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Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation

stan-cassidy-centre-logoAdjoining the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton, New Brunswick, is the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation. This facility is a leader in neurological rehabilitation, taking an interdisciplinary healthcare team approach to providing their patients with the best care.

Patients  from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island of all ages, and complex paediatric patients from Nova Scotia are  seen at SCCR. It is one of two rehabilitation facilities in Canada that cares for patients through their entire  lives. The medical and therapeutic teams provide  services via five avenues: in-patient, out-patient, tele-rehab, outreach and expert consult.

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International Day of Persons With Disabilities: AccessNow

December 3rd, 2015 marks the United Nations Enable initiative of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme for this year’s Day is “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities,” and we thought we would ask our friend Maayan Ziv to tell us about her new app, AccessNow

AccessNowEver since I was a little girl, Muscular Dystrophy Canada has been in my life. From supporting my family as I grew up with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, to now acting as an ambassador and photographer for MDC myself.

I am so excited to be guest blogging today to share with you a little about a recent project I have launched called AccessNow. (This is actually my first time ever guest blogging, so here goes…eek!)

“Is it wheelchair accessible?” This might be the number one question I ask on a regular basis. Every time I want to go anywhere new, the first thing I must know is will I have access? Often getting an answer to this question isn’t so easy. “Is it wheelchair accessible? Does your location have a barrier free entrance? Are there any steps at all? Can you go check? Are you sure?”

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How I See It: Ivana Explores the World of Technology Part II

Business on a laptopThis post is a continuation of the last How I See It installment which can be found here

Over the course of the next few years, living with a disease such as MD will be easier thanks to technology. More assistance will mean it will be possible to complete daily activities and some aspects of life may not become so challenging.  Here are some examples of technology that is currently in the works, or already available.

Skulpt
The company created a sensor designed to measure the ratio of fat and muscle fiber in a user’s muscles. The Aim can measure 12 different muscle groups and estimate total body fat percentage from these readings. It can store the profiles of up to six different people and sync with iOS and Android devices using Bluetooth. Co-founder Seward Rutkove is a Harvard educated neurologist and provides medical devices used by research teams investing muscle-wasting diseases such as ALS, Muscular Dystrophy, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Currently, Skulpt is focused on fitness rather than the injury prevention market; however, future versions of its device could be used to detect even the slightest damage.

Monitoring Muscles

A new handheld device could give doctors more precise date about muscle health – painlessly. Currently, the best way to diagnose and evaluate muscle degeneration involves an uncomfortable needle test. A new device could provide a painless, noninvasive, and quantitative alternative. The prototype handheld probe, similar to an ultrasound probe, measures electrical impedance in the muscle, which changes depending on the health of the tissue. This useful research tool can help doctors understand in more detail how EIM readings relate to the underlying tissue changes with disease.

Controlling a Computer with Your Eyes

            Researchers at Imperial College London have developed an affordable technology that could allow millions of people suffering from ailments like Parkinson’s, Muscular Dystrophy, or spinal cord injury to interact with computers – using just their eyes. They have built a 3D eye tracking system that allows patients to interact more smoothly and more quickly than existing invasive technologies.

The Sesame Smartphone

The Sesame Smartphone is an Android device, which is designed specifically for people with mobility impairments. The smartphone is activated through a clever voice command – “Open Sesame” – and is operated entirely through head movements and voice control. The smartphone has a front facing camera that searches for your face in the frame. Once the system finds your face, you can control a cursor by moving your head up, down or sideways. When you rest in one position for a few seconds the navigation icon will appear and ask you if you want to click, swipe, or see more options.

Sesame was developed by Oded Ben Dov, an Israeli entrepreneur, app developer and computer expert Giora Livne who served as a naval commander in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Permobil

            Per Uddén is a remarkable individual who has a talent for seeing new possibilities where others see none. He is a doctor, entrepreneur, inventor, and father. Being the founder of the Permobil company, he has never been afraid to fight for his vision.

Twenty years ago I was still a kid, unaware of anything except the latest Barbie and sneaking candy in my mom’s grocery cart. I had no idea about limitations; about the daily struggles of individuals in minorities. Upon research, about twenty years ago wheelchairs were not able to drive both outdoors and inside the home. Electric vehicles were very limited and very expensive. Which is why Per created the first chapter of Permobil. He has never given up his mission in which every disabled person has the right to have his or her handicap compensated. He has since passed away but his mission remains alive – now and always.

