal cord. Inflammation of the nerves causes damages to the myelin sheaths which surround neurons. Since myelin acts as an electrical insulator, damage to the sheaths inhibits the ability of the neurons to fire properly. MS can affect anyone, but women are more susceptible to it than men. It can occur during any stage of life, but it is most common after adolescence and before 50. While exact figures are difficult to predict, it’s estimated that 250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States have MS.

Classification

Although MS attacks the nervous system in the same way, there are different types of progression to the disease that have been observed in patients. These forms of MS progression have been categorized into 4 major categories or subtypes:

  • Relapsing-Remitting: Patients have extended periods of remission, often months to years, with little to no signs of disease progression, punctuated by sudden and unexpected relapses in the form of attacks from the disease.
  • Primary Progressive: Patients show a consistent increase in disease activity with little to no remission, nor sudden attacks from the disease.
  • Secondary Progressive: Patients show a consistent increase in disease activity without remission but with sudden attacks from the disease. Many patients who demonstrated relapsing-remitting progression have their MS convert to this type of progression when they lose periods of remission.
  • Progressive relapsing: Patients show a consistent increase in disease activity from the onset of the illness without any remission and accompanied by unexpected attacks from the disease.

There are also variants of MS, referred to as idiopathic inflammatory demyelinating diseases that do not conform to any of progression patterns above, but exhibit similar symptoms. It is not clear if they are genuine forms of MS, other diseases, or whether there is a spectrum of diseases in which MS is situated.

Signs and Symptoms

Since MS affects the central nervous system, signs and symptoms of the disease can include anything neurological in nature:

  • Loss of sensation or numbness
  • Difficulty in coordination or movement
  • Poor balance
  • Speech problems
  • Visual impairments
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Bladder/Bowel problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Mental impairments

Symptoms of MS occur either in sudden attacks (relapses) or in a steady decline of neurological functioning, or a mixture of both.

Causes

There is no known definitive cause of MS, although there are several theories. There may be a partial genetic component to the disease since having a family member with the disease increases one’s overall risk of developing it. It is not directly hereditary, however. Some races and ethnicities have greater incidence rates of MS than other, again suggesting that genes play a role in its development. Research suggests that individuals with certain variants of Chromosome 6, which contains over 100 different genes governing the immune system, are more susceptible to the disease than individuals without the variants.

There are also several environmental factors that may influence the development of MS. It’s known that the farther one is from the equator, the greater the risk for developing MS. This might suggest that exposure to sunlight and levels of Vitamin D (the “sunshine” vitamin) may be related to the disease. Other environmental factors that may be associated with MS include exposure to industrial chemicals such as solvents, smoking, diet, and stress.

Infections from pathogens, microbes, or viruses are also theorized to be triggers for MS. It is believed that early exposure to certain infections may protect against MS later in life by creating autoimmune responses via antibodies. Individuals who were not exposed to these infections early in life may develop MS later on, triggered by later infections for which they have no autoimmune response. It has been observed that in developing countries, where there is a greater likelihood of exposure to infectious agents during childhood, there is less prevalence of MS. This is known as the hygiene theory, and it suggests why MS develops more in industrialized countries and why the disease usually develops post-adolescence.

As of right now, the most commonly accepted explanation of the disease is that there is a genetic component that may predispose certain individuals to the disease and that unknown environmental factors contribute to the expression of the disease in those individuals.

Diagnosis

Since there are many diseases that are autoimmune, inflammatory, and/or neurological in nature, the signs and symptoms of MS are very similar to other conditions. As a result, MS can be very difficult to diagnosis. There have been historical criteria used to establish the presence of the disease, although they relied heavily on outward symptoms of the disease. In 2001, experts in MS revised the criteria for diagnosing MS to include MRI imaging to detect the lesions and scarring associated with MS, although some argue that only biopsy or autopsy can definitively diagnose the disease. The 2001 revised criteria are known as the McDonald criteria and are considered the “gold standard” for diagnosing MS.

