Category Archives: information

How To Properly Insure Your Accessible Wheelchair Van

Everyone understands that it’s a legal requirement to have their vehicles insured and recognizes the value of being properly insured in case of an accident. But, most people are not insurance experts. In fact, some aspects of vehicle insurance confuse many people.

In order to keep your accessible van as safe as you can make sure you’re protecting it with the right types of commercial auto insurance. Here are the primary types of insurance you’ll need:

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is normally required by law in all parts of the United States. This coverage is designed to protect other people from suffering losses that are caused when your wheelchair van causes an auto accident. Liability insurance primarily focuses on two coverage areas: Bodily injuries and Property Damages.

  • Bodily Injury – This section of your liability insurance policy helps pay for any injuries inflicted on other people from an auto accident. If your mobility van causes, or is found to be at fault for, an auto accident that causes people to get physically hurt, the bodily injury portion of your coverage pays for their medical expenses. When an injured person must be transported to the hospital for example, your bodily injury coverage can pay for the ambulatory bills and expenses. It also pays for the emergency room care, doctor’s visits, prescription medications, physical therapy, rehabilitation and other medical bills that are caused due to the auto accident. Bodily injury also pays for a person’s lost wages when they must miss work due to recovery times, and it pays for pain and suffering of the victims. When a person is killed in an auto accident, your bodily injury insurance can pay their funeral expenses as well.
  • Property Damage – When a vehicle or other property sustains damages from an auto accident that was caused by your handicap van, the property damages portion of your liability insurance will pay for the cost of repairs.

Liability insurance can provide your wheelchair van with protection at varying levels, based on the amount of coverage you select. You can choose a standard split level policy or a combined single limit policy as well.

A split limit policy sets maximum benefit limits on two separate portions of an auto accident claim. Split limit policies will pay no more than the set limit per person for bodily injuries but no more than the total combined limit for all bodily injuries in an accident. It will also pay a separate maximum for property damages. Example: A liability split limit policy of $15,000/$50,000/$35,000 explains a specific payment maximum per accident. No more than $15,000 will be paid for any individual person’s bodily injuries in one accident; no more than $50,000 will be paid for the combined total of bodily injuries; and $35,000 is the maximum amount the policy will pay for property damages.

If you elect a single combined limit liability policy instead, there is no separate maximum limit defined for bodily injuries or property damages. There is just one maximum overall payout for the policy for each accident. A $50,000 combined single limit liability policy for example, would pay a maximum of $50,000 in damages per accident regardless of whether the damages were to people or property.

Medical Payments

Medical payments insurance is important coverage for a wheelchair van, because it pays medical related expenses that arise for your van driver and any passengers who were riding in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Coverage is for paying medical and related bills, such as ambulance transport, hospital care and follow up treatments. This insurance protects your driver and passengers without regard to who causes an auto accident. It is not available in all areas however, so be sure to contact one of your licensed representatives to determine if it’s an option for your policy.

Physical Damage Insurance

Physical damages insurance protects your wheelchair accessible vehicle itself. And it protects your you from having to pay the bills when the van is damaged or destroyed. This insurance is extremely important for you  if you still have an outstanding unpaid finance loan because it provides you with the most protection possible. There are three types of physical damages insurance protection:

  • Comprehensive Physical Damage Protection – Comprehensive damages protects you from a number of potential risks, perils and hazards. It does not protect against damages and losses caused by a collision or caused when your van overturns. It does however, protect against losses and damages caused by theft, break ins, vandalism and natural events. If your van is damaged due to a tree falling on it in a storm for example, your comprehensive damage protection coverage will pay for the repairs.
  • Collision Protection – Collision protection is specifically designed to pay for damages and destruction that are caused by a collision or by a roll over event. If your van has a blowout and overturns for example, your collision damage protection will pay for the repairs. If the van backs into a building while trying to access a wheelchair ramp, the collision damage protection pays for those repairs as well.
  • Specified Peril (CAC) – Pecified Peril coverage is also known as Fire and Theft with Combined Additional Coverage. This does not protect you against collision or roll over events. Instead, it protects you from just those perils that are specified on your insurance policy.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist

If your van is involved in an auto accident with another vehicle and that other vehicle was the cause for the accident, their liability insurance is supposed to pay for your bodily injuries and property damages. If the other driver does not carry insurance however, or if they do not carry enough coverage to pay all of the resulting bills, they are considered uninsured or underinsured. You can purchase protection against these risks with an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy. When the other driver is at fault but unable to pay for all of your damages, your policy will pick up the difference. This policy works much like your Liability policy.

  • Bodily Injury – As covered with Liability Insurance.
  • Property Damage – As covered with Liability Insurance.
  • Collision Deductible Waiver (CDW) – When you carry an uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury policy on your wheelchair van, you can qualify for a collision deductible waiver (CDW). The CDW makes it so that you do not have to pay your standard insurance deductible when you make an uninsured or underinsured motorist accident claim.

Other Important Commercial Auto Insurance for Wheelchair Vans

  • Special Equipment Coverage – This type of coverage covers every aspect of vehicle adaptation including mobility equipment such as a lift, ramp, lowered floor, kneeling systems, a lock-down system, or any other added adaptive driving equipment (hand controls and left foot accelerators).
  • Rental – If your van is unusable due to an auto accident, rental insurance can pay for the cost of a temporary replacement.
  • Towing – Towing insurance pays for the cost of towing your accessible vehicle from the scene of an accident when it is badly damaged.
  • Accessories – Accessories insurance protects you from losses associated with extra devices you may have installed on your van. A wheelchair van taxi may have a mileage meter installed for example, and a communications radio to keep them in contact with their dispatcher.

** The limits of your coverage and your deductibles for each element of your policy will vary based upon what you’ve purchased from your insurance company.

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Parkinson's Awareness

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that is chronic and progressive, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time.

As many as one million individuals in the US live with Parkinson’s disease. While approximately four percent of people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed before the age of 50, incidence increases with age.

Its major symptoms vary from person to person, but can include tremor, slowness of movements, limb stiffness, and difficulties with gait and balance. The cause of the disease is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage the symptoms.

If you have questions about wheelchair accessible vehicles and are in the New England area give us a call @ 508-697-6006


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R. Dooley

Autism Awareness Month

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

ASDs are “spectrum disorders” which means ASDs affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe. People with ASDs share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction. But there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, and the exact nature of the symptoms.

Types of ASDs
There are three different types of ASDs:

  • Autistic Disorder (also called “classic” autism)
    This is what most people think of when hearing the word “autism.” People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability.
  • Asperger Syndrome
    People with Asperger syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also called “atypical autism”)
    People who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. People with PDD-NOS usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder. The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges.

Signs and Symptoms
ASDs begin before the age of 3 and last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with an ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms might not show up until 24 months or later. Some children with an ASD seem to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had.

A person with an ASD might:

  • Not respond to their name by 12 months
  • Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
  • Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Give unrelated answers to questions
  • Get upset by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

Diagnosing ASDs can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.

ASDs can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with an ASD might not get the help they need.

There is currently no cure for ASDs. However, research shows that early intervention treatment services can greatly improve a child’s development. Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills. Services can include therapy to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others. Therefore, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has an ASD or other developmental problem.

Even if your child has not been diagnosed with an ASD, he or she may be eligible for early intervention treatment services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) says that children under the age of 3 years (36 months) who are at risk of having developmental delays may be eligible for services. These services are provided through an early intervention system in your state. Through this system, you can ask for an evaluation.

In addition, treatment for particular symptoms, such as speech therapy for language delays, often does not need to wait for a formal ASD diagnosis.

Learn about types of treatments »

Causes and Risk Factors
We do not know all of the causes of ASDs. However, we have learned that there are likely many causes for multiple types of ASDs. There may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors.

  • Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop an ASD.
  • Children who have a sibling or parent with an ASD are at a higher risk of also having an ASD.
  • ASDs tend to occur more often in people who have certain other medical conditions. About 10% of children with an ASD have an identifiable genetic disorder, such as Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders.
  • Some harmful drugs taken during pregnancy have been linked with a higher risk of ASDs, for example, the prescription drugs thalidomide and valproic acid.
  • We know that the once common belief that poor parenting practices cause ASDs is not true.
  • There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASDs occurs before birth. However, concerns about vaccines and infections have led researchers to consider risk factors before and after birth.

ASDs are an urgent public health concern. Just like the many families affected in some way by ASDs, CDC wants to find out what causes the disorder. Understanding the risk factors that make a person more likely to develop an ASD will help us learn more about the causes. We are currently working on one of the largest U.S. studies to date, called Study to Explore Early Development (SEED). SEED is looking at many possible risk factors for ASDs, including genetic, environmental, pregnancy, and behavioral factors.

Who is Affected
ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but are almost five times more common among boys than among girls. CDC estimates that about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

More people than ever before are being diagnosed with an ASD. It is unclear exactly how much of this increase is due to a broader definition of ASDs and better efforts in diagnosis. However, a true increase in the number of people with an ASD cannot be ruled out. We believe the increase in ASD diagnosis is likely due to a combination of these factors.

Within the past decade, CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has been estimating the number of people with an ASD in the U.S. We have learned a lot about how many children in the U.S. have an ASD. It will be important to use the same methods to track how the number of people with an ASD is changing over time in order to learn more about the disorders.

If You’re Concerned
If you think your child might have an ASD or you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts,contact your child’s doctor, and share your concerns.

If you or the doctor is still concerned, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can do a more in-depth evaluation of your child. Specialists who can do a more in-depth evaluation and make a diagnosis include:

  • Developmental Pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs)
  • Child Neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves)
  • Child Psychologists or Psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind)

At the same time, call your state’s public early childhood system to request a free evaluation to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services. This is sometimes called a Child Find evaluation. You do not need to wait for a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call.

Where to call for a free evaluation from the state depends on your child’s age:

  • If your child is not yet 3 years old, contact your local early intervention system.You can find the right contact information for your state by calling the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) at 1-800-695-0285.Or visit the NICHCY website. Once you find your state on this webpage, look for the heading “Programs for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities: Ages Birth through 3″.
  • If your child is 3 years old or older, contact your local public school system.Even if your child is not yet old enough for kindergarten or enrolled in a public school, call your local elementary school or board of education and ask to speak with someone who can help you have your child evaluated.If you’re not sure who to contact, call the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities at 1.800.695.0285 or visit the NICHCY website. Once you find your state on this webpage, look for the heading “Programs for Children with Disabilities: Ages 3 through 5″.

Research shows that early intervention services can greatly improve a child’s development. In order to make sure your child reaches his or her full potential, it is very important to get help for an ASD as soon as possible.

Down Syndrome Awareness Day

Down Syndrome Awareness Day is chance to spread awareness, advocacy and inclusion throughout the community.  On March 21st, we celebrate individuals with Down syndrome and make people aware of their abilities and accomplishments.

It’s not about celebrating disabilities; it’s about celebrating abilities.


What Is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome (or Down’s syndrome) is a chromosomal disorder caused by an error in cell division that results in an extra 21st chromosome. The condition leads to impairments in both cognitive ability and physical growth that range from mild to moderate developmental disabilities. Through a series of screenings and tests, Down syndrome can be detected before and after a baby is born.

The only factor known to affect the probability of having a baby with Down syndrome is maternal age. That is, less than one in 1,000 pregnancies for mothers less than 30 years of age results in a baby with Down syndrome. For mothers who are 44 years of age, about 1 in 35 pregnancies results in a baby with Down syndrome. Because younger women generally have more children, about 75 – 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to younger women.

What causes Down syndrome?
Down syndrome occurs because of an abnormality characterized by an extra copy of genetic material on all or part of the 21st chromosome. Every cell in the body contains genes that are grouped along chromosomes in the cell’s nucleus or center. There are normally 46 chromosomes in each cell, 23 inherited from your mother and 23 from your father. When some or all of a person’s cells have an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21, the result is Down syndrome.

The most common form of Down syndrome is known as Trisomy 21, a condition where individuals have 47 chromosomes in each cell instead of 46. This is caused by an error in cell division called nondisjunction, which leaves a sperm or egg cell with an extra copy of chromosome 21 before or at conception. Trisomy 21 accounts for 95% of Down syndrome cases, with 88% originating from nondisjunction of the mother’s egg cell.

The remaining 5% of Down syndrome cases are due to conditions called mosaicism and translocation. Mosaic Down syndrome results when some cells in the body are normal while others have Trisomy 21. Robertsonian translocation occurs when part of chromosome 21 breaks off during cell division and attaches to another chromosome (usually chromosome 14). The presence of this extra part of chromosome 21 causes Down some syndrome characteristics. Although a person with a translocation may appear physically normal, he or she has a greater risk of producing a child with an extra 21st chromosome.

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is recognized as National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. If you or a friend, co-worker, loved one or client has a developmental disability, this month is for you!

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of The Arc in the 1980’s, February 26, 1987 President Ronald Reagan officially declared Proclamation 5613 making March National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

The proclamation called for people to provide understanding, encouragement and opportunities to help persons with developmental disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives. March is recognized by groups across the country as a time to speak up about the challenges facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families.

Most people have disabilities of one kind or another. The differences lie mostly in degree and whether our disabilities are seen or unseen. We can help remind others of this important celebration during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month by sharing these important facts:

Spread the word to your friends and family!

  • Developmental disability is a natural part of the human experience and affects about 4.6 million Americans.
  • All people with developmental disabilities can be productive, contributing members of their communities!
  • Many people with developmental disabilities rely on publicly funded services and supports in order to fully participate in community life.
  • During times of economic decline, essential services and supports for people with developmental disabilities are often threatened.
  • The power of people with disabilities is strongest when their voices are united with each other and their friends, families and other allies.
  • Policy makers can only make good public policy when they hear from the people directly affected by their decisions!

What can you do to advocate for individuals with special needs?

  • Spread the word about Development Disabilities Awareness Month through email, blog, and website updates.
  • Contact local, state, and federal legislators to “Don’t Cut Our Lifeline” – The Arc.
  • Get involved to protect Medicaid services for people with special needs.
  • Learn about essential services for your loved one with special needs.

Everyone wants, and deserves, to enjoy life, feel productive and secure. But in March, we take extra steps to raise awareness about the needs and rights of the people with disabilities and to celebrate their contributions to our communities and society as a whole!

President Reagan’s personal invitation
I invite all individuals, agencies, and organizations concerned with the problem of developmental disabilities to observe this month with appropriate observances and activities directed toward increasing public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.

I urge all Americans to join me in according to our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

Boston’s 6th Annual Wounded Vet Run: Updated

Boston’s 6th Annual Wounded Vet Run updated

5th Honoree For The 6th Annual Boston Wounded Vet Run Announced

Thanks to some last minute donations The Boston Wounded Vet Run proudly announced the 5th honoree for the 6th Annual Boston Wounded Vet Ride: Marine Sgt Kirstie Ennis!
Kirstie lost her leg due to a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
This upcoming May, we ride for her!

5th Honoree For The 6th Annual Boston Wounded Vet Run Announced


What is A New/Used Wheelchair van?

When shopping for a new or pre-owned wheelchair van at a mobility dealership, you may hear or read the term “New/Used”. Sounds confusing, right? The term New/Used describes an accessible vehicle for sale that has a new conversion added to a pre-owned used minivan. These vehicles tend to have less than 40,000 miles and are only 2-3 years old. The reason they tend to be newer and with very few miles is that conversion manufacturers want quality vans that are going to provide reliable transportation for many years to come. New/Used van conversions can be side entry or rear entry, with most having a fold-out ramp (vs. an in-floor ramp). A VMI Summit on a Dodge Grand Caravan is just one example of a fold-out ramp conversion. Folding wheelchair ramps on a minivan can be powered or manual. Powered ramps are operated with a push-button inside the vehicle, a key fob or both.

Deciding whether to buy a new or used wheelchair van can be a difficult decision. Your choice may depend on how often or how far you plan to travel every year, whether you are the driver (with the use of hand controls) or passenger, and your preferences for a specific conversion, make or color. A lot of people want all of the latest electronic accessories and gadgets that can only be found in a new vehicle — but they also want something in a used vehicle’s price range. New/Used vehicles provide an “almost new” vehicle at significant cost savings – and may have all of the amenities that you’re are looking for.

January Is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Glaucoma is a very misunderstood disease. Often, people don’t realize the severity or who is affected.

Key Facts About Glaucoma

  • Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness
    Glaucoma can cause blindness if it is left untreated. And unfortunately approximately 10% of people with glaucoma who receive proper treatment still experience loss of vision.
  • There is no cure (yet) for glaucoma
    Glaucoma is not curable, and vision lost cannot be regained. With medication and/or surgery, it is possible to halt further loss of vision. Since open-angle glaucoma is a chronic condition, it must be monitored for life. Diagnosis is the first step to preserving your vision.
  • Everyone is at risk for glaucoma
    Everyone is at risk for glaucoma from babies to senior citizens. Older people are at a higher risk for glaucoma but babies can be born with glaucoma (approximately 1 out of every 10,000 babies born in the United States). Young adults can get glaucoma, too. African Americans in particular are susceptible at a younger age.
  • There may be no symptoms to warn you
    With open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Usually, no pain is associated with increased eye pressure. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision. You may compensate for this unconsciously by turning your head to the side, and may not notice anything until significant vision is lost. The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get tested. If you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.

Some Statistics About Glaucoma

  • It is estimated that over 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know they have it.
  • In the U.S., more than 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness.
  • Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
  • After cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans.
  • Blindness from glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
  • African Americans are 15 times more likely to be visually impaired from glaucoma than Caucasians.
  • The most common form, open-angle glaucoma, accounts for 19% of all blindness among African Americans compared to 6% in Caucasians.
  • Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted.
  • Estimates put the total number of suspected cases of glaucoma at over 60 million worldwide.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Here Are 16 New Year’s Resolutions For 2016

Happy New Year 2016

This new year, I will ________________.
Fill in the blank. What will you do differently?
Here are 16 New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 to get you started.

1: Be More Positive
Be more positive not just with our words and actions, but also with our own thoughts. Focus on surrounding yourself with positive people, things and experiences. Do what makes you smile and get rid of the things that don’t. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

2: Practice Random Acts of Kindness
“It’s the little things that count.” Instead of saying you will stop doing certain bad habits, focus on the good things you want to do more.

3: Do Something Out of the Ordinary
Step out of your comfort zone, it could give you a thrill of a lifetime! Trying new things can help you not only discover different sides of yourself, but it will help you know what you don’t like. So if you’ve always wanted to try, say, a cooking class and you end up hating it, you can cross that off and move onto the next thing.

4: Read More Books
Because knowledge is power and with great power comes great responsibility. Reading is a great  past time, can help you relax and if you read before bed may even help you fall sleep.

5: Eat Healthier
Trying to tell yourself what you can and can not eat is a difficult task. Rather than attempting to stop yourself from eating all the “bad” foods, try focusing on eating the “good” ones. You could also eat several small meals a day instead of a few large ones. For Example: Instead of eating a bowl of ice cream swap it for a bowl or (frozen) yogurt.

6: Get Fit
Many of us say “I want to loose weight in the new year,” but not all of us follow through with it. Instead of forcing ourselves to go to gym, we could just wake up a few minutes earlier and exercise. That way, it doesn’t seem like a chore.

7: Learn Something New
Have a friend teach you something new and in return help them learn something new. Follow your passions because learning something new should be challenging, fun and exciting.

8: Get More Sleep
There’s the famous “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” quote, but it sneaks up on you if you’re only getting 2-4 hours of sleep. Think of it this way: the more sleep you get, the more energy you have to do the things you want to do!

9: Save More, Spend Less
If your goal in 2016 is the save more and spend less, then the 52-week money challenge is perfect for you. The concept is easy: you start with $1 in the first week, and then every week, you’ll put away an extra dollar (week 1: $1, Week 2: $2…. Week 52: $52). Before you know it, you’ll have an extra $1,378 saved up.

10: Less Text, More Talk
Put your phone down and look up. Sometimes, it’s difficult to disconnect from the digital world, but is it worth missing out on those special moments? Learning to be truly present in the moment, not only improves our relationships but also makes us more appreciative to what we do have.

11: Travel
Traveling has a special magic touch. Whether it’s taking a mini getaway or a that big vacation you’ve been saving up for go somewhere you’ve never gone before!

12: Be More Open-Minded
Everyone gets scared, nervous and doubtful at times. Accept it and challenge yourself to be more open-minded to new things, people and experiences that life throws at you. People usually only fear the things that they don’t fully understand? If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask!

13: Volunteer and Give Back to your Community
The beautiful thing about people is how much of a difference one person can make, let alone a group of people all working for the same cause. Once people gather together for something that they believe in, the outcome is incredible.

14: Be More Organized
Whether you want to cut back on clutter, organize your room, recycle and reuse some of your things, everyone needs their own system to get organized. That way if you ever need something, you’re not scrambling trying to look for it.

15: Saying no when you need to  & saying yes when you really should
You don’t have to say yes to everything. If you don’t feel like going to a party, listen to yourself and take a pass. If someone tries to dish out something that isn’t your job at work, tell them no. Just embrace the word “no.”
Maybe your friend impulsively suggests a concert, or someone’s had a bad day and needs to go for a drink — whatever the reason, if you feel it would make your or their night, you should do it. In the best case scenario, you’ll get a memory to keep forever; at worst, at least you tried something new!

16: Enjoy the Little Things.
Living life to the fullest doesn’t just mean setting big goals like going bungee jumping or learning to scuba dive. It also includes learning to enjoy the little things. That is, learning to appreciate life’s simple pleasures, such as the following:

  • Going outside at night to look at the stars.
  • Seeing a genuine smile on the face of a person you love.
  • Walking barefoot in the grass.

MBTA New Year’s Eve Free Service

The MBTA announced its service schedule for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The MBTA is providing extra transit services throughout the First Night Festivities and will offer FREE service after 8:00 p.m.

Friday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve

  • Blue, Orange, Green and Red Line trains will operate on a weekday schedule.  Additional trains will operate and provide rush – hour levels of service throughout the evening.  Service will be extended until approximately 2:00 a.m.
  • Buses, Silver Line, and trackless trolleys will operate on a weekday schedule.
  • Commuter Rail Service On New Year’s Eve will operate on a weekday schedule with additional train service provided to accommodate customers participating in Boston’s First Night Celebration.


Fitchburg Line: 12:10 AM departure to Fitchburg will terminate at South Acton
1:00 AM & 2:00 AM Departure to Fitchburg
Haverhill Line: 12:10 AM departure to Haverhill will terminate at Reading
1:00 AM & 2:00 AM Departure to Haverhill
Lowell Line: 12:10 AM, 1:00 AM, & 2:00 AM Departure to Lowell
Rockport Line: 12:10 AM departure to Rockport will terminate at Beverly
1:00 AM departure to Rockport
Newburyport: 12:45 AM departure to Newburyport
Newburyport/Rockport: 2:00 AM departure
Newburyport bound customers must change at Beverly for a connecting train to Newburyport.


Providence Line: Train #829 that normally departs at 11:59 P.M. will depart 46 minutes later at 12:45 A.M.
1:45 AM Departure to Providence
Franklin Line: Train #731 that normally departs at 11:50 P.M. will depart 55 minutes later at 12:45 A.M.
1:45 AM Departure to Forge Park
Greenbush Line: 1:05 AM Departure to Greenbush
Middleboro/Lakeville Line: 1:10 AM Departure to Middleboro
Needham Line: 1:00 AM Departure to Needham
Kingston Line: 1:00 AM Departure to Kingston
Worcester/Framingham Line: Train #P539 that normally departs at 11:25 PM. will depart 1 hour and 35 minutes later at 1:00 AM to Worcester

Commuter Boat and Ferry

  • Inner Harbor Ferry will operate a normal weekday schedule.
  • Rowes Wharf/ Hingham Shipyard
    Additional service will depart at 12:20 PM and 2:30 PM from Rowes Wharf to Hingham.
    Additional service will depart Hingham at 1:15 PM and 3:15 PM.

    • The last departure from Rowes Wharf will be at 7 PM.
      • The 7:30 PM and 8:30PM departures from Rowes Wharf will be cancelled
    • The last departure from Hingham will be at 6:10 PM.
      • The 6:40 PM and 7:40 PM departures from Hingham will be cancelled.
  • Quincy Fore River Shipyard to Long Wharf and Logan Airport (Hull)

From Long Wharf

1:25 PM will stop at Hull
2:15 PM will stop at Hull

Additional service at 3:00 PM stops at Hull and Quincy Fore River Shipyard.

The 5:30 PM departure from Long Wharf to Hull and Quincy Fore River Shipyard will be cancelled.

The last departure from Quincy Fore River Shipyard will be at 6:55 PM.
The last departure from Long Wharf will be at 7:30 PM.

THE RIDE will operate extended hours until 2:30 a.m.

Saturday, January 1st– New Year’s Day

  • Blue, Orange, Green and Red Line trains will operate on a Sunday schedule.
  • Buses, Silver Line, and trackless trolleys will operate on a Sunday schedule.
  • Commuter rail trains will operate on a Sunday schedule.  Please Note: Fairmount Line, Needham Line and Stoughton Line will not operate.
  • Inner Harbor Ferry and Commuter Boat services will not operate.
  • THE RIDE will operate on a Sunday schedule.

Visit MBTA on the web for more information about MBTA services, routes, schedules and fares, or call the T’s Customer Information Center at 617-222-3200, (TTY) 617-222-5146.

Have A Fun And SAFE New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is a night to have fun and celebrate the coming year. However, safety is a must when participating in the festivities. Whether you’re staying in and celebrating with friends and family, or you’re traveling to a party or city bash, following a few safety tips will ensure that you’re safe and sound when the clock strikes midnight, ringing in the New Year!

Designate a Driver:
If you are going to be driving New Year’s Eve, don’t drink and drive. If you have a friend who does not prefer to drink, make sure they take the wheel. You might even be on the water this New Year’s Eve. The person in charge of navigating the boat needs to be cautious, and this still applies to them. It is important to be safe on the water as well, so drink sensibly.

Be Alert:
Be aware of your surroundings and how others are acting. Stay away from those who are out of control and might cause harm. Taking preventive measures is key. If someone is really intoxicated, prevent them from trying to drive or leaving with someone they do not know. It’s important to keep an eye out for each other.

Don’t Drive:
If you don’t have to go behind the wheel, avoid it. More people will be driving under the influence on this particular night, so avoid a potentially dangerous accident by staying off the road. Otherwise, be alert and drive defensively. Most importantly, wear your seat belt. Also, using public transportation is a wise option. If taking a cab is too expensive, crashing at a friend’s place nearby is a convenient solution.

Stick Together:
This way we can look out for our friends and family. Going out to parties and nightclubs means a fast-paced, crazy night; so be sure to travel in groups. Having a safety net around you in this environment is imperative.

Monitor your Alcohol:
A majority of people will be drinking on New Year’s Eve, and there is nothing wrong with that. Just be sure to pay attention to how much you and others are consuming. Drinking too much alcohol can have lethal affects. Also, be wary of who you except drinks from (especially if they are open) and if you put your drink down think twice before drinking from it again. Be responsible.

