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January 31, 2017

Diagnosis: Dementia. Repetitive behavior; Survival Secrets for Caregivers

The dementia epidemic is worldwide

They refer to it as the Dementia Epidemic. As many as 5.2 million people in America are living with this disease.

To review: Dementia is an umbrella term describing a variety conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function normally. The damages to these nerve cells cause changes in one’s memory, behavior and ability to think clearly

In the next installment in the series, I’d like to discuss a common trait exhibited by individuals diagnosed with dementia: Repetitive behavior. That behavior may be exhibited as an action- like searching for something, changing the channels on the remote, or verbally-like repeating a question, or making the same statement over and over.

For caregivers, repetitive behavior is enough to get on your last nerve.

You may remember Bill Murray’s memorable performance in Goundhog Day, the 1993 movie where he plays Phil- a TV weatherman doomed to live out the same day every day, for the rest of his life. Answering the same question over and over, day after day can make you feel like Phil, and you are certainly not alone.

First let’s talk about some of the reasons a person with dementia may repeat. The most obvious reason is short term memory loss. Sometimes dementia progresses to the point where the sufferer actually forgets they just asked that question, even in the midst of conversation. So they ask it again. And again. Other reasons can include the inability to grasp what’s going on. Feeling unsure about their situation leads to anxiety and stress. That one question or statement may in fact be the only cognitive thought they can express, so they repeat it. Boredom is a contributing factor as well. If the person with dementia has no social stimulation and no daily activities in which to engage, the mind can simply travel in a “loop” with no outlet. As an example, a woman may endlessly search for her purse, others may seek their car keys all day long. These behaviors may be a non-verbal expression that they just want something to do. Continue Reading

January 18, 2017

Relieve Pressure Using these Effective Wheelchair Stretches

pressure relief

Stretching and exercise are great ways to relieve pressure issues that come with prolonged sitting. Here are a couple of easy stretches that can be done, every day and without drawing undue attention to the exercise. Each technique can be done independently or with assistance; depending on your strength and balance. Be sure you are in a wheelchair of adequate weight when doing these stretches- for safety’s sake

Relieve pressureLeaning forward and from side to side: Leaning from side to side relieves pressure over one buttock at a time. Lock your wheels, hold onto the other armrest and lean your body to the opposite side, taking the weight off one buttock at a time. Repeat with the opposite side. Lean forward with both hands to relieve pressure from your bottom. You don’t need to feel “obvious” when doing this- we all shift around and change positions continuously. Think of the forward lean as just some time “fixing” your shoe laces, feet or the hem of your pants to achieve your pressure relief

relieve pressure

 

 

 

 

Crossing your legs: These techniques are easy to do and are less obvious in public places to relieve pressure. You can cross one leg over the other and lean back to one side, holding your knee in position while lifting weight off of one buttock. Or, you can cross your leg by putting on ankle over the other knee and lean forward lifting weight off your bottom.

 

 

Being aware of relieving pressure and shifting your weight often is important for wheelchair users! Prolonged periods of sitting are difficult for the human body to accept, so any method you are able to utilize is going to be a positive thing. Whether leaning against tables, crossing your legs or leaning forward, periodic stretches and will help you stay healthy.

January 4, 2017

Can lift chairs help prevent falls? Learn how today!

fall-awarenessJanuary is National Falls Prevention month, and SpinLife is doing it’s part by hosting our Lift Chair Event.

How can a lift chair help prevent falls you may ask? You may be surprised at the answer! Statistics prove that among our aging population, falls account for an enormous number of injuries every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 in 4 older adults fall each year. About half of those are unreported, but 2.8 million older adults are treated in emergency rooms each year for fall related injury. 2.8 million!

Many factors contribute to the increased risk of falling, and at the top of the list is lower body weakness. Lower body weakness has many causes. Lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle and a myriad of medical conditions cause muscle loss. Muscle loss in turn causes the lessening of strength in your lower body. Muscles beginning at your feet and ankles, all the way up to the gluteus maximus contribute to your ability to maintain your balance. They also allow you to get up from a sitting position to standing. When those muscles lack strength, your balance will be affected, and simply getting up from a chair may become nearly impossible.lift chairs prevent falls

Human beings are great at adapting. As it becomes more difficult to arise from a chair, you may begin to adapt your behavior to compensate for the lack of strength in your legs. Among common ways people compensate is to “scoot” to the front edge of their chair prior to attempting to stand- getting their feet right under themselves, so to speak. Another way is to reach back with both hands and “push” off of the armrests of a chair to boost themselves up, and then struggle the rest of the way.

 

Then there’s the method my own Mother used. She’d rock back and forth – gathering momentum – until she could  propel herself out of her chair…Yikes! Sometimes the poor thing would get to her feet, other times she’d fall face-first over the ottoman.

If you or a loved one has this sort of trouble arising from a chair, and are using one of these methods to get to your feet, you are at a higher risk of falls.

Lift chairs– or Power Lift recliners as they are commonly called-help prevent falls by assisting you safely to your feet.

The lift motor pushes you gently up, and slowly forward at an angle. This allows you to safely plant your feet in front of you and then shift your weight to your feet when you are stable. Since the armrests follow you up, you can hold on to them for a little extra support as you go, and eliminate the need to struggle. You may not even need to lift your chair all the way- just part way. Many folks find that just lifting a few inches gives them the help they need to stand up. No more rocking back and forth to gain momentum, and potentially end up in a face-plant.GT Lift chair TV

Of course Power Lift Recliners have other great benefits as well! First they are super comfortable. They come in lots of great looking styles that are sure to blend with your décor- they definitely don’t look like “medical devices” anymore! The ability to recline and lift your feet helps with relaxation and eases back pain. Some Power Lift Recliners also offer specialized positioning which can aid in the treatment of Edema, COPD and CHF.

So to recap, lift chairs help to prevent falls by safely lifting you to your feet, and taking the struggle out of arising from a chair. Using a lift chair will help you maintain your independence and reduce your risk of falling! Check out our full selection of lift chairs on our website today-

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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