Management

There is no known cure for MS, although there are several therapies and medications used to treat the disease. They’re used to restore certain neurological functions after an acute attack of MS and/or to prevent further attacks or disabilities cause by attacks. One common treatment right after an attack is the administration of corticosteroids for several days. This has been shown to relieve symptoms in the short term but is not beneficial in slowing the long-term progress of the disease.

When patients show an isolated attack of a single symptom, administration of the proteins known as interferons has shown promise in stopping further progression of the isolated symptoms into genuine MS. Another treatment is a mixture of polypeptides known as copaxone, which mimics the appearance of myelin to the immune system, and if injected daily can help protect myelin by substituting as the target of the immune system’s attack response. Other treatments include drugs such as mitoxantrone and natalizumab, which help by suppressing the body’s natural immune response.

Prognosis

Since there is no cure for MS, it continues to advance and attack the myelin sheaths for decades after the initial onset of the disease. On average, individuals with MS die 5 to 10 years earlier than those without the disease; 30 years is the average duration of time until death after the onset of the disease. Different subtypes of MS along with the kinds of symptoms and the gender and ethnicity of the patient will all affect the long-term progression of the disease. Over 1/3 of MS patients live past 60, but 2/3 of patients will die from complications of the disease. Rates of suicide are higher in populations of MS patients than the general population.

Links and Resources

How to Jazz Up Your Wheelchair

If you use the same wheelchair day after day, it becomes a part of you. For this reason, you might want to use that wheelchair to help show off who you are. There are lots of ways to turn a regular wheelchair into one that shows everyone your hobbies and what you like. Simple additions include pockets, spoke guards, flags, stickers, seat covers and lights.

Pockets

If you attach a pocket to the side of a wheelchair, you can carry around all of your favorite items. A small pocket could be used to hold an action figure, doll or even a cell phone if you have one. A large one could be big enough to fit a laptop computer. Carrying each of these objects close makes sure you always have your favorite stuff around you when you want to use it.

Spoke Guards

Spoke guards not only protect one of the most important parts of your wheels, but you can also travel everywhere with style. Spoke guard art is really cool and there are all kinds of designs out there. There are tons to choose from with pictures of animals, planets and even one with the Wheel of Fortune on it! There are also optical illusions so you can hypnotize your teachers every time your tire spins.

Flags and Streamers

Flags or streamers are fun additions to any wheelchair because they wave around while you move fast. Choosing the right one can also say a lot about you. If you’re feeling patriotic, use an American flag. Or if you’re proud of your foreign heritage, fly the flag of a different country. Be careful though! If your streamers are really long they could get caught in your spokes or get shut in doorways.

Stickers

Stickers are also a great way to share your feelings and opinions with your friends and classmates. What’s great about stickers is that there are so many kinds. If you look hard enough, you can find a sticker for whatever you can imagine. Stickers can share clever jokes or they can support an organization. Everybody likes music and you can support your favorite radio station by riding around with their sticker on the seat of your wheelchair. Or you can get one with a picture of your favorite cartoon character. There are countless options. Even though you’re too young to vote, you could even sport a sticker with a political agenda.

Seat Covers

There are a few different kinds of seat covers. Lambskin ones are really comfortable and can be put in the washing machine with no problem. Another option can include a seat cover with a fun pattern on it. There are tons out there; you just need to know where to look.

Underglow

One of the newest wheelchair trends is underglow. Some cars (and more recently couches) have colored lights underneath so that they shine a cool glow on the ground below. In order to add underglow to your wheelchair, you will have to have your parents take you to Pep Boys or Autolumination and get LED lights. If you have Christmas lights laying around the house you can use those too. Just make sure to ask your parents first. Underglow isn't only for electric wheelchairs. You can buy battery packs and strap them to the bottom of your chair.

Other Lights

Underneath the wheelchair is not the only place you can put lights. Spoke lights are blade-shaped objects that you can attach to the spokes on your wheel. When the wheel spins, the blades light up and flash. They come in a variety of colors and some even display words or designs that look like flower petals. Each blade needs 3 AA batteries, so make sure you ask mom or dad to stock up. 

Of course, all of these cool wheelchair accessories aren't as important as your safety. Be sure that you are handling your wheelchair properly before you get any of them.