Don’t forget about your pets:
They are just as much a part of the family as everyone else. If you are using fireworks, anything with loud noises, or fire, be sure that pets are kept at a distance as well as children. None of these are a good mix.

Be careful with open flames:
If you’re burning candles, incense or oil burners, remember to extinguish them before you turn in or before you leave the room they are burning in. Pay extra attention to pets and children around open flames.

Be extra careful with Fireworks:
If you are letting off fireworks in a residential area, be sure to practice proper safety precautions when using them. Let off fireworks in a field or other open area where homes and power lines are out of sight. Have a fire extinguisher nearby and never try to re-light a firework that did not go off when first lit. Also, be sure pets and children are at a safe distance from where fireworks are being ignited. Finally, always have an adult present when using any type of firework.

Everyone wants to have an unforgettable night — in a good way. By simply using some common sense, we can keep it that way. Ring in the New Year safely.

New England Wheelchair Van Collision Repair

Wheelchair Van Collision Repair at VMi New England Mobility Center, Bridgewater, MA

We can and will repair, service, preform preventative maintenance and help you with collision damage even if you bought your van elsewhere.

  • No Hassle Insurance Claim Handling
  • Direct Repair For Major Insurance Companies
  • State of the Art Collision Repair Facility
  • Baked on Finish
  • Expert Color Matching
  • Unibody & Frame Straightening
  • Vehicle Detailing
  • Car Rental Available
  • Licensed Vehicle Estimator

Wheelchair Van Auto Body Repairs in MA, RI, CT, VT, NH and ME

For more than 30 years, the crew at VMi New England Mobility Collision Center has been offering auto body repairs that has developed strong relationships with our clients. As a locally owned facility, we provide you with affordable options. We also believe in fast, punctual service, so we don’t leave you waiting forever when you need to get back on the road as quickly as possible.

We’re quick to respond to your inquiries, and we can often offer same-day service from certified expert technicians. We handle foreign and domestic wheelchair van repair, and some of our services include:

  • Auto glass replacement
  • Auto body and dent repair
  • Towing service

When it’s in New England and mobility van auto body repairs that you need, The Mobility Center in Bridgewater, MA is one of the top shops to call. We’re here Monday – Friday and we’ll work by appointment on the weekends. Contact us today to request your sound estimate 508-697-6006.

How to Afford a Used Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle New England

Among people with disabilities, especially wheelchair users, one of the most talked about subjects is the price of a wheelchair accessible vehicle. A shiny new van can be out of range for many consumers on fixed incomes. But a used wheelchair van could be a possibility.

Let’s take a look at some concerns people may have:

Used vehicles have too much mileage on them.

Many used vehicles don’t have much mileage and the mobility equipment may be hardly used.

How much does a used accessible van with a ramp or lift cost?

A wheelchair accessible van less than 3 years old could start at $30,000—or thousands more. A gently used, older wheelchair van can be converted to save even more.

An older vehicle won’t last much longer.

A vehicle properly taken care of can last for decades. For added peace of mind, contact a mobility dealer who sells used wheelchair accessible vehicles and has decades of experience.

A used vehicle probably won’t have the equipment I want.

You want an in-floor ramp but you can only find fold-outs. If the price is right, you may be able to have the desired equipment installed after the sale. Do your research up front.

How can I qualify for a vehicle loan?

  • Talk to your VMi New England mobility dealer—they know the organizations, non-profits, state and federal agencies and charities that will help in financing in your area.
  • If you are a Veteran, you may be eligible for a credit towards a wheelchair accessible vehicle. For more information go to VMi New England
  • Start saving! If you get an income tax refund, put it in a special savings account.
  • Ask your family and friends to forgo gifts and donate towards your vehicle fund.

Above all, contact a mobility expert like the ones at VMi New England. They will work hand-in-hand with you on areas like what is right for you, financing options, rates, terms, manufacturer offers, incentives and benefits.

VMi New England is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our adapted wheelchair vans.

Don’t Let Your Vehicle Get Rusty! Schedule An Appointment Today!

Vehicles today are subject to rust and corrosion due to moisture, humidity, tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your wheelchair van. If neglected, the damages can make your mobility investment of little value.  The thousands of yearly miles, environments and exposure to the elements of larger vehicles means they are a lot more likely to suffer from the effects of corrosion. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your van from falling apart.

The best time to prevent rust damage to your vehicle is in Autumn: before the first snowflake falls and Spring: after thae first heavy rain fall; a little vehicle maintenance will help keep the rust away.

Prevention is better than a cure. There are a number of products that can offer prevention against rust. Products are available either as oils, waxes, fluids and coatings. The range is vast, but our rust prevention processes, product, plan and application has been found to be most effective. Our rust proofing is ever evolving and has been for over the past 26 years.

  • Our rust proofing formula does more than just cover the metal required, we apply it as a high-pressured spray, ensuring protection to your handicap accessible vehicle’s most critical areas by penetrating, displacing existing moisture and protecting the many vulnerable crevices of your automobile.

Side Entry Versus Rear Entry Wheelchair Vans

The question of a Rear Entry wheelchair van versus a Side Entry van often comes up in conversation when a first time buyer enters the accessible van market. There are several things to consider; first, the family or care giver needs to decide on where the wheelchair user is going to sit. If the person in the wheelchair is able to drive and will be independent there are other things to consider, but for now, let us stay with an assisted member of the family.

Door height is an issue. For that we need to know how tall the person sits in their wheelchair.

Scooter or Power chair is next. Size and weight combination will come into play as we move along in the discovery process.

Will the person transfer into a  seat or will they remain in their wheelchair while traveling?

Okay, now we get into seating. The side entry offers both mid-section and front seat options with tie-downs located throughout. In a rear entry van, the mid-section to rear of the vehicle, are the only seating options while remaining in the wheelchair.

There are five passenger seats available for family members in a side entry van versus six available seats in a rear entry. Both are in addition to whoever is in the wheelchair, which gives a total of six people in a side entry and up to seven in a rear entry.

For folks with a long wheelchair or scooter the rear entry is ideal. Over six feet of space is afforded to tie down the wheelchair and no turning to forward face is necessary.

A side entry requires up to eight feet accommodating the lowering of the ramp allowing access into your van. This may prohibit the use of the ramp while inside a garage or if someone parks to close while at the mall or a doctor’s appointment.

The rear entry does not have the blocked in problem, you are always accessing your van from the aisle.

In summation, like anything else, it is best to try before you buy. Our Mobility Center has both styles of wheelchair vans. See which style suits your lifestyle and then consider the purchase of either a new or used mobility equipped van. Always consult with your mobility product specialist for any additional questions you may have.

Tips For Including People With Disabilities At A Party

With the holiday season upon us, it’s easy to hold a party where all guests — with and without disabilities — feel welcomed, respected and have fun. All it takes is some planning.

 Don’t be afraid to include guests with disabilities
People with disabilities have their disabilities 24/7, so they know how to create work-arounds so that they feel comfortable. If you know someone has a disability, use a simple strategy — ask the person what they need to be fully included. All too often people with disabilities are not invited to events, or don’t go because they feel embarrassed to “put someone out” by asking for a simple thing that will help them attend. By telling them that their presence is valued, and asking what they need, you will build a new level of trust and affection. For example, one of the biggest things that aging loved ones need is a ride. So help them find a carpool or send an accessible taxi or ride to pick them up and return them home.

Not all disabilities are visible, so you may not know that someone you want to include in your event has some special needs. By including a line about accommodations in the invitation’s RSVP, you are already letting guests know that everyone is welcome. If it’s a party for children, parents can tell you, right off the bat, what their child’s needs might be to attend the party. They will be happy you asked! “We want everyone to have fun — please let us know if you have dietary restrictions or require other special accommodations to attend! We will do our best to meet everyones needs.” Note that you aren’t promising to meet all needs — if you can’t find a sign language interpreter at the last minute or there is another issue, for example, you will be able to let your guest know in advance. Indeed, they may be able to help you find a solution!

Physical Access
Most public places are accessible. However, because religious institutions are exempted from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many of them are not fully accessible. Thus, if your event is at a venue that is not physically accessible to all, move it to a place that is. That can mean a different room in a place of worship, or to a completely different place. Venues should have a ground level entrance or ramp, an elevator if it’s upstairs, and accessible bathrooms. Most public places (hotels, restaurants, bowling, video games, pools, bounce houses, etc.) are usually equipped for people with disabilities. Just check with the venue ahead of time. If you have someone coming who uses a wheelchair, you should also put the menorah on a table that is low enough for them to also be able to light candles.

Special Diets
Anyone can have allergies, celiac disease or lactose intolerance, but you won’t know unless you ask on the invitation RSVP. Making sure there is an option for cake, snacks, treats and other food for these guests can be as simple as picking up a gluten free cupcake to serve with the cake. It is thoughtful to have refreshments that everyone can enjoy.

Addressing attitude
Kids and adults can be daunted when encountering someone who is different from them. If it’s a children’s event you can talk to the group at the start of the party about kindness and respect for each other and each others differences. A party is a great opportunity for kids to learn about one another.

Involving parents
Parties can be exhausting for the hosts. Asking a parent or two to volunteer to help at the party, particularly if it’s a big group, can lighten the load for the hosts. Parents may feel more comfortable, especially if their child has social anxiety issues, if they are invited to stay or help as an option.

Sensory overload awareness
Parties can cause sensory overload for any child or adult. But for a person with autism or a sensory processing disorder, a party can be really overwhelming. Offer opportunities for guests to take a break, perhaps in a quiet room away from the crowd. Some venues may have options for turning down music or minimizing stimulation — and that is useful anywhere there are a lot of kids! Latex allergies (balloons) and chemical sensitivities (use of highly scented cleaners or staff wearing perfumes) are real issues. Solutions: Use alternative mylar balloons. Ask people to not wear strong scents, and choose unscented cleaning products.

If a guest attending the party is non-verbal or communicates in other ways such as American Sign Language or a communication board, talk about it with the guests. Installing free Dragon software onto an Ipad in advance can enable you to speak with someone who is deaf as it instantly transcribes what you are saying. Having an interpreter can be worth the cost, as all the people can communicate and maybe learn a little sign language! Remember to speak directly to a child or adult whether s/he is verbal or not.

Reading, Cognitive Access and Vision Issues
Children and adults with cognitive, learning disabilities or vision impairments might not be able to read the menu, instructions for a scavenger hunt or a game score sheet. Pictures and verbal instructions are useful, as well as pairing children with those who can help. It’s always great to have an extra pair of reading glasses around if you are inviting seniors. But you can always tell someone who can’t see or read what they will need or what to know.

Enjoy the party!
Don’t let inclusion stress you out. If you are reading this list and considering these tips, you’re already doing more than most! Stay positive, smile and throw that PARTY!

Mobility Rebate Programs

Whether you’re looking for a wheelchair accessible minivan, a full-size van, or a lift/ramp for your wheelchair van, your financial investment is always going to be a major consideration. We understand the importance of the investment our customers make and we always strive to produce superior products and provide excellent service.

In today’s difficult economy, every cent counts when you’re making decisions about what you can and can’t afford to go without. Feeling that your mobility is restricted by financial constraints is discouraging, and we don’t like the idea of anyone having to face that challenge and find no answers or possibilities. That’s why we are extremely well informed and able to assist you in navigating your way through the myriad of grants, tax incentives, and rebate programs.

Every auto manufacturer offers a mobility rebate program of some type and they are definitely worth looking into. Here is some information about rebates for wheelchair vans and wheelchair lifts/ramps. For more personalized information, contact us and we will help guide you through the process of applying and receiving these rebates.

Toyota Mobility Dealer
The Toyota Mobility Program provides up to $1,000 in reimbursement for adaptive equipment (such as wheelchair lifts, assistive seating, driving aids, and more) installed on new Toyota vehicles within 12 months of the delivery date of the vehicle.

Dodge/Chrysler Automobility Dealer
Chrysler’s AutoMobility Program is similar to the program mentioned above, with reimbursements from $400-$1,000 available depending on the type of adaptive equipment installed..

Honda Mobility Dealer
The Honda Mobility Assistance Program offers reimbursement up to $1,000 for adaptive equipment installed on a new Honda!

Lexus Mobility
The Lexus Mobility Program supports the mobility needs of Lexus owners and/or family members with physical disabilities.

 If you have any questions about these programs, just give our us a call or visit us today. We’re always happy to help!

Dodge/ Chrysler’s Mobility Rebate

Chrysler’s Automobility Program

Designed to help customers with permanent disabilities enter, exit and/or operate a new vehicle, Chrysler’s Automobility Program can help you do the things you love to do in life. And, we’ll help you hit the road in the style that suits you best. Our goal is to assist in lessening the burden of the financial cost of modifying your vehicle.

How the Program Works
When you buy or lease any new 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013 Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram or FIAT® vehicle from a participating dealership or FIAT studio, Chrysler will give you a cash reimbursement to help reduce the cost of installing the adaptive driver or passenger equipment on your vehicle. Leased vehicles must be leased for a minimum of 12 months to be eligible.

Once you have a 2010-2013 Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram or FIAT vehicle that fits your transportation needs, contact a reputable and qualified adaptive equipment installer to ensure that it can be adapted to meet your needs.

Please consult a dealership or call Automobility Program Headquarters for eligibility requirements and program expiration dates.

A program application must be used to submit a claim for reimbursement under the terms and conditions of the Chrysler Automobility Program. Through this program, Chrysler will provide a reimbursement to each eligible customer who installs qualifying adaptive driver or passenger equipment on a purchased or leased new Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram or FIAT vehicle (unless discontinued or excluded earlier at the discretion of Chrysler Group LLC).

A medical doctor’s prescription or note may also be required for certain types of modifications. Consult a dealership for more information on which modifications require notes.

Conversions to Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram or FIAT vehicles qualify for a maximum reimbursement of $1,000. Running boards qualify for a maximum reimbursement of $400. Alerting devices qualify for a maximum reimbursement of $200. These reimbursements will not be reduced or affected by any additional outside funding. Consult your dealer for complete eligibility requirements.

Eligible Vehicles
Vehicles eligible for reimbursement include 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram and FIAT vehicles. Dodge Viper, Dodge Dart SE and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT® models are ineligible.

If you require assistance with financing an adapted vehicle purchase / lease, we can help you finance the cost of your new vehicle, as well as any modifications you make to it. Conventional financing is available through Ally Financial to all qualified new vehicle buyers.

Click HERE for the Application

Honda Mobility Rebate Information

Honda’s Mobility Assistance Program
The Honda Customer Mobility Assistance Program is proud to support the mobility needs of drivers and passengers with physical disabilities. Honda will provide a reimbursement of up to $1,000 to each eligible, original retail customer for expenses incurred to purchase and install qualifying adaptive equipment on any eligible purchased or leased Honda vehicle.

Adapting Your Vehicle
Honda suggests that you request a copy of the Department of Transportation brochure “Adapting Motor Vehicles for People with Disabilities.”  

The process includes these steps:

  • Determine your state’s driver’s license requirements.
  • Evaluate your needs – Contact the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) for further information.
  • Select the right vehicle – Consult with your evaluator, an adaptive installer and your local Honda dealer to determine the best Honda model to meet your needs.
  • Choose a qualified mobility equipment installer – Shop around and ask about qualifications, capabilities, experience, warranty coverage and service. Confirm that they are members of NMEDA.
  • Obtain training on the use of the new equipment – When this process is complete, follow the guidelines and complete and submit an application for assistance to recover up to $1,000 of the cost of your adaptive equipment and/or conversion.

Program Requirements

  • Only the original vehicle owner is eligible for reimbursement.
  • Modifications must be completed for the original owner or his/her immediate family.
  • Only new Honda vehicles retailed or leased in the United States from an authorized Honda dealership.
  • Only one reimbursement request per vehicle.
  • Lease-vehicle modifications may be subject to written lessor approval. The customer is responsible for determining and satisfying lease-contract requirements.
  • Honda will consider reimbursement for modifications made to vehicle after February 1, 2004.
  • The written reimbursement request must be received within 6 months of the adaptive equipment installation.

Adaptations, Modifications or Equipment Installation

  • Qualifying adaptive equipment or conversion is defined as: alterations or adaptive-equipment installation that provides to the disabled user convenient access and/or the ability to drive the vehicle.
  • Adaptive equipment installation must have taken place within the time and mileage limits of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty.
  • Alterations or adaptive equipment installation requires a prescription or medical documentation to be considered for reimbursement.
  • Reimbursement requests (invoices) will be compared against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Web site to verify that the alterer or repair business (individual, partnership or corporation) is registered with NHTSA and that the modification(s) are on the list of NHTSA exemptions.
  • If all conditions are met, Honda will provide up to a $1,000 cash reimbursement. Honda will be the secondary coverage in the case of two or more reimbursement sources.


  • Wheelchair or scooter hoists or ramps do not require a prescription, medical documentation or NHTSA exemption verification and NHTSA business registration for reimbursement consideration.
  • Modifications that DO NOT make inoperative any part of a device or element of design that has been installed on or in a motor vehicle in compliance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard will not require NHTSA exemption verification and NHTSA business registration for reimbursement consideration.
  • *A reimbursement made by another source, such as medical insurance, will be subtracted from the customer’s original total expense. (Example: Total expense $5,000, Insurance reimbursement $4,000, Customer expense, $1,000. The customer expense of $1,000 will be reviewed and considered for a maximum of $1,000 reimbursement.)

Important Customer Information

  • The selection of an equipment manufacturer and installer is solely the customer’s responsibility (Honda does not endorse any company or supplier involved in adaptive equipment. Mobility warranty, installation warranty and related liabilities are not the responsibility of Honda).
  • The reimbursement application form must be completed in its entirety and signed by the customer. It should be mailed along with a copy of all required supporting documentation. (See checklist on application).

Click HERE For the Honda Mobility Assistance Brochure

Rear-entry wheelchair van ramp conversions

Rear-entry wheelchair vans and handicap accessible vans have a lowered floor that extends from the rear of the vehicle to the front seats.  These conversions feature a wheelchair ramp at the rear hatch.  Rear-entry wheelchair vans can be configured to transport up to 2 wheelchairs, depending on the conversion chosen and the size of the wheelchairs.  Available with a  power or manual wheelchair ramp, rear-entryhandicap accessible vans are  generally more economical that side-entry wheelchair vans.  Rear-entry wheelchair vans have excellent ground clearance, making them perfect for our tough New England winters.  While thay aren’t a good choice for those who want to drive from their wheelchairs or ride in their wheelchairs in the front passenger area, rear entry handicap vans work well for those who need to transport individuals with very long wheelchairs or children in wheelchairs.  Because of the location of the wheelchair ramp, these vehicles can fit in any parking space and still make loading and unloading of wheelchair passengers a cinch.  Rear-entry handicap vans are ideal when handicap accessible parking is not available.

Greater Accessibility and Ease of Use
The benefits that come from a rear entry van are pretty big when it comes to both usability and accessibility. First and foremost, accessing the van from the rear actually allows for a wider ramp and a wider opening for access to the van, which is perfect for bulkier power chair models. In addition, rear access means that the actual access ramp itself can be longer, allowing an easier climb into the vehicle. And, because no side clearance is required, customers can park anywhere–even outside of the typical handicap parking space–without encountering maneuverability or space issues.

Adaptive and Accessible Wintertime Activities

The colder months have a tendency to leave us feeling sluggish and craving extended naps. Although getting enough sleep is important for all of us, keeping our bodies and minds active, especially in the winter when our bodies are running slower, is essential. Here are a few ideas to keep you engaged this holiday season.

Change It Up
Don’t fall into the Netflix void this winter. While the online streaming service can help you host the perfect movie night, complete with hot chocolates and warm blankets, you know what they say about too much of a good thing.

Learn Something New
Master your camera’s manual functions or brush up on your own cooking skills by adding a few new recipes to your repertoire. With endless video tutorials and online resources, winter is the perfect time to pick up a new skill.

Out and About
Just because the temperature’s dropped doesn’t mean you have to be stuck indoors. If you have access to a wheelchair accessible car or van, you can go check out that new restaurant you’ve been eyeing, go explore a museum or even attend a play or concert. Some zoos even offer indoor exhibits. If you are in the mood for something a bit wilder, get out and discover all your city and neighboring towns have to offer.

Stay Active
Staying active doesn’t mean spending hours upon hours at the gym. Joining a bowling league or going for a stroll or ride around the neighborhood on days when the snow’s cleared can help you keep yourself warm this winter. You can also check with your local YMCA or other recreational centers to see if they offer accessible swim sessions or wheelchair basketball or wheelchair rugby leagues. If they don’t, talk to management about starting your own!

Massachusetts Gold Star Families Tree Dedication

Please join Governor Charlie Baker, Secretary Francisco Urena, Massachusetts Gold Star Families, Veterans Advocates and our State Legislators for the 4th Annual Massachusetts Gold Star Families Tree Dedication. The Tree will pay tribute to local Service Members who have given their lives in service to our Nation and to the families who continue to carry their legacy forward. Photos and messages from loved ones will be displayed on the tree and serve to remind us of the tremendous sacrifices made for our Freedoms.

Prior to the dedication (beginning at 12:30pm) Gold Star Families will have an opportunity to personalized ornaments that will be placed on the tree.

This project is a partnership between the Military Friends Foundation, the Gold Star Wives and Gold Star Mothers organizations. This event is open to the public. Please join us for a light lunch following the dedication.

For more information and family registration, please visit

Lewy Body Dementia

What Is LBD?
LBD is not a rare disease. It affects an estimated 1.3 million individuals and their families in the United States. Because LBD symptoms can closely resemble other more commonly known diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, it is currently widely underdiagnosed. Many doctors or other medical professionals still are not familiar with LBD.LBD is an umbrella term for two related diagnoses. LBD refers to both Parkinson’s disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. The earliest symptoms of these two diseases differ, but reflect the same underlying biological changes in the brain. Over time, people with both diagnoses will develop very similar cognitive, physical, sleep, and behavioral symptoms.While it may take more than a year or two for enough symptoms to develop for a doctor to diagnose LBD, it is critical to pursue a formal diagnosis. Early diagnosis allows for important early treatment that may extend quality of life and independence.LBD is a multisystem disease and typically requires a comprehensive treatment approach. This approach involves a team of physicians from different specialties who collaborate to provide optimum treatment of each symptom without worsening other LBD symptoms. Many people with LBD enjoy significant improvement of their symptoms with a comprehensive approach to treatment, and some can have remarkably little change from year to year.Some people with LBD are extremely sensitive or may react negatively to certain medications used to treat Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s in addition to certain over-the-counter medications.

Who was Lewy?
In the early 1900s, while researching Parkinson’s disease, the scientist Friederich H. Lewy discovered abnormal protein deposits that disrupt the brain’s normal functioning. These Lewy body proteins are found in an area of the brain stem where they deplete the neurotransmitter dopamine, causing Parkinsonian symptoms. In Lewy body dementia, these abnormal proteins are diffuse throughout other areas of the brain, including the cerebral cortex. The brain chemical acetylcholine is depleted, causing disruption of perception, thinking and behavior. Lewy body dementia exists either in pure form, or in conjunction with other brain changes, including those typically seen in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Early and accurate diagnosis of LBD, while not always easy to do, is of critical importance for two reasons.

  • First, people with LBD may respond more favorably to certain dementia medications than people with Alzheimer’s, allowing for early treatment that may improve or extend the quality of life for both the person with LBD and their caregiver.
  • Secondly, many people with LBD respond more poorly to certain medications for behavior and movement than people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, sometimes with dangerous or permanent side effects.

By learning about common forms of dementia, you can help your physician most quickly identify what type of dementia has developed.

Common Forms of Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include a progressive loss of recent memory; problems with language, calculation, abstract thinking, and judgment; depression or anxiety; personality and behavioral changes; and disorientation to time and place.

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is an umbrella term for a form of dementia that has three common presentations.

  • Some individuals will start out with a memory or cognitive disorder that may resemble Alzheimer’s disease, but over time two or more distinctive features become apparent leading to the diagnosis of ‘dementia with Lewy bodies’ (DLB). Symptoms that differentiate it from Alzheimer’s include unpredictable levels of cognitive ability, attention or alertness, changes in walking or movement, visual hallucinations, a sleep disorder called REM sleep behavior disorder, in which people physically act out their dreams, and severe sensitivity to medications for hallucinations. In some cases, the sleep disorder can precede the dementia and other symptoms of LBD by decades.
  • Others will start out with a movement disorder leading to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and later develop dementia and other symptoms common in DLB.
  • Lastly, a small group will first present with neuropsychiatric symptoms, which can include hallucinations, behavioral problems, and difficulty with complex mental activities, leading to an initial diagnosis of DLB.

Regardless of the initial symptom, over time all three presentations of LBD will develop very similar cognitive, physical, sleep and behavioral features, all caused by the presence of Lewy bodies throughout the brain.

Vascular dementia is caused by a series of small strokes that deprive the brain of vital oxygen. Symptoms, such as disorientation in familiar locations; walking with rapid, shuffling steps; incontinence; laughing or crying inappropriately; difficulty following instructions; and problems handling money may appear suddenly and worsen with additional strokes. High blood pressure, cigarette smoking, and high cholesterol are some of the risk factors for stroke that may be controlled to prevent vascular dementia.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) includes several disorders with a variety of symptoms. The most common signs of FTD include changes in personality and behavior, such as inappropriate or compulsive behavior, euphoria, apathy, decline in personal hygiene, and a lack of awareness concerning these changes. Some forms of FTD involve language and speech symptoms or movement changes.

An experienced clinician within the medical community should perform a diagnostic evaluation. If one is not available, the neurology department of the nearest medical university should be able to recommend appropriate resources or may even provide an experienced diagnostic team skilled in Lewy body dementia.

A thorough dementia diagnostic evaluation includes physical and neurological examinations, patient and family interviews (including a detailed lifestyle and medical history), and neuro-psychological and mental status tests. The patient’s functional ability, attention, language, visuospatial skills, memory and executive functioning are assessed. In addition, brain imaging (CT or MRI scans), blood tests and other laboratory studies may be performed. The evaluation will provide a clinical diagnosis. Currently, a conclusive diagnosis of LBD can be obtained only from a postmortem autopsy for which arrangements should be made in advance. Some research studies may offer brain autopsies as part of their protocols. Participating in research studies is a good way to benefit others with Lewy body dementia.

Medications are one of the most controversial subjects in dealing with LBD. A medication that doesn’t work for one person may work for another person.

Prescribing should only be done by a physician who is thoroughly knowledgeable about LBD. With new medications and even ‘over-the-counter,’ the patient should be closely monitored. At the first sign of an adverse reaction, consult with the patient’s physician. Consider joining an online caregiver support group to see what others have observed with prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Risk Factors
Advanced age is considered to be the greatest risk factor for Lewy body dementia, with onset typically, but not always, between the ages of 50 and 85. Some cases have been reported much earlier. It appears to affect slightly more men than women. Having a family member with Lewy body dementia may increase a person’s risk. Observational studies suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle (exercise, mental stimulation, nutrition) might delay age-associated dementias.

