Tag Archives: Paralysis

bright orange pumpkins in a pumpkin patch

10 Creative Halloween Costume Ideas for Wheelchair-Users

It’s hard to believe that Halloween is almost here and will kick off the holiday season. This first fall holiday is all about having fun – dressing up for trick-or-treating, costume parades, sweet snacks, scary movies and parties are common pastimes. If you’re incorporating a wheelchair into your costume, it’s an opportunity to bring some extra creativity. Many creative kids and inventive adults have truly taken this task to the next level.

If you’re still trying to decide on your costume or helping out a loved one, check out these cool costumes.

Master of the Seas

Building a ship around a wheelchair for Halloween gives way to all sorts of fun costume ideas. Dressing up as a generic pirate is a classic costume, but other options include more specific choices, such as Captain Jack Sparrow, Blackbeard, the famous female pirate Anne Bonny, Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid or, for kids, Moana is a great option.

Supplies:

  • Cardboard for ship
  • Tall stick and sheet-flag
  • Markers and paint
little girls in power chair dressed up as Moana

Photo: thislittlemiggy.com

I Am Batman

Over many decades, boys, girls and adults have adored the popular Batman franchise whose heroic characters may lack superpowers but have gadgets galore including the infamous Batmobile. Parents of eleven-year-old Gavin truly enjoyed going all out building Batman’s ride to transport their son around their neighborhood in style on Halloween. You can try to build something similar to them, or create a less-complex version with cardboard. One thing’s for sure – this would be a costume to remember!

Cruising in a Kayak

boy incorporating his wheelchair into a halloween costume of him riding in a kayakSpeaking of water, the creative minds over at the Fine Craft Guild have showcased a boy riding inside his rowing vessel with the namesake “Toddler Tour Kayaks.” This watercraft Halloween costume almost completely encompasses the tiny tot’s wheelchair and comes complete with oars as trim. Paint any name you want on the side!

Supplies:

  • Large pieces of cardboard
  • Paint
  • Clear packing tape
  • Straps or zip-ties to attach the “kayak” to the chair
  • Small oars for props

Princess Power

Little girls have been dreaming about being Disney princesses for decades. Thus, a four-year-old from Minneapolis made headlines with her Princess Sophia-inspired carriage complete with lights and trim. Kudos to the design team behind this transformed a motorized wheelchair. All you need is a princess outfit, then decide how elaborate you want to decorate the “thrown.” You could go all out by attaching cardboard or just tie some cool streamers and bows onto the chair to make it fancy.

 

Seated on The Game of Thrones

Adults can get in on the Halloween fun, too!  If you’re willing to put some time and energy into a bit more of an elaborate costume – and if you’re a fan of the show – this Game of Thrones-inspired throne could be a perfect choice. Although “winter is coming,” the person who shows up in his costume should get more than a warm welcome this Halloween.

guy in a power chair in a game of thrones halloween costume

 

Super Smart Mario Kart

Super Mario and all the related games are iconic across generations. Mario Kart is a fun and creative option for a Halloween costume incorporating a wheelchair. Standard supplies are below, but images and full instructions for re-creating Mario’s Kart can be found on the blog from Wheelchair Costumes. Just pick your favorite Super Mario character costume to top it all off!

Supplies:

  • Cardboard Vehicle Frame
  • Styrofoam Booster Jets
  • Tissue Paper Flames
  • Paint

Rocking and Rolling

boy in a wheelchair with a halloween costume that looks like he is playing the drumsAnother fun costume idea from Fine Craft Guild, is a rock star. While the drummer is commonly seated at the back of the band, with this costume, percussion takes center stage. With a little imagination, this musician is seated behind a sweet bass drum and smaller drums, and symbols, too. Throw on some rock star attire, and this costume is ready to roll!

