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#Awareness Blog

Welcome to our blog entitled #Awareness.  This is a space that will delve into disabilities.   Good, bad, or neutral the information should help provide an “Awareness”.  Hopes being that through the information we have provided, you gain a greater Awareness what is happening to people with disabilities.  

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  • 27 Aug 2021 2:38 PM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

              Just before the Emergency Preparedness Month of September, powerful storms in mid-August wreaked havoc and knocked out power for people all over Michigan.  Those without generators for backup power were left with no working lights, no running water, no AC, no Internet or TV, and we continually flipped light switches as we entered rooms only to remember that there wasn’t any power.  Planning is the key to making emergencies and power outages more manageable.  That’s what Emergency Preparedness Month is all about.

              Here in Michigan, the most common natural disasters include floods, severe storms (rain and snow), wildfires, power outages, and tornadoes.  Make a plan for the household of personal responsibilities and a location to safely meet depending on the circumstance(s).  If a tornado is coming, establish which room you are going to for safety or in case of a fire, where the household will meet outside. 

              Equally important is to make a kit/bag of supplies that can be tucked away but easy to get in the time of need.  The kit should include some basics that will be handy no matter the situation. Those basics are items without expirations like cash (credit card machines will not work), radios, and a written list of contacts and current medications.  Store shelf stable items such as distilled water, batteries, flashlight(s), non-perishable foods and a manual can opener, first-aid kit, and even a whistle to notify people are a good way to start. Also consider other unique needs you may have such as pets, baby food, etc. 

              To make emergency planning easier, use a system like www.do1thing.com to break the preparations into categories and by the month.  Instead of seeing a long list, you know that “x” month is time to focus on water and getting/having a 3 day supply of water per person, next month you focus on getting a 3 day supply of food per person, and the month after that you identify the best storm shelter in your home and practice getting there. 

              For people with disabilities, emergencies and power outages raise other concerns such as:

    • ·        How to charge a power mobility device or ventilator
    • ·        Alternative exits to using an elevator or a lift if they lose power
    • ·        How to keep insulin/medications viable and accessible
    • ·        The easiest exit to use in various emergency cases
    • ·        Hauling a kit with physical limitations

              These are major health and safety risks for people that rely on those machines for daily life.   

              There are many scenarios we don’t think about normally that become essential during unexpected circumstances.  Take the opportunity of Emergency Preparedness Month to become more aware. 

    People living in Jackson, Hillsdale, and Lenawee Counties can give key data to their county to keep on file in case of an emergency. People provide as much helpful info as they want.  Examples would be if someone is deaf, blind, uses a wheelchair, where bedrooms are located, information on pets or service animals, or any severe allergies, etc.  

    Alerts are sent to a smartphone during any nearby dangers such as severe weather or a missing person.

    Jackson County use this link

    Lenawee County use this link

    Hillsdale County use this link

    For even more information about emergency preparedness and ready kits go to https://www.ready.gov/  

    #Awareness.

  • 29 Jul 2021 12:48 PM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

    Written by: Holly Peterson

    Let's start with babies... you may have concerns with your infant or toddler's development, you can't quite pinpoint what it is, but you are just concerned. You have talked to your doctor and they told you to wait a little while "because all children develop a little differently at their own rate". This isn't yet settling to you because this is YOUR child and you want them to excel! It's a pretty easy answer~ all you have to do is contact Early On by calling 1-800-327-5966. They can talk to you about your concerns and offer free evaluations.

      Now, let's say your child is in elementary school and you have concerns about his/her ability to keep up with other students. Maybe your child has Cerebral Palsy, ADD or ADHD and focus is a big concern in their learning. There is a way to ask for help and to have assistance in a "formal plan" for their education..... This could happen with an IEP (Individual Education Plan) or a 504 Plan. First, an evaluation must be requested. In order to learn about his process ~ you can call us at disAbility Connections or contact Michigan Alliance for Families ~ michiganallianceforfamilies.org They have a most wonderful website full of information AND there is also a local parent mentor who can help you. I can't recommend this resource enough!

