Wheelchair Physical Therapy and Fitness

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Wheelchair Physical Therapy and Fitness is a discipline that focuses on helping people develop strength and regain function of the limbs and muscles of their bodies. A patient’s need for physical therapy evolves from factors such as an injury, debilitating illness, or advancing age. Physical therapists work with patients in many settings as a form of rehabilitation. Also known as physiotherapy, physical therapy is employed in several environments, including hospitals, nursing homes, and private offices. The goal of physical therapy is to establish or maintain function for people who have lost some abilities, and thereby improve their quality of life.

Background and History

Education and Training

  • United States Department of Labor: The statistics and educational requirements for physical therapists.
  • Career Zone: The knowledge and career of a physical therapist.
  • The Council for Exceptional Children: Information about the education and work of a physical therapist.
  • Florida Health Education Center: A brief description of the background and role of a physical therapist.
  • The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy: The national site listing details for licensing as a physical therapist.
  • Fitness Forum: A website dedicated to information and resources for physical therapists.
  • Intute: A list of Internet resources for physiotherapy.

Types of Physical Therapy

Forums and Mailing Lists

Medical Sites and Medical Journals

Research

  • Physical Therapy Research: A site that contains links to recent research studies in the field of physical therapy.
  • The Kessler Foundation: The homepage for the organization dedicated to research for disability and physical therapy care.
  • Journal of Student Physical Therapy Research: A collection of researched case reports.

Additional Resources

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The Diabetic Resource

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Diabetes is a serious medical condition that affects over 23 million people in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder where the body is unable to process and regulate blood sugar, which can lead to serious medical problems. There are many people who have already been diagnosed with this lifelong illness and many more with conditions that pre-dispose them to developing it. Research is being done on ways to fight this disease and find a cure.

Wheelchair Physical Therapy and Fitness
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a situation where the body cannot process and use the sugar that is in the bloodstream. When a person eats a meal, their body breaks down the nutrients in the food to form glucose. Glucose is also called “blood sugar” and it is responsible for providing energy for the body to participate in activities and to grow. An organ in the body called the pancreas produces insulin, which is a substance that allows the glucose to enter the cells of the body to be used. With diabetes, these processes within the body cannot take place. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to eye problems, complications with the body’s circulatory system, and damage to internal organs. It can eventually cause death if not controlled. Diabetes is a serious medical condition that requires management with the help of a doctor.

Types of Diabetes
There are three types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to utilize the glucose that is in the body. Glucose levels then increase in the blood, causing a sluggish circulatory system. People with type 1 diabetes must take supplements of insulin for the rest of their lives. Type 1 diabetes occurs frequently in children and young adults, but can develop in people of all ages. For this reason, it is also referred to as juvenile diabetes.

The second type of diabetes is type 2, which is the most common. In this case, the pancreas makes insulin, but the body is unable to use it. Many people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as adults, and it is frequently associated with being overweight. Approximately 80% of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are over their normal weight.

Gestational diabetes arises in women that are pregnant. During pregnancy a woman with gestational diabetes must control her blood sugars. This condition can make both the mother and baby ill. Gestational diabetes ends when the baby is born, but the woman has a greater risk of developing diabetes later in life.

    • Consumer Health Information: Information about the different types of diabetes.
    • International Diabetes Federation: Description of the kinds of diabetes.
    • Education from the University of Virginia Health System: Explanation and statistics of Type 1 diabetes.
    • Consumer Health Reports: Explanation of Type 2 diabetes.

Treatments and Management
Diabetes is treated depending on which type a person has. A doctor can diagnose diabetes by testing a patient’s blood sugar through a lab test. A patient must have their blood drawn after a period of time when they have not eaten a meal. This shows what the body’s regular blood sugar is without being affected by added food. A diagnosis of diabetes is made by comparing several consecutive blood sugars and considering the patient’s lifestyle and situation.

Type 1 diabetes is managed with insulin supplements, sometimes several times a day. A patient must frequently check their blood sugar and take enough insulin to control it. They must also watch their diet and avoid foods with excess sugar, monitor their exercise regime, and manage other symptoms if they occur. Insulin for patients with type 1 diabetes is usually given by injection into the body. Many people wear a small pump, about the size of a cell phone, which directly injects insulin into the body when programmed.

Type 2 diabetes is managed in several ways. Some people need to take insulin supplements, and some can manage their glucose levels with oral medication. They must also watch their diet carefully and follow an exercise program. For an overweight person with type 2 diabetes, the goal is ultimately to lose excess weight, which many times affects how much medication they need to take, if at all.

Treatment for gestational diabetes involves checking glucose levels frequently for the duration of the pregnancy. A woman must also carefully monitor her diet, get frequent exercise, and maintain a healthy pregnancy weight.

Diabetes Symptoms
Symptoms of diabetes can be difficult to clarify. They frequently are associated with other signs of illness. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are feeling thirsty, the need for frequent urination, being tired and lethargic, and feeling continually hungry but still losing weight. For a child being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it is especially difficult to pinpoint symptoms, particularly if they are at a young enough age where they cannot explain how they feel. Type 2 diabetes involves all of the symptoms of type 1, as well as vision problems, numbness or tingling in the extremities, and having a sore or infection that is slow to heal. Sometimes, people with type 2 diabetes are unaware that they have it, as they have no symptoms at all. During gestational diabetes, symptoms are not usually noticeable or are attributed to pregnancy symptoms. Gestational diabetes is usually found by a routine lab test during prenatal care.

