Tag Archives: limited mobility

Arthritis Awareness

Arthritis is very common but is not well understood. Actually, “arthritis” is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. Nearly 53 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.

Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.

There are different types of arthritis:

Degenerative Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage – the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones – wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time, joints can lose strength and pain may become chronic. Risk factors include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury (an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tear, for example).

When the joint symptoms of osteoarthritis are mild or moderate, they can be managed by:

  • balancing activity with rest
  • using hot and cold therapies
  • regular physical activity
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • strengthening the muscles around the joint for added support
  • using assistive devices
  • taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines
  • avoiding excessive repetitive movements

If joint symptoms are severe, causing limited mobility and affecting quality of life, some of the above management strategies may be helpful, but joint replacement may be necessary.

Osteoarthritis can prevented by staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding injury and repetitive movements.

Inflammatory Arthritis
A healthy immune system is protective. It generates internal inflammation to get rid of infection and prevent disease. But the immune system can go awry, mistakenly attacking the joints with uncontrolled inflammation, potentially causing joint erosion and may damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis. Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors can trigger autoimmunity. Smoking is an example of an environmental risk factor that can trigger rheumatoid arthritis in people with certain genes.

With autoimmune and inflammatory types of arthritis, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is critical. Slowing disease activity can help minimize or even prevent permanent joint damage. Remission is the goal and may be achieved through the use of one or more medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function, and prevent further joint damage.

Infectious Arthritis
A bacterium, virus or fungus can enter the joint and trigger inflammation. Examples of organisms that can infect joints are salmonella and shigella (food poisoning or contamination), chlamydia and gonorrhea (sexually transmitted diseases) and hepatitis C (a blood-to-blood infection, often through shared needles or transfusions). In many cases, timely treatment with antibiotics may clear the joint infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.

Metabolic Arthritis
Uric acid is formed as the body breaks down purines, a substance found in human cells and in many foods. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more than is needed or the body can’t get rid of the uric acid quickly enough. In some people the uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, resulting in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Gout can come and go in episodes or, if uric acid levels aren’t reduced, it can become chronic, causing ongoing pain and disability.

Diagnosing Arthritis
Arthritis diagnosis often begins with a primary care physician, who performs a physical exam and may do blood tests and imaging scans to help determine the type of arthritis. An arthritis specialist, or rheumatologist, should be involved if the diagnosis is uncertain or if the arthritis may be inflammatory. Rheumatologists typically manage ongoing treatment for inflammatory arthritis, gout and other complicated cases. Orthopaedic surgeons do joint surgery, including joint replacements. When the arthritis affects other body systems or parts, other specialists, such as ophthalmologists, dermatologists or dentists, may also be included in the health care team.

Spring has sprung! Is your garden ready?

Do you have limited mobility and enjoy gardening? Or is gardening something you’ve always wanted to try because you love spending time outdoors? Here are some useful tips to help you adapt your garden and/or get around obstacles you may have:

  • Depending on your disability, it might be easier to focus more on raised beds or container growing. Make sure any ground level areas are low maintenance to keep the digging and weeding needed to a minimum.
  • If you use a wheelchair or walking aid, paths in the garden/greenhouse need to be wide enough and with ample turning space.
  • Look for lightweight, ergonomic tools that are designed to be easier to grip. Newer types of prosthetic grips with specific uses have even been developed for amputees. Spring-released tools can help compensate for weak hands. Cordless power tools can also be a big help.
  • Watering is crucial to any successful garden but some watering cans can be awkward to carry, so choose a design you can manage easily. A lightweight plastic watering can with flat sides should be easier to carry and tip than a round can.
  • If you prefer to use a hose, a hose reel should be easier to manage than a standard hose. There are also lightweight expanding, or ‘curly’, hoses which are easier and lighter to pull into position, and they spring back into place.
  • Gardening is great exercise and it’s always satisfying to see the beautiful results of all your hard work. The key is to adapt and learn, but most importantly to get outside and enjoy yourself.

The Importance of Regular Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Maintenance

Whether it’s an oil change or tire rotation, regularly servicing your wheelchair accessible vehicle can help save you time and money, as well as keep you safe on the road. Just as our bodies begin to show the signs of aging, cars, SUVs and vans also can experience diminished performance as time passes. Due to this natural process, it’s vital to get your vehicle checked out by professionals in order to ensure your vehicle’s longevity.

Save Money
While most things wear over time, regular maintenance can significantly decrease the chances of a major problem later on. Preventative and scheduled services are normally small and inexpensive jobs, and can also preserve resale value, saving you even more money.

Save Time
A major breakdown not only costs thousands of dollars, it can also put your vehicle out of working condition for weeks. The worse the damage is, the longer it will likely take a mechanic to get your van or car ready for the road again. Even if the downtime for your car isn’t more than a few hours, a breakdown on the road can be particularly difficult for people with limited mobility operating or riding in the vehicle.

Protect Yourself
Not only does maintenance and regular service save you time and money, it’s an important way to ensure you are safe inside your vehicle.

A wheelchair accessible or other adaptive vehicle can mean the difference between social freedom and considerable limitations. Take care of the investment in your freedom by following regular maintenance schedules and ensuring your ride is in the best shape possible!

Options For Driving From A Wheelchair

There are two options for a person who uses a wheelchair to drive an accessible vehicle. They can drive from their wheelchair and or transfer to the driver’s seat.

Drive from your wheelchair
Driving controls can be adapted to operate from your wheelchair. Usually this means some form of hand controls, though other solutions are possible. There will also be an automatic docking system to secure your wheelchair. All of this will be designed around you and your wheelchair as part of your assessment from an experienced mobility installer.


  • Because you have the opportunity to travel by yourself, you need to be sure you are able to get out in an emergency.
  • Typically wheelchair accessible vehicle have fail-safe devices for the doors, ramps/lifts and docking systems. These include battery backups and manual over-rides.

Other drivers

  • In many wheelchair accessible vehicles, the front passenger seat can be switched to the drivers side, and there is a docking system on both sides so you can travel as a passenger.

Assessment and training

  • If you’re going to be using adapted controls, you will need a professional driving assessment and training.

Transfer to the Driver’s Seat
Some wheelchair users prefer to transfer to a driving seat because they find it more comfortable or easier to drive. Sometimes it’s necessary because your wheelchair may not be suitable for driving. Using the standard car seat also means that you don’t need to fit a specialist seat belt.

By contrast, transferring into the driver seat may not be suitable if you have a specialist seating system in your wheelchair and may be difficult if you have limited mobility.

Wheelchair accessible vehicles can be adapted to allow you to enter with your wheelchair or scooter (by ramp or lift), secure the wheelchair or scooter in the vehicle, and then transfer to the driving seat. You can replace the standard car seat with one that swivels and slides so that you can transfer into it more easily.


  • You will need a docking system for securing the wheelchair – you need to be able to do this by yourself.
  • Because you may be traveling by yourself, you need to be sure you will be able to get out in an emergency.


  • Transferring between the wheelchair and the seat does take some effort – make sure you can do it even on a bad day.
  • Make sure there is enough room in the vehicle to let you transfer comfortably and that there are handholds and supports where you need them. You may need to fit extra hand rails or other supports.

Assessment and training

  • If you’re going to be using adapted controls, you will need a professional driving assessment and training.

Ready To Sell You Wheelchair Van? Make sure Its Ready To Be Bought!

If you’re trying to sell your wheelchair accessible vehicle by yourself, you should know the average mobility vehicle could take a few months to sell. The number of people with limited mobility in one local area who are in the market to purchase can be very small. Add to that the specialized equipment on your van that a potential buyer may not want, and the weeks roll by (and you’re still making payments on the old van).

The fastest deal is at a local mobility dealership. We buy and sell new and used vans throughout New England, take trade-ins, buy vehicle outright and/or can put them on consignment—whether it’s a non-converted vehicle or a converted van.

In order to get the best offer (or trade-in value), you should make sure its in “buying condition”.

Look at the vehicle with fresh eyes—like a buyer would. Ask yourself, “Would I buy this vehicle?”

  • If something needs repairing, fix it. A small investment can add hundreds to the value.
  • Wash it, wax it or take it to a detailer for a shine, inside and out. Maybe you only need to wash it and perhaps buy new floor mats.
  • Write down vehicle information such as year, make, model, interior and exterior colors and mileage; VIN number; side or rear entry, configuration of the interior of the van; standard features; removable features and any other adaptive extras.
  • Double check safety features: Are the tie-downs still sturdy and clean? Does the lift or ramp still operate smoothly?
  • Consider replacing the tires if they are bald.
  • Take out all personal items you may want to keep.
  • Find the registration, warranty, owner’s manual, equipment manuals and repair receipts.
  • All controls should be clearly labeled—and work!

Now you’re ready to sell or trade-in for a newer model.