Clinical Trials
The recruitment of LBD patients for participation in clinical trials for studies on LBD, other dementias and Parkinsonian studies is now steadily increasing.

Prognosis and Stages
No cure or definitive treatment for Lewy body dementia has been discovered as yet. The disease has an average duration of 5 to 7 years. It is possible, though, for the time span to be anywhere from 2 to 20 years, depending on several factors, including the person’s overall health, age and severity of symptoms.

Defining the stages of disease progression for LBD is difficult. The symptoms, medicine management and duration of LBD vary greatly from person to person. To further complicate the stages assessment, LBD has a progressive but vacillating clinical course, and one of its defining symptoms is fluctuating levels of cognitive abilities, alertness and attention. Sudden decline is often caused by medications, infections or other compromises to the immune system and usually the person with LBD returns to their baseline upon resolution of the problem.  But for some individuals, it may also be due to the natural course of the disease.


Lewy body dementia symptoms and diagnostic criteria
Every person with LBD is different and will manifest different degrees of the following symptoms. Some will show no signs of certain features, especially in the early stages of the disease. Symptoms may fluctuate as often as moment-to-moment, hour-to-hour or day-to-day. NOTE: Some patients meet the criteria for LBD yet score in the normal range of some cognitive assessment tools. The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), for example, cannot be relied upon to distinguish LBD from other common syndromes.

LBD is a an umbrella term for two related clinical diagnoses, dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia.

The latest clinical diagnostic criteria for dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) categorizes symptoms into three types, listed below.  A diagnosis of Parkinsons’ disease dementia (PDD) requires a well established diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease that later progresses into dementia, along with very similar features to DLB.  A rather arbirary time cutoff was established to differentiate between DLB and PDD.  People whose dementia occurs before or within 1 year of Parkinson’s symptoms are diagnosed with DLB.  People who have an existing diagnosis of Parkinson’s for more than a year and later develop dementia are diagnosed with PDD.

Central feature

  • Progressive dementia – deficits in attention and executive function are typical. Prominent memory impairment may not be evident in the early stages.

Core features

  • Fluctuating cognition with pronounced variations in attention and alertness.
  • Recurrent complex visual hallucinations, typically well formed and detailed.
  • Spontaneous features of parkinsonism.

Suggestive features

  • REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), which can appear years before the onset of dementia and parkinsonism.
  • Severe sensitivity to neuroleptics occurs in up to 50% of LBD patients who take them.
  • Low dopamine transporter uptake in the brain’s basal ganglia as seen on SPECT and PET imaging scans. (These scans are not yet available outside of research settings.)

Supportive features

  • Repeated falls and syncope (fainting).
  • Transient, unexplained loss of consciousness.
  • Autonomic dysfunction.
  • Hallucinations of other senses, like touch or hearing.
  • Visuospatial abnormalities.
  • Other psychiatric disturbances.

A clinical diagnosis of LBD can be probable or possible based on different symptom combinations.

A probable LBD diagnosis requires either:

  • Dementia plus two or more core features, or
  • Dementia plus one core feature and one or more suggestive features.

A possible LBD diagnosis requires:

  • Dementia plus one core feature, or
  • Dementia plus one or more suggestive features.

Symptoms Explained
In this section we’ll discuss each of the symptoms, starting with the key word: dementia. Dementia is a process whereby the person becomes progressively confused. The earliest signs are usually memory problems, changes in their way of speaking, such as forgetting words, and personality problems. Cognitive symptoms of dementia include poor problem solving, difficulty with learning new skills and impaired decision making.

Other causes of dementia should be ruled out first, such as alcoholism, overuse of medication, thyroid or metabolic problems. Strokes can also cause dementia. If these reasons are ruled out then the person is said to have a degenerative dementia. Lewy Body Dementia is second only to Alzheimer’s disease as the most common form of dementia.

Fluctuations in cognition will be noticeable to those who are close to the person with LBD, such as their partner. At times the person will be alert and then suddenly have acute episodes of confusion. These may last hours or days. Because of these fluctuations, it is not uncommon for it to be thought that the person is “faking”. This fluctuation is not related to the well-known “sundowning” of Alzheimer’s. In other words, there is no specific time of day when confusion can be seen to occur.

Hallucinations are usually, but not always, visual and often are more pronounced when the person is most confused. They are not necessarily frightening to the person. Other modalities of hallucinations include sound, taste, smell, and touch.

Parkinsonism or Parkinson’s Disease symptoms, take the form of changes in gait; the person may shuffle or walk stiffly. There may also be frequent falls. Body stiffness in the arms or legs, or tremors may also occur. Parkinson’s mask (blank stare, emotionless look on face), stooped posture, drooling and runny nose may be present.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) is often noted in persons with Lewy Body Dementia. During periods of REM sleep, the person will move, gesture and/or speak. There may be more pronounced confusion between the dream and waking reality when the person awakens. RBD may actually be the earliest symptom of LBD in some patients, and is now considered a significant risk factor for developing LBD. (One recent study found that nearly two-thirds of patients diagnosed with RBD developed degenerative brain diseases, including Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple system atrophy, after an average of 11 years of receiving an RBD diagnosis. All three diseases are called synucleinopathies, due to the presence of a mis-folded protein in the brain called alpha-synuclein.)

Sensitivity to neuroleptic (anti-psychotic) drugs is another significant symptom that may occur. These medications can worsen the Parkinsonism and/or decrease the cognition and/or increase the hallucinations. Neuroleptic Malignancy Syndrome, a life-threatening illness, has been reported in persons with Lewy Body Dementia. For this reason, it is very important that the proper diagnosis is made and that healthcare providers are educated about the disease.

Other Symptoms
Visuospatial difficulties, including depth perception, object orientation, directional sense and illusions may occur.

Autonomic dysfunction, including blood pressure fluctuations (e.g. postural/orthostatic hypotension) heart rate variability (HRV), sexual disturbances/impotence, constipation, urinary problems, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), decreased sweating/heat intolerance, syncope (fainting), dry eyes/mouth, and difficulty swallowing which may lead to aspiration pneumonia.

Other psychiatric disturbances may include systematized delusions, aggression and depression. The onset of aggression in LBD may have a variety of causes, including infections (e.g., UTI), medications, misinterpretation of the environment or personal interactions, and the natural progression of the disease.

Treatment Options

LBD is a multi-system disease and typically requires a comprehensive treatment approach, meaning a team of physicians from different specialties, who collaborate to provide optimum treatment of each symptom without worsening other LBD symptoms.  It is important to remember that some people with LBD are extremely sensitive or may react negatively to certain medications used to treat Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s in addition to certain over-the-counter medications.

Cognitive Symptoms
Medications called cholinesterase inhibitors are considered the standard treatment for cognitive symptoms in LBD. These medications were developed to treat Alzheimer’s disease. However, some researchers believe that people with LBD may be even more responsive to these types of medications than those with Alzheimer’s.

Movement Symptoms
Movement symptoms may be treated with a Parkinson’s medication called levodopa, but if the symptoms are mild, it may be best to not treat them in order to avoid potential medication side-effects.

Visual Hallucinations
If hallucinations are disruptive or upsetting, your physician may recommend a cautious trial of a newer antipsychotic medication. (Please see WARNING below.)  Of note, the dementia medications called cholinesterase inhibitors have also been shown to be effective in treating hallucinations and other psychiatric symptoms of LBD.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)
RBD can be quite responsive to treatment, so your physician may recommend a medication like melatonin and/or clonazepam.

Neuroleptic Sensitivity
Severe sensitivity to neuroleptics is common in LBD. Neuroleptics, also known as antipsychotics, are medications used to treat hallucinations or other serious mental disorders. While traditional antipsychotic medications (e.g. haloperidol) are commonly prescribed for individuals with Alzheimer’s with disruptive behavior, these medications can affect the brain of an individual with LBD differently, sometimes causing severe side effects (see below). For this reason, traditional antipsychotic medications like haloperidol should be avoided. Some newer ‘atypical’ antipsychotic medications like risperidone may also be problematic for someone with LBD. Quetiapine is preferred by some LBD experts. If quetiapine is not tolerated or is not helpful, clozapine should be considered, but requires ongoing blood tests to assure a rare but serious blood condition does not develop. Hallucinations must be treated very conservatively, using the lowest doses possible under careful observation for side effects.

Up to 50% of patients with LBD who are treated with any antipsychotic medication may experience severe neuroleptic sensitivity, such as worsening cognition, heavy sedation, increased or possibly irreversible parkinsonism, or symptoms resembling neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), which can be fatal. (NMS causes severe fever, muscle rigidity and breakdown that can lead to kidney failure.)

Medication Side Effects
Speak with your doctor about possible side effects. The following drugs may cause sedation, motor impairment or confusion:

  • Benzodiazepines, tranquilizers like diazepam and lorazepam
  • Anticholinergics (antispasmodics), such as oxybutynin and glycopyrrolate
  • Some surgical anesthetics
  • Older antidepressants
  • Certain over-the-counter medications, including diphenhydramine and dimenhydrinate.
  • Some medications, like anticholinergics, amantadine and dopamine agonists, which help relieve parkinsonian symptoms, might increase confusion, delusions or hallucinations.

NOTE: Be sure to meet with your anesthesiologist in advance of any surgery to discuss medication sensitivities and risks unique to LBD. People with LBD often respond to certain anesthetics and surgery with acute states of confusion or delirium and may have a sudden significant drop in functional abilities, which may or may not be permanent.

Possible alternatives to general anesthesia include a spinal or regional block. These methods are less likely to result in postoperative confusion. If you are told to stop taking all medications prior to surgery, consult with your doctor to develop a plan for careful withdrawal.

Non-Medical Treatments

Physical therapy options include cardiovascular, strengthening, and flexibility exercises, as well as gait training. Physicians may also recommend general physical fitness programs such as aerobic, strengthening, or water exercise.

Speech therapy may be helpful for low voice volume and poor enunciation. Speech therapy may also improve muscular strength and swallowing difficulties.

Occupational therapy may help maintain skills and promote function and independence. In addition to these forms of therapy and treatment, music and aroma therapy can also reduce anxiety and improve mood.

Individual and family psychotherapy can be useful for learning strategies to manage emotional and behavioral symptoms and to help make plans that address individual and family concerns about the future.

Support groups may be helpful for caregivers and persons with LBD to identify practical solutions to day-to-day frustrations, and to obtain emotional support from others.

Planning for the end of life can be a valuable activity for any family. The links below offer general guidance and some specific suggestions for families who face the burden of a disease such as Lewy body dementia.

Advanced Directives – a Caring Connections site with state-specific advanced directives

Caring Connections – home page of consumer Web site about hospice and palliative care managed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

Palliative Doctors – a Web site for consumers managed by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care about palliative care

Wreaths Across America

The annual Wreaths Across America event will be held at Arlington National Cemetery Saturday, December 12, 2015. The Opening Ceremony will be held at 9:30 a.m. at McClellan Gate, which is at the intersection of McClellan and Eisenhower Drives – near the main entrance of Arlington National Cemetery. At the ceremony, volunteers will receive a short briefing then move to the designated areas of the cemetery to participate in the laying of wreaths at headstones.

Participants are encouraged to use the Metro. No vehicle access will be allowed in the cemetery until 3 p.m. Families with permanent parking passes can park in the Welcome Center Garage free-of-charge until 3 p.m. The Administration Parking Lot is designated parking for those with disabilities. No general parking is permitted in the Welcome Center Garage.

For more information, go to

6th Annual Mass Fallen Heroes Memorial Dinner

6th Annual Mass Fallen Heroes Memorial Dinner

Holiday Travel Preparation

With the holidays only a few short weeks away, it’s time to get plans for family visits and end of year trips finalized before the busy season is in full swing. Traveling with a disability that requires mobility equipment can quickly become a stressful task if proper accommodations have not been made in advance.  Preparing ahead of time can save you some headaches when it is time to board your plane. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your upcoming vacations:

  • Be sure to inform your airline if you or someone you are traveling with uses a wheelchair, mobility equipment or will need to bring medical equipment onto the aircraft.
  • Ensure you have refilled prescriptions for any medications you may need throughout the duration of your trip.
  • If you need to rent a car, make these arrangements in advance to guarantee a handicap accessible vehicle.
  • If possible, bring any tools you might need in case you experience any issues with your wheelchair. If you have replacement parts, it might be a good idea to bring these along as well.
  • If your wheelchair must be checked for your flight, make sure to tag it as you would the rest of your luggage. Include your name and contact details, as well as those of your hotel or wherever else you may be staying.
  • Staying somewhere other than home can be a challenge so make sure your hotel or other arrangements are accessible by wheelchair (if necessary) and can otherwise accommodate you.
  • Plan to arrive at the airport as early as possible to ensure you have plenty of time to make your way through security and finalize any special accommodations you might require for your mobility equipment.
  • When booking your flights, know that passengers requiring a wheelchair are generally the first to board and last to leave the plane, meaning that connecting flights with short layovers may become difficult.

Despite having to take select special measures, those living with disabilities should not be apprehensive to fly or travel. Airlines have become more and more accommodating and understanding, making this the perfect time to book a vacation and get back in touch with faraway friends and family.

Boston’s 6th Annual Wounded Vet Run

Boston's 6th Annual Wounded Vet Run

New England Disabled Sports: Winter Activities

About New England Disabled Sports
New England DisAbled Sports is a national recognized program which provides year round adaptive sport instruction to adults and children with physical and cognitive disAbilities.

Their programs allow individuals with disabilities to enjoy a boundary-free environment, enjoy outdoor recreation with friends and family, as well as provide access to equipment and instruction that might otherwise be unavailable.

Their Mission:
The Mission of New England Disabled Sports is, through sports, to change lives affected by disabilities. Download New England Disabled Sports brochure

Their Vision:
They envision a world where disabilities are not barriers.

Their Values:

  • They embrace volunteerism
  • They foster community
  • They strive for excellence
  • They listen to and learn from everyone
  • They nurture personal development through high-quality training and instruction
  • They strive for diversity

Winter Activities

Alpine Skiing

Mono skiing
The mono ski is a device used mainly by people with limited use (or absence) of the lower extremities. A mono ski, also known as a sit-ski, consists of a molded seat mounted on a metal frame. A shock absorber beneath the seat eases riding on uneven terrain and helps in turning by maximizing ski-snow contact. Modern mono skis interface with a single, ordinary alpine ski by means of a “ski foot,” a metal or plastic block in the shape of a boot sole that clicks into the ski’s binding. A mono skier use outriggers for stability; an outrigger resembles a forearm crutch with a short ski on the bottom. People new to mono-skiing are often surprised to see how much terrain is skiable in a mono ski; advanced mono skiers can be found not only carving turns on groomed runs but also skiing moguls, terrain parks, race courses, glades and even backcountry terrain—in short, wherever stand-up skiers can go.

A bi-ski is a sit ski with a can be skied independently like the mono-ski with hand-held outriggers, or can be skied with the assistance of an instructor using stabilizing outriggers and tethers. The skier moves his or her head, shoulders or hand-held outriggers to turn the bi-ski. The bi-ski has a lift mechanism for getting onto a chairlift. It can also be used to accustom a new sit-skier to the snow before moving to a mono-ski. Bi-skis are used by people with upper and lower limb impairments and with poor balance. People with these impairments might bi-ski:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Amputees
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Severe epilepsy
  • Spinal bifida
  • Severe balance impairment

Outriggers are metal elbow crutches with the tip section of a ski pivoted on the bottom of the crutch. Some outriggers have adjustable brakes attached to the back edge of the ski to give some speed control. Outriggers are used to aid balance and/or to give support. Outriggers are used by mono-skiers, bi-skiers and standing skiers needing aid with balance.

3-Track & 4-Track skiing
3 track skiing is defined as skiing on one ski with outriggers to maintain balance. The student is able to stand on one ski and maintain dynamic balance with the assistance of outriggers (poles). 4 track skiing is very similar to 3 track but the skier has 2 feet on skies, rather than one.

Visually Impaired
Alpine (downhill) skiing is one of the rare opportunities available that allows the blind individual to move freely at speed through time and space. It provides the opportunity to embrace and commune with the primal force of gravity, thus experiencing the sheer exhilaration of controlled mass in motion, in a physically independent setting.

For those with Visual Impairment, a sighted Guide is needed. For lesser impairment the guide may simply need to ski a short distance in front of the skier to show the way. Skiers with greater vision loss or who are totally blind will generally ski using a headset arrangement to give audible instruction.

Snowboarding has become very popular with New England DisAbled Sports students. People with cognitive or physical disAbilities are able to participate and experience the thrills of riding the mountain. The number of snowboarding lessons increases each year as the sport grows in popularity within our community. New England DisAbled Sports offers ski and snowboard lessons daily throughout the winter season.

Come explore the snow trails and fresh air of the mountains covered in snow while snowshoeing. Enjoy a winter hike in the woods from the more stable base of snowshoes. Take in peaceful scenery while working to improve your physical fitness level, balance and spatial awareness. You’ll love it!

Winter Biathlon
A seemingly unlikely combination of events – one is an aerobic activity (skiing or running) which requires strength, speed and endurance; the other is a passive activity (shooting) which requires concentration and a steady hand (difficult after you’ve been skiing, running or walking all out!).

Accessible Vehicles And Adaptive Mobility Equipment Q&A

Rear entry vs. side entry. Buying online. Buying used. What do you need to know to get maximum benefit for minimum expense?

Good information is the key to saving money and getting the most value for the dollar when making a big-ticket purchase like a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

With that in mind, Seek out and find experts who truly care for answers to some common questions about adaptive mobility equipment.

Q: Can I just go to a car dealer down the street or do I need a certified mobility dealer?

A: Certified mobility dealers help consumers buy the right vehicle and adaptive mobility equipment to meet their mobility needs now and in the future. Future planning is especially important for people with muscle diseases that get progressively worse over time.

“There are so many different products out there, and technology has improved so much. We just want to help people make the right decision,” says Jim Sanders, president of Automotive Innovations based in Bridgewater, MA for over 25 years.

“Many times, consumers will go to a car dealer and buy [a vehicle] that can’t be modified or one that doesn’t fit their needs. And once you buy a vehicle, normally it’s very difficult to return it.”

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), a nonprofit organization that provides consumer guidance and ensures quality and professionalism in the manufacturing and installation of mobility equipment. Members include mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers, driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals.

NMEDA member-dealers must follow the safety standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in addition to NMEDA’s own stringent guidelines.

Some dealers choose to enroll in NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP), which requires them to adhere to national motor vehicle safety standards, and use proven quality control practices to yield the highest level of performance and safety. Automotive Innovations was the First Mobility Dealer in Massachusetts to enroll and exceed the safety standards.

“The QAP dealer is audited by an outside engineering firm to verify that technicians have been trained, make sure the dealer has insurance and make sure the facility is ADA-compliant,”

So it means the QAP dealer is going above and beyond.”

Other reasons to seek out a certified mobility equipment dealer include:

They provide a link to qualified service and repair, that it’s crucial to have done on a adapted vehicle serviced.

Some manufacturers of adapted vehicles sell directly to consumers, cutting costs by cutting out the middle man, says Jim Sanders, of VMi New England, based in Bridgewater, MA.

But expert assessment and “try before you buy” remain essentials for prospective buyers, with or without a dealer in the middle.

For example, We, a NMEDA QAP-certified member, send representatives to customers’ homes for assessment and test drives before they buy, and also offer unmatched service/maintenance to just about any modified vehicle including Rollx vans.

Q: Can I get a better price if I buy online rather than from a dealer?

A: As with any online shopping, the warning “buyer beware” rings true. Buying online without trying out different vehicles with different conversions can be a costly mistake. Furthermore there are many grey market converted vans being offered as quality conversions.

Online, clients are mostly shopping blind. Typically they have no idea how the vehicle they need will even work fro them, even if they have specific recommendations from a driver evaluator or occupational therapist.

“You definitely shouldn’t buy it online,” “There not trying to assess your needs by e-mail or over the phone. There just trying to sell you something.

Some online dealers even have a questionnaire on its Web site to try and give you the idea your getting what you need. But, it will never replace being able to go to a local mobility dealership and try the vans out first hand.

A mobility vehicle is probably the second-largest purchase after a house. You should see it, try it out, and make sure it’s something that will work for you. It’s horrible when people get something that they’re disappointed in.

Every vehicle is a little bit different — such as in the dimensions, electrical and fuel systems, or suspension modifications. “If you go online and buy [based] on price, you’re not really looking at the total package.”

While buying online maybe able to save money up front, it wont over the long term.

In addition to consumers missing out on the important local service contact that a mobility equipment dealer provides, these online deals or grey market vans are worth much less when it comes time to trade it in.

Where do you want to sit? If you plan to drive from your wheelchair, then a side-entry conversion is what you’ll need, unless you can transfer to the driver’s seat (rear entry). With a rear-entry conversion, the wheelchair user typically is positioned in the back or between two mid-row captain’s seats, while a side entry offers a wheelchair user multiple seating options in the driver, front passenger and middle sections.

Q: What are some common mistakes people make when buying a modified vehicle?

A: Manufacturers and mobility dealers agree that one of the most common — and costly — mistakes is buying the vehicle first and then shopping for the conversion or adaptive mobility equipment. Not all vehicles can be converted.

For example, If you purchase a minivan from a traditional car dealership you can hit a roadblock if it doesn’t meet specific requirements to have the floor lowered for a rear- or side-entry conversion.

Q: What are some good questions to ask a dealer or manufacturer?

A: Although buying a modified vehicle can be “a daunting experience,” says VMI’s Monique McGivney, it also can be “exciting and fun when you walk in armed with good questions and information.”

Prior to getting an assessment from a mobility dealer, evaluate your needs and try answering the following questions:

  • What vehicle will fit in my garage?
  • What kind of parking issues will I encounter where I live?
  • What is the size and weight of my wheelchair?
  • What is my seated height in the wheelchair?
  • How many people will ride in the vehicle?
  • In what part of the vehicle do I want to sit?
  • Will I be able to drive with hand controls?
  • Do I want a full-size van, minivan or alternative vehicle?
  • Do I want manual or power equipment?
  • Will an in-floor ramp or fold-out ramp meet my needs?
  • What is my budget, and do I have access to supplemental funding?

The first question mobility dealers usually ask a client is: “What is your seated height in the wheelchair?” From there, the dealer can advise whether a full-size or minivan is appropriate, and what kind of conversion is needed.

Be sure to ask the dealer about the warranty and how the vehicle can be serviced.

Q: Which is better: rear entry or side entry?

A: The most important difference between a rear- and side-entry conversion is that with a rear entry, wheelchair users can’t drive from their wheelchairs nor can they ride in the front passenger seat. From there, the choice comes down to personal preference and budget.

In recent years, because of quality, convenience and cost, there’s been a shift toward side entry vehicles. Rear entry is more of a frugal modification, involves a less of conversion process and is typically a little less expensive than a side-entry conversion.

Many people prefer side entry with a in-floor conversion for many safety reasons additionally because they can park almost anywhere and not worry deploying the ramp out into traffic. Also, side entry allows the consumer to ride in the passengers front position along with maintain the rear seats in a minivan because the conversion doesn’t affect that area.

Rear entry is harder to get out of compared to a side-entry.

Anyway you look at it side-entry vehicles are more versatile. For example, side entry allows someone with a progressively worsening condition to use the vehicle for a longer period of time. A wheelchair user can start out driving from his or her chair, and then move to several other positions in the vehicle when no longer able to drive.

Side-entry conversions typically are a little more expensive than rear-entry because they’re more intrusive and labor intensive. For example, with a minivan, the entire floor and frame must be removed and replaced with a lowered floor and new frame.

Q: What’s the difference between a fold-out ramp and in-floor ramp?

A: This decision comes down to safety, aesthetics, convenience and cost.

A fold-out ramp folds up into the vehicle, takes up valuable space in the passengers front area and must be deployed whenever the door is opened.

The in-floor ramp slides under the floor, so it safer for anyone seated in the passengers front position, mid-ship position, there’s no obstruction to the door, and other passengers can enter and exit without deploying the ramp. In-floor ramps only are currently only available for side-entry minivan conversions, and there is even a manual (unpowered) option.

In-floor ramps in addition to being safer will generally provide more room in the vehicle because there’s nothing blocking the doorway. The ramp is “out of sight, out of mind and may last longer because it doesn’t have to be deployed each time the side passenger door opens.

Fold-out ramps generally cost a little less than in-floor, and consumers can select from manual and power versions; a power fold-out ramp still costs less than an in-floor ramp.

If an in-floor ramp system breaks down or the vehicle loses power, VMI’s in-floor ramp systems have a backup system (sure-deploy) that bypasses the vehicle’s battery.

A lot of people just feel more secure knowing there isn’t a fold-out ramp next to them in the event of a accident.

Q: I use a wheelchair, but a van or minivan just isn’t “me.” Are they my only options?

A: You have some choices.

Lowered-floor conversions with fold-out ramps can be done on the Honda Element, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Toyota Scion. The conversions are small and don’t fit as many people.

Due to them being built on a much smaller scale, the ones we have seen have not been built with the same level of quality of mini van conversion. Parts availability and repairs have been a problem, some of the companies that converted them are out of business and or have no support for “something they used to build”

For those who prefer to keep their standard car rather than purchasing a modified vehicle — and who can make the transfer from a wheelchair to a car seat — the answer may be as simple as a set of hand controls or a left foot gas pedal

Turning seats can be used in a wide range of vehicles, from sedans to SUVs and pickup trucks. A way to transport the wheelchair (like a rear lift) also is needed.

The rate at which your disease symptoms are worsening is one thing to consider when looking at turning seats — is it likely you’ll be able to transfer and ride in a car seat for many more years? Also, be sure to check with a mobility dealer to determine if your vehicle can accommodate a turning seat and a wheelchair lift.

Q: Why are modified vehicles so darned expensive?

A: A vehicle conversion can cost consumers upwards of $27,000 — and that’s just the cost for the conversion, not the vehicle. The total package can run between $45,000 and $80,000 — or more.

Besides the cost of the components, the reason it’s so pricey is that basically there is a lot of work involved to build a quality vehicle.

Modified vehicles from certified manufacturers and dealers must meet NHTSA’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). That means all modified vehicles must be properly crash tested. (To learn more, visit

It’s quite a labor-intensive process because of the customization. When you make structural modifications to a vehicle, you have to go through all of the crash testing, and you have to show that the vehicle is compliant again, and those tests are very expensive.

Most of the time lowering the floor in a minivan requires replacing or moving the fuel tank. Once the conversion is finished, the vehicle still has to meet the original requirements for evaporative emissions, in addition to NHTSA requirements.

Q: How can I pay less?

A: Consumers have some options.

Many consumers cut costs by purchasing pre-owned vehicles with new conversions, typically saving around $10,000 to $12,000.

The previous van owner already has absorbed the depreciation hit on a new van, which essentially occurs right after you’ve driven off the dealer’s lot.

Buying used can be beneficial for first-time buyers who want to try out a vehicle for a few years before buying new.

