Health

Life with a disability often brings a host of general health concerns and, in this section of the AMS Vans Wheelchair and Disabilities blog, we examine those concerns and potential remedies. Some information is disability-specific, and other articles offer useful tips and ideas to safeguard the health of people with disabilities in general. Discover new treatment methods and experimental medicines that offer promising results. The Health section presents a platform for open discussion about all health-related issues.

Giving Thanks Series: Caregivers Need Care, Too

caregiver helping her client

Many people with disabilities rely on the help of dedicated caregivers to lead an active and healthy life. Being a caregiver is rewarding, but the hours can be long and draining. That’s why, as part of our Giving Thanks series, we wanted to dedicate this post to caregivers. Also, we wanted to provide them with some helpful resources. With all that caregivers do for their clients, we wanted to take the opportunity to thank them and encourage them to take care of themselves, too!

There are some basic self-care strategies that caregivers can use to prevent burnout and stress. Further, there are also organizations dedicated to supporting caregivers.

Self-Care for Caregivers

For caregivers, it can sometimes feel like there’s no time for their own self-care, or that they shouldn’t take time away from their client or loved one to attend to their own needs. Instead, taking some time for self-care can help caregivers do a better job of caring for others. Ignoring your own needs can lead to burnout and chronic stress.

Having trouble thinking of ways you can take care of yourself as a caregiver? Here are some tips to get started:

  • Get enough rest. You need good quality sleep to keep up with your daily responsibilities.
  • Stay hydrated and nourished with quality food. Carry a big water bottle to make sure you’re hydrating during the day, and pack a healthy lunch when you can. Try not to skip breakfast.
  • Try meditation and coping mechanisms for stress. You could try a morning meditation practice before your day begins. Alternatively, you could learn some short mantras that you can repeat in stressful moments. For example, “Let it go” or “This will pass” could work.
  • Find a hobby and do something you enjoy on a regular basis. Making time for your own interests can help you avoid caregiver burnout.
  • Ask for help. You can’t do it all alone, whether you need someone to fill in for you so you can get a break, or you just need a supportive friend to listen–it’s not easy to ask for help, but it’s worth it.

Resources for Caregivers

When you need more than basic self-care, there are organizations that are there to help. These groups can provide valuable advice and support, facilitate connections with other caregivers, and help caregivers stay up-to-date on new policies and resources. Thus, here are some of the organizations that caregivers can reach out to for assistance:

National Center on Caregiving: This group can help you with policy issues, caregiver education, and information about the latest research.

Caregiver Action Network: CAN fosters community among caregivers and provides resources tailored to caring for specific types of patients.

National Family Caregiver Support Program: This federal program provides caregivers with access to services, training, and respite care.

Support for ALS Caregivers: The ALS Association provides connections to respite care, an online calendar to help families coordinate care, and educational information specific to ALS caregivers.

National Organization for Rare Disorders Caregiver Resource Center: Caring for someone with a rare disease can feel isolating. Thus, NORD provides resources including educational videos and webinars, connections to resources for specific conditions, and financial support.

Well Spouse Association: This organization supports spousal caregivers by facilitating in-person and online support groups, providing connections to respite care, and hosting conferences and special events.

Taking Care of Yourself

It’s natural for caregivers to feel hesitant or guilty about asking for help. However, we want you to know that taking care of yourself makes you a more effective caregiver. We hope that you find the resources you need to support your own health, happiness, and motivation. Thank you for all that you do! Contact us to learn more.

three male wheelchair basketball players taking a selfie

Five Awesome Apps for Wheelchair Users and Friends

One of the greatest things about owning a cell phone is that it can connect you to the world through apps. Indeed, millions of apps are available, and many of them are tailored to your unique lifestyle. Apps can assist you if you or someone you know uses a wheelchair. They can help you accomplish various tasks and improve the quality of your life. Here are five apps that can help.

1. Parking Mobility

accessible parking playing cards by VMIThe Parking Mobility app is an app that helps you locate accessible parking so that you can navigate your errands and tasks safely and comfortably. You can use the app to find accessible parking in your area. Furthermore, you can use it to report accessible parking violations if you see someone parked in a reserved accessible parking spot. Some communities in Texas even recognize reported violations using the app as actual parking tickets – and they’ve seen a substantial decrease in violations! The more people that use the app, the more data there will be, so download it today!

Have you seen our #ParkSmart playing cards that educate people about accessible parking? Play a game of cards or leave one on a car when they’re blocking your access! Order yours for FREE here (quantities are limited)!

2. Talkitt

Tallkitt is an amazing application if you care for someone who has experienced a stroke or suffers from a condition such as cerebral palsy. The app is a highly advanced speech recognition program that can understand non-standard words and communications. In other words, it can decipher dysarthric speech to bridge the communication gaps between wheelchair users and their caregivers, family members, and other loved ones.

