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November 9, 2016

5 easy tips to avoid falls: Reduce your personal fall risk!

avoid falls

 

“What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?”

According to Greek Mythology, this is the classic riddle delivered by the Sphinx. According to the myth, if any person who was asked this riddle could not answer, they were thrown down against the rocks and killed by the Sphinx.  When this riddle was posed to Oedipus Rex, he considered his words carefully and declared the answer in one word; Man.

His reasoning was as a baby, a human goes about on all fours (“four legs in the morning” – morning being childhood).   Then he learns to walk, which he does well into adulthood (“two legs in the afternoon” – afternoon being adulthood).  Finally, advanced age requires him to use a cane to support himself (“three legs in the evening” – evening being old age).

It is the evening I wish to discuss in this post.

It is so important to avoid falls. Statistically 1 in 4 aging adults will be injured in a fall this year. Falls prevention is such a hot topic that the federal government NCOA has devoted a whole program strictly centered on fall prevention.

brava-walker avoid falls

Brava Walker

As we age, our once strong bodies sometimes need additional support to continue to be active.  Using canes, walkers or crutches becomes commonplace as balance or coordination skills become affected. Making certain our home environments are adapted to our new skill level is important.  Here are 5 easy to accomplish tips to ensure your environment helps you avoid falls.

  1. First thing to remember is to remove unnecessary clutter in your home.  Removing unnecessary clutter from walkways will help prevent unwanted tripping over objects that you meant to throw away years ago.  Yes we all have them! Clear the pathways of stacks of books and magazines, extra furniture and scatter rugs.
  2. Next thing is to install grab bars in and around your bathing areas.  Nothing feels quite like a hot bath after a long day, so ensure you can traverse these wet, slick areas by installing grab bars everywhere you may need a handhold.  Apply non-slip appliques in the bottom of your tub for extra traction, or use a rubberized bath mat with suction cups.
  3. Make certain you can see objects around you properly to avoid falls.  Knowing where things are supposed to be in your home is not enough.  Be certain you have the proper lighting in your home to see clearly so obstacles won’t become obstacles to you! Add nightlights that come on automatically as night falls- so you won’t!
  4. Have dual handrails installed on stairs- not just on one side, but on both. While climbing stairs we can                                                                    become fatigued more quickly than walking
    avoid falls

    Sugar Cane

    on a level plane.  Dual handrails will help to steady your gait and provide additional support for the body. Avoid falls as you avoid carrying things up and down the stairs as much as you possibly can. Countless falls happen every year as people negotiate the stairs with hands full.

  5. Finally, review your medications side effects.  If a medicine tells you plainly on the bottle, “May cause dizziness”, avoid physical activity for a couple of hours after you take that medication.  Instead, pick up a book or read your favorite blog to enhance your mind! Always use your walker or cane if you do find that your medication is causing dizziness issues, and do speak to your doctor about any side effects you are experiencing. Your doctor certainly doesn’t want to increase your fall risk either!

What happened to Oedipus?  Once he answered the riddle of the Sphinx he was free to pass and enjoy life.  All of us here at SpinLife wish the same for you, and hope that using these 5 simple tips will prevent a fall that could do serious damage to your “Oedipus Rex!”

 

 

 

 

October 14, 2016

Enabled Driving: Innovative Vehicle Modifications Make it Possible

Enabled driving

When it comes to freedom, many find it on the open road, behind the wheel of one’s favorite car.

Physical disability doesn’t change that, where from adaptive operation to transporting a mobility product, hitting the open road is wonderfully possible – with the right enabled driving equipment, that is.

Lets talk about enabled driving.

enabled driving hand controls

Vehicle Controls

You may have heard the term, ”hand controls.” However, a more apt term is, ”vehicle controls,” where a vast array of enabled driving technologies allow vehicle operation among a wide range of physical needs. For example, pedal extensions allow those of a short stature to drive, moving the pedals closer. Hand controls allow those without the use of their legs to drive using their arms, where a lever system allows pedal operation. And, electronic controls can go as far as eliminating use of the pedals and steering wheel altogether, replacing it with a joystick-type control for those with very limited upper-body use and strength. Of course, there are a lot of variations in-between, where adaptive solutions are seemingly limitless.

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October 7, 2016

Five Affordable and Accessible ways to get around town

When it comes time to get around town – big city or small – when using a mobility product, it’s often the ”getting around” part that’s difficult for those who don’t drive. After all, if you use a wheelchair or scooter, calling a cab isn’t that simple. So, from old standbys to cutting-edge transit, what are the current accessible transportation options available?

Fixed-Route Public Transit

Although not the hippest mode of transportation, fixed-route public buses and trains still provide reliable accessible transportation. Since the 1980s, and ultimately the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all are required to be accessible. This means buses have lifts (or ramps) and trains and their stations are accessible. What’s more, routine riders with disabilities and seniors can get discount cards, making public transit phenomenally affordable. Yes, public transit has historically had service issues, such as a bus with a broken lift or a train station with an out-of-order elevator. However, overall in today’s age, public transit proves a remarkably reliable and affordable way to get around town.

Paratransit

get around town on Paratransit

Began in the 1970s in larger cities and solidified by the ADA, paratransit is federally-mandated transportation for those with disabilities nationwide. Typically run at the county level, paratransit are the smaller, accessible vans you’ll see in addition to fixed-route buses. Paratransit is an on-demand service that provides door-to-door service (though some services may limit the types of occasions and times they’re used – for example, medical appointments, but not social engagements). Most, however, are a very flexible and extremely convenient way to get around town. To use paratransit, you must register, then rides cost on average $2.50 per one-way trip. Some paratransits require 24-hour notice to book a ride, while others are on call. Each paratransit system is a little different in policies, so check with your local paratransit for its protocols.

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September 29, 2016

The Abilities Expo: Products, People, and Priceless Moments

Abilities expo

It’s called the Abilities Expo.

Imagine a place where all are seen as one. Age nor ethnicity nor physicality matter. Maybe this sounds like Utopia. However, it in fact exists, six times per year, no less.

Abilities expo

Catching up with old friends

Established in 1979 in Southern California, the Abilities Expo has evolved into the premier consumer and cultural event for those with disabilities across the U.S. Today, the Abilities Expo has six annual venues from coast to coast, each lasting three days. The upcoming expos for 2016 and 2017 include the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington D.C., Toronto, Los Angeles, New York Metro, Chicago, Houston, and Boston. It may be a bit of a drive, but throughout the year, there’s a good chance that an Abilities Expo will be near you. And, you should go! Why?

 

For starters, the Abilities Expo, which has free admission, has every latest-greatest disability-related product you can imagine – and many you never knew existed. Not only can you browse every type of product – from wheelchairs to home access to accessible vehicles to sports, and on and on – but you can try them, too. It’s truly interactive. Many consumers go to see a specific product in person, only to be mesmerized by countless others.

Abilities expo

Our busy SpinLife Booth at the Expo

Next, the Abilities Expo is a fantastic opportunity to see and try emerging technologies.

For example, several years ago, among the first exoskeletons, enabling those with spinal cord injuries to walk, was shown at the Abilities Expos. It’s truly become a showcase for research projects and unreleased technologies that you won’t see anywhere else.

 

In keeping with a cutting-edge theme, the Abilities Expos also present workshops geared toward disability-related topics. They can range from advocacy to medical to sexuality, and so on. For those newly navigating the disability world, the one-hour workshops can prove extremely beneficial.

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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.