Disability Stories And Resources

Disability

Just wanted to share this great site called Disability Blog where people tell about their experiences of being disabled and how they have overcome the odds. 


It is hosted by Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.


And it is the official blog of Disability.gov where there is lots of information on “disability programs and services.” 


The blog site promotes the “full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce and communities nationwide.”


Disability Blog posts guest bloggers on various topics and I read some of the recent posts and they were very good, including:


– Disability rights activism

– Small business loans and mentoring support with SCORE for a veteran with disability

– Resources and support from the Amputtee Coalition for a child that was hurt in a lawn mowing accident

– A courageous description of how someone lives with syndactyly (fused fingers).

– Options for workplace accommodations at the Job Accommodation Network


As someone myself who has had two total hip replacements, I encourage people to get their personal stories out there to increase disability awareness, rights, and resources and support to help them.


I used to dream about retiring one day and running along the boardwalk and ocean every morning in Florida, but I know that will not happen for me anymore (so thank G-d for swimming). 


Disabilities can happen to anyone. 


We all need to be sensitive to what it’s like to be different and have unique challenges, and to try and help anyone who does.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Abhijit Bhaduri)

Freak Accidents, Illnesses, And Events

Treadmill

Dave Goldberg, the CEO of Survey Monkey (and the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook), died suddenly in a freakish accident falling off a treadmill and hitting his head. 


Poof…dead at age 47!


Unfortunately, we hear all the time about these type of tragic occurrences to people.


And of course tragedy knows no bounds–so while sh*t happens everyday to people from all walks of life, we tend to pay more attention when it’s someone we know and love or when it’s splashed wildly in the news about fabulously successful people we admire and follow. 


– Entertainer, Michael Jackson (50) dead from drug intoxication after suffering cardiac arrest.


– Actor, Robin Williams (63) dead by hanging suicide. 


– Singer, John Lennon (40) shot in the back by someone he had autographed an album for.


– Martial Artist, Bruce Lee (33) died on a movie set from a cerebral edema.


– Model, Marilyn Monroe (33) dead by drug overdose.


– President, John F. Kennedy (46) dead by assassination.


Whether by a plane crash or car accident, drowning or fire, poison or electrocution, a criminal or animal attackterrorism, war, or natural disaster, a heart attack, stroke, or cancer, through suicide, punishment, or mercy killing…regardless of the probabilities and statistics, many people never make it all the way to “a ripe old age.” 


We feel bad, shake our heads, say a few words of sympathy perhaps, when we hear of these lives cut short.


But like the TV shows, Six Feet Under (HBO) or 1000 Ways To Die (Spike)–there are a near endless number of horrible ways to go–and they can take you at literally any time.


While we can’t stop living and just sit around worrying all the time about all the bad things that can happen, we do need to remember that anything can happen at any time (and these things are not so freakish after all)–no one is beyond the Angel of Death, no one should be arrogant, and we should make the most of every single moment that G-d lovingly grants to us.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Military Health)

Amazing Advancements In Prosthetics


Watch this video…



Where a man who lost both arms over 40 years ago is fitted with these amazing dual prosthetics that he is able to control with his mind and muscle movements. 



Made with financing from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).



John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab shows the possibilities for the future for helping everyone from Wounded Warriors to those disabled from accidents and disease. 



G-d creates and we imitate and together we make an incredible flourishing world. 😉



(Note: My gratitude to Rebecca Blumenthal for sharing this video with me.)

Drones Neighbor Against Neighbor

Drones
Fascinating perspective in the New York Times today on the future diabolical use of drones.



Yes, drones can be used for defense, law enforcement, search and rescue, neighborhood watch, agriculture, and even Amazon or Pizza Hut deliveries. 



But what about the darker side of drones–used neighbor against neighbor, where anyone can buy a fairly sophisticated drone for merely hundreds of dollars and use it against others in the community.



– Want to use the (surveillance) camera to spy on your neighbor?



– Want to use its claws to pick up and steal something?



– Want to airlift and plant evidence or contraband and frame someone unjustly?



– Want to distract someone or cause an accident or fatality?



Ok, I am going a lot further than the NYT article…but really what prevents people from doing these things and more?



The article does mention new FAA policies “prohibiting drones from flying [over stadiums] near major sporting events.”



But think about a drone in the hands of a terrorist with a dirty bomb or G-d forbid, even a WMD, and the drone swooping into a densely populated area like a stadium or even Times Square…what would prevent this–perhaps, nothing?