Facts and Help for Diabetics
Nearly 8% of the population of the United States has some form of diabetes. It affects African-Americans and Hispanics more commonly than any other ethnic group. It is also the seventh leading cause of death in America and causes serious medical problems for the body’s organs. It can lead to stroke, loss of vision, or such poor circulation as to cause amputation of a limb. A doctor must carefully manage diabetes and there are many clinics across the country that assist with specific problems associated with this illness. A person with diabetes must also have supplies for checking their blood sugars and giving injections of insulin if necessary. These supplies are found at pharmacies or are ordered by prescription by a doctor.

Medical News on Diabetes
There is much research that is ongoing in the field of diabetes. New products are being issued for use in the market. Medical news on diabetes can be found at many health sites or in medical journals. This keeps people informed of changes that may be taking place in their healthcare regime. For example, a recent product that has been developed is a form of contact lenses used to monitor blood sugar levels. Patients can wear these lenses to notify them of when their blood glucose is rising, which is less invasive than drawing blood every day. Trends and statistics are also given as part of medical news. People with diabetes can maintain their health program by talking with their doctor and reading medical news reports about their condition.

  • Diabetes Professional Resources: Extensive explanation about news and education for those with diabetes.
  • The Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Website with news and updates for those living with the disease.
  • The Diabetes Research Institute: Updated news and research focused on diabetes.
  • The Diabetes Society: News and investigations related to diabetes.

Support and Additional Resources
There are various methods of support for those living with diabetes. Many people find help in a support group for family and those afflicted with the disease. There are recurring activities that raise money for more research toward a cure, such as televised sports events and fundraisers. Many people enjoy getting involved with these activities to sustain support for their health. There are also additional resources available online that offer information and guidance for managing this disease. Diabetes can be very serious when it is not managed, and it is a lifelong illness. For people who maintain contact with their doctor, monitor their health, and receive support, this disease can continue to be controlled.

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Disability Resources

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Statistics from the United States Census Bureau indicate that over 50 million Americans have some kind of disability. As this is a large part of the nation’s population it is important that the rights of disabled individuals are protected. Discrimination against the disabled has been made illegal by acts of legislation and technologies have been developed to improve the lives of the disabled. There are several state, national, and international organizations that advocate on behalf of disabled individuals, whether physical or mental. Below is an informative resource guide to disabilities.

Resource Lists and Directories

National Disability Organizations

International Disability Organizations

Assistive Technology

Disability Legislation

Federal Agencies

Parenting Information and Support

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Job Resources for Individuals With Disabilities

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Job Seeking

Legal Assistance & Accessibility Guidelines

  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973: act passed that prohibits discrimination based on disability.
  • Section 508: a section of the Rehabilitation Act that strives to make sure that information is readily available to all people.
  • Disability/ Handicapped Law and Legal Issues: compilation of resources regarding employment and disability law.

General Resources

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Help For Wheelchair Users: Domestic and International

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Wheelchairs change lives. Wheelchairs free the disabled around the globe, allowing independence and a better quality of life. Wheelchairs no longer signal “can’t do” but “can do.” And that’s no handicap.

But there are hardships. Some buildings aren’t wheelchair accessible, they have no ramps, no automatic doors. Unthinking consumers still park in handicapped parking spots. Lack of mobility makes it hard to maintain positive outlooks on retrospective days for the newly disabled. For those who have always been in a wheelchair, it doesn’t always become a natural extension of self.

Depending on the level of paralysis, amputation, or illness like muscular dystrophy, the handicapped person can lift themselves in and out of their wheelchair on their own, bathe themselves, fix dinner for the family, drive a car, go shopping.

The Americans With Disabilities Act provides a Bill of Rights for the disabled or “differently-abled” as some contend. Schools must accommodate special needs. Government buildings must be accessible. The Act protects Americans, but there is no such Act to protect over 100 million handicapped in over 150 countries worldwide. One startling statistic: 20 percent of Angola’s population is disabled. Landmine casualties in countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Mozambique are extremely high and most of those maimed by landmines do not have wheelchairs.

Organizations such as the Wheelchair Foundation work with charities throughout the United States and the world to provide low-cost wheelchairs to those in need. For those in developing countries with rough terrain, the wheelchairs are built to withstand heavy, rough use and cost around $150 to make. The prices in some of those non-Western countries for basic commercially made wheelchairs are inflated to over $1700, making them inaccessible to all but the rich. It’s challenging to get these people the wheelchairs they need due to governmental and customs red tape, and at times, corruption. The black market for wheelchairs isn’t high, but fraud can be a problem.

U.S. and International Wheelchair Relief Organizations

International Wheelchair Foundation Provides wheelchairs for over 150 countries worldwide.

Assistive Technology Organization Links From Able-Data, the links provide information to sites that offer assistive technology devices and other durable medical equipment.

Department of Justice ADA Links

Disability Rights Law Federal mandates provide non-discrimination information about the basic rights of handicapped persons regarding employment, government, commercial, and public accommodations and access, transportation, and telecommunications.

ADA Technical Assistance Links to technical materials regarding disabilities. Extensive list of documents for the public.

Small Town ADA Regulations Smaller towns and cities often do not have the budgets to create ramps and other accommodations for the disabled. This is a list of the regulations that they are bound by at minimum.

City Government ADA Problems Budgetary and architectural problems, red tape and committee problems can provide impediments to accessibility.

Civil Rights FAQ-ADA Learn about your civil rights as a handicapped person in the United States.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

Reeve Paralysis Act 2009 Introduced in 2007 to a bipartisan sponsorship, the CDRPA promotes collaborative research, rehabilitative care research, and improving quality of lives for those with mobility impairments. Signed by President Barack Obama March 20, 2009 as Title XIV of the Omnibus Public Lands Bill.

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