3. Brettapproved

The Brettapproved app is an app that helps people find the best accessible places to dine, shop, entertain themselves, and spend the night. The app is very easy to use, and it shows you all aspects of the places people intend to visit. They can see consumer ratings and reviews as well as a myriad of pictures that show where they will have wheelchair access. They can then decide which place is best for them to visit. As a member of the community, you can sign up on Brettapproved and rate various places that you visit. You can supply potential visitors with information about accessibility, customer service, cleanliness, and more. Other people will appreciate your efforts to let them know about places that they will potentially visit. The site works as a two-way review site that opens up a world of opportunities for wheelchair users across the country.

brett heisting from Brett approved

4. WheelMate

The WheelMate app is a life-saving app for people who use wheelchairs. It’s available for Android and iPhone devices, and it helps to pinpoint wheelchair accessible bathrooms and parking spots. Further, by using the app, you can cut your traveling time down by knowing exactly where to park. You can prevent bathroom emergencies by locating places that have room for wheelchairs. The app has a 3.0 rating on Google. The users who liked it enjoyed it for the convenience.

5. Reachout

man in a wheelchair using apps on his phone

Reachout is a social app that can improve the quality of your life by connecting you with potential friends and caregivers. You can use the app to exchange stories and strategies or to find other people that you can talk to who understand your life. Alternatively, you can use the app to find a caregiver if you need to do so. Many people who use the app appreciate it because it eliminates the feeling of loneliness. Conversing with other peers and people who understand is soul-soothing – and it can help you discover new products or services that you need. You can download the app today and see if it helps you in your journey.

Now you know of some great apps that you can download immediately to make your wheel life a little easier. Let us know if there’s an app we missed that you love!

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Browse AMS Vans Inventory From Your Smartphone!

With your smartphone or tablet, you can visit AMSVans.com to browse a large selection of new and used wheelchair accessible vehicles, starting at $13,999. Choose from a variety of platforms, including Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chrysler, Mercedes and Dodge, with side- and rear-entry conversion options. Enjoy the convenience of shopping and ordering online, with risk-free nationwide delivery and service!

silhouette of woman in a wheelchair looking at a sunset

September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month

September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month and to help raise awareness, we put together a list of helpful resources and support groups for our friends and customers with spinal cord injuries (SCI). These resources are also helpful for families, loved ones, therapists, caretakers – and for anyone looking to contribute to a worthy cause.

National Resources for People with Spinal Cord Injury

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

One of the most well-known organizations for SCI, the Reeve Foundation was founded in 1999 and is dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and offering services that improve the quality of life for those living with paralysis. Further, they provide resources on health, rehabilitation, costs, and insurance, and funding to nonprofits that serve the disability community.

Website: https://www.christopherreeve.org
Contact: 800-539-7309

United Spinal Association

A national 501(c) (3) nonprofit membership organization, United Spinal is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of those living with spinal cord injuries and disorders. United Spinal transforms the lives of people with SCI/D by:

  • Advocating for greater access to healthcare, mobility equipment, public transportation, rehabilitation, community services and supports, and the built environment
  • Empowering our members with resources, one-on-one assistance, and peer support
  • Promoting independence through employment opportunities and community integration of wheelchair users into mainstream society

Website: https://unitedspinal.org
Contact: 718-803-3782

Miami Project to Cure Paralysis

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis was founded in 1985 with the help of Barth A. Green, M.D. and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti after Nick’s son, Marc, sustained a spinal cord injury during a college football game.  The Miami Project is a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.  It is considered the premier investigative research program conducting cutting edge discovery, translational, and clinical investigations targeting spinal cord and brain injuries.

Website: https://www.themiamiproject.org
Contact: 305-243-6001

Travis Roy Foundation women smiling playing wheelchair basketball

The Travis Roy Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the life of individuals with spinal cord injuries and their families by providing adaptive equipment and to finding a cure through increased funding of research, resulting in self-reliance and the ability to be as independent as possible. Half of the money raised by the Travis Roy Foundation goes toward Quality of Life grants to purchase adaptive equipment to help paraplegics and quadriplegics live their lives.

Website: https://www.travisroyfoundation.org
Contact: info@travisroyfoundation.org

Triumph Foundation

Triumph Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to help children, adults, and Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder (SCI) to triumph over their disability and to inspire them to keep moving forward with their lives by pushing themselves to get better every day. Triumph Foundation works to minimize the obstacles that one faces after suffering traumatic injury.

Website: https://triumph-foundation.org
Contact: 661-803-3700

Shepherd Center’s Spinal Cord Injury 101

Videos developed by Shepherd Center, that use simple language and images of real people who have sustained a spinal cord injury, as well as medical experts and advocates. They also offer general information about SCI and TBI.

