Tag Archives: Facts

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.

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the most prestigious award and highest honor that the United States military has to offer. Despite its prestige, however, there’s much that people don’t know about this coveted decoration:

  • There are three different versions of the Medal of Honor: one for the Army, one for the Navy, and one for the Air Force.
    A separate Coast Guard version has also been authorized, but it has yet to actually be awarded to anyone. In the meantime, personnel from the Coast Guard and Marine Corps receive the Navy version of the prestigious decoration.
  • There is only one woman, who has ever been awarded the Medal of Honor: Mary Edwards Walker.
    Walker served as a Union Army surgeon, during the Civil War. She received the Medal of Honor in 1865 for her exemplary service in field hospitals, during the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861) and a series of other battles over the next three years.
  • There is also only one U.S. President, who has ever been awarded the Medal of Honor: Teddy Roosevelt, for his service as a Rough Rider.
    When the Spanish-American War broke out, Roosevelt quit his job as Secretary of the Navy to lead a volunteer regiment, know as the Rough Riders. He then played a pivotal role in the Battles of San Juan Hill and a series of other confrontations in Cuba. Accordingly, President Clinton posthumously honored him with the award in 2001.
  • 3,492 different people have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
    Astoundingly, 19 men have been awarded the honor twice. Fourteen of these double recipients received two separate Medals of Honor for two separate acts of valor. The remaining five double winners received both the Army and Navy Medals of Honor for the same act.
  • The youngest ever recipient of the Medal of Honor earned the award at age 11 and received it at age 13. His name was Willie Johnston.
    Johnston enlisted in the Union Army alongside his father, in June 1861, as a drummer boy. A year later, their unit, the 3rd Vermont Infantry, was overpowered by Confederate Forces and forced to retreat down the Virginia Peninsula. During this famous “Seven Days Retreat,” the soldiers and other drummers in Willie’s unit shed their weapons and instruments, in an effort to flee faster. Willie, however, held onto his drum and was later asked to play for the entire division on July 4th… an exemplary act, which led President Lincoln to recommend him for the Medal of Honor.
  • Jacklyn “Jack” Lucas, is the youngest Marine to have ever received the Medal of Honor.
    He is also the youngest person to have received the honor in the 20th Century. Lucas lied his way into the armed forces, during World War II, at the age of just 14. Then, at 17, he shielded several of his fellow soldiers from enemy grenades, during Iwo Jima; absorbing the full blast with his own body.
  • It is illegal to wear someone else’s Medal of Honor.
    Interestingly, though, it is no longer illegal to pretend you have one. In 2006, President George W. Bush attempted to make it illegal by signing the Stolen Valor Act into law. This act imposed a prison sentence of up to one year on anyone, falsely claiming to have received a Medal of Honor. However, the Supreme Court later struck this act down in 2012, ruling that it violated the First Amendment right to free speech.
  • There are two father-son pairs that have won the Medal of Honor.
    Arthur MacArthur, Jr. and his son, General Douglas MacArthur were the first father and son to both be awarded Medals of Honor. The only other such pairing was President Teddy Roosevelt and his son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., who led the first wave of troops onto Utah Beach during the Normandy Landings of World War II.
  • There are also five pairs of brothers that have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
    The first of these pairs was John and William Black, who both won the decoration for their exemplary service in the American Civil War. Brothers Charles and Henry Capehart also received the award for courageous actions during the American Civil War. Brothers Harry and Willard Miller received the honor for the same naval action, during the Spanish-American War. Brothers Allen and James Thompson received the award for the same action, during the American Civil War. Lastly, brothers Antoine and Julien Gaujot have the unique distinction of receiving their medals for actions in separate conflicts; Antoine for the Philippine-American War, Julien for crossing the border to rescue both Mexicans and Americans, during the Mexican Revolution.
  • In 1993, the U.S. Army commissioned a study to investigate possible racial discrimination in the awarding of the Medal of Honor.
    After an exhaustive review of military files, a group of Distinguished Service Cross recipients were upgraded to the higher honor.
  • In 1998, a similar study was commissioned to investigate possible discrimination against Asian Americans in the awarding of military decorations.
    It resulted in President Clinton awarding 22 Asian-American World War II heroes the country’s highest medal for valor in 2000. Twenty of these medals went to American soldiers of Japanese descent, who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in the European Theater. One went to Senator Daniel Inouye, a former U.S. Army Infantry officer in the 442nd RCT.
  • More than half of all Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously; a testament to the danger of the courageous sort of “beyond the call of duty” acts, which merit the honor in the first place.
  • When you get a Medal of Honor, you earn a lifetime of special benefits and privileges.
    For example, your kids are eligible for admission to United States military academies, without having to secure nominations or meet quota requirements. Also, if you were not previously eligible for burial in Arlington Cemetery, you are now.
  • Medal of Honor recipients also receive invitations to all future presidential inaugurations and inaugural balls.
  • As of 2002, in addition to the actual medal, all Medal of Honor recipients also get a special Medal of Honor Flag.

