Quiz – What the Heck Is It?

What in the world is this piece of spinal cord injury adaptive equipment?

Answer: It’s a foot brush!

footscrubber.blogpageFor people with limited access to their feet.

This clever tool has been outfitted with a sponge for cleaning between toes and a bristle brush for the heel and toenail area.

It’s a good implement for times when performing hygiene care alone. The brush can also be adapted for those with limited hand function. Continue reading

Quiz – What the heck is it?

What in the world is this piece of spinal cord injury adaptive technology?

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 2.05.37 PMAnswer: It’s a phone/GPS holder with mounting clamp

This phone holder is compatible and interchangeable with most handheld devices. It has a clean and clever four leg design with great holding power — without hiding the phone behind foam pads and plastics. It’s perfect for quick and easy tool-less installation. Continue reading

BLOG ‘Finding Dory’ Makes Disability Relatable

Disney Film is Inclusive and Beautiful

Finding Dory, the long-awaited Disney/Pixar sequel to Finding Nemo (2003), is swimming its way to the top of the box office. And it’s staying there. Beyond the impressive 3D computer-animation quality, it’s the storyline that has people talking.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 1.38.00 PMThe box office hit focuses on the amnesiac blue-tang character and explores her journey to be reunited with her parents. Because Dory has short-term memory loss, it becomes a more central theme in the new film. Throughout both movies, the filmmakers depict and incorporate the challenge in ways that are easy to appreciate. And as we remember from the original movie, Nemo has an undersized fin, which he is taught to think of as his lucky fin.

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By Thea Flaum--Reprinted from RogerEbert.com

primary_mebeforeyou2“Live Boldly! Live Well! Just Live!” shout the ads for the tear-jerking melodrama “Me Before You,” which is based on the best-selling novel by Jojo Moyes. But that’s not the message of the movie, not by a long shot.

Better Dead than Disabled is more like it.

Will Traynor, the wildly rich and incredibly handsome hero, who has quadriplegia as the result of an accident, has decided to end his life at age 35. Even though he’s fallen in love with Louisa Clark, his relentlessly charming paid companion, he decides that his life’s not worth living because it can never be the same as it was before the accident that paralyzed him.

So sympathetically is his decision portrayed in the film, so persuasive are his arguments in favor of assisted suicide to his family and Louisa, that I could almost feel the audience, comprised almost exclusively of young women sobbing into wads of Kleenex, nodding their heads in agreement.

And that’s the problem. The movie’s got it all wrong. Continue reading

Commentary: ‘Me Before You’ perpetuates idea that the disabled should consider suicide

By Ben Mattlin for the Chicago Tribune

Me before youAs press reports show, some people with disabilities have already begun to protest the new movie, “Me Before You,” which opens Friday in the U.S. The primary objection concerns the essential plot point about which romantic partner’s life counts for less, the young able-bodied woman’s or the young and severely disabled man’s. Guess who draws the short straw?

As a severely disabled man myself — I was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive neuromuscular weakness that renders me quadriplegic — I’m loath to give this movie any additional publicity. But the timing of the release could not be any more disturbing. Just a week after, on June 9, California’s so-called Death with Dignity law takes effect. The repercussions of this ghoulish juxtaposition are positively frightening.

The law — styled after its predecessors in Oregon and Washington — permits physician-assisted suicide in the nation’s most populous state, under strict regulatory controls. Nothing to worry about, supporters say. It applies only to those with terminal conditions who have been thoroughly evaluated by medical professionals.

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BLOG – Indiana Woman with Quadriplegia Gives Birth

to Her Third Child

Being a parent is tough. Being a mother who can’t move her arms and legs seems insurmountable, but Joni Vanderwolde of DeMotte, IN isn’t dwelling on her limitations. Just two years after a car accident that caused quadriplegia, Joni married her high school sweetheart. Four years after that, the couple began trying to have children.