Wheelchair safety tips

Wheelchair ramp safety tips

Show this one to mom or dad

Kids on Wheels

Sports and other outdoor stuff you can do in or out of your wheelchair

Some people with dystonia use wheelchairs

Spoke lights

How to Customize Your Wheelchair

Wheels of Fun - Spoke Guard Covers

Spoke Guard Art

Have some fun online with games and crafts from Joni and Friends. You can also share your story

A Guide to Assistive Technology in K-12 Schools

Individuals with disabilities may find it difficult or impossible to complete everyday tasks. Assistive technologies are devices or services that can be used to aid in functions too difficult to complete independently. Any product or equipment that can increase, stabilize and maintain function capabilities for disabled individuals are considered assistive technology. As technologies specifically geared toward children with disabilities foster more productive and positive learning environments, more k-12 schools and teachers should be prepared with assistive technologies.

Ranging from low tech to complex options, there are varied assistive technologies. Books featuring larger fonts, pencil holders, blocks, cartoon symbols and large buttons are all examples of simple technologies. Basic calculators that have been enlarged and handheld typing games are also used within classes. There are also computer accessories such as larger mouse options, touch screens and numeric keypads and keyboards. Assistive technologies at the higher technology range even include computers capable of communication on behalf of a child. From sounds with cartoons to full typing with larger keys, these computers can be invaluable to a child with special needs as they would be able to fully engage in classroom activities.

One of the most important things to consider with assistive technologies is basic lifestyle activities. These are generally taken for granted, but with a little help could make a child feel warm, welcomed and appreciated. The extra time and effort can really save energy for children with disabilities. This allows the student to fully focus in class on what they are capable of, rather than what they are not.

Humanizing Disabilities: Personal Stories

Living with disabilities can be challenging. People who do not live with disabilities may have a difficult time understanding the plight of those who do. The personal stories of those living with disabilities can offer a refreshing perspective on the meaning of life and the triumph of enduring an entirely new way of living. The purpose of this list is to provide a closer, more personalized look at the lives of people with disabilities.

Traumatic Brain Injury

  • TBI Life TBI Life is a personal website by traumatic brain injury survivor, Dan Windheim. He has written an article in Arclight Magazine and is the author of a book titled “out of my mind”. He has used his traumatic experience to help others cope with traumatic brain injury.

  • The Fight of My Life The fight of my life is a personal blog by a traumatic brain injury survivor. The blog features her own personal thoughts about things that are going on in her life.

  • TBI Warrior TBI Warrior is a blog by a soldier who is recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury. He documents his daily feelings and struggles and does his best to help others cope with TBI.

  • TBI Army Wife This blog is written by an army wife. Her blog's stated purpose is to “create awareness about TBI from a caregiver's perspective”. This is an excellent resource for a spouse, partner, or family member of someone living with TBI.

Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis

  • Not Sorry Am Happy – This website is written and maintained by Kenneth G. Webb, a survivor of spinal cord injury. Through his website, he offers his personal story of living with paralysis and has sections on his website helping survivors with life management skills such as mobility, bladder management, sexual management, equal opportunity, and accommodation.

  • Briansterberg.com – This is a personal website created by Brian Sterberg, a man who lives with spinal cord injury (SCI). The author had a bicycle accident that resulted in his injury. He shares his personal story of coping with SCI and shares his accomplishments, goals, and exercises.

  • Amanda Boxtel – Amanda Boxtel is an Australian native who developed spinal cord injury from a serious ski accident. She was told that she would never be able to walk again. However, through the miracle of stem cell research, she has been able to regain feeling in her legs. She shares her feelings and how she has learned to cope with her disability, as well as how she is healing from it.

  • Facial Palsy – Facial Palsy is a form of paralysis that affects the facial nerves. In the case of Karen, the author of this blog, her eye would not close properly. She eventually received surgery that would help her with this problem.

  • Life; Paralyzed – Life Paralyzed is a personal blog written by a woman named Chrissy. She describes her blog as a place she documents her day to day struggles of living with paralysis.

  • Caring for Someone Who's Had a Stroke – Being a caregiver is never easy. Kathy Boncher discusses how she dealt with caring for her husband after he suffered a massive stroke.