Brain Tumor Awareness Month

Today nearly 700,000 people in the United States are living with a primary brain tumor, and more than 69,000 others will be diagnosed this year. Brain tumors are often deadly, impact quality of life, and change everything for patients and their loved ones.

 

  • 88,096 Americans are living with a brain tumor.
    • 550,042 tumors are benign
    • 138,054 tumors are malignant
  • An estimated 68,470 people will receive primary brain tumor diagnoses this year.
    • 45,300 will be benign
    • 23,180 will be malignant
      • Male: 55.2%
      • Female: 44.8%
  • The average survival rate for all malignant brain tumor patients is 34.2%.
    • Male: 32.6%
    • Female: 44.8%
  • An estimated 13,770 people will die from brain cancer this year

Brain Tumors in Adults

  • The most prevalent brain tumor types in adults:
    • Gliomas, such as glioblastoma multiforme, ependymomas, astrocytomas, and oligodendrogliomas
    • Meningiomas

Brain Tumors in Children

  • An estimated 4,620 children will receive brain tumor diagnoses this year
  • The average survival rate for all children with malignant brain tumors is 66%
  • Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children under 14, and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children under 20
  • The most prevalent brain tumor types in children:
    • Astrocytoma
    • Medulloblastoma
    • Ependymoma

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.

 

11 Facts About Veterans Day

11 Facts About Veterans Day Honoring Veterans at VMi New England

How much do you really know about this national holiday honoring those who have served our country?

Here are 11 Veterans Day facts in honor of the holiday celebrated in the United States on November 11th. Thank you to all those who have served!


When was Veterans Day first celebrated?
Originally called Armistice Day, Veterans Day was celebrated on Nov. 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the end of the fighting of World War I. The Allies and Germany agree to an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities,on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. (Technically WWI did not officially end until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.)

Why do we celebrate Veterans Day?
President Woodrow Wilson said of that first observance in 1919, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” That purpose has not changed as today the purpose is still to honor those who have served our nation.

When did Veterans Day become a national holiday?
Although first observed in 1919, Congress did not make it official until 1938. IN 1954, the name changed to Veterans Day. In the 1970s the date moved around in November, causing confusion, and President Gerald Ford in 1975 signed a law placing the observance on Nov. 11 and there it has remained. For more details, please see the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs History of Veterans Day and the U.S. Army’s Center for Miliary History page on History of Veterans Day.

What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?
These two holidays are frequently confused but they are not the same. Memorial Day, celebrated in May, honors those who lost their lives in service to our country, and Veterans Day, celebrated in November, honors all who have served and focusing on thanking living service members, past and present. For the official answer, the Office of of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs explains, “Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.”

In what war did the largest number of Americans serve in the Armed Forces?
World War II saw more than 16 million Americans become service members, according to the 2009 Veterans Day Teacher Resource Guide. As of June 2013, CNN reported that 1.7 million WII vets were still alive.