      Next, let's assume your child has a 504 Plan or an IEP providing the extra needed services already. Be sure that you understand how to make the most of that plan to best fit your child! We as parents need to educate ourselves so that we can best advocate for our child! We need to know how those supports will look as we transition from one classroom to several. Some special education settings and some inclusion classroom settings. Be sure you have a clear understanding of the "diploma" track or "certificate of completion" track. Some students qualify for services to the age of 26 in Michigan while others do not. Be sure you know the options.

      Graduation...this can be a scary process! This is something that you need to plan for far before 12th grade! Students with an IEP or 504 Plan may qualify for other community resources. They could come through providers like disAbility Connections, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Kit Young's ~ Young Adult Program Lifeways, or others. I am sorry to tell you that if you don't know about them ...you may not be told about them! Let me repeat... EDUCATE yourself!

      College, trade programs, and even volunteering can be your next level getting you closer to employment. Maybe college isn't for you, but getting work experience through employment or volunteering will be your "education". Showing employers that you are reliable, willing to learn, and work to your abilities is what will get you closer to paid employment in the end.

      Transition to "adulthood" is huge for both students and parents! I can NOT stress enough that you can contact me or other individuals in the know! Jackson County ISD contracts with me to work with families on these issues including guardianship, community resources, SSI, trusts, CHORE services, food benefits, respite, social programs, and job coaching to name a few. Typically I will meet with a family a few times to go over all that is available that fits the student, adult, and their needs. I can help direct and get you enrolled with LIFEWAYS, DHHS, SSI, and more. We will also talk about the future, what plans are for housing, living supports, finances, and more. As a parent of an adult child with special needs, I understand these programs and services first hand.

    There are additional programs through disAbility Connections that work with local students to build on work and self-help skills.


    #Awareness

  • 26 Jul 2021 1:53 PM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

    The Dahlem Center Provides Nature for All

    By: Brian Elliott

              Looking for a way to connect with nature and take a break from theA sign outside of the main office shows the route of the nature for all trail and provides a legend of the trail route and sites along the way hustle of daily life?  The Dahlem Center just outside of Jackson at 7117 South Jackson Road, is an incredible natural environment of nearly 300 acres. The Dahlem Center provides educational classes, summer camps, and a little something for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy.  Dahlem showcases 5 miles of natural hiking trails and a 2 people, 1 in a power wheelchair and the other in a manual wheelchair go down the crushed limestone accessible trail through the woods that line each side of the trail.nearly ½ mile accessible “Nature for All Trail” made of crushed limestone.  The Nature for All Trail takes people on a loop from the main entrance out through the woods and back to the main office building.  The trails are free to use and are open dawn to dusk year-round (including holidays). 

              My favorite part, aside from having an accessible trail, is the newest additions to the “Nature for All Trail” installed at the beginning of 2021.  New stations (developed in collaboration with Henry Ford Allegiance Health) posted along the trail (as shown in the photo below) demonstrate how to do some simple stretches or movements such as yoga poses, jumping jacks, plus arm/leg stretches.  Performing the exercises are a calming experience as you take in the natural sights and yoga station sign along the nature for all trail provides three yoga poses and instructions for doing the movement.sounds.  No longer do you hear the daily bustle of traffic and machinery.  Your eyes aren’t focused on a phone, television, or computer screen in front of you.  Instead, your senses can take in the rustling of leaves in all colors and sizes, and wildlife like birds and the scrunching of a squirrel as it scampers from one tree to another.  It is you and nature.  Simply, back to the basics. 

              Four spinning infographics are also posted along the accessiblealong the trail is posted 4 infographics on a post that people can spin and get information on trees and wildlife trail.  The infographics provide images and descriptions of what you can see as you look around the trail as you go.  The whole of nature is beautiful, and now you know what you are looking at.