    Developmental Disabilities

  • Victoria's Story – Victoria is a girl who lives with cerebral palsy. Her mother shares her personal story on this website.

  • Donna's Story – Donna is a woman who was born with cerebral palsy. She has to use a wheelchair for mobility. Right now she is fighting to get accessible public transportation. She and a man named Jim are fighting to get higher quality service from their local public transportation provider, Access Link.

  • Living With Cerebral Palsy – This blog is written and maintained by Tina Matsunaga, a woman who lives with spastic cerebral palsy. She shares her daily thoughts and struggles with anyone who is willing to read her blog.

  • Living with Scoliosis – This blog is about coping with scoliosis. The author answers frequently asked questions and provides regular updates.

  • One Patient's Story of Living With Scoliosis – This is a personal story by a child who lives with scoliosis. She enjoys playing sports and is able to play again without worrying about her scoliosis.

  • Jennifer Wagner's Story – This is an article by a woman who lives with scoliosis. She shares some helpful information as well as her experiences.
    Amputation

  • Living a Full and Happy Life After Amputation – This is an article about Liz Phelps – a remarkable woman who survived an amputation and went on to begin a writing career.

  • Gracie Rosenburg's Story – This is a story about a woman who lost both of her legs due to a devastating car crash. She shares her new perspective with the world.

  • Living After an Amputation – This is a story about someone who had to have their lower left leg amputated due to a devastating motorcycle accident.

  • Living in Exile – This is a blog post about amputees in developing countries facing a great deal of challenges accessing vital medical services. The story focuses mainly on a Hispanic child named Rodrigo, who lives in Mexico with his parents and crosses the border under a humanitarian medical visa.

  • Amputees Unite – Amputees Unite is a personal website by a woman who lives with a husband who lost his lower leg in a bad car accident.

  • Living With Multiple Amputations – This article is about a woman named Karen Grace who decided to improve her quality of life by joining a health club. She lost both of her legs below the knee and nine of her fingers.


Mental Illness

  • Living With Depression – This article is about how one woman is living with and managing her clinical depression.

  • Living With Bipolar Disorder – This is the story of a person who lives with bipolar disorder.

  • Living With ADHD – This is a blog written by a woman who lives with ADHD. She lives in NYC and actively writes about the ups and downs of living with the disorder.

  • Living With Schizophrenia in Africa – This article is about an African native who struggles with schizophrenia.

  • Living With Paranoid Schizophrenia – This is a blog by a woman who lives with adult onset schizophrenia.

  • The Naked Truth – This is a blog by a woman who struggles with mental illness.

     Autism Spectrum

  • The Autism Life – This site was created by a family living with a child that has autism.

  • Life With Asperger's – This is a blog written by a mother of two sons with Asperger's.

  • James Autism – This blog was created and maintained by the parents of a child named James who suffers from Autism. The family lives in Austin, Texas and document their daily struggles, progress, and treatment.

  • Diary of a Mother Living With Autism- This blog is by a mother living with autism. She documents her life and the things that she deals with.

  • Living with Asperger's – This is a blog by a 22 year old female who lives with asperger's syndrome.

  • Autism Epicenter – This blog is written by parents of children with ASD. 

     
    Severe Medical Limitation

  • Diabetes Mine – A helpful website for people living with diabetes. The author shares her personal stories and encourages others to do the same.

  • The Diabetic Pastry Chef – This blog is by a pastry chef who discovered that she had diabetes shortly after graduating from culinary school.

  • Freedom to Eat – This blog is for people with food allergies.

  • Lemonade Life – This is a personal blog by a girl who lives with type 1 diabetes in New York City.

  • My Life as a Type 2 Diabetic – This is about a woman who is living with type 2 diabetes.

  • A Healing Blog – This is a newsweek article about a woman with type 1 diabetes.

  • Diabetes Sisters – This is a website by women who seek to help other women dealing with diabetes.