Website: www.spinalinjury101.org
Contact: 404-352-2020

SpinalCord.com

SpinalCord.com was started by Swope, Rodante P.A. to be a resource for SCI survivors and their families. Get access to more resources, such as information about new injuries, doctor/treatment centers, and legal or financial aid.

Website: https://www.spinalcord.com
Contact: 877-336-7192

Paralyzed Veterans of America

Founded in 1946, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) is involved in research, resources, and legislation concerning spinal cord injuries. PVA also sponsors sporting events and programs such as the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. PVA will use their expertise to be the leading advocate for:

Website: https://www.pva.org
Contact: 800-424-8200

Spinal Cord Injury

Facebook Peer Support Groups for SCI

Often, the best way to find resources and support for SCI is to connect with others who are sharing a same or similar experience. Many communities have in-person groups where people can meet one another, but there are also opportunities to get lots of great information and some camaraderie, too, virtually with Facebook Groups. See some popular options below (click to visit).

Fundraising with Help Hope Live

We understand that sometimes, with spinal cord injury, the biggest obstacle to mobility freedom is the cost of products, technology and medical services. That’s why we partnered with Help Hope Live; to connect our community with a fundraising option to purchase the wheelchair accessible vehicle that they need.

Help Hope Live is the leading community-based fundraising platform for people with unmet medical expenses due to catastrophic injuries or illnesses. They provide the following support and advantages throughout the fundraising campaign:

  • One-on-one fundraising help
  • Customizable Campaign Page
  • Bill pay support
  • Additional benefits based on their nonprofit status, including tax deductible donations

Learn more about Help Hope Live and get started here.

AMS Vans is a leading advocate of mobility freedom for persons living with spinal cord injury, and one of the largest providers of wheelchair-accessible vehicles in the country. We offer low prices on quality mobility vehicles, affordable short- or long-term handicap van rentals, mobility equipment sales with installation, and trade-in opportunities for your current adaptive or unmodified vehicle. Explore our inventory or call us at 1-800-775-8267.

man's hand on wheel of wheelchair

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits After a SCI

If you have suffered a serious spinal cord injury that has left you unable to work, you might be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Spinal cord injuries result from trauma suffered by the tissue, nerves, and bones around the spine. Usually an accident, such as serious fall or a car crash, causes injuries to the spinal cord. The symptoms can vary significantly, but most of these injuries lead to a loss of functioning.

Where the spine has been injured affects the symptoms and their severity. Numbness and pain are the most common symptoms suffered from such injuries. These injuries might cause problems in other parts of the body. As an example, injuring the middle spine might cause loss of function in the areas below it. If there is only partial injury to the spine, which means there are functioning areas below the injury, it is considered an incomplete spinal cord injury.

Meeting the Medical Criteria for a Spinal Cord Listing

close up of book spine with a penThe Blue Book, which is the medical guide used by the Social Security Administration (SSA), covers spinal cord injuries under Section 1.04– Disorders of the Spine. To be approved for disability benefits using this listing, you must be able to provide medical evidence that shows spinal cord damage. You will also need proof that your spinal cord injury causes nerve root compression that results in weakness, pain, and the inability for effective ambulation. These things must be shown through physician statements, medical images, and treatment records.

If you are paralyzed, but don’t qualify through that listing, refer to Section 11.00 – Neurological Disorders. Spinal cord disorders are evaluated under Listing 11.08. Spinal cord disorders with complete loss of function are under listing 11.08A, which covers a lack of sensory, autonomic, and motor functioning of the affected body part. Spinal cord disorders with disorganization of motor function are under listing 11.08B, which addresses in less than a complete loss of functioning in the affected body part, which means a reduction of functioning.

Medical Vocational Allowance

Individuals who have spinal cord injuries might not be able to work because of being in a wheelchair, because of incontinence issues, or because of the overall body fitness decrease that causes them to be unable to perform any work, including a sedentary job. The SSA will review the overall picture and the different circumstances when rendering a decision. An individual will only be approved for disability benefits if he or she can show that they are unable to work because of the spinal cord injury.

Using a medical vocational allowance, you can be approved for disability benefits by all your symptoms and conditions being considered in conjunction with your age, educational background, work history, and transferrable skills. This will determine what kind of work, if any, you can perform.

Applying for Disability Benefits

If you are ready to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you can start the process online. You can also start the process over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 or by calling and setting up an appointment with a representative at your local SSA office. Documentation, including hard medical evidence, is the key to having a successful disability claim.

Learn more from Disability Benefits Help here.

Resources Found Via:

Disability Benefits: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/
AMS Vans: https://www.amsvans.com/about
Blue Book Description: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/blue-book
Blue Book Listing: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/1.00-Musculoskeletal-Adult.htm#1_04
Blue Book Listing: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/11.00-Neurological-Adult.htm#11_08
Medical Vocational Allowance: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/medical-vocational-allowance
Apply Here: https://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/
Local Offices: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp