Medical Students Need to Learn More About Needs of IDD Patients

Doctor's Day

Bet you didn’t know that March 30 is World Doctor’s Day! Enabling Devices salutes doctors as well as nurses and other allied health professionals for all they do for us on a regular basis. Where would we be without them, especially during the pandemic?

Yet, it’s also worth considering how doctors could do a better job of caring for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD).

If you or your adult child lives with an (IDD), finding doctors who truly understand your concerns can sometimes be challenging. That’s because most medical students receive next to no training in treating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

According to the American Academy of Developmental Medicine (AADM), “those who pursue specialties in developmental medicine, [treating individuals with IDD] typically go into pediatrics. That’s not so surprising since, “for most of human history, the average life expectancy for people with IDD was less than 20 years,” says AADM. “Today, the life expectancy of a person with IDD is more than 60 years. The medical field, however, has not kept pace with this significant demographic shift.”

Clearly, this presents a major problem for IDD individuals when they grow into adults.

“The result of this [shortcoming in the medical field] has been high levels of unmet health needs, misdiagnosis, medical mismanagement, polypharmacy and avoidable medical expense,” finds AADM.

Since its inception in 2002, AADM has dedicated itself to improving the quality of healthcare for people with IDD. As such, the organization has spent years advocating for changes in medical school curriculums so that every future doctor has the skills they need to provide quality care to patients with IDD.

In 2009, AAMD founded The National Curriculum Initiative in Developmental Medicine (NCIDM), a program that aims to “define and integrate the concepts of developmental medicine into the medical school curriculum of every medical school in the United States.”

The initiative, led by Dr. Matt Holder, has the support of organizations and businesses including Special Olympics, Walmart Foundation, the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, the North Carolina Mountain Area Health Education Center, the WITH Foundation and the Society for Teachers of Family Medicine. So far, these funding partners have raised almost $2,000,000. According to NCIDM, an additional $1,000,000 is needed to ensure that all medical schools follow its developmental medicine curriculum. AAMD data shows the investment would be well worth it. It is estimated that Medicaid stands to save between $2 billion and $8 billion dollars a year, if the curriculum is adopted.

Yet, the initiative has been met with resistance from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, (LCME), a group cosponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association. To date, only 10 % of medical schools have adopted the NCIDM curriculum. These include prestigious institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Albert Einstein School of Medicine, and Georgetown University.

Dr. Matt Holder, the doctor who heads up NCIDM, hopes that will soon change. “What we would hope to see is a long-term improvement in not only the ability of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to access care, but an improvement in the quality of care,” he told Disability Scoop in 2019.

“We know, for example, that by changing attitudes and at least having a willingness to see this population and not being intimidated, you won’t turn people away, or you won’t make it uncomfortable for them in your office so they go away.”

Those steps, which are way overdue, would certainly be positive steps forward!

Stay tuned for updates about this important initiative.

Eight Adaptive Exercise Products to Get You in Shape for 2021

People on wheelchair exercising

‘Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions and once again, getting in shape is at the top of many people’s resolution lists.

Staying physically fit is important for all of us, but especially for people with limited mobility who are susceptible to a variety of medical conditions.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “individuals with limited mobility are at greater risk for obesity or increased body fat, diabetes, and dyslipidemia (among other chronic conditions), putting them at increased risk for cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction, stroke, and death. Increased risk for morbidity and mortality may be due, in part, to the specific disease that limits mobility or leads to the use of a wheelchair, the treatment for the disease (e.g., steroids used to treat MS), and/or a sedentary lifestyle.”

Yet negative outcomes such as the ones referenced aren’t a foregone conclusion by any means.

On the contrary, there are many ways that wheelchair users can remain fit. One option is investing in adaptive exercise equipment designed specifically for wheelchair users. Here are some examples of adaptive equipment that can help you get in shape without leaving your home or your wheelchair. Remember—always check with your physician before beginning any exercise program!

1. Wheelchair Workout Kit
This kit contains everything you need to tone your muscles while sitting in your wheelchair. It includes five sets of progressive resistance tubes; two resistance tubes with handles and a combination hand/finger exerciser and a carrying case. Additionally, the kit comes with instructions for upper body and core exercises.

2. Thera-Band Progressive Resistance System
Strengthen your upper and lower body while increasing mobility, range of motion and coordination with these eight color-coded resistance bands that can be used while sitting in your wheelchair.

3. Pedal Exerciser for Lower and Upper Body
The Pedal Exerciser provides a cardiovascular and strengthening workout that’s just like riding a bicycle. Additionally, this product stimulates circulation, improves range of motion and increases muscle strength and coordination.

4. McLain Wheelchair Training Roller
This apparatus works like a treadmill to provide a great cardiovascular workout. At $1,050, the wheelchair training roller isn’t cheap, but it’s a wonderful tool for the serious athlete.

5. Thera-band Exercise Balls
Strengthen hands and fingers and increase flexibility and coordination with these five color-coded balls. Each ball comes with instructions for 24 exercises.

6. Bowling Ball Pusher
Bowl from your wheelchair with this ingenious device! Built out of steel and aluminum, the bowling ball pusher enables bowlers to push the bowling ball down the lane.

7. Grip Cuff
Designed for individuals with grasping disabilities, the grip cuff enables the wearer to grip weights or handlebars without pain or discomfort.

