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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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

group shot including a boy on a therapy bike

Bubba’s Story Inspires a Community

Upon having his adaptive bike stolen from his backyard, Beorn (fondly known as Bubba) and his family were devastated. The ability to go for a bike ride is something many of us take for granted. Not only was his bike crucial in his ongoing therapy, but it connected him to his family and all the other kids out there. With a several thousand-dollar price tag and four other kids to look after, Bubba’s mother, Stephanie, was at a loss on what to do next. So, she created a Facebook post, and it all started from there.

social media screenshot of boy in a therapy bike that got stolen

“When all this started, I was upset someone had taken my boy’s bike and knew it would be years before I could replace it. I was disheartened, to say the least. I felt like there was no point in reporting the loss, but I’m so glad I was persuaded to do it. Instead of being a bitter experience it has turned into this amazing thing I could have never of imagined. I was excited when we had over 100,000 shares – my mind is still blown!

My phone has literally been blowing up. I’ve tried to respond to messages but just can’t even keep up. The overwhelming response of support and love for my boy brings me to tears. I am beyond words to ever express how grateful and appreciative we are to everyone who has shared my posts, commented with support or advice, offered to set up a Go Fund Me, or to buy a new bike out right. I’m still in awe over all this.

I’ve heard many times “people suck,” but I believe all this has proven just the opposite. Big hearts are what I’ve seen from all of this, and that’s my takeaway: most people are good and caring,” shared Stephanie.

screenshot of news story, headline reading "community steps up to help valley teen"

An AMS Vans employee saw Bubba’s story on the local news and noticed the family was driving one of their vans.  He asked his senior managers how they could help, and the business immediately reached out to the family to offer a new bike custom-built to Bubba’s needs.

“Our mission is to really provide independence through mobility solutions, and while yes we do sell vans, Bubba’s independence was getting on the bike and riding with his brothers and sisters,” said general manager Randy Shiller. 

screenshot of news story, headline reading "boy gets new special needs bike"

One month later, the big “bike reveal” happened on a beautiful day at a local park with the family, community and media in attendance – everyone sharing in the special moment. After a quick fitting fromNumotion, Bubba was off again with a happy smile back on his face.

back of a therapy bike for kids with a custom license plate that reads "bubba" 

While AMS Vans provided Bubba with a new Rifton Adaptive Tricycle, there are still many families and children like him in need. And, you can help.

The Suzy Foundationis a charity especially close to Beorn’s family’s heart. The foundation specializes in helping to obtain assistive equipment for individuals with special needs – like this amazing bike.

To get involved, go to suzyfoundation.org

A special thanks to the local media for helping share Bubba’s story. You can watch their coverage below.

Bubba Needs Help:

NBC 12 News
ABC 15 Arizona
AZ Family 3TV & CBS 5

The Community Steps Up:

NBC 12 News
ABC 15 Arizona
AZ Family 3TV & CBS 5

Bubba Gets a New Bike:

NBC 12 News
ABC 15 Arizona

flat tire with jack

Items to Keep in Your Vehicle in Case of an Emergency

We can’t always predict what is going to happen, but we can take some steps to prepare for an emergency or unexpected situation. While you might already have your vehicle’s owner’s manual and insurance information available, adding a few more essential items in your vehicle goes a long way in making an emergency manageable, safer and more comfortable for all involved.

Let’s look at a few of those essential items you should always keep in your vehicle to be safe:

First Aid Kit

You can either purchase a prepackaged one or assemble your own first aid kit. If you choose to assemble your own kit, make sure you include bandages in various sizes, sanitary gloves, antibiotic cream, pain relievers, gauze, cotton swabs, as well as a hand sanitizer. Also, consider including a thermometer, heating pad, and medications you feel you might need.

Warning Devices

In case you are stuck on a busy road or in traffic, having an emergency signal or road flare will warn other motorists that your car is stalled. While some are foldable and can fit in your glove box, avoid storing your flares there or in any part of your car that gets very warm. It might also help to read up on the proper and safe way of lighting a road flare.

Map

Most people are so comfortable these days relying on their phones for navigation, that they don’t think to keep a map in their vehicle. It’s a good idea though, so you can find your way if your phone or other GPS device fails.

map

 

Spare Tire and Jumper Cables

They both can provide makeshift solutions to the most common issues you will experience with your vehicle. If you can find room in your vehicle, the spare tire will be useful when replacing a flat, while the jumper cables can be utilized to jump-start your vehicle in case of a dead battery. Even if you’re not able to use these things, having them handy will still help if a fellow motorists stops to lend a hand.

Tire Iron, Jack, and Tire Wedges

Having the proper tools to fix a flat tire is also a good idea. Whether it will be someone else changing the flat tire or you will be the one doing it yourself, having the right tools is the first key step. The tire wedges help keep your vehicle from rolling.

Flashlight

Though you might be tempted to use your phone as a source of light, it is best to save your battery, especially if you won’t be able to charge your phone. A flashlight is a better option – and offers brighter light, too. It will make it possible for you to analyze the extent of the emergency at night, and even signal someone for help. Remember always to have spare batteries.

Warm Clothes and Blanket

Keeping warm clothes and a blanket is essential, especially when temperatures drop, and your heater doesn’t work. Consider storing a thermal sleeping bag or a fleece blanket. Clothes like gloves, hats, and an extra sweater will be sure to keep you warm if you get stranded in cold places. Even during warmer months, temperatures can drop at night.

desert road

Food and Water

Store a few bottles of drinking water for drinking, and extra jugs for cooling your engine, in your trunk. Consider keeping some packets of electrolyte powered to add to your water to help you stay hydrated. Non-perishable food items and high-protein snack foods are also good to keep on hand in case you become stranded for a lengthy period of time. Energy bars are a great choice and last a while.

Chargers

Our phones play an important role in our lives, from communication to telling the time to our navigation. So, if your phone dies, your emergency situation could get more challenging. To be proactive, try to keep an extra phone charger in your vehicle at all times.

If you use a power wheelchair or another medical device that requires power, be sure to carry extra chargers for those in your vehicle, as well.

Towel and/or Cleaning Wipes

Depending on the type of situation you find yourself in, a towel or cleaning wipes may come in handy. You could need to clean up a spill in the vehicle or wipe your hands off.

These are just a few items that could go along way to making your unfortunate situation a little easier. So, grab a duffle bag or plastic storage tub and keep all these items somewhere accessible for a rainy day!

Peace of Mind with VMI Assurance

If you do find yourself on the side of the road, you won’t have to be there long with VMI Assurance. No one likes getting stranded in a broken-down vehicle, but we know that for a driver or passenger with mobility challenges, that situation can be much more than an inconvenience. Unfortunately, most roadside service or repair companies aren’t typically equipped to assist with getting accessible vehicles back on the road, and they’re especially not prepared to transport individuals with mobility challenges. Well, at VMI, we’re all about fixing problems for our customers. That’s why we partnered with Mobility Roadside Assistance™ (MRA) and At-Home Service™ provided by Wrench, Inc. to deliver the VMI Assurance program—an exclusive solution offered by VMI.

informative graphic about VMI Assurance program

Through our VMI Assurance program, we will provide one year of complimentary roadside assistance for customers who purchase a new or used vehicle with a new conversion from AMS Vans. What makes this different from other roadside services is that in addition to taking care of the vehicle, Mobility Roadside Assistance (MRA) will also assist the driver and passengers with paratransit service, ensuring they don’t end up stranded on the side of the road!

Contact us to learn more today!