              Next time you think you can use a break and unplug, check out the Dahlem Center.  A great place to connect with nature and see all of its stages from bloom to hibernation and everything in between. #Awareness

  • 23 Jun 2021 3:37 PM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

    Think First – Feet First

    Beware of diving into shallow or unknown waters

    By: Brian Elliott

              Diving is the fourth leading cause of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) among males and the fifth leading cause among females according to the Shepherd Center (a not-for-profit hospital based in Atlanta, Georgia).  I can still remember that Friday back in 2005 fairly well.  I got off of work and met up with some friends at a nearby lake to hang out.  A couple of hours later I was on a life-flight to Toledo after I dove off the pontoon boat.  In the following weeks, months, and years I have had to learn how to live as a person with a complete spinal cord injury

             According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, an estimated 11,000 spinal cord injuries occur in the United States each year800 of those spinal cord cases per year are caused by diving, with 90% resulting in paralysis (American Academy of Neurology).  One simple tip for staying safe and avoiding joining me in the SCI Diving Club:

    •  Feet first – ANYTIME you are entering a body of water for the first time.  This allows you to know what is under the water surface such as how deep it is and if there is something such as a log or sandbar that was not visible from above.  One exception is the deep end of a pool that is clearly visible to the bottom, labeled for diving and filled with water to the proper amount.

              Put in simple terms, learn what you are getting into before potentially making a fatal or tragic error.  I personally guarantee that a leg injury of some sort will be less costly (physically and financially) than any SCI.  Diving accidents can also happen when diving into oncoming waves, as is commonly done by people in the oceans.  Although, this can also happen to people that do the same thing in Michigan's Great Lakes or when waves throw people around under the water as seen in the photos at the bottom of the page.

              The unfortunate truth is that diving accidents are the most avoidable of the SCI.  People are going to lakes, rivers, pools, and more to keep cool as the weather heats up.  While these are great ways to relax and recreate, please do so responsibly!  Michigan provides some great water opportunities and we want you to enjoy yourself.  The best way to stay safe and avoid joining the SCI Diving Club is to remember and share “Think First-Feet First”.

    Read a first-hand experience with a diving SCI

    2 SCI mechanisms of injury are shown with color illustrations. on the left is a woman under water beneath a wave. her head and right arm are on the ground, her right arm is extended behind her back. her legs and other arm are above her and the wate is forcing them in the opposite direction, creating a rotational injury of the spinal cord. a red circle highlights a spot on her lower back and an inside look shows this movement caused fractured vertebrae along with twisted spinal cord. The image on the right is a man that has hit the ground with chin, bu his legs are still up in the air and are out of the shallow water. A red circle highlights the back of neck as it is hyperextended back toward the shoulders resulting in a ruptured ligament and spinal cord.2 mechanisms of injury are shown in color illustrations. on the left a woman has dove into shallow water and hit the top of her head on the bottom. and her legs are straight above and still out of the shallow water. there is a red circle highlighting the back of her neck as a vertical compression. the impact shows a compression fracture and compressed spinal cord injury. The image on the right is a man tat is under water below a wave that has forced him into a forward somersault. his head is on the ground but his body is above him and rolling over. a red circle highlights the back of his neck and hyperflexion. His head and chin are being forced to his chest resulting in a compressed fracture and compressed spinal cord with stretched ligament

  • 21 Jun 2021 12:22 PM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

    In emergency situations, time and information are extremely valuable.  Jackson, Hillsdale, and Lenawee Counties all have options that allow people to provide important emergency information to keep on file with emergency services. The nice part about this service is that you can provide as little or as much information as you feel comfortable.  You can provide details about your disability that they may need to know upon arrival for an emergency.  Such as, if you are deaf or blind, a wheelchair user, where your room is located, information on pets that may need to be rescued or relocated, or if you just want them to be aware that you have specific allergies, etc. This information can save valuable time during an emergency that responders can use before making contact, helping interactions with them to be smoother and more successful.

    These services are confidential, safe, secure, and your information is only available to emergency responders when you call for help.  None of your personal information is shared with any other organizations or agencies.

    Jackson dispatch uses an internal online fillable form for information you would like emergency responders to know.  You can submit the form online or print the form and mail, hand deliver, or email it to the dispatch office. Jackson dispatch also offer a service called Code Red that allows you to register to be alerted by email or smart phone when there is an emergency in our area such as Tornado, missing person, etc.