Think about it…this is about to become a lot more dangerous world because drones are not just for the good guys anymore, and the bad guys may not care about FAA regulations and penalties. 



(Source Photo: here with attribution to outacontext)

When Desperation Turns Deadly

When Desperation Turns Deadly

It was shocking to read that suicide deaths in the U.S. have now surpassed deaths by motor vehicle accidents.

In 2010, there were over 38,000 suicides compared with almost 34,000 motor vehicle deaths (or 14.1 suicides per 100,000 people aged 10 and older versus 10.7 deaths from motor vehicles).

Motor vehicle deaths have been, thank G-d, declining since 1999, while suicides are unfortunately up by almost a third (31%).

Suicide for working adults were double other demographics (and highest for those in their 50’s), while for teens and the elderly, the rates stayed flat.

According to the Wall Street Journal (3 May 2012), for middle-age people 35-64, suicide is now the 4th highest cause of death after cancer, heart disease, and unintentional injury (e.g. drowning).

Suicide prevention efforts that have typically been directed to at-risk teenagers and the elderly are now being looked at for greater focus on middle-aged adults.

The article points to tough economic times (with the recession of 2007) as a potential factor in the increase.

I would assume also that the 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed to the increase as well due to posttraumatic stress disorder.

Yet, suicide is a very final act of escape for those acutely suffering from economic hardships, the horrors of war, and depression–and we can only imagine how much pain these people must be feeling to do the unthinkable.

I am familiar with teenagers and adults taking or attempting suicide–some have survived and others have died.

For those lucky enough to survive, they have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and try again, while those who didn’t make it, their loved ones suffer with the emptiness that was once a loving and caring individual, part of their lives.

I was taught in Yeshiva that suicide is a very grave sin and people don’t have the right to take the life that G-d granted them, but in my mind, those who suffer so as to attempt or commit suicide are probably not in a state of mind or in full control of themselves to be fully responsible.

It is worth thinking about that if 38,000 actually commit suicide a year, how many more attempt it, contemplate it often, or otherwise consider it occasionally.

People need help coping. I remember learning in English class in college that “all men live lives of quiet desperation,” and I wonder how many are out there suffering inside–at times desperate, but usually putting a smile on their faces.

We need to look beyond the surface of what people are going through, have empathy, have mercy, and give plentifully of your time, and kindness to all–you may just be saving a desperate life from taking that one last and unforgiving step.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Wheelchair To Walking

Berkeley Bionics (now Ekso Bionics) has done miracles here in helping the disabled to walk again.

Based on the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) from Lockheed Martin that was developed for the warfighter to carry 200 pounds of weight at 10 mph, Berkeley has adapted this technology for medical rehabilitation.

I first watched this eLEGS technology on a National Geographic special called “Make Me Superhuman.”

This woman literally walks for the first time in18 years after a skiing accident, and I was literally crying for her.

She wobbled and would’ve fallen if not for the safety harness, but after a few times retraining her muscles to walk again, she was able to take steps and turn using the eLEGS exoskeleton technology.

Over and over again, she says how grateful she is to be able to stand, be normal height, walk again, and get out of her wheelchair.

This technology can really bring hope to the disabled, especially as it gets refined, more compact, and cheaper.

The vision is that paralyzed people will one day get up in the morning, put on the eLEGS, get in the car, and then walk around all day just like you and I.

Oh, what a great day that will be. 😉

Escaping From A Submerged Vehicle Gets Easier

Of all things, here’s an innovation to the seat belt. 

In the movies, we’ve all seen cars plunging into the water and submerging with people trapped inside. 

Wired Magazine (11 December 2012) reported on a new escape belt that helps people get out of the vehicles and to safety. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administation, almost 400 people die a year from car accidents that result in accidental drowning. 

Now Dutch company, Fijen TMLS has developed a seat-belt that releases when water goes in the interior and dissolves a salt pill in the latch. 

The mechanism costs as little as $40 and according to the company’s website can “be assembled on all seatbelt releasers in just a few simple steps.”

From the pictures of the assembly instructions, I am not sure it is quite so easy. 

Also, it is unclear how long the device is good for, since on one hand, their website states that the “Escape Belt lasts 6 months” and on other hand that “the cartridge will need to replaced after 2 years.”

In any case, I think the idea is a good one as long as the belt remains secure when not submerged and will not release accidentally with any simple spill or splash. 😉