Why do we spell it Veterans Day? Shouldn’t there be an apostrophe?
“Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an ‘s’ at the end of ‘veterans’ because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans,” explains the Office of of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Is there a national ceremony?
In keeping with the honoring of the timing of the armistice ending the carnage of WWI, a Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery. The VA website says that ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.


Which state is home to the largest number of veterans?
California has the most, with 2 million veterans calling the Golden State home. Texas and Florida are next, with 1.6 million vets in each state, reports the Census Bureau.

How many of U.S. vets are female?
There are 1.6 million female veterans, as of 2011, according to the Census Bureau.


How many veterans are there living in the United States?
The U.S. has 21.8 million veterans, according the the Census Bureau’s Snapshot of Our Nation’s Veterans.

Do veterans ever serve in more than one war?
Yes. More than 1.3 million of America’s living veterans have served in more than one conflict, and 54,000 have served in 3 wars – WWI, Korea and Vietnam – according to the Census Bureau’s Snapshot of Our Nation’s Veterans.

Winter-Maintenance Tips for Your Wheelchair Van

Winter Driving
Maintain Your Mobility Equipment

We recommend keeping the bottom door track of your handicapped van clear of any debris by vacuuming out the track every 2 or 3 weeks. Debris in the bottom track will cause the door motor to work harder and even weaken or burn out prematurely. Such problems will only be more of an inconvenience in cold weather.

Check Your Brakes
Make sure your brakes are in good working condition. You should never postpone having brake work done because you never know when you might have to drive on snowy or icy roads.

Check Your Lights
Headlights are essential in snowy weather; not only do they help you see clearly, but they also help others see you. So you make sure your lights are clean and that all bulbs and fuses are working properly.

Remember Your Fluids
We advise having all fluids (including brake fluid, antifreeze, washer fluid, transmission fluid, power-steering fluid, etc.) checked and “topped off.” In addition, we also recommend that you consider keeping a half tank of gas in your accessible vehicle at all times–you don’t want to run out of gas in an emergency.

Don’t Forget Your Battery
Having your battery checked is especially crucial for handicapped accessible vans. The cold weather is strenuous on any battery but even more so on an accessible van’s battery. An accessible van has to power ramps, lifts, and doors, so it uses more battery power than other minivans. A common problem we see at our Mobility Center is customers who do not drive their accessible van enough to keep the battery charged and healthy. You can keep the battery charged by driving your vehicle more than 3 hours a week or by using a battery charger. Under normal conditions, batteries will typically last for 3½ years, so if your battery is older than that, we recommend that you make sure that it’s in good condition or think about replacing it.

Good Tire Maintenance Is Crucial
Good tires might be one of the most essential driving tools in winter weather. Worn, bald, badly aligned, or badly balanced tires can cause accidents in any type of slippery weather. You’ll need to test the air pressure and tread on your tires and have your tires rotated so that the better ones are in the front for more traction and control. If you need new tires soon, don’t wait, get them now! If you have snow tires and live in areas with heavy and frequent snowfall, don’t hesitate to use them.

Don’t Forget Your Windshield
Taking care of the windshield on your wheelchair van entails more than having good wipers. Windshields on minivans and full-sized vans are large, so having good wipers and properly functioning rear and front defrosters are musts. Also, small dings in a windshield can become large cracks when it’s cold. Cracks are a result of the stress of having freezing temperatures on the outside of the windshield and the warm heater on the interior of the windshield. If this occurs, fix the ding and avoid the risk of replacing a costly van-sized windshield!

Snow Equipment
If you ever get stuck or break down in snow or other inclement winter weather, having the appropriate equipment to get yourself out of your vehicle is important. We recommend keeping a shovel, sidewalk salt, snow scraper/brush, jumper cables, spare tire, jack, and flares in your vehicle during the winter months. Also, if you live in an area with frequent and/or heavy snowfall, keep tire chains in your vehicle for extra traction.

Emergency Kit
Another recommendation is keeping a snow emergency kit in your car. Your emergency kit should include a cell phone, a cell-phone car charger, a blanket, a flashlight with good batteries, hand warmers, snacks, and water. Your kit should be able to keep you relatively comfortable while waiting in your vehicle for assistance to arrive. Please remember, if you’re waiting in your vehicle for assistance, make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of any snow or ice so carbon monoxide won’t enter the vehicle.