    You can find online information for the Jackson dispatch form here:  https://www.mijackson.org/FormCenter/Sheriff-50/Emergency-Response-Information-for-Indiv-92

    Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties each offer Smart 911.  Smart 911 is an online form that provides information you would like emergency responders to know about you.  With this service you can also request RAVE which notifies about emergencies in those counties.

    To find information on Hillsdale Smart 911: https://www.co.hillsdale.mi.us/index.php/tm-law-enforcement/tsm-crt-911/sm-911-rave

    To find information on Lenawee Smart 911:  https://www.lenaweealerts.com/

    If you would like further information on this service or assistance registering, a disAbility Connections staff would be happy to help.  Give us a call at 517-782-6054.


  • 15 Apr 2021 9:33 AM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

    Parkinson’s Awareness

    By: Brian Elliott

    April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

              Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) each year and it is estimated that in 2020 nearly one million people in the U.S. are living with PD.  What is Parkinson’s disease?  Parkinson's disease involves a decline in the function of the nervous system.  Commonly found in aging adults, PD gradually impacts the control a person has over their physical movements and emotional responses.  PD affects dopamine-producing neurons in the brain which send and receive signals from the body to the brain.  This helps to explain why a person with PD may display delayed or uncontrolled reactions physically and/or emotionally.  People are still able to go on living fulfilling lives as PD is not a terminal disease.  Unfortunately, there is currently no single test or scan to provide a Parkinson diagnosis, it takes a series of factors for a doctor to consider. 

    Common Symptoms

              Symptoms of PD slowly develop over time and can vary from one person to another.  Parkinson.org lists these common symptoms as three strong indicators that can help with a diagnosis. 

    • ·        Slowness of movements in automatic tasks like blinking or swinging arms while walking and initiating movement to rise from a chair,
    • ·        Rigidity of the body beyond normal stiffness associated with arthritis or old age, and tremors while at rest and commonly occurring in the hand, lower lip, jaw, or leg.is the involuntary tremors while at rest, especially within the hands. 
    • ·        Cognitive impairments are more common, and show through signs of cognitive impairment, depression, sleep behavior disorders, boredom or being indifferent
    That last category, cognitive impairments, are possibly more impactful on people.   They impact a person’s personality and mindset.  Sometimes the biggest factor involved is a sense of self-esteem or ego.  Like developing other disabilities, the personal struggle to recognize and accept the new body we are in and its physical/emotional changes is a monster of a hurdle in itself.   Accepting on a personal basis that we can no longer do all the things like before is extremely difficult for some people as it is a recognition we aren’t able to be totally independent.  An important step with successfully treating symptoms of PD is to work with a doctor and follow recommended therapies and medications.

    Parkinson’s Support Group

                In recognition of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, I recently spoke with a long-time employee and recent retiree from disAbility Connections, Carole Briggs BSN, RN. Carole has a wealth of knowledge and experience with Parkinson’s disease (PD), gathered from her career as a nurse working in elder care facilities. Her husband was diagnosed with PD in 1993, and she has led the Jackson Parkinson’s Support Group for the past 20+ years. 

              Following her husband’s diagnosis, they helped start the Jackson Parkinson’s Support Group. Providing educational speakers and offering a social opportunity to be around others in similar situations living with PD. At these monthly meetings - currently not being held as a COVID precaution - they have programming that includes speakers from various medical fields, legal experts, holiday pot luck and auction to raise funds for the Parkinson’s Foundation, and two times a year have sessions that were designed for the Parkinson persons and caregiver(s) to meet separately. These two meetings being especially important, providing temporary relief and a break from each other while allowing an extra opportunity to communicate between those in similar situations. As Carole told me, "there is more to a PERSON as a whole than simply another person with a shared characteristic of being a caregiver or having PD and these meetings are a chance to share resources, have fun, and socialize”.      

              These meetings are a chance to share resources and one of the resources commonly used is respite service.  Respite services provide a break of a few hours for the caregiver.  This link provides information to learn more about our respite program offered to families in Jackson County.

