All Posts By

Mark E. Smith

September 22, 2016

The Best (Unexpected) Fall Foliage Destinations

Fall Foliage

Have you ever noticed that those who have moved away from seasonal climates almost universally express missing one specific aspect: fall foliage, nature’s annual kaleidoscope.

Indeed, fall foliage in many of these United States is a spectacular site.

It most often begins in mid-September with a dash of color, a brushed yellow or rust leaf among the green. And, as the days pass, the temperatures cool, and as we head into pumpkin season and October, the trees change, leaf-by-leaf. Soon, once green hillsides are multi-colored canvases. Even the vision of a lone copper-colored leaf drifting down a stream is mesmerizing. So, where are among the best places to see such sites this fall, ones that are accessible by vehicle or mobility product?

Holmes County, Ohio

The iconic buckeye trees, along with maples and oaks, line the heart of Central Ohio’s Amish Country. Country roads lead to bend after bend of breathtaking bright red and yellow foliage, and the occasional horse-drawn carriage adds to the storybook charm.

Sonoma County, CaliforniaSonoma Valley fall foliage

When most think Sonoma, they think wine and vineyards. However, in October, Sonoma County, along Arnold Drive, continuing along the Russian River, is ablaze with maples and oaks.

 

 

Northern New Mexico

Most know of New Mexico’s deserts and rocky vistas, but the northern part of the state meets the base of the Rocky Mountains. In particular, there’s an 83-mile drive, called the Enchanted Circle, that runs from Taos to Red River. The drive is a mystical blanket of cottonwoods and aspen that shimmer gold in late September and October.

Skytop, PennsylvaniaFall Foliage Indian Ladder Falls

Located in the Poconos, Skytop Lodge and its surrounding wilderness is a beautiful fall resort getaway. In particular, the Indian Ladder Falls Trail is an approximately one-mile packed gravel trail, with slight grades, that’s accessible. The trail winds its way across a ridge in the Poconos, lined by stunning fall foliage, culminating at a spectacular waterfall. For day trips, there’s a public parking lot at the trail’s entrance. Skytop’s Indian Ladder Falls Trail is a wonderful way to get into the heart of fall foliage in the world-renowned Poconos, with full accessibility.

Brooklyn, New York

Fall foliage Central Park midtown skyline over lake in Manhattan New York City

Central Park Autumn and midtown skyline over lake in Manhattan New York City

 

Central Park in New York City is unquestionably a stunning, accessible fall foliage destination. However, a better kept secret is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 52 acres of paved pathways. Especially gorgeous are the reflective waters of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Look for peak foliage in mid to late October.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Fall foliage

Fall colors on the slopes of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park
coastal Maine

Of course, the Northeast and New England region abounds with the ultimate fall foliage.

Nevertheless, Bar Harbor, Maine, is a fabulous fall destination. Since the 1800s, fall foliage lovers have flocked to Bar Harbor, where from Acadia National Park to whale watching, it’s a nature lovers final destination. Best seen in mid October, the fall foliage adorning the historic mansions and hotels is postcard perfect.

Your Own BackyardFall foliage

Whether a day trip or weekend getaway, immersing oneself in fall foliage can prove soothing for the soul. Yet, let us not overlook our own backyards or tree-lined streets, where the kaleidoscope of colors reminds us not just of nature’s fall beauty, but our own – all radiant.

September 15, 2016

The Noble Service Dog: an Awesome Companion

Baby service dog in training

September is National Service Dog Month.

National Service Dog Month is an annual fundraising and awareness campaign for the noble dogs that enter a career of service to humans. And it is the perfect time to reflect on the roles that service animals play in our lives. Would you like to help? See our links below for some of the amazing organizations that train these dogs.