Lastly, we always recommend that, if you can, you stay in when the road conditions are bad. However, if you need to venture out, here are some precautions to remember when driving in bad weather:

Clear All Snow Off Your Vehicle
Make sure that you clear all of the snow and ice off of your vehicle before you go anywhere. Ice and snow clumps that aren’t cleared off can be very dangerous because they can suddenly shift and obstruct your view or fly off your vehicle into another driver’s view. Allow yourself extra time before venturing out to take the steps needed to clear all of the snow off your accessible vehicle—even if it includes asking a friend or neighbor for assistance.

Slow Down
Reducing your speed by 50% allows more control over your vehicle in the event that you begin to skid or hydroplane. However, slowing down too much or stopping on heavy snow-filled roads can cause a vehicle’s tires to spin and get stuck in the snow. While driving in snow, you should keep some momentum so that your tires are continuously moving and you don’t lose traction.

Recovering From a Skid
If you’re driving in inclement weather and your vehicle starts to skid, the best thing to do is to steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go—and not hit your brakes. Your normal reaction might be to brake, but that can make the wheels lock up, making steering difficult. Driving in the snow can be dangerous, so if you aren’t comfortable, try to avoid the roads in severe weather.

Rust Prevention
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 25 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.

 

As seen in the picture below this van has heavy rust and metal fatigue due to a lack of maintenance.
IMG_0697Once the rust is this bad there’s not much we can do other than replace the van.
So call us or come in today to rust proof your van before it’s too late.

Pass on the Ribbon & Help Spread Rett Syndrome Awareness

Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

Rett syndrome is a rare, severe, “girls only” form of autism. It’s usually discovered in the first two years of life, and a child’s diagnosis with Rett syndrome can feel overwhelming. Although there’s no cure, early identification and treatment may help girls and families who are affected by Rett syndrome.

Who Gets Rett Syndrome?
Rett syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that affects girls almost exclusively. It’s rare — only about one in 10,000 to 15,000 girls will develop the condition.

In most cases of Rett syndrome, a child develops normally in early life. Between 6 and 18 months of age, though, changes in the normal patterns of mental and social development begin.


What Are the Symptoms of Rett Syndrome?
Although it’s not always detected, a slowing of head growth is one of the first events in Rett syndrome. Loss of muscle tone is also an initial symptom. Soon, the child loses any purposeful use of her hands. Instead, she habitually wrings or rubs her hands together.

Around 1 to 4 years of age, social and language skills deteriorate in a girl with Rett syndrome. She stops talking and develops extreme social anxiety and withdrawal or disinterest in other people.

Rett syndrome also causes problems with muscles and coordination. Walking becomes awkward as girls develop a jerky, stiff-legged gait. A girl with Rett syndrome may also have uncoordinated breathing and seizures.


What Causes Rett Syndrome?
Most children with Rett syndrome have a mutation in a particular gene on the X chromosome. Exactly what this gene does, or how its mutation leads to Rett syndrome, isn’t clear. It’s believed that the single gene may influence many other genes involved in development.

Although Rett syndrome seems to be genetic, the faulty gene is almost never inherited from the parents. Rather, it’s a chance mutation that happens in the girl’s own DNA. No Rett syndrome risk factors have been identified, other than being female. There is no known method for preventing Rett syndrome.

When boys develop the Rett syndrome mutation, they die shortly after birth. Because boys have only one X chromosome (instead of the two girls have), the disease is more serious, and quickly fatal.


How Is Rett Syndrome Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of Rett syndrome is based on a girl’s pattern of symptoms and behavior. The diagnosis can be made on these observations alone. Discussions between a doctor and a girl’s parents will help determine important details, such as when symptoms started.
Genetic testing can help confirm the diagnosis in 80% of girls with suspected Rett syndrome. It’s possible that genetic testing can help predict severity.


Treatments for Rett Syndrome
There are treatments available for Rett syndrome that focus on helping a girl live the best life she can with the condition. Physical therapy can help improve mobility; speech therapy may help somewhat with language problems; and occupational therapy helps girls perform daily activities — like bathing and dressing — independently.

Experts believe that therapy can help girls with Rett syndrome and their parents. Although a “normal” life may not be possible, some improvement can be expected with therapy. Participating in activities — including school — and improved social interaction are sometimes possible.

Medicines can treat some of the problems with movement in Rett syndrome. Medication can also help control seizures. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Rett syndrome.


What to Expect With Rett Syndrome
Many girls with Rett syndrome can be expected to live at least into middle age. Researchers are still following women with the disease, which was only widely recognized in the past 20 years.

Symptoms of Rett syndrome don’t usually improve over time. It is a lifelong condition. Often, there is a very slow worsening of symptoms, or symptoms remain stable. Girls and women with Rett syndrome will rarely be able to live independently.

National Disability Employment Awareness Timeline

National Disability Employment Awareness Month TimelineThis year’s theme is “Because We are EQUAL to the Task.” This theme mirrors the reality that people with disabilities have the talent, education, desire, training, and experience to be successful in the workplace.

Presidential Proclamation – NDEAM 2013

National Disability Employment Awareness Month, 2013
By the President Of The United States Of America
A Proclamation

Our Nation has always drawn its strength from the differences of our people, from a vast range of thought, experience, and ability.  Every day, Americans with disabilities enrich our communities and businesses.  They are leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators, each with unique talents to contribute and points of view to express.  During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we nurture our culture of diversity and renew our commitment to building an American workforce that offers inclusion and opportunity for all.

Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we have made great progress in removing barriers for hardworking Americans.  Yet today, only 20 percent of Americans with disabilities, including veterans who became disabled while serving our country, participate in our labor force.  We need their talent, dedication, and creativity, which is why my Administration proudly supports increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  To that end, I remain dedicated to implementing Executive Order 13548, which called on Federal agencies to increase recruitment, hiring, and retention of people with disabilities.  As a result of our efforts, the Federal Government is hiring people with disabilities at a higher rate than at any point in over three decades.  Most recently, we updated the rules to make sure Federal contractors and subcontractors are doing more to recruit, hire, and promote qualified individuals with disabilities, including disabled veterans.  And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, States are taking advantage of new options to support and expand home and community-based services.

In the years to come, I will remain committed to ensuring the Federal Government leads by example.  This year, as we mark the 40th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act, I will continue to marshal the full resources of my Administration toward effective and comprehensive implementation.

If we swing wide the doors of opportunity for our family, friends, and neighbors with disabilities, all of us will enjoy the benefits of their professional contributions.  This month, let us uphold the ideals of equal access, equal opportunity, and a level playing field for all Americans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2013 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  I urge all Americans to embrace the talents and skills that individuals with disabilities bring to our workplaces and communities and to promote the right to equal employment opportunity for all people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

Keep Calm It’s Only An Extra Chromosome

keep calm its only extra chromosome - Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Despite the incredible number of medical advances which have enriched and extended the lives of people with Down syndrome, Trisomy 21 continues to be extremely misunderstood. Many people look at Down syndrome through the lens of outdated stereotypes and misconceptions.

Down Syndrome Awareness Month, celebrated each October, is one way to change that. The goal of Down Syndrome Awareness Month is, of course, to spread awareness, to educate about Down syndrome, and to celebrate people who have Down syndrome, and their abilities and accomplishments.

Facts about Down syndrome:

  • What is Down syndrome?
    Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, is a genetic disorder which is caused by a full or partial third copy of the 21st chromosome. There are three types of Down syndrome. Trisomy 21, or nondisjunction, is the most common kind, seen in 95% of Down syndrome cases. The extra chromosome is present in every cell in the body. Translocation Down syndrome occurs in about 4% of Down syndrome cases and is caused by a partial copy of the 21st chromosome breaking off and attaching to another chromosome (usually the 14th chromosome). Finally, Mosaic Down syndrome is the rarest case, seen in about 1% of Down syndrome cases. Mosaic Down syndrome happens when the nondisjunction of an extra chromosome is present in some, but not all, of the body’s cells. Some cells will have 47 chromosomes, while the rest will have the typical 46 chromosomes.

 

  • Is Down syndrome rare?
    No, Down syndrome is not rare. It is the most commonly occurring genetic disorder or birth defect. One out of every 691 babies born in the United States will have Down syndrome, and there are over 400,000 people who have Down syndrome living in the United States. Down syndrome occurs in all races, and while women are at a greater risk of conceiving a child with Down syndrome as they get older, the majority of babies with Down syndrome are born to younger mothers.

 

  • What are the effects of having Down syndrome?
    People with Down syndrome usually have hypotonia, or low muscle tone, and developmental delays. Early intervention programs and therapies are able to help children with Down syndrome reach the same milestones as typical children, albeit at a slightly longer pace. The rate at which the person with Down syndrome reaches these milestones, as well as the developmental delays he or she has, will be highly individual. There usually are cognitive delays as well, ranging from mild to moderate. It is important to remember, though, that each person with Down syndrome is different, just like typical people. People with Down syndrome are also at increased risk for various medical conditions, such as heart defects, hearing problems, thyroid conditions, childhood leukemia, and Alzheimer’s. However, medical advances have made most of these issues highly treatable, to the point where people with Down syndrome have life expectancies similar to those of people with typical chromosomes.

 

  • What are the physical characteristics of Down syndrome?
    There are common markers for Down syndrome, which include almond-shaped eyes, a single crease in the palm, flat facial features, small ears, and extra space between the big toe and second toe. However, each person with Down syndrome is an individual, so some people may exhibit many of these characteristics, while others will not have any.

 

  • Can people with Down syndrome lead normal, fulfilling lives?
    People with Down syndrome often do work and make contributions to society. They also get married, as well as have friendships and other meaningful relationships. Unfortunately, most men with Down syndrome cannot have children, or have a lower fertility rate than typical men. About 50% of women with Down syndrome are able to have children. Thirty-five to fifty percent of children born to a mother with Down syndrome will also have Down syndrome, or other developmental delays. Most importantly, people with Down syndrome do lead happy, fulfilling lives. Studies have consistently shown that people with Down syndrome overwhelmingly report being happy with themselves, their lives, and how they look.

 

  • Are people with Down syndrome always happy?
    No. People often refer to people with Down syndrome as always happy, or as constantly full of love and joy, but this does a disservice to people with Down syndrome. They experience the full range of emotions, just like everyone else. Reducing them to one emotion or one feeling reduces them to less of a person. They feel happiness, along with sadness, anger, frustration, and countless other feelings, and they deserve to have those feelings acknowledged.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Facts & Figures

National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2013 facts & figuresHeld each October, Disability Employment Awareness Month is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues. The opportunity to earn a living and be self-supporting is a broadly held goal by Americans. Work is a foundation of stability for individuals and can give one’s life meaning and purpose.  Unfortunately, the rate and level of employment for people with disabilities is staggeringly low. Labor force participation is 22% for people with disabilities as compared to 69% for people without disabilities.

Spinal Cord Injury Information – Will You Stand For Those Who Can’t?

Spinal Cord Injury Facts & Statistics

Who Do Spinal Cord Injuries Affect in the United States?
  • 250,000 Americans are spinal cord injured.
  • 52% of spinal cord injured individuals are considered paraplegic and 47% quadriplegic.
  • Approximately 11,000 new injuries occur each year.
  • 82% are male.
  • 56% of injuries occur between the ages of 16 and 30.
  • The average age of spinal cord injured person is 31.
  • SCI injuries are most commonly caused by:
    • Vehicular accidents 37%
    • Violence 28%
    • Falls 21%
    • Sports-related 6%
    • Other 8%
  • The most rapidly increasing cause of injuries is due to violence; vehicular accident injuries are decreasing in number.
  • 89% of all SCI individuals are discharged from hospitals to a private home, 4.3% are discharged to nursing homes.
  • Only 52% of SCI individuals are covered by private health insurance at time of injury.