    Get Connected

              As a parting comment for anyone that is newly diagnosed and their families; Carole says “Get connected with Michigan’s Parkinson’s Foundation www.parkinsonsmi.org (248) 433-1011, for all of their beneficial resources and get connected with a support group in your area. They are all over the state. The lessons learned at a support group, being among others in similar situations, will be beyond helpful”.

    For a local Jackson Parkinson Support Group, contact Carole Briggs at 517-783-6527. In-person meetings are expected to start up again soon.


  • 05 Feb 2021 3:21 PM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

         Part of Sharing the Love theme with the month of February is acknowledging andAn elderly man with glasses sits on a wooden chair in a red and white striped shirt and jeans smiles and leans over to pet a black dog sitting beside him thanking those that have taken their time and energy and volunteered with us at disAbility Connections (dC). John Conley is one of those volunteers and the other day I had the pleasure of talking with him and hearing his voice (It's nice to hear a voice you haven't heard in a while, reach out and call a friend!) along with how he has been doing since COVID hit and about his time volunteering with dC.

             Following retirement he realized as many other retirees find, he had some time and he wanted to give back. So he began volunteering at the hospital and through that, he found to really like giving back to the community. John also enjoyed going to Jackson Crossing and taking walks with fellow community members. During one of his walks at Jackson Crossing, he mentioned that he was looking for other places to volunteer. Unbeknown to him, Jerry Jenkins (a board member at dC) heard the comment and suggested he check out disAbility Connections as a potential fit. It’s now 10 years later that he has been a dedicated volunteer with dC, coming in 1-2 days (pre-COVID) a week assisting at the front desk and wherever else he can help. 

             When I asked why he felt the urge to begin volunteering, he referred back to something that his father had mentioned and demonstrated “You have to give back before you take.” Aside from referring back to what had stuck with him from his father, he mentioned that he has really enjoyed the environment and the people he has been able to know over the years working for dC and helping the people coming through the doors for assistance. Some of his greatest pleasure has been taking people back into the Loan Closet room of durable medical equipment and helping people get what they will need to make their life easier and safer at home. Even mentioning how once people are back there, he can point other equipment that may be helpful but the person hadn’t thought of yet. They may have come in looking for a walker, but he can also point out the helpful options such as a shower bench or a commode. “It’s heartwarming to help people in need.”

              COVID has taken away his ability to volunteer which is unfortunate not only for him but selfishly for us as well as we don’t get to see and talk with him on a weekly basis anymore. There is a benefactor in this scenario though. Nina, his rescue dog has been able to relish in some extra lavish attention and time spent with him. As any pet lover will attest, seeing their faces and eyes light up when you enter the room or looking back at you with unconditional love is a feeling that warms the heart and soul. 

             John, on behalf of dC, THANK YOU for your extended support and service. We truly appreciate all that you have done with us. Without you (and all the others) that have given us your precious time and energy over the years, we wouldn’t be the organization we are today. Now give Nina an extra treat, ear scratches, and some belly rubs from the staff at dC. We look forward to seeing you back at the office once we can all be together again.

  • 15 Dec 2020 1:46 PM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

    Where Are All the People with Disabilities?

    By: Brian Elliott

    Not seeing/placing people with disabilities in all types of media continuescartoon image of a guy with glasses, in a red and white striped shirt and hat, blue pants and using a cane to walk to portray that we are unwelcome from social lives, activities, and businesses while supporting the impression that those with disabilities are unusual.  We know for a fact that is not true.  Statistically speaking, according to the Center for Disease Control, 25.6% of adults in the U.S. has some form of a disability while in Michigan the rate increases to 28.2%.  Using these facts, disabilities are all around us.  This brings about the question…  Where are all these people with disabilities?  As someone that uses a wheelchair, when I go out I don’t see many other people with visual disabilities and rarely encounter another wheelchair user in the general public.  Think back to the last time you saw a person with a disability in a show, movie, or even an advertisement.  Was it easy?  What was the context used?  The lack of representation in the media of people with disabilities of all types is both a missed opportunity and a representation of our society in general.