But if you plan to buy used, do some research and make sure the vehicle is structurally sound including the conversion. Ask for a vehicle history (CARFAX) report, and get the vehicle inspected by a mobility dealer to ensure it’s in good shape and was well taken care of.

Q: How do people manage to pay for it?

A: Many consumers used home equity loans to purchase a vehicle and adaptive equipment. But with home values decreasing.

Many dealers and manufacturers work with lending institutions that offer extended-term financing, including 10-year loans, allowing consumers to make lower, more affordable monthly payments. The downside is that consumers are locked into the vehicle for 10 years, and end up paying more in interest.

If you finance for 10 years, and you’re not going to keep the vehicle for that amount of time, you’re going to lose money when you try to sell or trade it because you haven’t paid off much of the balance.

When you buy a new vehicle, many car manufacturers offer mobility reimbursement programs (up to $1,000) to help offset the cost for the purchase and installation of adaptive equipment.

Adapted Snowmobiling

If you have limited mobility due to a disAbility, you may think riding a snowmobile is simply out of the question. As the leader in mobility features and transportation for people with disAbilities, Automotive Innovations takes that as a challenge.

Jim’s passion for snowmobiles is unwavering and he has worked on wheelchair accessible vehicles for more than 28 years.

If you’re a daredevil at heart, like Jim, and want an exciting way to get around this winter, see if he can up fit a Snowmobile just for you. If you are no longer able to ride a standard snowmobile but are not ready to give up the thrill of the ride, contact Automotive Innovations and find out how Jim Sanders and the mobility experts at Automotive Innovations will change your life!

Winter Vehicle Safety Checklist

With the winter months here, it’s important to make sure your adaptive vehicle is in good shape to maximize protection and prevent breakdowns brought on by cold weather conditions. Here are some key items we recommend having checked on your wheelchair accessible vehicle to keep it running at its best and avoid the inconvenience of being stranded outside and emergency repairs.

Get Your Battery Tested
Cold weather can dramatically reduce the strength of your mobility vehicle’s battery. It’s important to have your battery tested to insure it’s fully charged. This is especially true if your battery is over two years old. And don’t forget to have your battery cables, posts and fasteners inspected. The cables should be in good shape and firmly connected to the battery.

Replace Your Wiper Blades
It’s recommended you replace your windshield wiper blades every six months. Ice and snow can be rough on the soft rubber, so we suggest replacing them with a heavier winter blade. Windshields get dirty quickly in the winter months from the sand, salt and spray off the road, so refill your washer fluid often for optimum visibility. Use a 50/50 mix of washer and water.

Check Your Tires
Make sure all of your tires including the spare are in good condition. Take a good look at the tread and consider replacing or rotating your tires if they are starting to wear out. Also check your tire pressure regularly. Cold weather causes tire pressure to drop and may result in the sensors indicating an unsafe driving pressure. Proper tire inflation makes for safer driving and better gas mileage.

Check Hoses, Clamps and Drive Belts
A belt or hose failure can cause serious engine, steering and electrical problems. Have your hoses checked for leaks or soft spots especially around the clamps. The thermal fluctuation between hot and cold can be even more severe in winter than summer months. Flush and refill your cooling system with a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. It’s also a good idea to make sure the heater and defroster are in good working condition.

Make Sure Your Mobility System Is Operating
Your conversion equipment is exposed to the elements as you enter and exit your handicap accessible vehicle and winter weather can compound those effects. Make sure your lift or ramp are lubricated and adjusted properly. Check the doors, mechanisms and ramp assembly for corrosion and rust. Snow, salt, sand and ice can easily cause problems.

Something to remember no matter what time of year is that having your oil changed regularly is probably the most important thing you can do to extend the life of your vehicle and keep it running properly.

Williams syndrome

Williams syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth and can affect anyone.  It is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities.  These occur side by side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music.

WS affects 1 in 10,000 people worldwide – an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States. It is known to occur equally in both males and females and in every culture.

Unlike disorders that can make connecting with your child difficult, children with WS tend to be social, friendly and endearing.  Parents often say the joy and perspective a child with WS brings into their lives had been unimaginable.

But there are major struggles as well.  Many babies have life-threatening cardiovascular problems.  Children with WS need costly and ongoing medical care, and early interventions (such as speech or occupational therapy) that may not be covered by insurance or state funding.  As they grow, they struggle with things like spatial relations, numbers and abstract reasoning, which can make daily tasks a challenge. And as adults, most people with WS need supportive housing to live to their fullest potential.  Many adults with WS contribute to their communities as volunteers or paid employees, for example working at senior homes and libraries or as store greeters or veterinary aides.

Just as important are opportunities for social interaction. As people with WS mature – beyond the structure of school and family activities – they often experience intense isolation which can lead to depression.  They are extremely sociable and experience the normal need to connect with others; however people with Williams syndrome often don’t process nuanced social cues and this makes it difficult to form lasting relationships.

Common features of Williams syndrome include:

  • Characteristic facial appearance
    Most young children with Williams syndrome are described as having similar facial features. These features include a small upturned nose, long philtrum (upper lip length), wide mouth, full lips, small chin, and puffiness around the eyes. Blue and green-eyed children with Williams syndrome can have a prominent “starburst” or white lacy pattern on their iris. Facial features become more apparent with age.
  • Heart and blood vessel problems
    The majority of individuals with Williams syndrome have some type of heart or blood vessel problem. Typically, there is narrowing in the aorta (producing supravalvular aortic stenos is SVAS), or narrowing in the pulmonary arteries. There is a broad range in the degree of narrowing, ranging from trivial to severe (requiring surgical correction of the defect). Since there is an increased risk for development of blood vessel narrowing or high blood pressure over time, periodic monitoring of cardiac status is necessary.
  • Hypercalcemia (elevated blood calcium levels)
    Some young children with Williams syndrome have elevations in their blood calcium level. The true frequency and cause of this problem is unknown. When hypercalcemia is present, it can cause extreme irritability or “colic-like” symptoms. Occasionally, dietary or medical treatment is needed. In most cases, the problem resolves on its own during childhood, but lifelong abnormality in calcium or Vitamin D metabolism may exist and should be monitored.
  • Low birth-weight / slow weight gain
    Most children with Williams syndrome have a slightly lower birth-weight than their brothers or sisters. Slow weight gain, especially during the first several years of life, is also a common problem and many children are diagnosed as “failure to thrive”. Adult stature is slightly smaller than average.
  • Feeding problems
    Many infants and young children have feeding problems. These problems have been linked to low muscle tone, severe gag reflex, poor suck/swallow, tactile defensiveness etc. Feeding difficulties tend to resolve as the children get older.
  • Irritability (colic during infancy)
    Many infants with Williams syndrome have an extended period of colic or irritability. This typically lasts from 4 to 10 months of age, then resolves. It is sometimes attributed to hypercalcemia. Abnormal sleep patterns with delayed acquisition of sleeping through the night may be associated with the colic.
  • Dental abnormalities
    Slightly small, widely spaced teeth are common in children with Williams syndrome. They also may have a variety of abnormalities of occlusion (bite), tooth shape or appearance. Most of these dental changes are readily amenable to orthodontic correction.
  • Kidney abnormalities
    There is a slightly increased frequency of problems with kidney structure and/or function.
  • Hernias
    Inguinal (groin) and umbilical hernias are more common in Williams syndrome than in the general population.
  • Hyperacusis (sensitive hearing)
    Children with Williams syndrome often have more sensitive hearing than other children; Certain frequencies or noise levels can be painful an/or startling to the individual. This condition often improves with age.
  • Musculoskeletal problems
    Young children with Williams syndrome often have low muscle tone and joint laxity. As the children get older, joint stiffness (contractures) may develop. Physical therapy is very helpful in improving muscle tone, strength and joint range of motion.
  • Overly friendly (excessively social) personality
    Individuals with Williams syndrome have a very endearing personality. They have a unique strength in their expressive language skills, and are extremely polite. They are typically unafraid of strangers and show a greater interest in contact with adults than with their peers.
  • Developmental delay, learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder
    Most people with Williams syndrome mild to severe learning disabilities and cognitive challenges. Young children with Williams syndrome often experience developmental delays.  Milestones such as walking, talking and toilet training are often achieved somewhat later than is considered normal. Distractibility is a common problem in mid-childhood, which can improve as the children get older.

Older children and adults with Williams syndrome often demonstrate intellectual “strengths and weaknesses.” There are some intellectual areas (such as speech, long term memory, and social skills) in which performance is quite strong, while other intellectual areas (such as fine motor and spatial relations) show significant weakness.

Aging and Driving

As we all age, changes occur in physical functioning, vision, perception, and processing abilities that could make driving unsafe. While changes are inevitable, they occur at different rates in each individual, and age alone is not a good indicator of driving skills. Most often these changes occur slowly over a long period of time, and the individual is able to compensate for minor deficits. If several skill areas are affected, or there is a sudden change in abilities due to illness or disease, driving may become impaired. An evaluation is recommended if you, or those who drive with you, notice any of the following warning signs.

Warning Signs:

  • Doesn’t observe signs, signals, or other traffic
  • Needs help or instructions from passengers
  • Slow or poor decisions
  • Easily frustrated or confused
  • Frequently gets lost, even in familiar areas
  • Inappropriate driving speeds (too fast or too slow)
  • Poor road position, or wide turns
  • Accidents or near misses

A driver rehabilitation specialist can provide a comprehensive evaluation and make recommendations regarding driving.

This assessment should include:

  • A review of medical history and medications
  • Functional ability
  • Vision
  • Perception
  • Reaction time
  • Behind-the-wheel evaluation

If you or those that drive with you notice any of the above warning signs and need a driving evaluation. Give us a call at 508-697-6006 and we can, help you with with knowledge about medical conditions, and help with a comprehensive evaluation and determine your ability to drive.

  • Visual Perception
  • Functional Ability
  • Reaction Time
  • Behind-the-wheel evaluation

State Disability and Health Programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) state-based disability and health programs inform policy and practice at the state level. These programs ensure that individuals with disabilities are included in ongoing state disease prevention, health promotion, and emergency response activities.

CDC supports 18 state-based programs to promote equity in health, prevent chronic disease, and increase the quality of life for people with disabilities. Each program customizes its activities to meet its state’s needs, which broadens expertise and information sharing among states.

The programs’ goals are to:

  • Enhance program infrastructure and capacity.
  • Improve state level surveillance and monitoring activities.
  • Increase awareness of health-related disability policy initiatives.
  • Increase health promotion opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Improve access to health care services for people with disabilities.
  • Improve emergency preparedness for people with disabilities.
  • Effectively monitor and evaluate program activities.

The goals of the state disability and health programs align with those of Healthy People 2020 related to disability:

  • Removing barriers to participation in social, spiritual, recreational, community and civic activities.
  • Improving access to primary care, and health and wellness programs.
  • Identifying people with disabilities in data systems.
  • Increasing surveillance and health promotion programs.
  • Providing graduate-level courses in disability and health.

States funded by CDC for Disability and Health Programs:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina


Program activities include:

  • Promoting inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of policy development, planning, and execution of state based public health programs.
  • Using Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers to assist with capacity assessment of ability to meet the needs of those with disabilities and determine barriers to inclusiveness.
  • Increasing health promotion opportunities for persons with disabilities through adaptation of existing public health programs, such as Scale Back Alabama, and increasing the number of children with disabilities who participate in mainstream physical education and after-school programs.


Program activities include:

  • Developing accurate and timely outreach for Alaskans experiencing disability and their care providers.
  • Building the capacity of a cross-agency disability advisory council that reviews and evaluates program activities, assists with sustainability plans, and provides recommendations for policy change.
  • Providing technical assistance, training, and other support for existing community-wide initiatives designed to improve the health of Alaskans experiencing disability.

The Alaska Disability and Health Program is a collaboration between the State of Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Section of Women’s, Children’s, and Family Health and the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, and is housed in the Division of Public Health.


Program activities include:

  • Enhancing program infrastructure and capacity through the expansion and support of an Advisory Board and increasing the representation of individuals with disabilities on public health program committees.
  • Improving state-level surveillance and monitoring by conducting a statewide needs assessment to look at the health status and access of people with disabilities, developing documents comparing demographics and health disparities of Arkansas and the U.S.
  • Increasing awareness of health-related disability policy initiatives through Disability Policy Summits; educating and supporting advocates on proposed policy initiatives and disseminating information to policy makers.
  • Increase health promotion opportunities for people with disabilities by supporting training that maximizes the health of people with disabilities and implementing health awareness and education campaigns.
  • Improving access to health care for people with disabilities by looking at the accessibility of healthcare facilities, and educating healthcare professionals through continued education, as well as internship placement for students in 11 different health related disciplines.
  • Improving emergency preparedness among people with disabilities by reviewing state emergency plans for accessibility, involving people with disabilities in county level planning, providing training, and ensuring shelter access by identifying and surveying pre-designated shelter sites.

The Arkansas Disability and Health Program is housed in the Partners for Inclusive Communities at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.


Program activities include:

  • Creating systems-level change through active participation on statewide councils, committees, and workgroups that are addressing health and disability issues and implementation of goals and objectives of the Plan for Action, A Strategic Plan for Delaware to Promote Health and Prevent Secondary Health Conditions in Individuals with Disabilities.
  • Providing technical assistance for health care, fitness, and recreation providers and facilities to improve accessibility and inclusion of individuals with disabilities in health examinations, exercise programs, and recreation activities.
  • Providing education, awareness raising, and resources sharing through the program’s interactive website and email newsletters to individuals with disabilities, family members, professionals, policymakers, and legislators.

The Delaware Disability and Health Program, Healthy Delawareans with Disabilitiesis housed in the Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware.

Program activities include:

  • Promoting breast cancer awareness and encouraging recommended screening among women 40 years of age or older who have a disability (the Right to Know Campaign) with partners such as the Florida Centers for Independent Living and the Florida Area Health Education Centers.
  • Increasing the capacity of health care providers in Florida to provide quality health care to people with disabilities by training medical students, and medical and allied health professionals.
  • Increasing the quantity and quality of disability and health-related data in Florida and providing the epidemiologic capacity to analyze these data.

The Florida Disability and Health Program is housed in the Office of Disability and Health at the University of Florida.

Program activities include:

  • Monitoring the health status and health-related behaviors of people with disabilities, and sustaining and expanding the statewide infrastructure to prevent secondary conditions and promote the health of people with disabilities in Illinois.
  • Increasing evidence-based health promotion and prevention opportunities and resources available for people with disabilities to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce the risk of chronic disease and secondary conditions.
  • Assisting health professionals to gain the knowledge and tools necessary to work effectively with people with a disability to increase the availability and accessibility of health promotion and prevention services, interventions, and resources.

The Illinois Disability and Health Program is housed in the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Program activities include:

  • Developing a statewide network of community providers that offer the Living Well with a Disability intervention program.
  • Identifying evidence-based strategies to increase awareness and education opportunities for health professionals.
  • Promoting accessible health care and support services to increase independence among people with disabilities.

The Iowa Disability and Health Program is housed in the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Program activities include:

  • Designing and implementing training and technical assistance for health care providers and public health programs on the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities in state funded programs, services, and activities.
  • Providing the knowledge base needed to design programs related to healthy aging, health and disability, and secondary health conditions.
  • Working with state agencies and community partners to identify, implement, and evaluate evidence-based health promotion programs among older adults and people with disabilities (for example, the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program).

The Massachusetts Disability and Health Program is housed in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Program activities include:

The Michigan Health Promotion for People with Disabilities Program is housed in the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Program activities include:

  • Recruiting, training, and supporting disability advisors to participate in Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services advisory groups and integrate disability and health into public health planning and evaluation processes.
  • Recruiting, training, and supporting state disability leaders to assess and improve the accessibility of community health and fitness programs.
  • Conducting Living Well with a Disability, an eight-week peer-facilitated, health promotion workshop with Montana’s four Centers for Independent Living.

The Montana Disability and Health Program is a collaboration between the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and the University of Montana Rural Institute, a Center for Excellence in Disability Education, Research, and Service.

New Hampshire
Program activities include:

  • Training students, self-advocates, families and professionals through coursework, seminars, workshops and conferences.
  • Providing technical assistance to organizations and individuals to improve their capacity to include all citizens.
  • Serving as a resource for information to policymakers and government officials.
  • Disseminating information to families, consumers, community members and professionals via books, monographs, articles, videos, newsletters, the Internet and press coverage, including TV, radio, newspapers and consumer forums.
  • Conducting applied research to better understand and address the needs of individuals with disabilities.
  • Engaging in collaborative activities and joint projects with organizations that share common goals.

The Institute on Disability (IOD) is housed within New Hampshire’s University Center for Excellence on Disability (UCED).

New York
Program activities include:

  • Implementing the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Center for Community Health Inclusion Policy, which requires all Center for Community Health programs to ensure accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities throughout all funding opportunities. The proposed activities to implement inclusive local and statewide public health programs must also include an evaluation of the effect and reach of the policy.
  • Educating and training NYSDOH program managers, primary program implementation staff, NYSDOH contractors and partners about the health disparities experienced by people with disabilities and providing strategies, resources, and potential partners that will enable the integration of people with disabilities in their program areas.
  • Supporting an advisory body comprising individuals with disabilities, other state agencies, community-based organizations, and providers to inform program activities, as well as representing multiple external agency advisory committees to direct consideration of health care and health promotion needs of people with disabilities.

The New York Disability and Health Program is housed in the New York State Department of Health.

North Carolina
Program activities include:

  • Supporting the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on people with an intellectual or developmental disability, or both, to better assess the health status of North Carolina adults.
  • Promoting accessible environments to support full community participation and engaging people with disabilities by developing accessibility checklists for health care practices and by providing training on adaptive and inclusive fitness and how to remove barriers to fitness facilities.
  • Increasing access to domestic violence and sexual assault services for people with disabilities with the implementation of adaptive equipment and enhanced disability awareness among domestic violence and sexual assault agencies.

The North Carolina Disability and Health Program is housed in the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health, and is a collaboration between the Division of Public Health of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

North Dakota
Program activities include:

  • Forming a consumer-driven advisory council that reviews the progress of the program activities, reviews data related to the health of people with disabilities, assists with development of a strategic plan, and provides recommendations for addressing issues related to the health and wellness of North Dakota citizens with disabilities.
  • Reducing health disparities in the areas of obesity, diabetes, and tobacco use among people with disabilities.
  • Ensuring people have accurate information on disability and health issues and promoting communication, planning, and implementation of health- and disability-related services across service systems.

The North Dakota Disability and Health Program, named the Disability Health Project, is a collaboration between the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities at Minot State University; the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota; and the North Dakota State Health Department, Division of Chronic Disease, Office for the Elimination of Health Disparities.

Program activities include:

  • Improving state-level surveillance and monitoring activities with epidemiologic expertise from the Government Resource Center (GRC).
  • Advancing health-related disability policy initiatives in Ohio.
  • Promoting the health of people with disabilities through demonstration projects and train-the-trainer sessions.
  • Improving access to health care for people with disabilities through our partnership with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers.
  • Revising Ohio Emergency Management Plans and committees to be inclusive of people with disabilities, increasing the number of PWD who have emergency plans, training first responders on the needs of PWD, and improving the accessibility of emergency shelters.

The Ohio Disability and Health Program is composed of the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio State University Nisonger Center, the University of Cincinnati UCEDD, and the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center (GRC).

Program activities include:

  • Conducting Healthy Lifestyles workshops for people with disabilities (in English and Spanish) to improve quality of life in partnership with the Centers for Independent Living and other disability organizations.
  • Implementing the Right to Know campaign and breast health education events, providing mammography technologist training, and assessing Oregon’s mammography clinics to improve breast cancer awareness and screening among women with disabilities.
  • Providing individualized emergency preparedness training for Oregonians with disabilities as well as working with key community and state partners to ensure that emergency preparedness planning and training efforts include topics relevant to the health and safety of people with disabilities.

The Oregon Disability and Health Program is housed in the Oregon Office on Disability and Health at Oregon Health and Science University.

Rhode Island
Program activities include:

  • Promoting the health and wellness for people with disabilities through inclusive self-management, evidence-based programs.
  • Monitoring, supporting and implementing effective healthcare transition from pediatric to adulthood within a positive youth development framework that promotes self-determination and an activated patient model.
  • Providing professional development for practitioners working with people with disabilities, including training, targeted technical assistance, and access to assistive technology.
  • Addressing special needs of people with disabilities in health promotion programs, health strategic planning, emergency preparedness, preventative health screening programs, and healthcare facility access.
  • Increasing access to quality of health-related data of people with disabilities in Rhode Island and using epidemiology and evaluation analysis to monitor the health disparities.

The Rhode Island Disability and Health Program is housed in the Office of Special Needs of the Health Disparities and Access to Care Team at the Rhode Island Department of Health.

South Carolina
Program activities include:

  • Increasing the knowledge of professionals and paraprofessionals in South Carolina to meet the preventive, primary, and secondary health needs of people with disabilities.
  • Conducting ongoing surveillance with Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and administrative datasets as secondary sources via the South Carolina Disability Cube Project.
  • Working to achieve more livable communities for people with disabilities by facilitating access to primary care physician offices, increasing access to fitness and recreation facilities, and working with community planning agencies to improve outdoor space using principals of universal design.

The South Carolina Disability and Health Program is housed in the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

Friedreich’s Ataxia

Friedreich’s ataxia (also called FA or FRDA) is a rare inherited disease that causes nervous system damage and movement problems. It usually begins in childhood and leads to impaired muscle coordination (ataxia) that worsens over time. The disorder is named after Nicholaus Friedreich, a German doctor who first described the condition in the 1860s.

In Friedreich’s ataxia the spinal cord and peripheral nerves degenerate, becoming thinner. The cerebellum, part of the brain that coordinates balance and movement, also degenerates to a lesser extent. This damage results in awkward, unsteady movements and impaired sensory functions. The disorder also causes problems in the heart and spine, and some people with the condition develop diabetes. The disorder does not affect thinking and reasoning abilities (cognitive functions).

Friedreich’s ataxia is caused by a defect (mutation) in a gene labeled FXN. The disorder is recessive, meaning it occurs only in someone who inherits two defective copies of the gene, one from each parent. Although rare, Friedreich’s ataxia is the most common form of hereditary ataxia, affecting about 1 in every 50,000 people in the United States. Both male and female children can inherit the disorder.

What are the signs and symptoms?
Symptoms typically begin between the ages of 5 and 15 years, although they sometimes appear in adulthood and on rare occasions as late as age 75. The first symptom to appear is usually gait ataxia, or difficulty walking. The ataxia gradually worsens and slowly spreads to the arms and the trunk. There is often loss of sensation in the extremities, which may spread to other parts of the body. Other features include loss of tendon reflexes, especially in the knees and ankles. Most people with Friedreich’s ataxia develop scoliosis (a curving of the spine to one side), which often requires surgical intervention for treatment.

Dysarthria (slowness and slurring of speech) develops and can get progressively worse. Many individuals with later stages of Friedreich’s ataxia develop hearing and vision loss.

Other symptoms that may occur include chest pain, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations. These symptoms are the result of various forms of heart disease that often accompany Friedreich’s ataxia, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart), myocardial fibrosis (formation of fiber-like material in the muscles of the heart), and cardiac failure. Heart rhythm abnormalities such as tachycardia (fast heart rate) and heart block (impaired conduction of cardiac impulses within the heart) are also common.

About 20 percent of people with Friedreich’s ataxia develop carbohydrate intolerance and 10 percent develop diabetes. Most individuals with Friedreich’s ataxia tire very easily and find that they require more rest and take a longer time to recover from common illnesses such as colds and flu.

The rate of progression varies from person to person. Generally, within 10 to 20 years after the appearance of the first symptoms, the person is confined to a wheelchair, and in later stages of the disease individuals may become completely incapacitated.

Friedreich’s ataxia can shorten life expectancy, and heart disease is the most common cause of death. However, some people with less severe features of Friedreich’s ataxia live into their sixties, seventies, or older.

How is Friedreich’s ataxia diagnosed?
A diagnosis of Friedreich’s ataxia requires a careful clinical examination, which includes a medical history and a thorough physical exam, in particular looking for balance difficulty, loss of proprioception (joint sensation), absence of reflexes, and signs of neurological problems. Genetic testing now provides a conclusive diagnosis. Other tests that may aid in the diagnosis or management of the disorder include:

  • electromyogram (EMG), which measures the electrical activity of muscle cells,
  • nerve conduction studies, which measure the speed with which nerves transmit impulses,
  • electrocardiogram (ECG), which gives a graphic presentation of the electrical activity or beat pattern of the heart,
  • echocardiogram, which records the position and motion of the heart muscle,
  • blood tests to check for elevated glucose levels and vitamin E levels, and
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans, tests which provide brain and spinal cord images that are useful for ruling out other neurological conditions.

How is Friedreich’s ataxia inherited?
Friedreich’s ataxia is an autosomal recessive disease, meaning individuals only develop symptoms if they inherit two copies of the defective FXN gene, one from their father and one from their mother. A person who has only one abnormal copy of the gene is called a carrier. A carrier will not develop the disease but could pass the gene mutation on to his or her children. If both parents are carriers, their children will have a 1 in 4 chance of having the disease and a 1 in 2 chance of inheriting one abnormal gene that they, in turn, could pass on to their children. About one in 90 Americans of European ancestry carries an abnormal FXN gene.

In 1996, an international research team identified the Friedreich’s ataxia gene on chromosome 9. The FXN gene codes for production of a protein called “frataxin.” In the normal version of the gene, a sequence of DNA (labeled “GAA”) is repeated between 7 and 22 times. In the defective FXN gene, the repeat occurs over and over again—hundreds, even up to a thousand times.

This abnormal pattern, called a triplet repeat expansion, has been implicated as the cause of several dominantly inherited diseases, but Friedreich’s ataxia is the only known recessive genetic disorder caused by the problem. Almost all people with Friedreich’s ataxia have two copies of this mutant form of FXN, but it is not found in all cases of the disease. About two percent of affected individuals have other defects in the FXN gene that are responsible for causing the disease.

The triplet repeat expansion greatly disrupts the normal production of frataxin. Frataxin is found in the energy-producing parts of the cell called mitochondria. Research suggests that without a normal level of frataxin, certain cells in the body (especially peripheral nerve, spinal cord, brain and heart muscle cells) cannot effectively produce energy and have been hypothesized to have a buildup of toxic byproducts leading to what is called “oxidative stress.” It also may lead to increased levels of iron in the mitochondria. When the excess iron reacts with oxygen, free radicals can be produced. Although free radicals are essential molecules in the body’s metabolism, they can also destroy cells and harm the body. Research continues on this subject (see section on “What research is being done?”).

Can Friedreich’s ataxia be cured or treated?
As with many degenerative diseases of the nervous system, there is currently no cure or effective treatment for Friedreich’s ataxia. However, many of the symptoms and accompanying complications can be treated to help individuals maintain optimal functioning as long as possible. Doctors can prescribe treatments for diabetes, if present; some of the heart problems can be treated with medication as well. Orthopedic problems such as foot deformities and scoliosis can be corrected with braces or surgery. Physical therapy may prolong use of the arms and legs. Advances in understanding the genetics of Friedreich’s ataxia are leading to breakthroughs in treatment. Research has moved forward to the point where clinical trials of proposed treatments are presently occurring for Friedreich’s ataxia.