8. The Underwater Walker
If you have access to a swimming pool, the underwater walker is well worth the investment. This apparatus makes it possible for people with mobility limitations to walk independently in the pool.

Note: Enabling Devices has no relationship with the companies mentioned here and is not compensated for providing this information. The links here are for the reader’s convenience.

10 Ways to Keep Kids Busy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19

As the United States braces for the full impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, most schools, day programs, and extracurricular activities have been cancelled for at least two weeks and probably longer. Keeping children busy during this time will be challenging for all parents. But when your child has a significant disability, the demands are even higher.

So, what’s a special needs parent to do? There’s no magic bullet. But we’ve come up with some suggestions for getting you and your children through this unprecedented health emergency.

Talk to your child
Depending upon your child’s developmental level, they have probably heard something about COVID-19. Explain the coronavirus in developmentally appropriate language and give your child the opportunity to ask questions. “Your goal is to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies,” says the Child Mind Institute. Also explain how this will impact your family. For example, mom and dad will be working from home; school will be cancelled or online, etc.

Maintain a routine
Children, especially those with autism and other developmental disabilities may find schedule changes and unstructured time anxiety-provoking. Develop a schedule that includes wake-up and bedtimes, mealtimes, outdoor activities, learning sessions and free play. Review the schedule every morning, using visual prompts if they are helpful to your child. A Day in Our Shoes.com has printable schedules that you can download and use at home.

Hire a mother’s helper or two
School’s out for everyone, so hire some tweens to come over and supervise your kids. Their parents will thank you! It’ll be a win-win-win!

Tell a story
Story-telling is a great way for parents and children to bond. It’s also a wonderful way for children to learn. But children can benefit from story-telling even when you’re working in another room. Choose some audiobooks and have story-time at least once a day.

Water-play
Give your kids a sensory treat and make your home more sanitary by setting up a toy-washing station complete with sponges, scrub brushes and bubbles. Consider purchasing one of Enabling Devices’ water toys or bubble toys, so that everyone can join the fun.

Get Outdoors
It’s hard to find bright spots when you’re experiencing a pandemic, but at least it’s arrived just in time for spring. Make sure to build outdoor-time into your family’s schedule. Note: If playgrounds are part of the plan, make sure to take hand sanitizer and wipes for the equipment.

Try an online exercise program
Regardless of your child’s intellectual or physical limitations, there’s probably an online exercise program that meets their needs. Check out YouTube video workouts from Kym Nonstop, Spark or Scope. You can also try a Yoga for Kids video from Gaia.

Make slime!
Everybody loves slime! Here’s a great recipe from The Best Ideas for Kids!

Institute game-time
Board games are not only fun, they teach many valuable skills. Enabling Devices sells many adapted games, so everyone can play.

Learn online
Don’t let kids fall too far behind in their studies. Scholastic Learn at Home just launched 20 days of free online learning activities for kids stuck at home due to the coronavirus. The lessons are geared to preschoolers to 6th grade and beyond.

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Six Steps to Fitness in 2020

Two People in Wheelchairs Exercising in a Dance Studio

What’s the most common New Year’s resolution for 2020? You guessed it. Exercise more. That makes sense, since, along with a balanced diet and good medical care, exercise is one of the most important components of physical and mental health. Though physical fitness is just as important for people with disabilities as it is for others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “children and adults with mobility limitations and intellectual or learning disabilities are at greatest risk for obesity.” Obesity leads to other health problems including: cardiovascular disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis and gout. So, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Starting an exercise routine when you or your child has a disability can be challenging. So, we’ve put together some suggestions designed to help you get started. Here’s to a fit 2020!

Consult with your doctor
Never begin an exercise routine without making sure it is safe. Your doctor can help you to determine the frequency, intensity and duration of exercise that’s appropriate for you. Check in with the doctor before making any major changes to your exercise regimen.

 Consider what types of exercise you might enjoy
Do you like water activities? Would you prefer exercising indoors or outdoors? Are you more successful working with a coach or therapist, or on your own? Selecting an exercise program that’s designed especially for you, will help to ensure success.

Buddy up
Many of us are more likely to stick with an exercise routine when we work out with a friend. Find someone who has similar fitness goals and you can encourage each other to keep moving.

Try something new
Too frequently, fears and insecurities prevent us from pursuing our goals. Adaptive sports such as skiing, basketball, skateboarding, horseback riding, biking and many more make it possible for people with mobility limitations to do things that they never dreamed possible. Visit disabledsportsusa.org to learn more.

Use fitness videos and audios
Many of us prefer to exercise in the privacy of our own homes. If that’s your preference, you can find many videos especially for wheelchair users on YouTube. Check out videos from KimNonStop or Lucy Wyndham-Read’s YouTube channels for some examples. For blind individuals, Eyes-Free Fitness offers exercise programs with non-visual cues and descriptions.

Take the Evolve 21 Challenge
The “first inclusive exercise app for people of all abilities,” the Evolve 21 Challenge (formerly known as the CPF Challenge) not only offers daily 7-minute routines of cardio, yoga and meditation, it’s also a fundraiser for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation!

Don’t quit!
Sticking with an exercise routine is tough for everyone. Chances are, they’ll be times when you just don’t have the motivation or will-power to work out. But staying fit isn’t about perfection. Rather it’s a lifelong process that leads to good health and well-being. If you fall off the exercise wagon, don’t give up! Get back on track as soon as you can!

We at Enabling Devices wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!