              Why do we generally stare at people?  It’s human nature.  Curiosity.  It is not something we have experienced or see very often, so we are curious.  I can admit I’m just as curious as the next cat.  Regardless, what if we had amputees, oxygen and ventilator users, people with depression, autism, Down syndrome, sign language, cerebral palsy, white canes, dwarfism, slurred speech, and so many other forms of disabilities with people of all ages portrayed across all media to increase their exposure as examples?  Through the increased media exposure it would start to break down the barriers and stigmas that shroud people with disabilities.  Some companies such as BBC Studios, have implemented an inclusive rider to incorporate such changes. Through increased media exposure normalizing people with disabilities being active community members, the urge to stare would be less and less as we grow more accustomed to seeing ALL people as viable participants.

              These simple steps towards greater inclusion will be beneficial on all fronts.  People with disabilities can recognize that we are not alone, instead we are welcomed and deserve to enjoy all the services and comforts as everyone else.  Businesses would have the chance to welcome a whole portion of the population that was feeling segregated and opening the door for more cross-cultural interactions and conversations to take place between community members.   Also, these inclusive measures increase potential for employment opportunities among people with disabilities.  You’ll be amazed at what people with disabilities bring to the table when they are asked and when their spot has been modified to allow their full participation. 

              As we venture into 2021, let’s make a collective effort to include more people with different abilities and backgrounds.  Actions and speaking out shouldn’t necessarily always have to come from the person with a disability either.  You can attend public meetings for city council, planning commissions, school boards, and while in businesses ask how they intend to include people with disabilities and if they were sought out for input on how decisions and policies will impact their lives.  There is a wealth of information, life experiences, personalities, and capital around us that our communities will benefit from tapping. 

    For some examples, these four holiday movies are inclusive of people with disabilities on screen.

  • 04 Dec 2020 12:23 PM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

    By: Brian Elliottimage shown is the levels of a pressure sore and what the body looks like in a diagram for a stage 1 sore

              There may be something lurking below the surface we need to have on our radars.  As many continue to work from home and our daily temperatures continue their downward trends, people are spending more time inside.  As we become less active, something to be mindful of is the potential of developing a pressure sore.   Especially those that spend a majority of their day sitting or in bed with limited or no ability to change positions or provide forms of pressure relief. 

              A pressure sore actually begins below the skin surface.  Commonly appearing on areas of the skin with bony parts of a body like the tailbone, heel, or hips as examples.  It will occur when the blood is restricted and there is pressure being applied from an outside source like a chair, bed, or shoe.  Sores are assessed by stages 1-4.  Stage 1 being on the relatively minor side and with proper recognition and treatment can be gone in as little as a few days to a week or two.  Although, it can easily become more serious. Each stage ratcheting up the danger level and extending the recovery process.  Stage 4 sores often require hospitalization and potential surgery followed by a recovery time table between a few months to two years. Serious complications like infection to the bone, extended bed rest (weeks to months), potential amputations or other life threatening situations may occur if a sore gets to this stage.

               Most vulnerable to developing a pressure sore are people with reduced mobility.  Other contributing factors putting people at higher risk of sores are:

    • ·        Medical conditions impacting blood flow (such as diabetes)
    • ·        Lack of nutrition and hydration
    • ·        Incontinence (prolonged exposure to urine and feces breaks down skin)

              Common causes are from extended time in one position without pressure relief, clothing bunched under a person and sitting on it, or heels of shoes or socks that are pressing on the heel or Achilles are some examples.  Symptoms to be aware of include redness around the skin that doesn’t go away, sensitivity to touch, skin breakage, or a puss-like substance draining.