What Do Spinal Cord Injuries Really Cost?
  • Length of initial hospitalization following injury in acute care units: 15 days
  • Average stay in rehabilitation unit: 44 days
  • Initial hospitalization costs following injury: $140,000
  • Average first year expenses for a SCI injury (all groups): $198,000
  • First year expenses for paraplegics: $152,000
  • First year expenses for quadriplegics: $417,000
  • Average lifetime costs for paraplegics, age of injury 25: $428,000
  • Average lifetime costs for quadriplegics, age of injury 25: $1.35 million
  • Percentage of SCI individuals who are covered by private health insurance at time of injury 52%
  • Percentage of SCI individuals unemployed eight years after injury 63%. (Note: unemployment rate when this article was written was 4.7%)
 Source: The University of Alabama National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center – March 2002

Number of New Injuries Per Year
32 injuries per million population or 7800 injuries in the US each year

Most researchers feel that these numbers represent significant under- reporting. Injuries not recorded include cases where the patient instantaneously or soon after the injury, cases with little or no remaining neurological deficit, and people who have neurologic problems secondary to trauma, but are not classified as SCI. Researchers estimate that an additional 20 cases per million (4860 per year) die before reaching the hospital.

Total Number of People with SCI
  • 82% male, 18% female
  • Highest per capita rate of injury occurs between ages 16-30
  • Average age at injury – 33.4
  • Median age at injury – 26
  • Mode (most frequent) age at injury 19
  • Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of SCI (44%), followed by acts of violence (24%),falls (22%) and sports (8%), other (2%)
  • 2/3 of sports injuries are from diving
  • Falls overtake motor vehicles as leading cause after age 45
  • Acts of violence and sports cause less injuries as age increases
  • Acts of violence have overtaken falls as the second most common source of spinal cord injury
  • Marital status at injury:
    • Single 53%
    • Married 31%
    • Divorced 9%
    • Other 7%
  • 5 years post-injury:
    • 88% of single people with SCI were still single vs. 65% of the non-SCI population
    • 81% of married people with SCI were still married vs. 89% of the non-SCI population
  • Employment status among persons between 16 and 59 years of age at injury:
    • Employed 58.8%
    • Unemployed 41.2%
      (includes: students, retired, and homemakers)
  • Employed 8 years post-injury:
    • Paraplegic 34.4%
    • Quadriplegic 24.3%

People who return to work in the first year post-injury usually return to the same job for the same employer. People who return to work after the first year post-injury either worked for different employers or were students who found work.

How are spinal injuries caused?
Until the most recent figures were released by NSCIA in August, 1995, these were considered as the major causes of spinal cord injuries. See Answer to # 4 and Dr. Wise Youngís statistics in Section 2 for all the most recent demographics. One of the most surprising findings is that acts of violence have now overtaken falls as the second most common source of spinal cord injury,  as of the 1995 findings.

Previous To 1995:

  • Motor vehicles 48%
  • Falls 21%
  • Sports 14% (66% of which are caused in diving accidents)
  • Violence 15%
  • Other 2%

The Injury

Since 1988, 45% of all injuries have been complete, 55% incomplete. Complete injuries result in total loss of sensation and function below the injury level. Incomplete injuries result in partial loss. “Complete” does not necessarily mean the cord has been severed. Each of the above categories can occur in paraplegia and quadriplegia.

Except for the incomplete-Preserved motor (functional), no more than 0.9% fully recover, although all can improve from the initial diagnosis.

Overall, slightly more than 1/2 of all injuries result in quadriplegia. However, the proportion of quadriplegics increase markedly after age 45, comprising 2/3 of all injuries after age 60 and 87% of all injuries after age 75.

92% of all sports injuries result in quadriplegia.

Most people with neurologically complete lesions above C-3 die before receiving medical treatment. Those who survive are usually dependent on mechanical respirators to breathe.