What services are useful to Friedreich’s ataxia patients and their families?
Genetic testing is essential for proper clinical diagnosis, and can aid in prenatal diagnosis and determining a person’s carrier status. Genetic counselors can help explain how Friedreich’s ataxia is inherited. Psychological counseling and support groups for people with genetic diseases may also help affected individuals and their families cope with the disease.

A primary care physician can screen people for complications such as heart disease, diabetes and scoliosis, and can refer individuals to specialists such as cardiologists, physical therapists, and speech therapists to help deal with some of the other associated problems.

Support and information for families is also available through a number of private organizations. These groups can offer ways to network and communicate with others affected by Friedreich’s ataxia. They can also provide access to patient registries, clinical trials information, and other useful resources.

What research is being done?
Within the Federal government the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has primary responsibility for sponsoring research on neurological disorders. As part of this mission, the NINDS conducts research on Friedreich’s ataxia and other forms of inherited ataxias at its facilities at the NIH and supports additional studies at medical centers throughout the United States. Several nonprofit organizations also provide substantial support research (see the section on “Where can I get more information?”).

Researchers are optimistic that they have begun to understand the causes of the disease, and work has begun to develop effective treatments and prevention strategies for Friedreich’s ataxia. Scientists have been able to create various models of the disease in yeast and mice which have facilitated understanding the cause of the disease and are now being used for drug discovery and the development of novel treatments.

Studies have revealed that frataxin is an important mitochondrial protein for proper function of several organs. Yet in people with the disease, the amount of frataxin in affected cells is severely reduced. It is believed that the loss of frataxin makes the nervous system, heart, and pancreas particularly susceptible to damage from free radicals (produced when the excess iron reacts with oxygen). Once certain cells in these tissues are destroyed by free radicals they cannot be replaced. Nerve and muscle cells also have metabolic needs that may make them particularly vulnerable to this damage. Free radicals have been implicated in other degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

Based upon this information, scientists and physicians have tried to reduce the levels of free radicals, also called oxidants, using treatment with “antioxidants.” Initial clinical studies in Europe suggested that antioxidants like coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, and idebenone may offer individuals some limited benefit. However, recent clinical trials in the United States and Europe have not revealed effectiveness of idebenone in people with Friedreich’s ataxia, but more powerful modified forms of this agent and other antioxidants are in trials at this time. There is also a clinical trial to examine the efficacy of selectively removing excess iron from the mitochondria.

Scientists also are exploring ways to increase frataxin levels through drug treatments, genetic engineering and protein delivery systems. Several compounds that are directed at increasing levels of frataxin may be brought to clinical trials in the near future. To check for current trials, visit Additional information is available from the groups listed in the following section.

Armed with what they currently know about frataxin and Friedreich’s ataxia, scientists are working to better define fraxatin’s role, clarify how defects in iron metabolism may be involved in the disease process, and explore new therapeutic approaches for therapy.

Service dogs

Service dogs can build your independence by boosting your mobility. These four-legged friends pull wheelchairs, function as a mobile cane for balance, and even perform many of the daily tasks you may have difficulty with.

While these “working dogs” are trained to retrieve dropped items, pull clothing on and off, and bring medication, their canine capabilities also prove to be essential in an emergency. For all of the reasons your furry friend is important to your daily routine, it’s equally important to ensure their safety during travel. Properly securing your service animal correctly in your vehicle can be a matter of life and death for both of you.

Just as you would secure your wheelchair with straps and other devices, you should secure your service animal properly and comfortably in your vehicle, as well. Be sure the car is properly ventilated and that crates or units are secured.

As a service dog usually stays by the owner’s side, a belt usually proves as the best option in securing your dog in the vehicle to guarantee his/her safety. Help your hound out with a body harness specifically made for canine car travel. Service vests can even be custom-made to better suit your animal and your vehicle.

Some dogs may get uncomfortable not being able to look out of the window and see where they are going, especially small dogs. The Snoozer Lookout helps satisfy your pooch’s curiosity and need to see. The Snoozer Lookout is a seat that allows your pet to sit higher while staying safely strapped in.

It goes without saying that properly securing your service animal not only keeps them safe from harm on the roadways, but also makes for a comfortable ride along with you.

Accessible Holiday Parties

Plan ahead by finding out information about your guests.

  • Ask if anyone has a special diet or food allergy to consider
  • Find out if anyone is bringing a service animal – your Fluffy may not appreciate Fido, so you may want to take your pets into a separate area of your home
  • Decide what area of the house could be a private place – some people may need to take medication, change feeding tubes or have other personal needs

Food accessibility can be determined by thinking about food shape, size, consistency, and packaging.

  • Large and floppy sandwiches with loose ingredients may be difficult to hold for those with limited dexterity
  • Try to limit the use of wet ingredients in sandwiches, like tomatoes, because it makes them soggy and hard to hold
  • Smaller items are easier to eat and pick up
  • Limit the amount of cutting that foods require
  • Serve foods that stay on a fork – rice, small vegetables and long spaghetti noodles are more difficult than tortellini or rigatoni
  • Soup is not very accessible
  • Have a variety of differently sized and shaped cutlery
  • Straws, cups with lids and beverages in both cans and bottles provide beverage accessibility
  • Packaging should be easy to open and re-sealable to enable small eaters to save food for later

Conduct an accessibility review of your home. You can’t change everything, such as the foundation of your home, but you can make some simple changes to your home to ensure that people in wheelchairs have better access to things they need:

  • Consider the height of your table – can a wheelchair fit comfortably? If not, consider swapping out your regular dinner table for something taller or shorter
  • Remove barriers that make navigating your house difficult – take out extra coffee tables, lamps, chairs, throw rugs and items that sit on the floor
  • Ensure adequate lighting for persons with visual impairments
  • Keep music low as laughter, noise, talking, music, lights and excitement may already cause over stimulation

Batten Disease

What is Batten Disease?
Batten disease is named after the British pediatrician who first described it in 1903. Also known as Spielmeyer-Vogt-Sjogren-Batten disease, it is the most common form of a group of disorders called Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (or NCL).

Although Batten disease is usually regarded as the Juvenile form of NCL, it has now become the term to encompass all forms of NCL.

The forms of NCL are classified by age of onset and have the same basic cause, progression and outcome but are all genetically different, meaning each is the result of a different gene. Over time, affected children suffer mental impairment, worsening seizures, and progressive loss of sight and motor skills. Eventually, children with Batten disease/NCL become blind, bedridden and unable to communicate, and, presently, it is always fatal.

Batten disease is not contagious or, at this time, preventable.

The History of Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis
The first probable instances of this condition were reported in 1826 in a Norwegian medical journal by Dr. Christian Stengel, who described three affected siblings in a small mining community in Norway. Although no pathological studies were performed on these children, the clinical descriptions are so succinct that the diagnosis of the Spielmeyer-Sjogren (juvenile) type is fully justified. More fundamental observations were reported by F.E. Batten in 1903, and by Vogt in 1905, who performed extensive clinicopathological studies on several families. Retrospectively, these papers disclose that the authors grouped together different types of the disease.

Furthermore Batten, at least for some time, insisted that the condition he described was distinctly different from Tay-Sachs Disease, the prototype of a neuronal lysosomal disorder now identified as GM2-Gangliosidosis type A. Around the same time, Spielmeyer reported detailed studies on three siblings, suffering from the Spielmeyer-Sjogren (juvenile) type, which led him to the very firm statement that this malady is not related to Tay-Sachs Disease. Subsequently, however, the pathomorphological studies of Schaffer made these authors change their minds to the extent that they reclassified their respective observations as variants of Tay-Sachs Disease, which caused confusion for about 50 years.

In 1913-14, M. Bielschowsky delineated the Late Infantile form of NCL. However, all forms were still thought to belong in the group of “familial amaurotic idiocies,” of which Tay-Sachs was the prototype.

In 1931, the Swedish psychiatrist and geneticist, Torben Sjogren, presented 115 cases with extensive clinical and genetic documentation and came to the conclusion that the disease which we now call the Spielmeyer-Sjogren (juvenile) type is genetically separate from Tay-Sachs.

Departing from the careful pathomorphological observations of Spielmeyer, Hurst, Sjovall and Ericsson, Zeman and Alpert made a determined effort to document the previously suggested pigmentary nature of the neuronal deposits in certain types of storage disorders. Simultaneously, Terry, Korey and Svennerholm demonstrated a specific ultrastructure and biochemistry for Tay-Sachs Disease, and these developments led to the distinct identification, and separation, of the NCLs from Tay-Sachs Disease by Zeman and Donahue. At that time, it was proposed that the Late Infantile (Jansky-Bielschowsky), the Juvenile (Spielmeyer-Vogt), and the adult forms (Kufs) were quite different from Tay-Sachs Disease with respect to chemical pathology and ultrastructure, and also different from other forms of sphingolipidoses. Subsequently, it was shown by Santavuori and Haltia that an Infantile form of NCL exists, which Zeman and Dyken had included with the Jansky-Bielschowsky type.

What are the forms of NCL/Batten Disease?
There are four main types of NCL, including two forms that begin earlier in childhood and a very rare form that strikes adults. The symptoms are similar but the forms become apparent at different ages and progress at different rates.

  • Infantile NCL (Santavuori-Haltia disease) begins between about 6 months and 2 years of age and progresses rapidly. Affected children fail to thrive and have abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Also typical are short, sharp muscle contractions called myoclonic jerks. Initial signs of this disorder include delayed psychomotor development with progressive deterioration, other motor disorders, or seizures. The Infantile form has the most rapid progression and children live into their mid-childhood years.
  • Late Infantile NCL (Jansky-Bielschowsky disease) begins between ages 2 and 4. The typical early signs are loss of muscle coordination (ataxia) and seizures along with progressive mental deterioration. This form progresses rapidly and ends in death between ages 8 and 12.
  • Juvenile NCL (Batten disease) begins between the ages of 5 and 8. The typical early signs are progressive vision loss, seizures, ataxia or clumsiness. This form progresses less rapidly and ends in death in the late teens or early 20s, although some may live into their 30s.
  • Adult NCL (Kufs disease or Parry disease) generally begins before the age of 40, causes milder symptoms that progress slowly, and does not cause blindness. Although age of death is variable among affected individuals, this form does shorten life expectancy.

There are six additional diseases included in the Batten disease/NCL group:

  • Finnish Late Infantile – identified in Finland
  • Variant Late Infantile – identified in Costa Rica, South America, Portugal and other nations
  • Turkish Late Infantile – identified in Turkey
  • Northern Epilepsy/ERMP – Epilepsy with Mental Retardation – identified in Finland
  • Variant Juvenile – identified in Germany and USA
  • Congenital/CTSD – identified in Europe

A more precise chart of the forms of Batten disease is below:

Chart: Forms of Batten Disease
Form Initials  Gene  Age of Onset 
Infantile INCL CLN1 6 mos. — 2 yrs.
Late Infantile LINCL CLN2 2 — 4 yrs.
Juvenile JNCL CLN3 5 — 7 yrs.
Adult ANCL CLN4 25 — 40 yrs.
Finnish Late Infantile fLINCL CLN5 2 — 4 yrs.
Variant Late Infantile vLINCL CLN6 3 — 5 yrs.
Turkish Late Infantile tLINCL CLN7 2 — 4 yrs.
Northern Epilepsy EPMR CLN8 5 — 10 yrs.
Variant Juvenile vJNCL CLN9 5 — 7 yrs.
Congenital CTSD CLN10 Birth — 2 yrs.

How many people have these disorders?
Batten disease/NCL is relatively rare, occurring in an estimated 2 to 4 of every 100,000 births in the United States, but no one really knows how many affected children there may be in North America or anywhere else in the world. The diseases have been identified worldwide. Although NCLs are classified as rare diseases, they often strike more than one person in families that carry the defective gene.

How are NCLs inherited?
Childhood NCLs are autosomal recessive disorders; that is, they occur only when a child inherits two copies of the defective gene, one from each parent. When both parents carry one defective gene, each of their children faces a one in four chance of developing NCL. At the same time, each child also faces a one in two chance of inheriting just one copy of the defective gene. Individuals who have only one defective gene are known as carriers, meaning they do not develop the disease, but they can pass the gene on to their own children.

Adult NCL may be inherited as an autosomal recessive (Kufs) or, less often, as an autosomal dominant (Parry) disorder. In autosomal dominant inheritance, all people who inherit a single copy of the disease gene develop the disease. As a result, there are no unaffected carriers of the gene.

What causes these diseases?
Symptoms of Batten disease/NCLs are linked to a buildup of substances called lipopigments in the body’s tissues. These lipopigments are made up of fats and proteins. Their name comes from the technical word lipo, which is short for “lipid” or fat, and from the term pigment, used because they take on a greenish-yellow color when viewed under an ultraviolet light microscope.

The lipopigments build up in cells of the brain and the eye, as well as in skin, muscle, and many other tissues. Inside the cells, these pigments form deposits with distinctive shapes that can be seen under an electron microscope. Some look like half-moons (or comas) and are called curvilinear bodies; others look like fingerprints and are called fingerprint inclusion bodies; and still others resemble gravel (or sand) and are called granual osmophilic deposits (GRODS).

Batten Disease - What causes these diseases?

These deposits are what doctors look for when they examine a skin sample to diagnose Batten disease. The diseases cause the death of neurons (specific cells found in the brain, retina and central nervous system). The reason for neuron death is still not known.

How are these disorders diagnosed?
Because vision loss is often an early sign, Batten disease/NCL may first be suspected during an eye exam. An eye doctor can detect a loss of cells within the eye that occurs in the three childhood forms of Batten disease/NCL. However, because such cell loss occurs in other eye diseases, the disorder cannot be diagnosed by this sign alone.

Often an eye specialist/ophthalmologist or other physician who suspects Batten disease/NCL may refer the child to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases of the brain and nervous system. In order to diagnose Batten disease/NCL, the neurologist needs the patient’s medical history and information from various laboratory tests. Below are pictures of the retina showing the telltale signs of Batten disease.

Batten Disease and Ophthalmology

Batten Disease-How are these disorders diagnosed?

In the Fundus (the interior surface of the eye), the pigmentary changes in the macula are initially slight, and so it is easy to miss them, especially when no pupil dilation is applied and the fundus is not examined carefully. Fluorescent angiography demonstrates the pigmentary changes more clearly (Prammer, et al., 1978- ); sometimes fluorescence can be observed, leaking out of the retinal vessels. The density of the fine particuled pigmentations is slight around the macula and increases towards the periphery (Gottinger, et al., 1971- ). Dyken (1976) also mentions peripheral depigmentation. The pigment epithelium frequently has a granular “pepper and salt” appearance (see Fig. 1); sometimes there is a characteristic “bull’s eye” maculopathy (see Fig. 2, Fig. 3). The papilla becomes paler and the retinal arterioles seem more obviously constricted and extended (Fig. 4, Fig. 5). The peripheral retina varies in appearance, from normal to showing pigment-epithelial (pigmented cell layer just outside the retina) abnormalities (Spalton, et al., 1980- ). Later, peripheral pigment is often seen in the form of bone corpuscular pigment (see Fig. 6). Cataracts develop later in the course of the disease.

Diagnostic tests used for Batten disease/NCLs include:
Skin or Tissue Sampling: The doctor examines a small piece of tissue under an electron microscope. The powerful magnification of the microscope helps the doctor spot typical NCL deposits. These deposits are found in many different tissues, including skin, muscle, conjunctiva, rectal and others. Blood can also be used. See inclusion body pictures above.

Electroencephalogram or EEG: An EEG uses special patches placed on the scalp to record electrical currents inside the brain. This helps doctors see telltale patterns in the brain’s electrical activity that suggest a patient has seizures.

Electrical Studies of the Eyes: These tests, which include visual-evoked responses (VER) and electro-retinagrams (ERG), can detect various eye problems common in childhood Batten disease/NCLs.

Brain Scans: Imaging can help doctors look for changes in the brain’s appearance. The most commonly used imaging technique is computed tomography (CT), which uses x-rays and a computer to create a sophisticated picture of the brain’s tissues and structures. A CT scan may reveal brain areas that are decaying in NCL patients. A second imaging technique that is increasingly common is magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. MRI uses a combination of magnetic fields and radio waves, instead of radiation, to create a picture of the brain.

Enzyme Assay: A recent development in the diagnosis of Batten disease/NCL is the use of enzyme assays that look for specific missing lysosomal enzymes for Infantile and Late Infantile only. This is a quick and easy diagnostic test.

Genetic/DNA Testing: Each “form” of Batten disease is the result of a different gene. Genes for eight of the ten forms have been identified. Testing for these is available for diagnosis as well as carrier and prenatal status.

Is there any treatment?
As yet, no specific treatment is known that can halt or reverse the symptoms of Batten disease/NCL. However, seizures can be reduced or controlled with anticonvulsant drugs, and other medical problems can be treated appropriately as they arise. At the same time, physical and occupational therapy may help patients retain function as long as possible.

BDSRA helps scientists by fostering awareness, promoting more research, providing samples and information, and by funding research that is directed towards understanding all forms of Batten disease and development of therapies.

Support and encouragement can help children and families cope with the profound disability and losses caused by NCLs. The Batten Disease Support and Research Association enables affected children, adults and families to share common concerns and experiences.

Meanwhile, scientists pursue medical research that will someday yield an effective treatment.

Holiday Travel Tips

Millions of people will take to the highways, skies, or rails to visit their loved ones over the upcoming holiday. With snow and sleet predicted for many parts of the country this weekend, here are some travel tips to help holiday travelers arrive safely at their destination:


  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Fill your gas tank, check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid.
  • Buckle up, slow down, don’t drink and drive.
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones – don’t text and drive.
  • Make frequent stops on long trips. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and rest.
  • If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

Flying and Riding Trains

  • It’s flu season. If you’ve been sick or been in contact with someone who is sick, consider postponing your trip. You could be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.
  • Remember that everything you touch has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
  • Bring your own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
  • Avoid touching your face or eyes. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.

Travel Tips

  • If you have diabetes or take medication using a syringe, get a signed letter from your doctor  explaining that your syringes are a medical necessity.
  • Know the generic names of your medications so you can replace them if they are lost or stolen. Your medication will have a different brand name in another country.
  • If you have any life-threatening allergies, wear a medical alert bracelet and bring an Epi-pen kit.
  • Travel light. Take only what you need and no more.
  • Make sure your children know their home address and telephone number. Show them where to go if you get separated, and review the procedure for dealing with strangers.
  • Leave the jewelry at home and reduce your risk of getting robbed. The same goes for expensive electronics such as iPods and digital cameras. Buy some disposable cameras to use.
  • Make photocopies of your passports, credit cards and other ID. Leave one copy with a relative at home, and keep another copy separate from your originals.
  • Travel with only one credit card. Bring a combination of traveller’s cheques and cash in small bills (American money is universally accepted). You should be able to use your debit card as long as the machine has the CIRRUS symbol. You will be charged for each transaction. Try to familiarize yourself with the local currency so your first transaction won’t be so confusing.
  • Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses as backup. You don’t want your vacation ruined because you can’t see anything.

Be Prepared For Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can take place at any moment and can come in any form from floods, severe weather, earthquakes and more, yielding unfortunate outcomes without warning.  Being prepared can save lives and planning is important; know who will help you if you need assistance or if you need to evacuate.

Be Informed
Ensure you have the proper equipment to stay up-to-the-minute on breaking news and changing weather patterns. You may need a radio for this, specifically one that runs on batteries so be sure you have extras. Know when, where and what local branches of organizations like American Red Cross, have planned in your specific location, and find out how they can help. Also, ensure you can maintain contact with those outside of your home, having a phone car charger and jumper cables could be essential.

Make a Plan
For people with mobility challenges, assistance can be crucial.

If are a caregiver, or if you have assembled a “Help Team” to assist a person in need:

  • Be helpful in letting others know exactly what you need and when you need it.
  • Contact family, friends, neighbors or social service agencies if and when possible.
  • Try to have someone available who can lift and carry heavy objects such as wheelchairs or other medical equipment.
  • Give at least one other person a key to the person’s home.
  • Each team member should have the contact information for the others.
  • Name a substitute caregiver in case the original is unavailable.

Develop an evacuation strategy with your “Disaster Team,” and consider the following:

  • Where are the closest special needs emergency shelters and what are the different routes you can take to reach them?
  • What supplies must you take with you that are used every day?
  • Whom should you inform that you are evacuating?
  • How much gas do you have and how much will much will you need? Be sure to keep your vehicle’s gas tank over 1/2 full at all times.

Make a Kit
Assemble your kit well in advance with the help of a list and be sure to include:

  • Water – Keep one gallon of water per person (and per pet) per day for at least three days. Make sure you replace the water every six months.
  • Food – Keep at least a 3-day stock of non-perishable food that requires little cooking and no refrigeration in a safe place. Include a manual can opener and eating utensils.

For those with mobility disAbilities:

  • Pair of heavy gloves to use while wheeling or making your way over glass and debris
  • Extra battery for your motorized wheelchair or scooter
  • Jumper cables or specific recharging device to be connected to an automobile’s cigarette lighter
  • Patch kit or can of “seal-in-air product” to repair flat tires
  • Spare cane or walker
  • Food, medicine, favorite toy, and other care items for your service animal
  • Plastic bags, disposable gloves, and other items for the animal’s care

Find out if you qualify for assistance and fill out a form in advance to ensure your safety should the need arise. And be aware of FEMA resources in your area, including their capabilities and the best way to reach them.

Used Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

The used market for wheelchair accessible vehicles has grown in the past few years. This growing popularity seems to suggest that this solution works. In some cases, it does; however, buying a used wheelchair accessible vehicle is not like buying a new car. If you are are interested in purchasing a used vehicle, remember these key points.

  • It must meet your mobility needs
    All wheelchair accessible vehicles are different. Ramp width, door clearance, and interior height will vary between vehicles which will affect whether or not the vehicle will work for your needs. Previously installed aftermarket additions, such as hand controls and securment devices, will have to be removed or replaced considering they were put in for the previous owner. Before you you start your search you should know your exact needs. Be aware that this may narrow your options significantly.
  • Getting your current vehicle fitted with a ramp or lift
    It’s possible to convert a minivan you already own and make it accessible, as long as it meets the requirements set by your mobility dealer. Before doing so, you will need to know which accessible ramp or lift style works best for you and your family.
  • Buying online
    eBay Motors and Craigslist are increasingly popular options for buying vehicles online. An increasing number of wheelchair accessible vehicles are listed on these two sites. While the prices may be tempting, this option can be risky if it’s not being sold by a trusted resource (such as a Mobility Center). Ramps are complex pieces of machinery. Without a specially trained mechanic looking it over, it can be very hard to know if a person is selling a good vehicle. We do not recommend this option because it can lead to numerous issues.
  • Used vehicles from a dealership
    While mobility dealers are specifically trained to help you meet all your mobility needs, most still operate like conventional dealers. Customers sometimes trade-in their old vehicles for credit towards a new vehicle, leaving the dealership with a used vehicle. While not every dealership has a used vehicle inventory, some have good options to work with.

Mobility Rebate Programs

Whether you’re looking for a wheelchair accessible minivan, a full-size van, or a lift/ramp for your wheelchair van, your financial investment is always going to be a major consideration. We understand the importance of the investment our customers make and we always strive to produce superior products and provide excellent service.

In today’s difficult economy, every cent counts when you’re making decisions about what you can and can’t afford to go without. Feeling that your mobility is restricted by financial constraints is discouraging, and we don’t like the idea of anyone having to face that challenge and find no answers or possibilities. That’s why we are extremely well informed and able to assist you in navigating your way through the myriad of grants, tax incentives, and rebate programs.

Every auto manufacturer offers a mobility rebate program of some type and they are definitely worth looking into. Here is some information about rebates for wheelchair vans and wheelchair lifts/ramps. For more personalized information, contact us and we will help guide you through the process of applying and receiving these rebates.

Toyota Mobility Dealer
The Toyota Mobility Program provides up to $1,000 in reimbursement for adaptive equipment (such as wheelchair lifts, assistive seating, driving aids, and more) installed on new Toyota vehicles within 12 months of the delivery date of the vehicle.

Dodge/Chrysler Automobility Dealer
Chrysler’s AutoMobility Program is similar to the program mentioned above, with reimbursements from $400-$1,000 available depending on the type of adaptive equipment installed..

Honda Mobility Dealer
The Honda Mobility Assistance Program offers reimbursement up to $1,000 for adaptive equipment installed on a new Honda!

Lexus Mobility
The Lexus Mobility Program supports the mobility needs of Lexus owners and/or family members with physical disabilities.

 If you have any questions about these programs, just give our us a call or visit us today. We’re always happy to help!

Roadside Assistance for Drivers with DisAbilities

Getting stuck on the side of the road due to a vehicle malfunction can be a major inconvenience and can keep you from achieving your goals for the day. For a person with a disAbility driving an adaptive or wheelchair accessible vehicle, this inconvenience can quickly become a big problem.

Make sure you select coverage that follows you from vehicle to vehicle. In other words, even if you are driving a rental or a family member’s car, under this coverage, you will be entitled to roadside assistance.

Finding out the details in advance when it comes to towing can make a significant difference if you ever find yourself stranded. Will they provide an accessible vehicle for transportation? Will they tow your vehicle to a dealership or to the place of your choosing, such as a repair shop? What are the mileage limits? These are all questions you’ll need the answers to prior to settling on a provider, as they will determine the efficiency of the service.

Additional Services
From help locating hotels to maps and directions, roadside assistance plans can come bundled with a wide variety of additional services. Analyze the plans the provider offers to make sure you’re only paying for the services you might need to use.

Something to Think About
If you are a wheelchair user who drives his or her own vehicle, you might want to consider choosing a provider that caters specifically to persons with disAbilities.

 Drivers with or without disAbilities should consider purchasing a roadside assistance program to protect them in the event of an unforeseen vehicle malfunction. Determining the best option for you may be tricky, but keeping these things in mind may make the decision a bit easier.

Hints & Tips For Selling your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Online


Considering you are usually only offered to post 8 photos it’s a good idea is to allocate at least 3 to the exterior of your wheelchair accessible vehicle. You should take these pictures from different angles that reveal the handicap van in its best light. For example you should take one of the front and rear of the vehicle whether it is a full front/rear shot or ¾ front/rrear and side shot. For a third picture you can take a full side shot,  or whatever angles you believe are best.

A good interior shot that shows the condition of the dash board and front seats as a minimum is highly recommended. If the wheelchair van has a clean, well presented interior the buyer needs to see it, as this is an area where wear and tear will be evident on the handicap van if not looked after. You should also capture the space available with the type of wheelchair ramp/lift.

Engine bay
Most buyers are going to want to see whats under the hood at some stage – pre-empting this and providing a good clean shot of a good clean engine is an excellent way to instil confidence in the buyer that the handicap van is well looked after. Best done after steam cleaning or degreasing and washing of the engine bay.