              The keys to pressure sore prevention/treatment are the ability to provide pressure relief and change positions along with early recognition and proper care and follow through of wound treatment.  If you become concerned, include medical professionals.  Another important fact if you acquire a pressure sore and it heals, that spot will continue to be vulnerable area and an easier location for any potential return of a pressure sore as that area has already been damaged.  Stay vigilant with your prevention precautions and wound care if any pressure sore ever develops.  #Awareness

               

    Additional Info on Stages and Treatment of Pressure Sores

  • 04 Dec 2020 11:34 AM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

    Pressure Sores.  A Personal Experience

    By Brian Elliott

              I remember my first introduction to a pressure sore following my spinal cord injury and stay in the hospital.  The nurses came in and said it was time to change the dressing.  Within seconds of removing the bandage, a funky smell began overtaking and filling the air in the room.  I couldn’t wait for them to do their job of cleansing and replacing the dressing.  They couldn’t do it fast enough as I tried to ignore them and what they were doing.  I just closed my eyes and tried to breathe through my mouth.  Then they were gone and I was left with a pungent aroma that seemed to linger in the room.  “How often do they do that?” I asked my roommate.  The nurses had just changed the dressing on a pressure sore he had developed on his backside.

              That was a learning moment.  Pressure sores = bad.  As a newly injured person with a spinal cord injury, my nurses and doctors were adamant with these new terms of ‘pressure sores’ and ‘pressure relief’a device used to keep a person's heels and ankles from getting pressure sores while lying in bed and my need to change positions.  They implemented a process of turning me throughout the day and night every two hours while I laid in bed.  I was allowed three positions.  Through the use of rolled sheets and pillows propping me up, they would align me on my left side, flat on my back, and right side.  Placing a pillow between my knees and putting these “moon boots” on that would protect my heels/ankles from lying on the bed.  Remember, bony areas of the body without much fat or muscle are most vulnerable to developing a pressure sore. 

              Once I was out of the bed for a while and in a power chair they would still request I did a pressure relief, which I did through a function of the wheelchair that allowed it to “tilt” back as seen in the photo.   Effectively moving the areas that were taking direct pressure, hence “pressure relief”.  That was my only method when I lacked the physical A power shows the tilt feature. Rather than sitting straight up, the chair tilts back and the person is leaned back and their feet rise in the airstrength to readjust my position.  But, I also soon found comfort being in the chair and tilting back just a little to relax and hangout or watch TV.  I’d sit for hours with a slight tilt and eventually developed my own pressure sore on my tailbone.  I had been worried about my butt, thought by leaning back slightly I was doing the right thing and saving my tush.  In reality, all I was doing was moving off my butt and now sitting more directly on my bony tailbone.  I wasn’t very big to begin with and had lost 20-30 lbs while in the hospital.  There was very minimal natural protection anywhere on my backside, I eventually developed a stage 1 sore that was noticed by an aide one morning while getting dressed.  Thankfully that was caught early and acted as a reminder I needed to be more vigilant in changing positions and checking for potential sores.

              Then a while after that all healed, I found another spot one night when I was getting undressed.  Apparently while getting dressed that morning the back of my shoe had rolled over and was pushing on my heel/Achilles area through the whole day.  Without sensation that something may be hurting, I never knew.  This was a little more serious.  Borderline stage 2 pressure sore.  Thankfully it was in a location that was easy to remove all the pressure. I went without a sock or shoe and just a simple house slipper on that foot for almost a month while taking care of that new sore.  One of the few times that not being able to walk has proven helpful.  It prevented me from re-opening the wound.  I have since become devoted to checking my heels for rolled socks or shoes everyday as I get in my chair in the mornings.

              I have chalked those two sores up as adjusting to life with a spinal cord injury and learning to understand my body.  Grateful that the sores weren’t more serious.  Important lessons learned none the less.  Since then, I have been pressure sore free.  Once you become a member of the wheelchair user club, pressure sores are likely to pop up and pretty much everyone in the club has had one or at least knows some people that have.   Use the lessons learned through others experiences as helpful tips and reminders to be careful about yourself.  As always, it is extremely helpful to educate yourself on ways that may help, like different cushions or seating posture to help distribute weight better and away from sensitive areas.  It is important to always be conscious about your body and how you are treating it.  You only get one, treat it well by staying vigilant and it will reward you with longevity.  #Awareness

             Have an experience you want to share or tips for people to avoid getting a sore?  Share the info in the comments below to help other people know more about pressure sores.

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disAbility Connections, Inc.      409 Linden Ave.  Jackson, MI   49203      Phone:  (517) 782-6054      Fax:  (517)  782-3118

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