50% of all cases have other injuries associated with the spinal cord injury.

Most Frequent Neurological Category
Quadriplegia, incomplete 31.2%
Paraplegia, complete 28.2%
Paraplegia, incomplete 23.1%
Quadriplegia, complete 17.5%

 

Hospitalization
(Important: This section applies only to individuals who were admitted to one of the hospitals designated as “Model” SCI centers by the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research.)

Over 37% of all cases admitted to the Spinal Cord Injury System sponsored by the NIDRR arrive within 24 hours of injury. The mean time between injury and admission is 6 days.

Only 10-15% of all people with injuries are admitted to the NIDRR SCI system. The remainder go to CARF facilities or to general hospitals in their local community.

It is now known that the length of stay and hospital charges for acute care and initial rehabilitation are higher for cases where admission to the SCI system is delayed beyond 24 hours. Average length of stay (1992):
Quadriplegics 95 days
Paraplegics 67 days
All 79 days

Average charges (1990 dollars) Note: Specific cases are considerably higher.
Quadriplegics $118,900
Paraplegics $ 85,100
All $ 99,553

Source of payment acute care:
Private Insurance 53%
Medicaid 25%
Self-pay 1%
Vocational Rehab 14%
Worker’s Comp 12%
Medicare 5%
Other 2%

Ongoing medical care: (Many people have more than one source of payment.)
Private Insurance 43%
Medicare 25%
Self-pay 2%
Medicaid 31%
Worker’s Compensation 11%
Vocational Rehab 16%

After the Hospital
Residence at discharge
Private Residence 92%
Nursing Home 4%
Other Hospital 2%
Group Home 2%

There is no apparent relationship between severity of injury and nursing home admission, indicating that admission is caused by other factors (i.e. family can’t take care of person, medical complications, etc.) Nursing home admission is more common among elderly persons.

Each year 1/3 to 1/2 of all people with SCI are re-admitted to the hospital. There is no difference in the rate of re-admissions between persons with paraplegia and quadriplegia, but there is a difference between the rate for those with complete and incomplete injuries.


Survival
Overall, 85% of SCI patients who survive the first 24 hours are still alive 10 years later, compared with 98% of the non-SCI population given similar age and sex.

Causes of Death
The most common cause of death is respiratory ailment, whereas, in the past it was renal failure. An increasing number of people with SCI are dying of unrelated causes such as cancer or cardiovascular disease, similar to that of the general population. Mortality rates are significantly higher during the first year after injury than during subsequent years.

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Every 48 minutes someone in the U.S. is paralyzed from a spinal cord injury.  Millions worldwide are living with paralysis as a result and living with the knowledge that there is currently no cure for their injury.

In an effort to raise awareness about the critical need for better treatments and preventive measures, September has been designated National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month by the U.S. Senate, the result of a resolution co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).  To bolster the resolution’s message, we are launching an awareness campaign lasting the entire month of September.

The goal of the campaign is to ask “Will You Stand Up For Those Who Can’t?”  The intent is to create a national conversation about the devastation of paralysis, and to bring this condition to the forefront of public awareness.

“Paralysis does not discriminate.  People need to realize that paralysis can happen to anyone at any time,” said Nick Buoniconti.  “But the reality of today’s statistics can’t be disputed.  Every 48 minutes another person in the U.S. will become paralyzed. That is simply unacceptable. Each of us must do what we can to make a difference.  I am personally asking you, will you stand up for those who can’t and do one or more of the following?”

We are asking our friends and supporters to:

Make a donation in honor of a loved one, caregiver, scientist or organization who is working to improve the life of those injured.  If you would like to host a small fundraising party at your house, please email bfinfo@med.miami.edu and we will send you more information.

“The inspiring work of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has touched the lives of millions of young athletes, accident victims and troops in harm’s way and I commend them for it,” said Sen. Rubio. “By designating September as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, I hope we can further educate the public about how crippling accidents can be prevented while promoting the important work being done to help victims walk again.”