The trunk or cargo area of the handicap van is other potential high wear area which if in good condition is worth showing to buyers.

If the handicap van is fitted with after-market or factory accessories that will enhance the handicap van in the eyes of the buyer then ensure these are obvious in the exterior and interior photos. It may be a good idea to have a close up shot of a certain handicap accessible modification such lowered floors and handicap ramps.

Pre-existing damage/scratches 
If your handicap van has dents or scratches on the body work it is probably a good idea to show them in photos as they will then have a good idea of the vehicles condition. This may turn some buyers off, but those who do contact you will be more likely to follow through with the purchase as they have already factored this in to their offer.


There is no limit to the amount of text you can include with your advert so be sure to list all relevant modifications and extras so as to fully inform buyers as to all the features, options and modifications. – don’t hold back – it doesn’t cost any more to be comprehensive!

Advertising using the direct URL
The direct URL is the key to getting buyers to see your handicap van online, the basic idea is to include it everywhere you advertise your wheelchair van, so that buyers who ready your classified adverts can then log on to the Internet and see your photos and extra details.

Examples of where to advertise your Handicap Vans URL include:

  • Local newspapers
  • Where you place other online classifieds that don’t include photos or as much detail
  • trader type magazines

Virus or scam alert

Buyer / Seller Scams
We’ve been alerted to a scam which operates in the following way: An overseas buyer offers to buy your car. They will want to send you a check for an amount in excess of the purchase price of your car and will ask you to send the change back to them or to pay the change to a local shipping agent. There are several variations on the theme. If you get an offer like this from overseas, we recommend that you be alert to a possible scam.

Another scam operates as follows: Typically a car/bike/boat, etc will be offered for sale at a very low price. The seller will say that the item is located overseas or in a location that makes it difficult to inspect the item. The seller will ask you to send them a deposit or pay for the item before they will arrange to send it to you. If you get an offer like this, we recommend that you be alert to a possible scam.

We wish you the best of luck in advertising your handicap van and if you need any help keep in mind we sell on consignment and are always here to help!

Home accessibility

Whether it’s an unexpected injury or a birth condition, a temporary disAbility or something you’ve been dealing with your entire life, a physical limitation can make all the difference in how a person completes his/her everyday tasks. Something as simple as entering and exiting your home can become challenging if your home has not been properly assessed and made accessible for those with disAbilities. In order to make sure your home is as welcoming and as accessible as possible, we encourage you follow these tips for transforming your habitat.

Entry Ramps and Lifts
From one step to one flight, stairs are a difficult hurdle and hazardous to a person living with a disAbility. Entry ramps or wheelchair lifts can be permanent or portable solutions for homes in need of becoming wheelchair accessible, providing ease of access into the house. Entry ramps prove to be especially beneficial when carrying heavy luggage, groceries or moving furniture. Aside from allowing a wheelchair user to easily enter and exit the building, ramps offer convenience to guests wheeling strollers or using walkers.

Handrails and Support Bars
Installing handrails and support bars along staircases, bathtubs, toilets and other areas where a person with a disAbility may struggle without them is an easy way to make your home more accessible. Make sure handrails following staircases extend beyond the first and last steps, providing maximum support. You can also purchase floor-to-ceiling poles and install them at various locations throughout the home. Placing these poles adjacent to couches ease in day-to-day movement through the space. They are designed to aid those with disAbilities in standing, sitting or transferring to/from a wheelchair.

Mind Your Floors
Cluttered hallways, loose rugs and high thresholds can be a danger to someone trying to maneuver through the building in a wheelchair. Try to keep your traffic areas free from unnecessary decorations such as side tables and rugs that cannot be secured to the floor. Plush carpets may also prove to be a hindrance for someone with a disAbility, so use hardwood or tiled floors wherever possible. Additionally, you can purchase flat thresholds at hardware stores, which make transferring from carpeted to non-carpeted areas less of a hazard.

Service and Repair for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles and/or Accessible Ramp/Lift?

Are you having trouble with your wheelchair van, ramp van, braun ability van, vantage mobility van, eldorado, amerivan, ricon lift, braun lift, grey market van, ams Legend, Edge, Edge II, Freedom, FR ?

No Worries We Can Fix It!

Even if you have had other Toyota dealer, Dodge dealer, Ford dealer, Honda dealer or a different adaptive mobility equipment dealer try and fix it. Call us, we can help.

Almost all wheelchair van and lift problems can be attributed to three main things. I would like to talk a little about each one and what you can do to be proactive in preventing problems that could stop your lift from operating.?

Reason Number 1: Operator Error. It may not be P.C. to bring it up, but many issues are caused by the user hurrying, not taking the proper precautions, or simply attempting to operate the van or lift in a situation it is not designed for. Let me expand on this a little.

We all know the obvious things an operator can do wrong. Lowering a lift on to extremely uneven ground or folding a platform into a van door that is not fully opened, if you have manual doors. The things that you need to think about are the issues that aren’t so obvious, but can still cause damage. Things like making sure you fully fold the platform when you are putting it in the stowed position. A lot of times people tend to release the fold switch too soon because the lift makes excessive noise when it cinches tight. Far from being a problem, that noise is a good thing What you’re hearing is the electric actuator “ratcheting,” which tells you that the lift is fully stowed and will not rattle as much while you’re driving. A tightly stowed platform will prevent certain lift components from wearing out prematurely, so be sure to keep the fold button pressed!

Another not-so-obvious issue is to make sure the outer roll stop deploys fully before you exit the platform. Think about it. If you are in a hurry and the roll stop is not completely down on the ground, your weight when rolling off of it is going to put excessive stress on those parts and you could cause problems that are easily avoidable. Even if the tip of the roll stop is up just a little bit, take the time to lower it completely before you exit the platform.?

Reason Number 2: Lack of Maintenance. Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance – I can’t say those words enough! Your dealer should set up a maintenance program for you and your lift should be in their shop for a regular check up at least twice a year. Every lift built after 2005 has a cycle counter on it that will tell us the total number of times you’ve used your lift, and all lifts should be maintained every 750 cycles. This is a short point. All you need to know is that if you don’t maintain your lift, something will eventually stop working!

Reason Number 3: Broken Parts. No matter what the product, we’ve all encountered that unexpected broken part that seems to go bad for no apparent reason. This actually represents a small percentage of wheelchair lift failures, and it can usually be avoided if the van or lift is maintained on a regular basis (see reason #2 above!). A typical situation might be a wiring harness that gets cut by component. This type of issue rarely happens out-of-the-blue, and with routine maintenance your dealer should be able to see the problem starting to occur and fix it before it gets worse.

That about sums it up The bottom line is that a properly operated and maintained wheelchair van or lift should give you years of reliable service. Read your manual and work closely with Automotive Innovations to make sure your lift is ready to go whenever you are. If you have any questions or are having an issue with your wheelchair van or lift feel free to call us at 508-697-6006.

Winter Maintenance – Don’t Let Your Battery Leave You Out in the Cold

With cold weather right around the corner, Autumn is the best time to schedule a battery test.

Old Man Winter can be tough on any vehicle, but the battery, specifically, takes a beating. Your vehicle’s battery loses 33 percent of its power when the temperature dips below freezing, and over 50 percent of its power when the temperature falls below zero.

Expert Advice on Winterizing Your Battery

  • Seek Professional Help—for your batteries, that is. These aren’t your typical AA batteries, so it’s important to have us check the battery and electrical system. Sometimes the naked eye cannot detect the presence of corrosion because it is hidden under the metal between the connection and the post.
  • Protect Your Battery from Mr. Freeze. The cold weather can dramatically reduce a person’s energy level and it can do the same to a battery’s available starting power. It’s a good idea to have your car’s starting and charging system tested every six months.
  • Charge It. Use a battery charger to maintain charge levels and keep the battery in good condition. A fully charged battery will not freeze until -76°F; however, a fully discharged battery could start to freeze at 32°F.
  • Small Maintenance Chores are Necessary. Preparing your car for the winter doesn’t end with the battery itself. You need to inspect your battery cables, posts, and fasteners. Make sure your cables are in good shape and are secured firmly to the battery.

Winterization Checklist
To maximize protection against cold-weather conditions, now’s the time to make sure you not only winterize your battery, but your vehicle too.

We recommend all vehicle owners to check the following items for a safe winter:

  • Replace worn windshield wipers every 6 months.
  • Refill washer fluid often. Winterize with a 50/50 mix of washer fluid and water.
  • Make sure the heater and defroster are in good working condition.
  • Inspect all bulbs and lights for proper operation.
  • Check condition of tires, including the spare.
  • Measure your tire air pressure regularly.
  • Change oil every 3,000 miles.
  • Examine exhaust system for leaks.
  • Flush and refill cooling system with a 50/50 mixture.
  • Check drive belts, clamps and hoses.

Everyone should carry emergency gear such as gloves, boots, tire chains, battery booster pack, cell phone, blankets, flares, flashlight and some high-energy, non-perishable snacks.

Caregiver Support

Whether you are caring for the elderly or a loved one with a disAbility, most every caregiver should surround their life with resources and relief.

These resources will not only keep you feeling refreshed and renewed, but they’ll help you connect with others, who may have, or be currently experiencing similar lifestyles. In recognizing the different support options available, you’ll find yourself actively combating the chances of caregiver burnout and achieving the best quality care possible for your loved one.

Support is within reach. You just have to know where to look.

Caregiver Support Groups
You may be surprised to learn that a quick internet search can connect you with entire communities of caregivers. Sure, there are plenty of self-help articles and tips and tricks out there, but the value of an honest forum and communal support goes miles.

Find a caregiver forum in your state or region and consider the benefits of sounding off with other members. Bounce ideas and successes off of one another. Share your wisdom and experiences. Ask questions and seek answers.


  • provide perspective
  • highlight industry products
  • connect like-minded individuals
  • create a canvas for ongoing conversation
  • offer new tips and tricks
  • and so much more

A forum is a great foundation to replenish your optimism and hope as a caregiver. You may even turn online connections into real life friendships and accountability. And what better way to grow as a caregiver than to do it in the company and strength of a community of caregivers?

Financial Aid
Many caregivers spend upwards of 20 hours per week giving care. It’s no wonder finances and employment opportunities can sometimes be difficult to balance. Don’t count yourself out, though.

Seek education on grants and financial aid. There are many benefits for caregivers such as mobility vehicle loans and income tax return incentives. A little homework can save you money in the long run. Getting ahead on your finances can provide tremendous relief.

Explore activities you can experience with your loved one. From adaptive sports to a traditional walk around the block, exercise is a great way to proactively deal with stress and clear the mind.

To take it one step further, consider joining a league in your area. If you’ve become a member of an online forum, ask around about local gatherings and activities or take initiative to start one on your own. The positivity and energy can be contagious for all involved.

Family and Friends
Don’t go it alone. The strongest caregivers know when it’s time to ask for help.

It’s healthy to reach out to those you trust and your family and friends can be awesome support groups. Invite them to step up and come beside you as you provide care for your loved ones and don’t be afraid to walk them through a day in your life. The more they know about your situation and your needs the better they’ll be able to assist in the journey of you and your loved one.

Managing your own stress can make the ultimate difference in the life of the loved one you care for. In caring for you, you’re caring for them.

What is Trisomy 9

The name “Trisomy” means three (“tri”) copies of a chromosome (“somy”). Unlike most individuals, people that have any form of Trisomy are born with a whole or partial third copy of a chromosome, instead of the expected two. For example, a child that has a third copy of the number 21th chromosome, rather then just the pair, have a common disorder called Down’s Syndrome. When the 18th chromosome has been affected, then that better known as Edward’s Syndrome, and again the 13th is Patau’s Syndrome. Trisomy 9 refers to the number 9th chromosome being affected, though due to being so rare it has not yet been given another name.

Duplication resulting in Trisomy 9p

A duplication is an extra copy of a portion of a chromosome. In this case, the extra portion is from chromosome 9. This may also be referred to as a partial Trisomy 9 since what is extra is part of chromosome 9. The extra chromosome 9 material can be present in the middle of one of the arms of chromosome 9 or may be attached to the end of another whole copy of chromosome 9. Some individuals are diagnosed with Trisomy 9p which is where the chromosomes have duplicated the “p” arm, or Trisomy 9q where the “q” arm has been affected.

Mosaic Trisomy 9

The term “mosaic” means that there is a mixture of cell types among the analysed cells. An individual with mosaic Trisomy 9 has some cells with an extra copy of Chromosome 9. Others can also have Mosaic 9 which is where the same thing applies though only with the expected number of chromosomes (two copies of chromosome 9)

Translocation resulting in Trisomy 9p

 Translocations (t) are rearrangements of chromosome material that involve two or more chromosomes. Translocations arise when two chromosomes “break” and switch material. Often, when a translocation arises in a parent it is “balanced”. This means that there is no apparent loss or gain of chromosome material. All the chromosome material that should be there is usually present but is rearranged.

Wheelchair Van Ramp Vs. Wheelchair Van Lift

Choosing a wheelchair ramp over a lift system is a matter of budget and personal preference. Both can get you safely in and out of a new or used wheelchair van; however, handicap lowered-floor vans with ramps tend to be less expensive, take up less space and are more fuel-efficient compared to a full-size van, which is used for most wheelchair-lift applications.

Wheelchair Ramps
Wheelchair van conversion ramps normally come in permanent van conversions where the floor is lowered to allow enough headroom for entering and riding in the vehicle. Most lowered-floor vans come with wheelchair ramps and kneeling systems that lower the wheelchair van and reduce the angle of the ramp. There are two styles of wheelchair ramps—one type folds up in a vertical position, and the other type slides out from the floor of the van.

New and used handicapped accessible vehicles with wheelchair ramps come with either a manual or power conversion. Power wheelchair ramps operate by remote control or by a switch located either on the dash or just inside the side-door panel. Push a button and the door slides open, the ramp extends out and, in cases where a kneeling system is needed, the van lowers. (In case of a power failure, the ramp can be easily operated manually.) Guide your wheelchair or mobility scooter inside and push the button or switch, and the system reverses. Manual systems are spring-loaded to easily fold out and retract into the van.

Wheelchair Lifts
A vehicle wheelchair lift is a mechanical device used to raise a person in a wheelchair effortlessly into a vehicle. Wheelchair lifts are typically installed in full-sized vans.

There are several wheelchair lift types: cassette lifts that slide out from under the van, horizontal folding lifts that provide users better vision through the windows, vertical folding lifts that enable passengers to enter the van without deploying the lift, and platform wheelchair lifts, which are the most basic of wheelchair lifts.

Hydraulic lifts are the most common type, since they allow for heavier steel construction and higher lift capacity. The other type is the electric lift, made with lightweight aluminum and lighter lift capacity. Lifts require either a lowered floor or a raised roof to provide enough headroom for wheelchair passengers to ride comfortably inside their chairs.

Wheelchair lifts work when space limitations or height requirements make a ramp prohibitive. Wheelchair lifts are often less expensive than a lowered-floor conversion with a ramp, but there are other considerations that include difficulty parking due to their size, high gas prices, and if the floor isn’t lowered, then the wheelchair user can’t see out the windows.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle: Seating Options

There are many options you will need to consider when purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle, especially if you are a first time buyer. It’s our job to make the process easier.

There are several seating options to consider; first, you and your family or your caregiver will need to decide where you want to or are going to sit. This depends on whether you are going to drive from your wheelchair and/or if you are going to be a passenger.

Knowing if you will be transferred into a seat or if you will remain in your wheelchair while traveling is also an important factor.

Seating in a Side Entry vs. Seating in a Rear Entry

Side Entry

  • Offers both mid-section and front seat options (with tie-downs)
  • There are five passenger seats available for family members in a side entry van.
  • A total of six people can be seated in a side entry wheelchair accessible van.
  • The side entry can comfortable fit a wheelchair or power wheelchair, where as a scooter has a less roomier fit.

Rear Entry

  • Only offers the mid-section to rear of the vehicle (with tie-downs)
  • There are four passenger seats available for family members in a rear entry van.
  • Up to six people can be seated in a rear entry wheelchair accessible van.
  • The rear entry can comfortable fit a wheelchair, power wheelchair or a scooter, but
  • If you have a long wheelchair or scooter the rear entry is ideal with over six feet of space, no turning to face forward is necessary.

If you have any questions our Mobility Center can further explain and demonstrate all seating options.

Please feel free to consult us with any additional information you need regarding wheelchair vans and mobility equipment, it’s what we’re here for.

The WaterFire Salute to Veterans

WaterFire Salute To Veterans 2015

The WaterFire Salute to Veterans is scheduled to take place on November 7th, 2015. This is the third year for this community wide celebration of Veterans. This WaterFire will be a full WaterFire event lighting and solely devoted to saluting and honoring our Veterans and all military personnel of the United States and their families.

Much more than the bonfires, WaterFire presents a wide variety of experiences – traditional to avant-garde and experimental, bringing new audiences to art while filling the city with energy, vibrancy and a new vision for urban life. Programming around this installation varies greatly and WaterFire prides itself on being able to celebrate, champion and highlight various other forms of art, causes, other local organizations and local history. This year WaterFire is proud to honor all of our Veterans with an entire evening dedicated to their service, sacrifice and dedication.

This WaterFire event lighting will include many different activities and initiatives that highlight and celebrate, in both creative and literal representations, all Rhode Island Veterans as well as current members of the armed forces from all branches. The goal is to use the WaterFire platform as a means to educate and bring awareness to the community at large about our Veterans and Veterans Services, as well as serve as a celebration and thank you for the sacrifices that these men and women have made for our country and our community.

Throughout the WaterFire installation there will be many ceremonies and tributes planned over the course of the evening as well as many areas for displays and engagement from Waterplace Basin to Steeple Street to Memorial Park. WaterFire is excited to produce a Veteran’s Resource Fair at the heart of the installation.

Operation Flags for Vets

Operation Flags for Vets

Operation Flags for Vets will be placing 64,000 flags on the graves of our beloved veterans for veterans Day, Flagging will commence following a brief ceremony at 10 AM on Saturday November 7. Please bring a long shank screwdriver to make starter holes for the flags.

Removal will take place on Sunday November 15 at 10 AM.

Accessibility in the Workplace

With more and more people with disAbilities entering the workforce each year, the demand for increased accessibility on job sites continues to grow. While many places of employment adhere to ADA standards, there are other things to consider when looking to improve accessibility. If you’ve just started a new job or have found certain difficulties completing your duties at your current position, these two strategies can help better problematic situations.

Speak Up and Ask About Accessibility
Perhaps the building’s entrance is equipped with a ramp and automatic door opener but the door to your office or company suite is not. Maybe the accessible bathroom or stall is too small and difficult to maneuver in, or your cubicle doesn’t allow you to make turns in your chair. Most of these issues have relatively simple solutions and employers shouldn’t be hesitant to requesting changes to the building manager or scheduling the updates themselves. However, if you do not speak up and report these issues, they might go permanently unnoticed. Even if you find that your employer is not convinced that the changes are necessary, be sure to stress to them that workers are likely to be much more productive in an environment they can easily access and feel comfortable in.

If You Have a Disability Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
While we wish every single building or office in the world was 100 percent accessible, sometimes people with disAbilities must work around unavoidable barriers. If you find that there are aspects or areas of your job that you cannot independently complete or access, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Whether it’s by opening a heavy door or carrying your laptop to the conference room, most of your colleagues would be happy to be of assistance. It might be especially helpful to designate a routine for a specific co-worker to help with a task you know you’ll be performing each day.

Whether it’s your first job or where you plan to retire, your place of employment should be comfortable and accessible – an environment in which you can thrive. Report issues and ask for help whenever you need it and you’ll be working towards a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Emphysema Awareness

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the leading cause of death in the U.S. and affects more than 12 million Americans.  COPD – which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis – is a term used to describe the obstruction of airflow.

COPD cannot be cured, but it can be treated. Early detection and diagnosis is the key to successful management of this chronic disease.

Emphysema is a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs that primarily causes shortness of breath due to over-inflation of the alveoli (air sacs in the lung). In people with emphysema, the lung tissue involved in exchange of gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) is impaired or destroyed. Emphysema is included in a group of diseases called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD (pulmonary refers to the lungs). Emphysema is called an obstructive lung disease because airflow on exhalation is slowed or stopped because over-inflated alveoli do not exchange gases when a person breaths due to little or no movement of gases out of the alveoli.

Emphysema changes the anatomy of the lung in several important ways. This is due to in part to the destruction of lung tissue around smaller airways. This tissue normally holds these small airways, called bronchioles, open, allowing air to leave the lungs on exhalation. When this tissue is damaged, these airways collapse, making it difficult for the lungs to empty and the air (gases) becomes trapped in the alveoli.

Normal lung tissue looks like a new sponge. Emphysematous lung looks like an old used sponge, with large holes and a dramatic loss of “springy-ness” or elasticity. When the lung is stretched during inflation (inhalation), the nature of the stretched tissue wants to relax to its resting state. In emphysema, this elastic function is impaired, resulting in air trapping in the lungs. Emphysema destroys this spongy tissue of the lung and also severely affects the small blood vessels (capillaries of the lung) and airways that run throughout the lung. Thus, not only is airflow affected but so is blood flow. This has dramatic impact on the ability for the lung not only to empty its air sacs called alveoli (pleural for alveolus) but also for blood to flow through the lungs to receive oxygen.

November is Caregiver Awareness Month

Each year, more and more Americans are caring for a loved one with a chronic condition, disAbility, or the frailties of old age.  There are as many as 90 million family caregivers in the U.S. today.

  • Two out of every 5 adults are family caregivers.  39% of all adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick or disAbled – up from 30% in 2010.
  • Alzheimer’s is driving the numbers up.  More than 15 million family caregivers are providing care to more than 5 million loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • But it’s not just the elderly who need caregiving.  The number of parents caring for children with special needs is increasing, too, due to the rise in cases of many childhood conditions.
  • Wounded veterans require family caregivers, too.  As many as 1 million Americans are caring in their homes for service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other wounds and illnesses.
  • And it’s not just women doing the caregiving.  Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37% of men; 40% of women). And 36% of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 are family caregivers as well, including 1 million young people who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
  • Family caregiving is serious work.  Almost half of family caregivers perform complex medical/nursing tasks for their loved ones – such as managing multiple medications, providing wound care, and operating specialized medical equipment.
  • Family caregivers are the backbone of the Nation’s long-term care system. Family caregivers provide $450 billion worth of unpaid care each year.That’s more than total Medicaid funding, and twice as much as homecare and nursing home services combined.

With the ranks of family caregivers growing every year – tens of millions strong – we recognize the importance to the Nation of the role that family caregivers play.

How To Make Your Kitchen Wheelchair-Friendly For the Holidays

Brisk air, shorter days and finding a pumpkin patch on every corner can only mean one thing—holiday season is upon us and with it come delicious feasts enjoyed with loved ones. For some of us, this also means lots of time spent in the kitchen. Whether you’re cooking, washing dishes or just gathering in the house’s social center, a kitchen that’s accessible to all family members makes for an inviting place to enjoy time together. Making your kitchen space more wheelchair-friendly can seem overwhelming, but with a few adjustments and considerations, you, and any other wheelchair user in your circle, can feel comfortable taking part in holiday traditions.

Kitchen Counters
Because the typical height of a wheelchair armrest is about 29”, a recommended counter-top height for a person using a wheelchair is a minimum of 28” and should be no higher than 34”. There should also be a space of at least 24” in height and 30” in width to accommodate the wheelchair underneath while working at the counter. This way, you, or any person with a disAbility in your family, can easily reach the counter for food preparation, storage or sneaking a bite of that side dish before it’s quite ready.

An important tip to keep in mind when installing a wheelchair accessible sink is to place the drain near the back of the sink. This keeps a space clear of obstructions under the sink where a person using a wheelchair can move into without issue. Also be sure any hot water pipes are insulated to prevent burns. Finally, accessible kitchen sinks should be only 5” to 6 ½” deep with a single lever faucet to make for simple operation

Wall Cabinets
Lowering wall cabinets by about 3” (from the standard 18” above the counter to 15”) would make the second shelf accessible for persons in wheelchairs. By also including pullout cutting boards and drawers with full extension glides, your kitchen could be transformed into an accessible haven. An alternative solution would be to install shelving lifts inside cabinets. These will lower the shelves, and their contents, to an accessible height for those with disAbilities.

Installing or lowering wall ovens, microwaves or other mounted appliances to approximately 31” from the floor can make them more convenient to operate from a wheelchair. When it comes to a stove-top, positioning control knobs at the front of the appliances eliminates the need to reach across a hot cooking surface and makes it easier for those with mobility limitations to feel more comfortable cooking up something yummy.

These adaptations can help make your kitchen easy to navigate and give you the perfect space to try those holiday recipes you’ve been eying.

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
    One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
    Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
    People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
  • Confusion with time or place
    People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
    For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
    People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
    A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
  • Decreased or poor judgment
    People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
    A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
  • Changes in mood and personality
    The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

Information & Maintenance: Wiper Blades

An easy way to remember to proactively change your wiper blades is to replace them when the time changes. Whether your alarm clock is gaining or losing an hour, change all your clocks, and then replace your wiper blades.

When inspecting wiper blades, look for the following:

  • Broken frame – detachment of frame arms at joints or connection points.
  • Metal Corrosion – especially at joints and claws.
  • Visible cracks, tears, and missing pieces in the rubber squeegee’s edge.
  • Flex rubber squeegee back and forth to see if it is still flexible. Aged squeegees will have difficulty conforming to the shape of your windshield and create streaks.
  • Check squeegee wiping edge for rounded edges which can prevent the wiper blade from making strong contact with the windshield and reduces wipe quality.
  • Tug to ensure wiper blade has been securely installed on the wiper arm.
  • Check that squeegee is secure in the wiper frame.

Remember to check your wiper blades as part of your regular preventative maintenance!

Wiper Blade Maintenance Tips
Visibility is fundamental to safe driving. Although drivers depend on their vehicles’ wiper blades to clear away rain, sleet and snow, many wait to replace them until they need them the most. So remembering to maintain wiper blades regularly can maximize visibility, efficiency and reliability.

Wiper blades deteriorate due to many environmental factors including:

  • Sun: Ultraviolet light and ozone deterioration
  • Oil: Car waxes and exhaust hold rubber-deteriorating oil
  • Airborne debris: Sand, mud and dust carried in the wind
  • Moisture: Acid rain and salt water (in moist air both near the shore and inland)

Remember, wiper blades should be checked every six months and changed at least once a year. Evaluate both the rubber squeegee and the metal frames to avoid common problems such as streaking, skipping, chattering, wearing and splitting – all offenders of reduced visibility and slowed reaction time while driving.

Common Wiper Problems

  • Streaking occurs when the rubber squeegee dries, hardens and cracks. It can also be caused by tree sap, road tar and other foreign substances collected on either the glass or the blade.
  • Skipping occurs when the blade develops a curvature from lack of use (e.g. left in the ‘parked position’ for an extended length of time).
  • Wearing occurs with extensive use and is when the rubber edges are rounded instead of squared.
  • Splitting is caused when the sun’s ultraviolet rays penetrate the rubber squeegee, causing it to breakdown and separate from the frame.
  • Bent Refill Vertebra and Bent Frames cause inconsistent contact with the glass surface, creating streaking or skipping.