Wheelchair Basketball

Playing sports is a way to release energy, keep healthy and meet new people. The same is true whether the individual is able bodied or handicapped, young or old. Wheelchair basketball is just another way for individuals to stay active. It was developed during the mid 1940s for individuals injured from World War II. Although it is not the first of its kind, wheelchair basketball is one of the most popular sports for the handicapped. Almost all of the rules and regulations in basketball also apply to wheelchair basketball with a few exceptions. People who are handicapped have different physical and mental abilities therefore a classification process was devised to make the playing field equal. The rules are based from the international system, which makes it easier to play the same sport regardless of where the playing field is located.

The idea of wheelchair basketball was developed during the World War II. During this time, a large number of soldiers and civilians were injured because of the war. They still had a lot of energy but felt trapped and useless in their wheelchairs. Playing sports was a great outlet that made people feel that they could still be apart of something bigger than themselves. In 1946, the United States had six teams playing. By 1948, the first college based team, the University of Illinois Gizz Kids was formed. A year later, a group of students from the same university and Tim Nuggent, the Director of Rehabilitation, formed the National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament (NWBA). Within a few years, the sport had spread to various parts of the globe. In 1960, the sport was first included in the Roman Paralympic Programme, an international sporting event for the handicapped. Wheelchair basketball became one of the most popular sports. The women’s division was established in the 1970s. In 1977, the First Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament was held. The first NWBA Junior Division was played in 2008. Revisions to the rules of the game were made less than a year later to accommodate younger players.

Wheelchair basketball utilizes the same rules as able-bodied basketball. The size of the court and ball is the same while a second dribble is not allowed. Traveling violations involve three pushes of the wheel chair without bouncing the basketball. Compared to able-bodied basketball, defending is easier as the chair acts as an additional screen. Some regulations have been created to make the sport safer. The chair, for example, must not have anything sticking out while the footplate should be lower than 11 cm. from the floor. Standard seat heights and wheel sizes are also indicated to make it fair for all the players.

During the first years of the sport, some disabled individuals felt that the sport was too rough. A classification process was developed to make both teams play on equal footing. Before the game, each player is evaluated based on their ability to control their wheelchair, dribble, pass, shoot, rebound and how the person reacts when in contact with other players. Individual players are assigned points between 0.5 to 4.5 based on their abilities. The points of the players on the court must not exceed 14 at any time or the team receives a technical foul. Classifications are based on the rules specified by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF). There are four classes of athletes. Class I and II athletes are unable to control their upper body and need to use their arms to control their sitting posture. With Class III athletes, they are able to turn and lean forward but not from side to side. Class IV athletes are capable of making any movements except lean from side to side.

A moderate level of physical activity helps in improving the health of a person. It does not need to be exhausting but the individual has to do the activity regularly. There are several reasons why physical activity is good for the body. One is that it makes the body stronger, making the person less likely to die prematurely or develop diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or even colon cancer. For people that do have high blood pressure, exercising helps lower the levels. The physical activity also helps people to lose weight and keep it at a healthier level. As a player trains and practices, they tone and strengthen various muscles in the body while increasing stamina. In older people, playing sports helps reduce any joint pain or swelling, making them less likely to experience arthritis. Playing sports also makes people feel better emotionally by making them feel less depressed and anxious. Wheelchair basketball is a type of team sport that encourages communication between the players, improving one’s social skills. Becoming better in the sport also helps increase confidence. Although wheelchair basketball has many benefits, it is suggested that people consult with a physician before starting any new routine or program.

Studies have shown that people with some form of disability tend to be less involved in physical activity even though it is important for all types of people to stay healthy. Support from loved ones such as family and friends can help in encouraging the person to start exercising or playing sports. The game of wheelchair basketball is designed to help wheelchair bound individuals stay active and remain healthy. It is also a way to meet new people and gain a more positive outlook on life. A 20 minute game each day is all it takes for a healthier, happier person, regardless of age, gender or abilities.

To find out more about wheelchair basketball and how to remain healthy, check the following links:

The History of Wheelchair Basketball

How Wheelchair Basketball Started

Rules of the Game and How to Avoid Injuries

Wheelchair Basketball Rules and Definitions

Classification of Players

Official Player Classification Manual

Benefits of Wheelchair Basketball

Benefits of Keeping Active

Advantages of Playing Sports

How to Remain Healthy and Active