Perhaps no other animal has been so universally connected to humans as the the dog. Over the evolution of mankind and canines, countless “working” relationships evolved, from ranching to rescue. The Service Dog program is one of the most remarkable examples of this relationship, supporting individuals with a huge variety of needs.  Some examples are:

Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Seeing eye dogs have provided guiding eyes for the blind throughout history. Guiding Eyes for the Blind trains these assistance dogs to lead blind and visually impaired people around obstacles, making it easier to get around and providing a sense of confidence with their surroundings.Service dog

Physical Assistance.  Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. A physical assistance dog can open doors, pick up dropped items, retrieve items from the fridge, and get help when needed, even picking up the phone when it rings and give it to their person. Simple activities that most of us take for granted can be a major hardship for a person with physical limitations. A service dog helps create greater freedom and independence.

Service dog with his owner in a wheeclchair

   “It’s impossible to overstate how important Service Dogs are in the lives of many people with disabilities.”

Diabetic and Allergen Support Diabetic Alert Dogs of America trains dogs to help prevent the dangerous insulin drops that lead to comas and even death, by notifying a person in the event of a sharp drop in insulin levels. They are trained to prevent a person from attempting to do something while at reduced mental capacity.  Diabetic alert dogs also provide a sense of security for those living on their own who cannot recognize when their sugar is dropping. In addition, some dogs can be trained to alert their companion in the presence of life-threatening allergens.

Sensory Assistance Autism Service Dogs of America provide trained autism dogs can provide tremendous stability for autistic children and developmentally disabled adults, providing them with safety, an outlet for communication and sensory development, and increasing playtime activities.

Service Dog and the child he serves

Emotional Support  Emotional support dogs provide comfort and support in the forms of affection and companionship for anyone suffering from a mental and emotional conditions. An emotional support dog is not required to perform specific tasks like a traditional service dog would. They are often trained by the owner, but certification programs can be used to designate them as official support companions. They are meant solely for emotional stability and unconditional love. They can assist with conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, mood disorder, panic attacks, phobias, as well as other psychological and emotional conditions. Emotional support dogs often live in nursing and group homes, as a full-time companion for its residents.

service dog offers emotional support

What is the difference between types of assistance dogs?  Guide Dogs assist people who are visually or hearing impaired. A Service Dog is the permanent companion of a person with a disability that enables them to live with greater independence.Therapy Dogs are usually the personal pet of their owner and visit individuals in places such as hospitals or nursing homes to provide comfort or enrichment.

 

Responsibility of Having a Service Dog  Unlike typical pets, service dogs, ideally, are your companion at all times. No matter where you go or what you do, your service dog is with you. Having a service dog is a full-time commitment. Training never ends – service dogs and humans alike must be regularly reminded of the ground rules of their relationship.

The Best Friend You’ll Ever Have  Beyond all definitions, legalities and practices, there’s one universal truth about service dogs: they are the most loving, loyal companion you’ll ever have. Yes, they know when they’re working, but they’re just as quick to protect you when someone’s at the door, or snuggle up with you in bed if you allow.

September 9, 2016

Therapeutic Massage: Improving Body, Mind and Spirit

therapeutic massage benefits

There’s no question that a massage – whether by a partner or a professional – can be the ultimate in relaxation.

However, did you know that therapeutic massage has become a scientifically-studied, proven form of treating many permanent disabilities, including spinal cord injuries (SCI)?

Twenty SCI patients, with injury levels between C5 and C7, were involved in a therapeutic massage study. Half were randomly selected to participate in massage therapy for 40 minutes, twice per week. The other control group participated in typical rehab exercise routines twice per week. After five weeks, both groups showed physical improvement. However, the massage therapy group not only showed significantly higher physical improvements, but also lower anxiety and depression scores. Put simply, massage therapy proved dramatically more beneficial than traditional exercise with this SCI study.

So, what specific areas does massage therapy help with?

Circulation

Among those with spinal cord injuries and other movement-restrictive conditions, proper circulation – especially in effected limbs – is among the leading causes of secondary health issues. These issues can range from as seemingly mundane as a tingling sensation to as deadly as blood clots. Therapeutic massage can dramatically improve blood flow as muscles and tissue is stimulated. And, again, with as little as two sessions per week, improved circulation can be sustained.