Avoid these common problems and extend the life of your wiper blades by following these simple steps:

  • Clean your windshield every time you fill your gas tank.
  • Gently wipe the rubber squeegee with a damp paper towel to remove any loose dirt or oil.
  • Never use your windshield wipers to de-ice your windshield. Instead, either use an ice scraper or use your defroster to melt snow and ice.
  • Pull your wiper blades away from the windshield during winter months to prevent ice build up on the rubber squeegee and to prevent them from sticking to the windshield.

Efficient wiper blades are as important to a vehicle’s safe operation as clean oil and good tires. So remember to change your wiper blades at least once a year, to inspect them frequently for wear and tear and to enjoy the view!

Steer Yourself In The Right Direction To Find The Perfect Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Purchasing or financing a wheelchair accessible vehicle takes time, money and a little bit of research. Because of the many available options when it comes to handicap vehicles, and the investment they require, knowing where to start your search is crucial and can shape the entire process. NMEDA member dealers work with individuals with disAbilities, as well as their caregivers and families, to ensure we steer you in the direction of the perfect vehicle for you. Here are a few useful tips and resources:

Go to the Pros
By going straight to a NMEDA members dealership, like ourselves, you’ll be sure that you’re getting the best possible care and attention, as well as professional service. All dealerships are required to adhere to strict quality standards under our Quality Assurance Program and, will provide you with the best solutions for your specific needs. Starting your search at a NMEDA dealer near you means you are sure you get behind the wheel of a handicap vehicle that’s right for you.

Establish Your Needs
Who will be the vehicle’s primary driver? Will you be driving from a wheelchair, transferring into the vehicle’s seat or transporting a loved one with a disability? Will you need to enter and exit the vehicle on your own or will help be nearby? Are you looking for a truck, car, minivan or a SUV? The answers to these questions can help determine what kind of adapted vehicle and equipment you need before diving into inventory listings.

Know Your Budget
We know that one of the most difficult parts of purchasing a new vehicle is making sure the cost is within your means. When it comes to finding a wheelchair accessible or adaptive vehicle, there are more options than you might realize. There are several state and government organizations in place to help get you the car you need.

National Day of the Deployed

October 26 is designated as National Day of the Deployed.

National Day of the Deployed honors all of the brave men and woman who have been deployed and are sacrificing, or have sacrificed, their lives to fight for our country and acknowledges their families that they are separated from.

Culinary Arts Adapted

Ready to take the heat again? Think it’s time to get back in the kitchen? Whether you miss tending to a fiery passion for food or you’re tired of day-old delivery, dreams of putting a pan back in your hand can quickly become a reality again.

People with disAbilities might initially shy away from seemingly difficult hobbies or chores. But the chances are high that they are also unaware of the exciting alternatives available in the adaptive community. Your cooking days are not over simply because you are seated in the kitchen. In fact, adaptive cooking classes often require that instructors (those not living with a disAbility) perform culinary tasks just as their respective students would.

More important than pursuing or renewing a passion for cooking is the nutritional and financial value in preparing your own meals. Now more than ever, we are reminded on a daily basis of the financial climate we live in. Preparing your own meals at home helps you save money and empower you to eat more nutritious foods, cooked to your liking. So, make yourself at home in the kitchen with ease with a little help from gadgets and gizmos like the one-handed bottle opener, one-handed can opener, and self-stirring cookware. Cut your favorite fruits and veggies with a specially crafted cutting board and you’re well on your way to whipping up your favorite meal, on your own.

If you’re not a hot shot in the kitchen, but you want to be, ask local community centers if they offer adaptive cooking classes. Who knows, this could be your chance to start something new and exciting for your friends to enjoy. All it takes is willing participants, and who doesn’t like food?

Take The Penny Test

Tires are designed with treads that provide your vehicle with traction. This traction keeps your vehicle driving along the road – even in inclement weather. Without tread, the elements would literally lift your tires off the road. When you drive through snow or a puddle, the grooves in between the tread blocks of the tires become channels that divert the water or snow away from the tires, allowing the tires to maintain traction in these slick conditions.

When the tread gets worn down, the water, snow, and other slippery substances don’t have anywhere to go except directly under your tires severely decreasing your vehicle’s traction. If your tires are nearly bald, traction will be eliminated completely. Decreased traction will negatively affect your control over the vehicle, making it unsafe for you and your passengers. Tread depth will determine whether or not you require new tires. You can easily tell if your tires’ tread is too worn by using a penny.

Take The Penny Test
Who says a penny doesn’t buy you anything? With this easy test, a penny can buy you peace and mind when it comes to your tire safety.

Place a penny head first into several tread grooves across the tire. If you always see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are shallow and worn. If this is the case, your tires need to be replaced. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread depth remaining. This means you probably don’t need new tires.

Why Worry About Tread Wear?
The most important reason to worry about tread wear is safety. When your tire treads are worn, your vehicle may respond poorly in adverse weather conditions like rain and snow. With good treads, your vehicle will grip the road better. Also, having insufficient tread is considered illegal in many states. And finally, worn treads can make other parts of your vehicle wear prematurely.

Potential Problem Areas

  1. Excessive wear in the center tread indicates over inflation of the tire.
  2. Excessive wear on the shoulders may signal problems such as under inflation of the tire.
  3. Uneven tread wear indicates poor wheel alignment.
  4. Excessive wear on one side of the tire signals incorrect camber angle.
  5. If the treads on the outer section become knobby, it may signal problems with the toe-in value.


Myasthenia Gravis

What is myasthenia gravis?
Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal (voluntary) muscles of the body. The name myasthenia gravis, which is Latin and Greek in origin, literally means “grave muscle weakness.” With current therapies, however, most cases of myasthenia gravis are not as “grave” as the name implies. In fact, most individuals with myasthenia gravis have a normal life expectancy.

The hallmark of myasthenia gravis is muscle weakness that increases during periods of activity and improves after periods of rest. Certain muscles such as those that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, chewing, talking, and swallowing are often, but not always, involved in the disorder. The muscles that control breathing and neck and limb movements may also be affected.

What causes myasthenia gravis?
Myasthenia gravis is caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. It occurs when normal communication between the nerve and muscle is interrupted at the neuromuscular junction—the place where nerve cells connect with the muscles they control. Normally when impulses travel down the nerve, the nerve endings release a neurotransmitter substance called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine travels from the neuromuscular junction and binds to acetylcholine receptors which are activated and generate a muscle contraction.

In myasthenia gravis, antibodies block, alter, or destroy the receptors for acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, which prevents the muscle contraction from occurring. These antibodies are produced by the body’s own immune system. Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease because the immune system—which normally protects the body from foreign organisms—mistakenly attacks itself.

What is the role of the thymus gland in myasthenia gravis?
The thymus gland, which lies in the chest area beneath the breastbone, plays an important role in the development of the immune system in early life. Its cells form a part of the body’s normal immune system. The gland is somewhat large in infants, grows gradually until puberty, and then gets smaller and is replaced by fat with age. In adults with myasthenia gravis, the thymus gland remains large and is abnormal. It contains certain clusters of immune cells indicative of lymphoid hyperplasia—a condition usually found only in the spleen and lymph nodes during an active immune response. Some individuals with myasthenia gravis develop thymomas (tumors of the thymus gland). Thymomas are generally benign, but they can become malignant.

The relationship between the thymus gland and myasthenia gravis is not yet fully understood. Scientists believe the thymus gland may give incorrect instructions to developing immune cells, ultimately resulting in autoimmunity and the production of the acetylcholine receptor antibodies, thereby setting the stage for the attack on neuromuscular transmission.

What are the symptoms of myasthenia gravis?
Although myasthenia gravis may affect any voluntary muscle, muscles that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, and swallowing are most frequently affected. The onset of the disorder may be sudden and symptoms often are not immediately recognized as myasthenia gravis.

In most cases, the first noticeable symptom is weakness of the eye muscles. In others, difficulty in swallowing and slurred speech may be the first signs. The degree of muscle weakness involved in myasthenia gravis varies greatly among individuals, ranging from a localized form limited to eye muscles (ocular myasthenia), to a severe or generalized form in which many muscles—sometimes including those that control breathing—are affected. Symptoms, which vary in type and severity, may include a drooping of one or both eyelids (ptosis), blurred or double vision (diplopia) due to weakness of the muscles that control eye movements, unstable or waddling gait, a change in facial expression, difficulty in swallowing, shortness of breath, impaired speech (dysarthria), and weakness is the arms, hands, fingers, legs, and neck.

Who gets myasthenia gravis?
Myasthenia gravis occurs in all ethnic groups and both genders. It most commonly affects young adult women (under 40) and older men (over 60), but it can occur at any age.

In neonatal myasthenia, the fetus may acquire immune proteins (antibodies) from a mother affected with myasthenia gravis. Generally, cases of neonatal myasthenia gravis are temporary and the child’s symptoms usually disappear within 2-3 months after birth. Other children develop myasthenia gravis indistinguishable from adults. Myasthenia gravis in juveniles is uncommon.

Myasthenia gravis is not directly inherited nor is it contagious. Occasionally, the disease may occur in more than one member of the same family.

Rarely, children may show signs of congenital myasthenia or congenital myasthenic syndrome. These are not autoimmune disorders, but are caused by defective genes that produce abnormal proteins instead of those which normally would produce acetylcholine, acetylcholinesterase (the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine), or the acetylcholine receptor and other proteins present along the muscle membrane.

How is myasthenia gravis diagnosed?
Because weakness is a common symptom of many other disorders, the diagnosis of myasthenia gravis is often missed or delayed (sometimes up to two years) in people who experience mild weakness or in those individuals whose weakness is restricted to only a few muscles.

The first steps of diagnosing myasthenia gravis include a review of the individual’s medical history, and physical and neurological examinations. The physician looks for impairment of eye movements or muscle weakness without any changes in the individual’s ability to feel things. If the doctor suspects myasthenia gravis, several tests are available to confirm the diagnosis.

A special blood test can detect the presence of immune molecules or acetylcholine receptor antibodies. Most patients with myasthenia gravis have abnormally elevated levels of these antibodies. Recently, a second antibody—called the anti-MuSK antibody—has been found in about 30 to 40 percent of individuals with myasthenia gravis who do not have acetylcholine receptor antibodies. This antibody can also be tested for in the blood. However, neither of these antibodies is present in some individuals with myasthenia gravis, most often in those with ocular myasthenia gravis.

The edrophonium test uses intravenous administration of edrophonium chloride to very briefly relieve weakness in people with myasthenia gravis. The drug blocks the degradation (breakdown) of acetylcholine and temporarily increases the levels of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction. Other methods to confirm the diagnosis include a version of nerve conduction study which tests for specific muscle “fatigue” by repetitive nerve stimulation. This test records weakening muscle responses when the nerves are repetitively stimulated by small pulses of electricity. Repetitive stimulation of a nerve during a nerve conduction study may demonstrate gradual decreases of the muscle action potential due to impaired nerve-to-muscle transmission.

Single fiber electromyography (EMG) can also detect impaired nerve-to-muscle transmission. EMG measures the electrical potential of muscle cells when single muscle fibers are stimulated by electrical impulses. Muscle fibers in myasthenia gravis, as well as other neuromuscular disorders, do not respond as well to repeated electrical stimulation compared to muscles from normal individuals.

Diagnostic imaging of the chest, using computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be used to identify the presence of a thymoma.

Pulmonary function testing, which measures breathing strength, helps to predict whether respiration may fail and lead to a myasthenic crisis.

How is myasthenia gravis treated?
Today, myasthenia gravis can generally be controlled. There are several therapies available to help reduce and improve muscle weakness. Medications used to treat the disorder include anticholinesterase agents such as neostigmine and pyridostigmine, which help improve neuromuscular transmission and increase muscle strength. Immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisone, azathioprine, cyclosporin, mycophenolate mofetil, and tacrolimus may also be used. These medications improve muscle strength by suppressing the production of abnormal antibodies. Their use must be carefully monitored by a physician because they may cause major side effects.

Thymectomy, the surgical removal of the thymus gland (which often is abnormal in individuals with myasthenia gravis), reduces symptoms in some individuals without thymoma and may cure some people, possibly by re-balancing the immune system. Thymectomy is recommended for individuals with thymoma. Other therapies used to treat myasthenia gravis include plasmapheresis, a procedure in which serum containing the abnormal antibodies is removed from the blood while cells are replaced, and high-dose intravenous immune globulin, which temporarily modifies the immune system by infusing antibodies from donated blood. These therapies may be used to help individuals during especially difficult periods of weakness. A neurologist will determine which treatment option is best for each individual depending on the severity of the weakness, which muscles are affected, and the individual’s age and other associated medical problems.

What are myasthenic crises?
A myasthenic crisis occurs when the muscles that control breathing weaken to the point that ventilation is inadequate, creating a medical emergency and requiring a respirator for assisted ventilation. In individuals whose respiratory muscles are weak, crises—which generally call for immediate medical attention—may be triggered by infection, fever, or an adverse reaction to medication.

What is the prognosis?
With treatment, most individuals with myasthenia can significantly improve their muscle weakness and lead normal or nearly normal lives. Some cases of myasthenia gravis may go into remission—either temporarily or permanently—and muscle weakness may disappear completely so that medications can be discontinued. Stable, long-lasting complete remissions are the goal of thymectomy and may occur in about 50 percent of individuals who undergo this procedure. In a few cases, the severe weakness of myasthenia gravis may cause respiratory failure, which requires immediate emergency medical care.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Heater Malfunctions and Maintenance

That first day when the world is coated in frost and the temperature has plummeted below freezing is not the time to find out your wheelchair vans heater is not working. Not only would the inside of your car feel like an ice box, but a broken heater can prevent your defroster from blowing warm air to your windshield to eliminate ice and fog, which can pose a hazard while driving. Not having a working heater could even become a dire situation, if you ever end up stranded.

That is why we recommend that you turn your car heater on long before you really need the heat. If your heater doesn’t respond with a warm blast of air, call and schedule an appointment today.

Causes of a breakdown
Your mobility van heater could stop working for a number of reasons, including:

  • A low antifreeze/water level in the radiator due to a leak in the cooling system.
  • A bad thermostat that isn’t allowing the engine to properly warm up.
  • A blower fan that isn’t working properly.
  • Coolant that contains rust particles or becomes otherwise contaminated and is blocking the heating core from circulating air into the cabin properly.

Depending on the problem, different types of repairs could be required. There really isn’t a heater unit, like a furnace in your house, that you can just replace. It is a combination of different things that provide heat into the vehicle. It’s very difficult to give a cost due to the wide variety of possible problems without inspecting the vehicle first.

One of the most important components, the heater core, which acts like a small radiator, passes the hot air from under the dashboard into the handicapped accessible vehicle. They can cost several hundred dollars to replace and sometimes takes a day or more to repair.

A decrease in the coolant level or a leak in the coolant system is one of the more common problems. Coolant doesn’t evaporate on its own. Topping it off may help in the short term, but it’s an indication of a deeper problem and should be checked out. You shouldn’t have to add anything at all if everything is working well. It can damage the motor if there is low heat from too little coolant.

A leak could be as simple as a loose hose clamp, or a major problem like a leaking engine cylinder head gasket, which can cause serious damage to the engine and cost several hundred dollars to replace.

Maintenance can prevent breakdowns
Several components make up the heating system, so unless you have experience with wheelchair accessible vehicle maintenance, it’s best to have a us diagnose the problem.

In general terms, a heating system works when the vehicle receives heat from the engine’s coolant system. Once the engine reaches its operating temperature — controlled by the thermostat — it heats up the coolant and water mixture, passes it through hoses and valves and into the heating core, which resembles a miniature radiator. A blower fan then pushes the warm air from the heating core through the cabin filter and into the vehicle.

The No. 1 tip is to have a mechanic asses your heater regularly by having a mechanic checking the coolant level and the other components. However, the coolant in newer vehicles may not need service until 60,000 to 100,000 miles, and heating problems usually don’t occur on newer vehicles.

Third Honoree For The 6th Annual Boston Wounded Vet Run Announced

The Boston Wounded Vet Run proudly announced the third honoree for the 6th Annual Boston Wounded Vet Ride: Army Specialist Sean Pesce of West Haven, CT!
Sean was shot 13 times Afghanistan and is now paralyzed from the waist down.
This upcoming May, we ride for him!

Third Honoree For The 6th Annual Boston Wounded Vet Run Announced

Benefits of Owning an Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Safety is a universal concern for people with disAbilities and their caregivers. Many caregivers experience chronic back and joint pain from years of wheelchair lifts. And far too often there are stories of people fearful of loading and unloading their wheelchairs. Mobility vehicles are designed with a dedication to safety. Not only do ramp systems remove the liability, wear and tear and exhaustion of a lift, but brands like VMI adhere to the safety standards and qualifications of original equipment manufacturers like Honda, Toyota, Chrysler and Dodge.

A vehicle conversion from a company like VMI must maintain and provide the same safety ratings, post-conversion, as it did when the original model was created. That means collision safety and design is held to a very high standard. So there’s simply no reason to risk your personal safety or the livelihood of your passengers in an outdated vehicle.

If the daunting process of wheelchair lifts and transports kept you from leaving home in the past or the frustration of coordinating shuttles and third party transportation limits your lifestyle, look no further.

Mobility vehicles empower opportunity and independence. Frankly, when transportation is a possibility  rather than a limitation, the world gets a whole lot larger. Independent wheelchair users with reliable mobility vehicles hold the power to call the shots on their own life. They can drive where they need to, how they want to, when they want to. A mobility vehicle isn’t just a mechanism to take you from point A to B; A mobility vehicle is an entryway to possibility.

Increased Space and Flexibility
Most modern mobility vehicles feature side-entry and front door benefits which allow an array of seating arrangements and interior flexibility. With such added space, nearly any wheelchair — even power chairs — can fit in the cabin while still leaving room for the rest of the family.

Vehicles such as VMI’s Toyota Sienna Access360 have been engineered to promote a full range of motion and maneuverability for power chairs inside the vehicle, eliminating the need to hastily rearrange and remove seats for transports. Obstruction-free doorways and head clearance also pave the way for an enjoyable transition to and from the vehicle.

Simplicity and Ease-of-Use
Whether you are a caregiver or an independent wheelchair user, mobility vehicles have practical answers.

Through the addition of manual ramp systems and automated, in-floor ramp technology, transportation doesn’t have to remain a daily hassle.  Life often throws bigger dilemmas our way. Mobility vehicles make sure transportation isn’t one of those.

The Northstar E by VMI is a great example of a vehicle that was engineered with simplicity and ease-of-use at the forefront of its design. Caregivers can easily remove the vehicle’s ramp system without physical strain or contemplation. The process is intuitive and quick. Loading and unloading a van can be easily accomplished in a matter of minutes without sacrificing time or energy for the caregiver and loved one.

Mobility vehicles can even be outfitted with aftermarket additions such as remote start and keyless entry to  further simplify the transportation situation for independent wheelchair users and caregivers.

Tips for a Safe, Fun and Accessible Halloween

The promise of handfuls of candy and elaborate decorations makes Halloween a pretty important date in any child’s calendar. This year, make your holiday memories even more special by following these tips!

Wheelchair Accessible Halloween

  • Plan your route out a few days before the holiday. At this point, most houses should have their decorations up in preparation for the big night, so you will be able to assess which houses will be easily accessible for you and your children.
  • Always make sure your child is comfortable wearing a costume, especially if the disguise includes a mask or other constricting pieces. If your kids are not warming up to wearing a bulky or elaborate costume but still want to do something special for Halloween, suggest a simple pair of animal ears or face paint. Also, don’t forget that Halloween takes place on a chilly October day, so plan your child’s outfit accordingly with added layers and cozy gloves!
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative! There are hundreds of great DIY costume ideas out there that can help transform your kids into their favorite characters or superheroes. You can even incorporate their wheelchairs or scooters into costumes. Designing and putting together a fun costume is a great activity to share with your children and can actually be a good learning exercise.
  • Because Halloween is a traditionally scary affair, be sure to prepare your kids for some spooky sights. Talk to them about some of the décor they might see while trick-or-treating, as well as the costumes others might be wearing to make sure they are not caught by surprise. If you notice your child is not responding well to some of these factors, suggest other less frightening yet equally fun activities you could do together, like carving a Jack-o-lantern or decorating your home for autumn.
  • If trick or treating is not the best option for your family, there is no need to forgo the holiday altogether. Throwing a Halloween party at home and stocking it with themed games and snacks can provide the same fun, memorable experiences for your child with added safety and the comforts of home.

Creative Wheelchair Halloween Costume Ideas

Wizard of OZ Star wars Mad Hatter Snoopy Queen of Hearts Mario Kart Motorcycle Batman - Adult Buz Lightyear Astronaut Rex - Toy Story popcorn machine pirate Viking Cinderella Thomas the train Bumble bee batman - child Fisherman Semi Truck Toothless

North Carolina Wounded Vet Run 2015

NC Wounded Vet Run 2015

Check out the Facebook Page

How To Make Your Wheelchair Van More Affordable

A wheelchair van can provide a little freedom for a person with a disAbility or someone caring for a loved one with mobility limitations. It’s hard to put a price on the freedom these vehicles can provide, however the fact remains that vans, conversions and specialized equipment all come with some costs. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that make these vehicles more affordable and get you one step closer to driving independence.

Search for Used Vans
Finding a used wheelchair accessible van in good condition might sound like a dream, but it is far from impossible. With a little research and some patience, you might be able to find a vehicle that works for your needs, at a discounted price. Many mobility dealerships take used vans as trade-ins for resale and some manufacturers will even install brand new wheelchair conversions in the pre-owned vehicles. Certain dealerships also sell rental vans that have been retired after a year of use. While a used van can be a great deal, it’s important to still consult with a qualified mobility equipment dealer, as these vehicles might not have the exact equipment to fit your needs.

Update Your Current Van
If your vehicle is still in relatively good condition but needs a few adjustments to make it more accessible for you and your loved ones, an update could be an affordable alternative to purchasing a new van. Talk to your local mobility dealer about updating your adaptive equipment and you could be on your way to saving a few thousand dollars!

Contact Local Organizations
If you need extra help funding a new handicap vehicle, a local chapter or organization working to help those with your particular disabilities might be able to help. While these groups might not be able to provide a large amount of money to fund your vehicle purchase, they might be able to provide you with helpful community resources or at least help coordinate fundraising activities.

7 Myths About Physical Therapy

People everywhere are experiencing the transformative effect physical therapy can have on their daily lives. In fact, as experts in the way the body moves, physical therapists help people of all ages and abilities reduce pain, improve or restore mobility, and stay active and fit throughout life. But there are some common misconceptions that often discourage people from visiting a physical therapist.

It’s time to debunk 7 common myths about physical therapy:

Myth: I need a referral to see a physical therapist.

Fact: A recent survey by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) revealed 70% of people think a referral or prescription is required for evaluation by a physical therapist. However, all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) allow patients to be evaluated by a physical therapist without a physician’s prior referral. In addition, 48 states and DC allow for some form of treatment or intervention without a physician referral or prescription (Oklahoma and Michigan being the exception). Beginning November 1, 2014, patients in Oklahoma will be able to seek treatment from a physical therapist without a physician referral. On January 1, 2015, patients in Michigan will be able to do so, as well. Some states have restrictions about the treatment a physical therapists can provide without a physician referral. Check out APTA’s direct access summary chart to see the restrctions in your state.

Myth: Physical therapy is painful.

Fact: Physical therapists seek to minimize your pain and discomfort—including chronic or long-term pain. They work within your pain threshold to help you heal, and restore movement and function. The survey found that although 71% of people who have never visited a physical therapist think physical therapy is painful, that number significantly decreases among patients who have seen a physical therapist in the past year.

Myth: Physical therapy is only for injuries and accidents.

Fact: Physical therapists do a lot more than just stretch or strengthen weak muscles after an injury or surgery. They are skilled at evaluating and diagnosing potential problems before they lead to more serious injuries or disabling conditions—from carpal tunnel syndrome and frozen shoulder, to chronic headaches and lower back pain, to name a few.

Myth: Any health care professional can perform physical therapy.

Fact: Although 42% of consumers know that physical therapy can only be performed by a licensed physical therapist, 37% still believe other health care professionals can also administer physical therapy. Many physical therapists also pursue board certification in specific areas such as neurology, orthopedics, sports, or women’s health.

Myth: Physical therapy isn’t covered by insurance.

Fact: Most insurance policies cover some form of physical therapy. Beyond insurance coverage, physical therapy has proven to reduce costs by helping people avoid unnecessary imaging scans, surgery, or prescription drugs. Physical therapy can also lower costs by helping patients avoid falls or by addressing conditions before they become chronic.

Myth: Surgery is my only option.

Fact: In many cases, physical therapy has been shown to be as effective as surgery in treating a wide range of conditions—from rotator cuff tears and degenerative disk disease, to meniscal tears and some forms of knee osteoarthritis. Those who have recently seen a physical therapist know this to be true, with 79% believing physical therapy can provide an alternative to surgery.

Myth: I can do physical therapy myself.

Fact: Your participation is key to a successful treatment plan, but every patient still needs the expert care and guidance of a licensed physical therapist. Your therapist will leverage his or her specialized education, clinical expertise, and the latest available evidence to evaluate your needs and make a diagnosis before creating an individualized plan of care.

Greater Bridgewater Women of Today Touch A Truck Event

Greater Bridgewater Women of Today Touch a Truck

Join Greater Bridgewater Women of Today for their Touch-A-Truck event hosted at Sullivan Tire (Rte.18) in Bridgewater on Sunday, October 25 from 11-2 PM weather permitting. The cost will be $3 per family with a maximum cost of $15 per family. There will be tons of trucks for the children to touch and explore! Children are encouraged to wear their costumes and there will be candy to collect at each truck. There will be face painting, giveaways, games and more! Grilled burgers and hot dogs will be available for purchase. GBWOT would like to thank the sponsors of this event: Sullivan Tire, Crocetti’s Market, Prisco’s Market, and Wheel House Real Estate.

Chiropractic Health Awareness: Get Vertical

Whatever your condition, there are steps you can take to improve your back health by getting vertical: standing up and exercising more. Moving helps increase circulation to your back, which in turn brings much needed nutrients to the disc spaces and soft tissues.

With this in mind, here are 7 tips to help you “Get Vertical”:

  1. Take a stand at work
    A health buzz word circulating for the past several months is “sitting disease.” Sitting too much all day, every day of the year has a serious impact our health. One study showed a significant increase in people’s mood and a decrease in their back pain when they stood for just one extra hour a day.If you work at the office all day, invest in a stand up desk. You can find simple, inexpensive models easily through an internet search.

    If a standing desk is not your style, aim to stand up and stretch at least every 20 minutes.

