Wheelchair Blog from AMS Vans

Welcome! We know there's a reason you're here, and AMS Vans is honored to be part of your world. We hope you'll visit our wheelchair blog often, because we promise to bring you an engaging perspective every day.

A physical disability presents unique challenges for the individual, the family and the caregivers. Our wheelchair blog is here to empower all of you with tips, trends in wheelchair technology, wheelchair news, inspiring stories, insightful interviews, medical breakthroughs, helpful links, the latest in adaptive products, disability news, upcoming events and, of course, information about AMS Vans' wheelchair accessible vehicles. We focus on anything and everything that enriches your life and makes it easier.

Buying a handicap accessible van is a defining moment in the life of an individual who wants manageable mobility beyond the wheelchair. We have handicap vans for sale, and we want to ensure the process—from the moment it begins—is as smooth as possible. When you purchase a wheelchair van from us, the process never truly ends, because you become part of the AMS family. Just like family, we stay in touch and care about your happiness.

We'd love to hear from you—even if it's just to say "hello!" Your thoughts matter, so take time to comment on the articles that interest you, inspire you, or provoke you. Every question, suggestion or concern you share with us helps us make our wheelchair blog better and more useful for all our readers. At AMS Vans, we want to get to know you, and we want you to get to know us!

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Extreme Makeover Home Edition to Make Home Wheelchair Accessible

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Episode to air Sunday, December 13th with Mary J. Blige

The episode features a makeover of the home of Clara Ward, who suffers from a degenerative muscular disease called myasthenia gravis. Clara had a childhood full of hardships, but instead of allowing that and her physical challenges to take center stage in her life, she determined to make a difference in the lives of the disadvantaged youth in her home town of Erie, PA. For many years she’s put her own needs second to those of the next generation, feeding, clothing, and counseling & teaching them in her home.

But that two story home has fallen into disrepair over the years and threatens her efforts to help others. Clara’s had to deal with a leaking roof, faulty sewage line and a cracked foundation, as well as the fact that her home is not wheelchair accessible, making it necessary for her to “commute” between her daughter’s home and her own in order to carry on her mission.

In this week’s episode, Mary J. Blige lends her hand to the show’s design team, led by Ty Pennington, adding her own personal touches to theirs, including making Clara’s home fully wheelchair accessible.

Yes, There is an App for That! iPhone Application for Power Wheelchairs

A new application by wheelchair controls company Dynamic Controls has just been released, which checks for diagnostic problems and gives the user access to speed information, compass data, and other real-time information about their power wheelchair. The application is made for Apple’s iPhone or iPod Touch, and it connects to the wheelchair via Bluetooth. It also comes with a cradle to charge the iPhone or iPod.

The CEO of Dynamic Controls, Charlotte Walsh was glad to take the opportunity to use Apple’s developer program to develop this application. She said, “We recognised the iPhone has revolutionised the way people communicate and saw the opportunity to develop this solution for wheelchair users.”

While the application cannot control the wheelchair, it can be fitted to any Dynamic Controls DX, DX2, or Shark wheelchair control system. Once it is installed (the installation is quick and easy – similar to installing a Bluetooth headset), the user has access to a wealth of real-time information about their power wheelchair.

While some people consider Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch purely entertainment devices, there have been many applications and features that have been truly unique and innovative.

Dynamic Controls

Experimental Drug May Restore Nerve Function in Spinal Cord Injuries

Scientists at Purdue University have found that an experimental drug may be able to restore function in people who have experienced spinal cord injury, and may be beneficial for those with multiple sclerosis as well. The medication prevents short circuits in the damaged nerves.

A type of spinal cord trauma called compression injury is the type of injury responsible for many spinal cord injuries. In a compression injury, the nerves are not severed, so they are easier to work with. The compound is called 4-aminopyridine-3-methyl hydroxide, and in guinea pig spinal cord tissue, it showed restored function to damaged axons.

Riyi Shi, a professor in Purdue University said the findings were made possible because of the cooperation at Purdue. The research was completed by many scientists from the medicinal chemistry, physical pharmacy, biomedical engineering, chemistry, and neurology departments.

The researchers stressed the spinal cord tissue to duplicate what happens in a compression injury that often results in paralysis. After, they treated the damaged cells with 4-aminopyridine-3-methyl hydroxide. The axons, which are covered in myelin, which is a fatty insulation that is damaged in spinal cord trauma, shrinks when injured. The experimental drug prevents the uninsulated nerves from leaking electrical current. This improves the conduction of electricity around the spinal cord.
The new drug is much more potent than previous medications used to treat MS.

“The compound could make it possible to sidestep spinal cord damage by enabling axons to transmit signals as though they were still sheathed in myelin. As a result, the damaged nerves perform more like healthy nerves than those treated with other drugs,” Shi said.

The research, which was featured in the November issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology, was funded by the Purdue Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Today December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The theme for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 3, 2009 is “Making the MDGs Inclusive: Empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities around the world.”

This year’s theme was selected to emphasize the importance of including people with disabilities in effecting the goals stated in the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, thereby empowering them. It is essential that the commitment to integrating disabled people into achieving these global MDGs is carried through from policy into practice.

The MDGs, or Millennium Development Goals, are eight goals from the United Nations Millennium Declaration that was accepted by 189 nations during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000, with the goal of seeing them fully realized by 2015. The MDGs are:
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) is a vital way through which persons with disabilities can be mainstreamed into the developmental aspects of achieving these goals. A good CBR program includes access to health care, education, livelihood, community participation and inclusion and will result in empowerment of people with disabilities and their families.

Some ways to observe this event which can and should include people with disabilities:

  • Hold forums and open discussions to discuss and highlight issues which affect the disabled and ways to include them in the developmental process
  • Showcase the accomplishments and skills of people with disabilities in performances in which they live
  • Increase public awareness regarding the progress and achievements of, as well as the obstacles facing people with disabilities by focusing media attention on the observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

For further, detailed information on today, see the United Nations.

Are you doing anything special today? Or have you seen other organizations with interesting campaigns?