Range of Motion

For those with a loss of movement, muscles and joints can become limited in range of motion (ROM). At its most severe, limited ROM can lead to contractures, meaning parts of the body become fixed in position – for example, limbs that no longer straighten. Therapeutic massage reduces muscle tension (which even for those with SCIs, muscles may still involuntarily contract). This reduction in tension can allow joints and extremities to have increased ROM, decreasing the likelihood of contractures.

Spasticity and Tone

For those with spasticity and tone, the constant muscle extension and contraction can be fatiguing, painful and frustrating. Through therapeutic massage, the relation of the muscles can decrease these symptoms. Fatigue often exacerbates spasticity and tone, whereas relaxation can decrease it. By relaxing the muscles through therapeutic massage, the adverse effects of spasticity and tone are often dramatically decreased, allowing improved muscle control.

Emotional Well-being

Getting back to the aforementioned study, therapeutic massage has proven benefits beyond the physical. Disability experience can be difficult and stressful. Knowing the mind-body connection, relaxing one can relax the other. Those undergoing therapeutic massage universally express lower anxiety and less depression, a correlation to releasing endorphins and other chemicals that improve emotional mood and mental health.

Therapeutic Massage as Modern Medicine

When it comes to therapeutic massage, it’s no longer a mystery: modern medicine proves its benefits not only for the physical, but the emotional and mental. More and more outpatient rehabilitation facilities offer therapeutic massage, and it’s recommended for many with spinal cord injuries and other conditions for dramatic improvements in quality of life – mind, body and soul.

New technologies in therapeutic massage products can provide the next best thing to your own personal massage therapist. For soothing, kneading massage to ease sore neck and shoulder muscles, try the Osaki Kneading Massage Belt.

Kneading Massage Belt

Kneading Massage Belt

OmKnee Foot Massager

OmKnee Foot Massager

 

 

 

 

 

 

The OmKnee Foot Massager offers shiatsu massage to the feet and legs, and heated air-pressure massage to your calves and knees to increase circulation and ease knee pain.

 

For the ultimate in massage and relaxation, check out the Refresh Massage chair. Recline, relax and enjoy a full body compression massage any time! See our full range of therapeutic massage products at Spinlife.com.

therapeutic massage chair

Refresh Massage Chair

September 6, 2016

Employment Among the Disabled: Challenges and Progress

Employment and disabilities

Employment rates among the disabled community are a topic of much discussion.

When it comes to employment, socio-economics and those with disabilities, we often hear grim statistics. For example, 28.1% of those with disabilities live below the poverty line compared to 11.6% of the general population.

However, such statistics, while unfortunately true, don’t reflect other, brighter socio-economic dynamics of the lives of those with disabilities. Employment rates are one of them.

It’s often touted that those with disabilities have an astronomically high unemployment rate of around 70%. Yet, when we look at the actual statistics, the realities are both revealing and encouraging.

Cornell University performed a landmark study that gathered employment statistics on those with disabilities. In 2014, 34.6% of those with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 were employed. Further, an additional 9.2% of those with disabilities were actively seeking jobs. That data puts those with disabilities in the workforce at a remarkable 43.8%. That’s astonishingly better than the 70% unemployment rate that’s often inaccurately touted.

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August 26, 2016

The Power of Powered Mobility

The power of power mobility

Power Mobility Empowers.

When it comes to mobility, every day without it is a day lost. Mobility empowers and liberates us. Mobility allows us to pursue education, family, career, and community – the aspects of life that we all want, need, and deserve.

Interestingly, everyone’s individual mobility needs differ for countless reasons, from specific condition to age. However, what’s wonderful is that there is a vast array of mobility products to help maximize one’s independence. In this wide realm of liberating products are motorized mobility products – or power mobility, as it’s often called – and its diverse applications are truly life-inspiring.

Power Assist Base

Power Assist Base

Power mobility can be as common as a scooter, as mid-range as a power chair, as complex as a custom rehab power chair, or as innovative as an add-on drive system for a manual wheelchair. All, however, result in the same outcome: personal liberation.

 

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