  2. Make an appointment with a physical therapist
    Physical therapy can have a profound effect on your spine health if you find the right therapist.
  3. Find a walking buddy
    Set a standing walking “date” with someone in your office or in your neighborhood who has a similar walking pace as you. Hopefully you’ll connect with someone who also has similar interests, so the time you spend walking will fly by.
  4. Or, just place a treadmill in your TV room
    Have you ever added up how many hours you actually spend watching your favorite TV series? Consider investing in a treadmill and walking at a moderate pace while you watch your favorite shows. You’ll be so engrossed in the plot lines you won’t even notice you’re moving!
  5. Adopt a dog
    Studies show dog owners tend to be happier and healthier than non-dog owners. It doesn’t take a study to show that if you have a dog, you’ll have to walk more. If you walk slowly, consider adopting an older dog who won’t demand a lot of time or energy, but who will just appreciate a home, and a low key walk every day. If you have more energy, go for a younger, more active dog to keep you on your toes.
  6. Or, offer to walk your neighbor’s dog
    If adopting a dog is too much responsibility, take notice of the harried mother down the street, or the elderly couple next door with dogs. Offering to walk their dogs even once or twice a week could be as big of a help to them as it is to your spine.
  7. Clean your own home
    If you really hate formal exercise, don’t discount how much you move when you clean your home and tend your own yard. Scrubbing the shower, mopping the floor, raking the leaves, pushing a mower all count as exercise. All these tasks accomplish the same things as formal exercises: they challenge your muscles and get your heart pumping.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles: Q&A

Accessible Vans

Rear entry Vs. Side entry
Buying New Vs. Buying Used
Manual Ramp Vs. Powered Ramp
Honda Vs. Dodge/Chrysler Vs. Toyota Vs. Ford
Certified Mobility Dealer Vs. Car Dealer Vs. Buying online
What do you need to know to get maximum benefit for minimum expense?

Good information is the key to saving money and getting the most value for the dollar when making a big-ticket purchase like a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

With that in mind, Seek out and find experts who truly care. Here are some answers to common questions about adaptive mobility equipment.

Can I just go to a car dealer down the street or do I need a certified mobility dealer?

Certified mobility dealers will help you buy the right vehicle and adaptive mobility equipment to meet your needs now and in the future. Future planning is especially important for people with muscle diseases that get progressively worse over time.

“Technology has improved tremendously over the years so there are numerous products available. Our goal is to help people find the right equipment that best fits their needs,” says Jim Sanders, president of Automotive Innovations based in Bridgewater, MA for over 25 years.

“Many times, consumers will go to a car dealer and buy a vehicle that can’t be modified or one that doesn’t fit their needs. And once you buy a vehicle, normally it’s very difficult to return.”

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), a nonprofit organization that provides consumer guidance and ensures quality and professionalism in the manufacturing and installation of mobility equipment. Members include mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers, driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals.

NMEDA member-dealers must follow the safety standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in addition to NMEDA’s own stringent guidelines.

Some dealers choose to enroll in NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP), which requires them to adhere to national motor vehicle safety standards, and use proven quality control practices to yield the highest level of performance and safety. Automotive Innovations was the First Mobility Dealer in Massachusetts to enroll and exceed the safety standards.

“The QAP dealer is audited by an outside engineering firm to verify that technicians have been trained and that the dealer has insurance and make sure the facility is ADA-compliant,” which means the QAP dealer is going above and beyond.


Can I get a better price if I buy online rather than from a dealer?

As with any online shopping, the warning “buyer beware” rings true. Buying online without trying out different vehicles with different conversions can be a costly mistake. Furthermore there are many grey market converted vans being offered as quality conversions.

Online, you are mostly shopping blind. Typically you will have no idea how the vehicle you need will work for you, even with specific recommendations from a driver evaluator or occupational therapist.

“You definitely shouldn’t buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle online, most online sellers are not qualified Mobility Dealers attempting to assess your needs, they’re just car dealers trying to sell you something.”

Some online dealers even have questionnaires on their websites to try and give you the idea your getting what you need. But, it will never replace being able to go to a local mobility dealership and try the vans out first hand.

A mobility vehicle is probably the second-largest purchase after a house. You should see it, try it out, and make sure it’s something that will work for you and your family. It’s horrible when people spend so much an a vehicle that will never work for them.

Every vehicle is a little bit different — such as in the dimensions, electrical and fuel systems, or suspension modifications. “If you go online and buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle based on the price, you’re not really looking at the total package.”

While buying online may be able to save you some money up front, it won’t over the long term.

In addition to you missing out on the important local service contact that a mobility equipment dealer provides, these online deals or grey market vans are worth much less when it comes time to trade it in.


What are some common mistakes people make when buying a modified vehicle?

Manufacturers and mobility dealers agree that one of the most common — and costly — mistakes is buying the vehicle first and then shopping for the conversion or adaptive mobility equipment. Not all vehicles can be converted.

For example, If you purchase a minivan from a traditional car dealership you can hit a roadblock if it doesn’t meet specific requirements to have the floor lowered for a rear- or side-entry conversion.


What are some good questions to ask a dealer or manufacturer?

Although buying a modified vehicle can be “a daunting experience,” says VMI’s Monique McGivney, it also can be “exciting and fun when you walk in armed with good questions and information.”

Prior to getting an assessment from a mobility dealer, evaluate your needs and try answering the following questions:

  • What vehicle will fit in my garage?
  • What kind of parking issues will I encounter where I live?
  • What is the size and weight of my wheelchair?
  • What is my seated height in the wheelchair?
  • How many people will ride in the vehicle?
  • In what part of the vehicle do I want to sit?
  • Will I be able to drive with hand controls?
  • Do I want a full-size van, minivan or alternative vehicle?
  • Do I want manual or power equipment?
  • Will an in-floor ramp or fold-out ramp meet my needs?
  • What is my budget, and do I have access to supplemental funding?

The first question most mobility dealers will ask you is: “What is your seated height in the wheelchair?” From there, the dealer can advise whether a full-size or minivan is appropriate, and what kind of conversion is needed.

Be sure to ask the dealer about the warranty and how the vehicle can be serviced.

Which Make and Model is the best for a handicapped accessible vehicle?

It honestly depends on what you fit into best and what options you prefer.

No two wheelchair accessible vehicles are the same. They vary in size, shape, color, features and design depending on the vehicle’s make and model. The only way to guarantee which is the best vehicle for you is if you come in and try them all out.

For example: The Honda has a little bit more room inside to maneuver a wheelchair than a Dodge, just as a Toyota has a bit more space than a Honda. A Ford offers more headroom than all of the above. But that all depends on the conversion and manufacturer.

Although color and features matter least to us, some find them just as important as fitting into the vehicle. Each Manufacturer offers their own color schemes, which you can look up on their websites. You can also search for what features you would prefer to have.

When you come into our Mobility Center we will help you find the vehicle that best fits you and your family’s needs. If you love the vehicle but not the color or features we can custom order a vehicle for you. That way we know you are buying a vehicle that best fits you and one that you are 100% happy with.

Which is better: rear entry or side entry?

The most important difference between a rear entry and side-entry conversion is that with a rear entry, wheelchair users can’t drive from their wheelchairs nor can they ride in the front passenger seat. From there, the choice comes down to personal preference and budget.

In recent years, because of quality, convenience and cost, there’s been a shift toward side entry vehicles. Rear entry is more of a frugal modification, involves a less of conversion process and is typically a little less expensive than a side-entry conversion.

Many people prefer side entry with an in-floor conversion for many safety reasons additionally  because they can park almost anywhere and not worry deploying the ramp out into traffic. Also, side entry allows the consumer to ride in the passengers front position along with maintain the rear seats in a minivan because the conversion doesn’t affect that area.

Rear entry is harder to get out of compared to a side-entry.

Anyway you look at it side-entry vehicles are more versatile. For example, side entry allows someone with a progressively worsening condition to use the vehicle for a longer period of time. A wheelchair user can start out driving from his or her chair, and then move to several other positions in the vehicle when no longer able to drive.

Side-entry conversions typically are a little more expensive than rear-entry because they’re more intrusive and labor intensive. For example, with a minivan, the entire floor and frame must be removed and replaced with a lowered floor and new frame.

What’s the difference between a fold-out ramp and in-floor ramp?

This decision comes down to safety, aesthetics, convenience and cost.

A fold-out ramp folds up into the vehicle, takes up valuable space in the passengers front area and must be deployed whenever the door is opened.

The in-floor ramp slides under the floor which makes riding in the vehicle safer for anyone seated in the passengers front position or the mid-ship position. There is no obstruction to the doorway so other passengers can enter and exit without deploying the ramp. In-floor ramps are currently only available as a side-entry minivan conversion, but they offer a manual (un-powered) option as well.

In-floor ramps in addition to being safer will generally provide more room in the vehicle because there’s nothing blocking the doorway. The ramp is “out of sight, out of mind” and may last longer because it doesn’t have to be deployed each time the side passenger door opens.

Fold-out ramps generally cost a little less than an in-floor ramp and consumers can select from manual and power versions; a power fold-out ramp still costs less than an in-floor ramp.

If an in-floor ramp system breaks down or the vehicle loses power, VMI’s in-floor ramp systems have a backup system (sure-deploy) that bypasses the vehicle’s battery.

A lot of people just feel more secure knowing there isn’t a fold-out ramp next to them in the event of a accident.

I use a wheelchair, but a van or minivan just isn’t “me.” Are they my only options?

You have other choices.

Lowered-floor conversions with fold-out ramps can be done on the Honda Element, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Toyota Scion. The conversions are small and don’t fit as many people.

Due to them being built on a much smaller scale, the ones we have seen have not been built with the same level of quality as the minivan conversion. Parts availability and repairs have been a problem, some of the companies that converted them are out of business and or have no support for “something they used to build”

If you prefer to keep your standard car rather than purchasing a modified vehicle — and can make the transfer from a wheelchair to a car seat — the answer may be as simple as a set of hand controls or a left foot gas pedal

Turning seats can be used in a wide range of vehicles, from sedans to SUVs and pickup trucks. A way to transport the wheelchair (like a rear lift) also is needed.

The rate at which your symptoms worsen is one thing to consider when looking at turning seats — is it likely you’ll be able to transfer and ride in a car seat for many more years? Also, be sure to check with a mobility dealer to determine if your vehicle can accommodate a turning seat and a wheelchair lift.

Why are modified vehicles so  expensive?

A vehicle conversion can cost consumers upwards of $27,000 —  and that’s just the cost for the conversion, not the vehicle. The total package can run between $45,000 and $80,000 — or more.

Besides the cost of the components, the reason it’s so pricey is that basically there is a lot of work involved to build a quality vehicle.

Modified vehicles from certified manufacturers and dealers must meet NHTSA’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). That means all modified vehicles must be properly crash tested. (To learn more, visit

It’s quite a labor-intensive process because of the customization. When you make structural modifications to a vehicle, you have to go through all of the crash testing, and you have to show that the vehicle is compliant again, and those tests are very expensive.

Most of the time lowering the floor in a minivan requires replacing or moving the fuel tank. Once the conversion is finished, the vehicle still has to meet the original requirements for evaporative emissions, in addition to NHTSA requirements.

How can I pay less?

You have  a few options.

You could cut costs by purchasing a pre-owned vehicle with a new conversion, typically saving you around $10,000 to $12,000.

The previous van owner already has absorbed the depreciation hit on a new van, which essentially occurs right after they’ve driven off the dealer’s lot.

Buying used can be beneficial for first-time buyers who want to try out a vehicle for a few years before buying new.

But if you plan to buy used, do some research and make sure the vehicle is structurally sound including the conversion. Ask for a vehicle history (CARFAX) report, and get the vehicle inspected by a mobility dealer to ensure it’s in good shape and was well taken care of.

Another tactic to help save you money is to ask your Certified Mobility Dealer about any rebates or financial aid options that could benefit you.

How do people manage to pay for it?

Many consumers used home equity loans to purchase a vehicle and adaptive equipment.

Many dealers and manufacturers work with lending institutions that offer extended-term financing, including 10-year loans, allowing consumers to make lower, more affordable monthly payments. The downside is that consumers are locked into the vehicle for 10 years, and end up paying more in interest.

If you finance for 10 years, and you’re not going to keep the vehicle for that amount of time, you’re going to lose money when you try to sell or trade it because you haven’t paid off much of the balance.

When you buy a new vehicle, many car manufacturers offer mobility reimbursement programs (up to $1,000) to help offset the cost for the purchase and installation of adaptive equipment.

October Is Car Care Month: Is your vehicle prepared for winter driving?

Is your car ready to handle freezing conditions? Frigid temps can take a toll on your car and make winter driving even more hazardous than usual.
Here are a few tips to adapt to winter roads and preparing your car for the extreme cold.

Check the car’s battery
Cold weather takes a toll on batteries and requires a full charge. A battery is 35 percent weaker at 32 degrees and 60 percent weaker at zero degrees.

A load test by a qualified technician can determine whether a car’s battery is strong enough for winter. Keep in mind that if the car started with a jump start, the problem is not fixed and the battery most likely needs replacing.

Avoid excessive cranking. If the car doesn’t start after 20 seconds of cranking, wait a couple of minutes to let the battery recover.

Tire preparation
Tires should have sufficient tread depth that can handle New England’s winter weather. All-season tires are adequate for most vehicles but to get the greatest traction for both starting and stopping, snow tires are recommended. When considering snow tires, they should be installed on all four wheels

See and be seen
Clear windows, mirrors, and lights with an ice scraper, brush, or a spray de-icer. Driving with a snow-covered windshield, windows, side-view mirrors or lights invites a crash.

Completely clean snow from the roof, hood, and trunk. Windshield wipers and defrosters should be in good working order and washer reservoirs should be filled with no-freeze windshield washer fluid.

Consider specially designed winter wiper blades that prevent snow and ice buildup and improve visibility.

Reduce speeds
Most winter crashes happen from driving too fast for the weather conditions. Remember, everything takes longer on snow-covered roads, including accelerating, stopping, and turning.

Nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement so allow time to maneuver by driving slowly.

All-wheel drive is best
All-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive will help to get a car moving, but bear in mind it does little to improve braking. Don’t become overconfident and drive too fast for winter road conditions.

Anticipate stopping distance
In temperatures at or just above 32 degrees, a thin layer of water can cover the ice and cause slippery conditions, especially at intersections where snow and ice tend to melt first. The distance needed to stop on ice at 32 degrees is twice as long as at zero degrees.

Keep the engine cool
Mix certain cooling system antifreeze with an equal portion of water for maximum protection.

Magic Wheelchair

Magic Wheelchair

Magic Wheelchair is a nonprofit organization that makes epic Halloween costumes for children in wheelchairs.

Their vision is to put a smile on the face of every child in a wheelchair by transforming their wheelchairs into awesomeness created by their hands and their imaginations.

Their mission is to give kids in wheelchairs an unforgettable Halloween by creating custom costumes for them at no expense to their families

Kids, with their parents’ permission can submit a 1-3 minute video telling them what they want to be for Halloween and why they should be selected for this year’s Magic Wheelchair Build. They will review the submissions and select 5 children, who will then work with designers and builders to create the ultimate wheelchair costume in time for Halloween!

Being in a wheelchair can be tough, so they want to help kids make something truly epic. To do that requires time, money and the support of people like you. But when they’re done, they will change the life of a young wheelchair rider. See some of the costumes here.or check out their Pinterest account.

For more information about Magic Wheelchair you can visit their website or their Facebook Page.

Wheelchair DanceFit: A Program of Aero, Inc.

Aero, Inc. is a not-for-profit integrated mixed abilities dance company located in Greater Boston area of Massachusetts, USA.

Aero, Inc. was founded by Maryan Amaral in 1997. This nonprofit is the first integrated dance company in Greater Boston to perform in local and national venues. They lead workshops and performances in schools, colleges, parks, private and public venues.

” Everyone who wants to dance can dance.”

For more information, contact: or visit the website

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2015 is “My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am”

NDEAM’s roots go back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” Upon its establishment in 2001, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.

First Honoree For The 6th Annual Boston Wounded Vet Run Announced

The Boston Wounded Vet Run proudly announced the first honoree for the 6th Annual Boston Wounded Vet Ride: Peter Damon of Middleborough, MA!
Peter lost both his arms in Iraq.
In 2016 we ride for him!

Peter Damon

Rett Syndrome Awareness

What is Rett Syndrome?
Rett syndrome is a postnatal neurological disorder seen almost always in girls, but can be rarely seen in boys. It is not a degenerative disorder.

Rett syndrome is caused by mutations on the X chromosome on a gene called MECP2. There are more than 200 different mutations found on the MECP2 gene. Most of these mutations are found in eight different “hot spots.”

Rett syndrome strikes all racial and ethnic groups, and occurs worldwide in 1 of every 10,000 to 23,000 female births.

Rett syndrome causes problems in brain function that are responsible for cognitive, sensory, emotional, motor and autonomic function. These can include learning, speech, sensory sensations, mood, movement, breathing, cardiac function, and even chewing, swallowing, and digestion.

Rett syndrome symptoms appear after an early period of apparently normal or near normal development until six to eighteen months of life, when there is a slowing down or stagnation of skills. A period of regression then follows when she loses communication skills and purposeful use of her hands. Soon, stereotyped hand movements such as handwashing, gait disturbances, and slowing of the normal rate of head growth become apparent. Other problems may include seizures and disorganized breathing patterns while she is awake. In the early years, there may be a period of isolation or withdrawal when she is irritable and cries inconsolably. Over time, motor problems may increase, but in general, irritability lessens and eye contact and communication improve.

Rett syndrome can present with a wide range of disability ranging from mild to severe. The course and severity of Rett syndrome is determined by the location, type and severity of her mutation and X-inactivation. Therefore, two girls of the same age with the same mutation can appear quite different.

Testing and Diagnosis
Rett syndrome is most often misdiagnosed as autism, cerebral palsy, or non-specific developmental delay. In the past, making the correct diagnosis called not only for a long list of diagnostic tests and procedures to rule out other disorders, but it also took from months to years waiting to confirm the diagnosis as new symptoms appeared over time. Today, we have a simple blood test to confirm the diagnosis. However, since we know that the MECP2 mutation is also seen in other disorders, the presence of the MECP2 mutation in itself is not enough for the diagnosis of Rett syndrome. Diagnosis requires either the presence of the mutation (a molecular diagnosis) or fulfillment of the diagnostic criteria (a clinical diagnosis, based on signs and symptoms that you can observe) or both. Below is a list of labs to share with your ordering physician that can do the MECP2 sequencing + deletion analysis, and the list of diagnostic criteria.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Down Syndrome Awareness Month is chance to spread awareness, advocacy and inclusion throughout the community. During the month of October, we celebrate  individuals with Down syndrome and make people aware of their abilities and accomplishments

What Is Down Syndrome?
In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes.  Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes.  Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.

This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm – although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.

How Common is Down Syndrome?
One in every 691 babies in the the United States is born with Down syndrome, making Down syndrome the most common genetic condition. Approximately 400,000 Americans have Down syndrome and about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year.

What Causes Down Syndrome?
Regardless of the type of Down syndrome a person may have, all people with Down syndrome have an extra, critical portion of chromosome 21 present in all or some of their cells.  This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

The cause of nondisjunction is currently unknown, but research has shown that it increases in frequency as a woman ages.  However, due to higher birth rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.

There is no definitive scientific research that indicates that Down syndrome is caused by environmental factors or the parents’ activities before or during pregnancy.

The additional partial or full copy of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome can originate from either the father or the mother. Approximately 5% of the cases have been traced to the father.

When Was Down Syndrome Discovered?
For centuries, people with Down syndrome have been alluded to in art, literature and science. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century, however, that John Langdon Down, an English physician, published an accurate description of a person with Down syndrome. It was this scholarly work, published in 1866, that earned Down the recognition as the “father” of the syndrome. Although other people had previously recognized the characteristics of the syndrome, it was Down who described the condition as a distinct and separate entity.

In recent history, advances in medicine and science have enabled researchers to investigate the characteristics of people with Down syndrome. In 1959, the French physician Jérôme Lejeune identified Down syndrome as a chromosomal condition. Instead of the usual 46 chromosomes present in each cell, Lejeune observed 47 in the cells of individuals with Down syndrome. It was later determined that an extra partial or whole copy of chromosome 21 results in the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. In the year 2000, an international team of scientists successfully identified and catalogued each of the approximately 329 genes on chromosome 21. This accomplishment opened the door to great advances in Down syndrome research.

Accessible Haunted Houses in New England

According to the Websites these Haunted Houses are accessible.

Spooky World Presents Nightmare New England
Are you wheelchair accessible?
Yes, all of our indoor attractions are accessible and have wooden floors. Please note that our outdoor attractions have paths that are grass, gravel and woodchips.

Is a Military Discount offered?
Yes – we are proud to honor our past and present men and women offering service to our country. To receive a $7 discount per ticket, please show your Military ID at any of our ticket windows when purchasing. A Military ID discount may not be combined with any other coupons or offers.

Ghoulie Manor
Are you wheelchair accessible?
Yes, we are! If you don’t come with a wheelchair, you may need one by the time you leave.

Factory of Terror – Fall River, MA
Factory of Terror – Worcester, MA

Q. Is the Factory of Terror wheelchair accessible?
A. Yes, we have designed our attraction to make it wheelchair accessible.

Six Flags Fright Fest – Springfield, MA
Although the site does not  state it is Wheelchair accessible in the Plan Trip section it says: “7. Stop by Stroller Rental if you need a stroller, wheelchair, wooden stakes, silver bullets, garlic, or holy water.”

Canobie Lake Park Screamfest
Are the haunts wheelchair accessible?
Our haunted attractions can accommodate conventional and electric wheelchairs or electric service vehicles – although certain elements/effects will require the use of an alternate pathway. We do recommend, however, that you plan your visit with someone who is aware of your needs and can physically assist you when necessary.

Is Nightmare Vermont handicapped accessible?

Yes!  This year we are at the Memorial Auditorium which is wheelchair accessible. However, we can only make accommodations for our Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Wednesday shows.
Call 802 355-3107 two days in advance to make arrangements.

Note: You should call in advance to make sure their accommodations meet your needs.

World Heart Day

World Heart Day

World Heart Day was founded in 2000 to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading causes of death, claiming 17.3 million lives each year.

World Heart Day is an annual event which takes place on 29 September every year. Each year’s celebrations have a different theme, reflecting key issues and topics relating to heart health. The theme this year is: Heart-Healthy Environments.

For more information please visit the World Heart Federation’s Website!

The American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club

The American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club is a Federally recognized 501c19 War Veterans Organization.

Along with countless volunteers and patriots, we are erecting the first in the State of Massachusetts, 9/11 Mass Fallen Heroes South Shore Memorial located at 777 Plymouth Street Holbrook, Mass.

The Memorial will include a section of steel beam from the World Trade Center and lighted glass panel etched with the Names of the Massachusetts victims of 9/11, those that sacrificed during the massive rescue efforts at ground Zero, Names of warriors that made the ultimate sacrifice fighting in the global war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and those that died from the invisible wounds of war.

To help fund the Memorial, we are providing the opportunity to purchase engraved memorial bricks. These bricks will be permanently installed at and around, the base of the Memorial. Future plans exist for the expansion of the memorial.

For more information please visit their website!

7th Annual Morgan’s Ride Is Tomorrow

7th Annual Morgan's Ride

Sunday September 27, 2015
9:30am – 6:00pm
Hilltop AA Club

Pottle St, Kingston, Massachusetts 02364
Please join us for this ride. A 25 mile ride thought the back roads of the South Shore. Live band, food, raffles and more.. Funds raised go to the Morgan’s Fund. To help the fight against FOP.

For more information please visit the Facebook Page

Lymphoma Awareness

What Is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a group of cancers that begins in the lymphatic system. The function of the lymphatic system is to drain excess tissue fluid called lymph. The lymphatic system also contains blood cells known as lymphocytes, which are important in fighting infection. Lymphoma is the uncontrolled growth of lymphocytes.

What Are the Types of Lymphoma?
There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is recognized by the presence of special cells that can be seen under the micros cope, called the Reed-Sternberg cell. Only 12.5% of all lymphomasare the Hodgkin’s type.
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is the most common type of lymphoma and is divided into many groups of lymphatic cancers. There are many different types of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
What Are the Key Statistics About Lymphoma?
  • In the year 2015, about 80,900 people will be diagno sed with lymphoma. About 71,850 are expected to have the Non-Hodgkin’s type and about 9,050 for the Hodgkin’s type of lymphoma. Approximately 20,940 people will die of the disease this year.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Lymphoma?
  • A swelling of lymph nodes that does not cause pain. Lymph nodes are groups of cells found along the path of lymphatic vessels. They filter the lymphatic fluid and remove harmful substances. The most common sites of lymph node swellings are in the neck, armpit, groin, or the abdomen.
  • General symptoms can include fever, sweating, fatigue, loss of appetite, and bony pain.
  • There are no known strategies to prevent lymphoma.
What Are the Causes of Lymphoma?
  • In most cases, the cause of lymphoma remains unknown.
  • Patients with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.
  • Stomach lymphoma can be caused by an infection in the stomach called Helicobacter Pylori. This infection is sometimes found in people that have stomach ulcers.

Leukemia Awareness

What Is Leukemia?
Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells, which help fight infection. It is caused by the uncontrolled growth of these cells. Leukemia starts in the bone marrow,
which is the spongy part inside the bones where blood cells are made. The cancer cells spread to the blood that circulates in the arteries and veins.
What Are the Key Statistics About Leukemia?
  • The American Cancer Society estimates that 54,270 people will be diagnosed with leukemia this year.
  • About 24,450 people are expected to die from leukemia in the year 2015.
  • Leukemia is commonly thought of as a childhood disease, yet it is diagnosed 10 times more often in adults
What Are the Types of Leukemia?
  • Based on the time it takes one to develop the disease, leukemia has two forms,acute and chronic leukemia.
  • Acute leukemia begins over a short period of time. In acute leukemia, there is a fast growth of immature cells in the bone marrow and peripheral blood.
  • Chronic leukemia develops over a longer period of time. Compared to acute leukemia, it has more mature cells in the bone marrow and peripheral blood.
  • Based on the type of blood cells, leukemia is divided into lymphocytic and myelogenous leukemia.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Leukemia?
  • There are no exact signs and symptoms of leukemia.
  • General symptoms include fatigue, or lack of energy, and flu-like symptoms including fever.
  • A loss of appetite may also occur.
  • Shortness of breath when active and a pale color of the skin and mucous membranes (this includes the lining of the inside of the nose and mouth). These symptoms are related to anemia, which is a decrease in the red blood cells that carry oxygen.
  • Easy bruising and bleeding due to a drop in the platelet count. Platelets are part of the blood cells that help form blood clots.Poor wound healing and infections.
  • This is because many of the white cells are immature and therefore not able to do their job.
What Are the Causes of Leukemia?
  • The exact cause of leukemia is not known.
  • In very rare cases, chemotherapy or radiation therapy used to treat one cancer leads to leukemia.
  • There are no known ways to prevent leukemia.