Supplies:

  • A hula hoop
  • Cardboard
  • Solid-colored gift wrap (shiny for more effect)
  • 2 coffee cans
  • 2 disposable pie tins
  • A stick or pole for the symbols (pie tins)
  • Drum sticks for props

Race Car Driver (or other cool car)

For those who like to go fast, there are so many possible designs to turn a wheelchair into a super cool fast car. From an Indie 500 car to the Delorean, to your favorite sports car, there are lots of options. Similar to Mario Kart, all you need is cardboard and paint, plus a helmet for the full effect. You could even attach some battery-powered LED lights on the front for a cool effect!

Life on the Farm

Another creative costume for kids and adults involves transforming the wheelchair into a tractor! With similar supplies as we’ve mentioned above, and a little green or yellow paint, it’s easy to become a full-fledged farmer this Halloween. Grab a cowboy hat, a bandana and a piece of straw to chew on, and you’re all set! Yee-haw, ya’ll!

little boy in a wheelchair with a tractor costume

 

 

If you’re in the market for a new wheelchair accessible vehicle or need a rental to make this Halloween special, be sure to check out our huge inventory of new and used vans. From all of us here at AMS Vans, we hope that all who celebrate enjoy safe and happy Halloween festivities! If Halloween’s not your thing, then we wish you a Happy Fall!

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.

ice cream melting in the summer

9 Tips on Staying Cool and Hydrated in the Heat

While Fall and its cooler temperatures are on the horizon, much of the U.S. is still experiencing the hottest temperatures they’ll see all year. With extreme heat, the risk for dehydration increases significantly, not to mention simple overheating. It is crucial for everyone to regulate their body temperatures during this period, but for those living with a disability, especially paralysis, it is even more critical.

With you in mind, here are a few tips on how you can stay cool as we wrap up summer, with hydration being the most important.

Siblings walking disabled brother in wheelchair in water along beach to stay cool and hydrated

1. Stay Hydrated

If you do nothing else, stay hydrated. Water has many advantages; not only does drinking water help you cool down and regulate your body temperatures, but it also helps to replenish the water leaving your body through sweat. On average, adult males should consume around ten cups of water per day, while women should drink about eight cups to avoid dehydration. Dehydration is usually signified by dry mouth, thirst, headaches, and dizziness – and if it becomes a long-term issues, it can contribute to other health problems.

A couple tips on staying hydrated? Find a water-bottle you love and carry it with you at all times. Consider getting a cup-holder for your wheelchair if you don’t have one to carry your water. There are apps that help you track water intake, which can make it kind of like a game. There are even smart bottles that help track for you!

If you need a little flavor to drink more water, try adding some fruit, like lemon, orange or strawberry slices to your bottle. Or, check out some of these popular, all-natural flavorings that you can find at most grocery stores.

2. Pick the Right Clothing

Wear breathable material such as cotton because the fabric is known to allow better air circulation, which will help keep you cool because the air absorbs the moisture from your body’s sweat. The even make cooling clothing!!

3. Eat Lighter Meals

As most of us know, from our memories of Thanksgiving dinners, having large meals leave us feeling bloated, heavy and in a sort of ‘food coma.’ While that’s common during the holidays, having heavy meals in the summer is not advisable. This is because the high temperature already has your body working overtime to cool you down, adding the work of digesting a heavy meal will leave you with low energy levels. Save your body the extra work and stick to lighter meals. There are also specific foods that are said to cool the body, according to Chinese Medicine, including lettuce, celery, cucumbers and many types of fruit!

4. Try Some Fruit Ice Blocks

Treat yourself by trying out fruit ice blocks. Blueberries and raspberries in diluted apple juice is one of the mixtures you could try out. It’s like making homemade popsicles! If you make them in ice trays, you can add them to your water, too!

5. Get Wet

Taking multiple cold showers or baths during the day not only helps to relieve the heat and humidity of the summer temporarily, but it leaves you feeling clean and fresh instead of fatigued. Or, take a dip in a pool or lake – whatever you have available! If submersing yourself in water isn’t doable, try laying some wet rags around your main arteries, like your neck, underarms and thighs. You could also soak your feet or hands in cold water.

woman floating in pool

6. Protect Yourself From the Sun

Prolonged sun exposure can cause health problems like heat strokes. Avoid staying too long in the sun, and when exposed to sunlight, use sunscreen or cover yourself with clothing to protect your skin from sunburns and prevent overheating. Bring a hat, and don’t forget to protect your eyes with some shades!