Pregnancy for women with paralysis is rare. Vanderwoude, who gave birth at Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 12.49.00 PMNorthwestern Memorial’s Prentice Women’s Hospital, is the only mother with quadriplegia her doctor has treated in the last decade. Carrying babies in a paralyzed woman’s already challenged body comes with risks, including dangerous blood clots and high blood pressure. But generally, pregnancy and paralysis have little to do with each other. A woman can easily conceive and carry a baby to term – even with a spinal cord injury.

During each of her deliveries, specialists were on hand, including hematologists, cardiologists Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 12.56.12 PMand anesthesiologists who were fully aware of the potential complications related to paralysis. Continue reading

BLOG – There’s Nothing Like a Good Tear-Jerker…

and "Me Before You" is Nothing Like a Good Tear-Jerker
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“Dan” at his JustHappenToBe channel

A funny, on-target response to the new movie “Me Before You,” by a young film-maker with quadriplegia. With style and humor, he talks to himself — because after all who else would understand? — about why he objects to the movie’s message: “Better Dead Than Disabled.”

He uses his own life experiences to contradict the tear-jerking premises on which the movie is based, and to counter the phony ideas that fill this romantic tragedy.

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BLOG – Counter Balance Presents

Compelling Wheelchair Dance

Counter Balance VII, a wheelchair dance concert recently Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 1.55.45 PMperformed in Chicago, showcased a mixed company of able-bodied dancers with those using wheelchairs. The concert was produced and choreographed by Ginger Lane, who also performed in the show. She says the mixing of able-bodied performers and those in wheelchairs is known as physically integrated dance. “It’s our mission to bring awareness of this type of dance and of the incredible strength and capabilities of people in wheelchairs.” Continue reading

BLOG – 5 Things I Wish I Had Known

After My Daughter's Spinal Cord Injury

By: Cindy Kolbe

It begins with an accident, an injury, and someone to blame. I fell asleep at the wheel, causing my youngest child’s C6-7 spinal cord injury.

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Beth with her mother, Cindy

As a life-long advocate of people with disabilities—even before the accident—I lose myself in guilt and depression. My shy but determined teenager battles the limits of quadriplegia and carries us forward, since, between the two of us, she is the emotionally stable one. I attempt to keep up as her world resonates with fortunate accidents.


One day, a friend asked me to share what I wish I had been told at the beginning…when my daughter Beth was injured. She has C6-7 spinal cord injury which resulted in quadriplegia. My first list began with three thoughts:

Breathe deeply. Hug. Rest. Repeat.
Find a good listener. Share your feelings with someone who cares.
Let other people help. Get comfortable asking for help until you are back to being the one who can give instead of receiving.

Then I had to stop writing.

I realized that I had been told these things, in one way or another. Thankfully, family and friends had rallied to support us. Even so, I didn’t sleep during the first days and was unable to talk about my feelings. I also could not ask for help. I had to rethink my list. I started over with things I had not heard soon after the accident.

1.Find the best medical options.

Begin with a top hospital. Take time to research rehab centers. For example, consider the Chicago Shriners Hospital for children up to 21 years of age for rehab (or outpatient treatment). Be where you need to be.

After intensive care, Beth transferred to a Toledo rehab center. It didn’t feel right, so we soon moved to another. The second center in Green Springs was perfect for physical therapy, but the doctors on staff had no experience with spinal cord injury. We had to wait until Beth came home to connect with great doctors. Continue reading

BLOG – Paralyzed Man Uses Mind-Power to Move Hand

With Assistance of Specialized Computer and Implanted Brain Microchip

Five years ago, a diving mishap left Ian Burkhart with quadriplegia. Since then, he has regained some use of his hand through a breakthrough in medical technology. Burkhart, now age 24, has developed fine-motor skills in his arm and hand using the only power of his thoughts–with the assistance of computers. This video shows how his team of doctors  created this ground-breaking achievement.

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