7. Cool Your Home

There are a lot of ways to make sure your home is cool. Try placing a tray or a bowl of ice in front of the fan in a room. As the ice melts, cool air is spread throughout the room, in the end, leaving you with a nicely chilled space. It’s also helpful to let cool air in at night through windows and close them when the sun comes up.

8. Stay Informed

Make sure you stay updated on weather forecasts; especially the temperature. Knowing the expected weather changes makes it possible for you to plan your activities. Being prepared for extreme heat is the best way to protect yourself.

9. Listen to Your Body

This is one of the most important things to remember. It is vital to listen to what your body is saying. If you feel unwell, have a headache or a fast pulse, it could be signs of heat exhaustion which if not checked, can lead to heatstroke. If you have these symptoms, move to a cool place, have try to relax and consume plenty of fluids.

You can always stop by one of our AMS showrooms to get out of the heat, too, and check out our selection of wheelchair accessible vehicles! We have locations in Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix

Inclusive Technology: 5 Smart Devices That Increase Independence for People With Disabilities

smart phone controlling colored philips hue lights in home

Philips Hue Lights (photo: Engadget.com)

For people with physical disabilities, smart technology is more than just a convenience; it can be the key to increased independence. Today, smart technology is available for almost every aspect of our lives. It has been integrated into homes, vehicles, and mobile phones – and it seems new technologies become available everyday.

Here is some common smart technology that’s available:

1. Smart Speakers

Devices such as the Amazon EchoEcho Spot, and Echo Dot act as virtual assistants, making it possible for you to use your voice to control certain devices in your home. Those with limited hand mobility can now turn on the television, change the channel, and create a shopping list with a few words.

Devices like Alexa and the Apple Home app let you do more than just control devices; you can set up automated scenes as well. These give you the option of controlling multiple devices at once.

2. Smart Lights

The Philips Hue Light Bulbs, for example, can be controlled by the use of your smartphone and their compatibility with Alexa and Google Home allows you to control your lights by voice command as well. It is now possible to adjust brightness, schedule when the lights go on and off or even change their color. So, these cool lights not only improve independence for folks with limited mobility, but they can also change to suit your mood.

3. Smart Plugs

The VOCOlinc power strips make it possible for you to switch off or on appliances that are plugged into the socket. This is done either by a speaker or phone. This proves helpful, especially since most sockets are low and often difficult to reach.

4. Smart Doorbells

Doorbells today such as the Ring Doorbell come fitted with motion-sensor cameras that display footage of whoever is at your door on your phone’s screen. This provides the added security of knowing who is at the door before opening it. Others have the option of letting you speak to whoever is at the door through your phone.

5. Smart Locks

sebastian-scholz-nuki-IJkSskfEqrM-unsplash smart devices

Smartphone held at the door to auto-unlock it.

If you have visitors, you can give them access to your home without having to open the door. You also have the option of doing away with having to lock and unlock the deadbolt or fumble with keys.

The August Smart Lock, for instance, is a device that is attached to your door’s deadbolt and contains a motor that turns the deadbolt. Using either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you can control the lock on your door. It is also compatible with Alexa, Google Home, and HomeKit, allowing you to operate the lock on your door with a simple voice command.

You are also able to grant people access to your home by sending an invite to their phone. This gives them access to your home but on your schedule. It notifies you each time the door is unlocked or locked and also records who entered your home and when. This could be really helpful to let in caretakers or visitors.

…And There’s More!

Smart devices do not just end there; there is also the option of getting a robotic vacuum cleaner like the Roomba 675 to help keep your home clean. A smart ceiling fan or wifi-controlled thermostat can help regulate your home’s temperature. Smart devices and their implementation in smart homes are continuously giving those with disabilities more independence than ever before.

Speaking of technology that increases independence, did you know we provide more than just wheelchair accessible vehicles at AMS Vans? We also offer adaptive driving aids, powered transfer seats and much more! Learn more here.