If you visit the website you will find so much information and resources in finding the perfect rehabilitation solutions. The products are always improving and customer satisfaction is very important to the company. They believe their products must always comply with or exceed approved specifications.

Promising Treatment

A drug called antisense oligonucleotide is made up of a short strand of nucleic acids, the building blocks of RNA and DNA. The molecule is designed to eliminate the abnormal part of the protein in a subset of children with a specific mutation in the gene for dystrophin. It is being developed by Prosensa, a Dutch biopharmaceutical company and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

Two new classes of experimental drugs shown to have powerful muscle building capabilities are “Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs)” and “Myostatin Inhibitors”. Scientists have developed antibodies to Myostatin and other molecules that can boost lean muscle mass in animals by as much as 60 percent. It’s not yet clear how well Myostatin inhibitors will work in humans. Clinical studies of two Myostatin inhibitors are now under way for muscular dystrophy and other muscle-wasting diseases.

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Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina but moved to Canada at the age of 3. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago and it has forever changed her life.  She is a regular contributor and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way and what she continues to learn today. Read Ivana’s personal blog at: https://milarosa6.wordpress.com/ 

 

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How I See It: Ivana explores the world of technology

technologyIt’s pretty amazing how much technology has evolved in the last decade. It was about twenty years ago when Steve Jobs said he would one day build a computer that could fit in your pocket, and everyone laughed at him, but look where we are now. It’s almost uncommon to not have a computer in your pocket now. And that’s just phones. Google has created a self driving vehicle, BMW has created a wheelchair that can climb stairs, and eSight has created glasses that allow blind people to see. Using technology to help people with disabilities isn’t just a new phenomenon; it’s a list that will continue to grow.

The first iPhone that came out was a huge advancement, but what about people with vision impairments who relied on keyboards? All of the sudden, research wasn’t a great importance for companies. All of that later changed because Apple has since developed voice enabled tools and other innovations that make the iPhone more accessible and easier to use for people with disabilities. iPhone and Android phones already include features for the disabled, while Samsung’s Galaxy is the first to incorporate eye-tracking technology for hands-free use. E-book readers such as Kindle and Nook are developing new methods of technology for people with learning disabilities and other conditions.

Disability inspired innovation isn’t something new; it has been around for centuries. Thomas Edison envisaged the phonographs as a means of recording books for the blind. Talking books and even door handles were first created for people with disabilities. Some of the best products you might be using today were designed with disability in mind. Today some of the biggest tech companies like Google and Yahoo have teams specifically working on building technologies that are accessible to everyone. Microsoft has even created a feature for people with ALS who can control a tablet using their eyes. Steve Gleason, a former National Football League player who has ALS, has said, “Until there is a cure for ALS, technology is a cure.” I completely agree with him.

There are more than 1.2 billion people with some type of disability today. Currently there are more than 4,000 assistive technologies that have been designed for the disabled and seniors. Companies today are turning their research and development to assistive technologies. What the future holds for assistive technology is sure to be exciting. There is sure to be new improvements and existing technology is on-route to improve.

Home and computer electronics have allowed people with a disability to have more of a normal life. You can open and close doors through a home security app, you can control your wheelchair, etc. There is even an app that allows piano players to turn sheet music with a nod of the head. To me, it’s amazing that someone can read, write, and communicate with others without even moving. Apps are huge right now and I think it’s safe to say, there’s an app for everything. I did some research on apps because most likely you have these on your phone, tablet, or computer. Some that I found helpful include:

  • Parking Mobility – This app makes finding disabled parking very easy. Parking Mobility can clue you into disabled parking places around you by using iPhone’s GPS capabilities. You can also leave notes for other travelers or residents about disabled parking spots that you’ve located that aren’t currently on the map. The more you use it and update it, the more it helps others.
  • Emergency Information – This is a very useful app for people with a disability. The My Emergency Info app holds vital medical information such as allergies and medications. There is also information needed in case of a medical emergency such as contact information with your doctor, etc.

Technology isn’t going to slow down anytime soon and it’s exciting to see all these new advances becoming available. I am beyond thrilled to know that ten, twenty, thirty years from now I might still be able to do things on my own with the help of technology! Independence is priceless, and I want to continue to do everything I love and I know the tech industry is nowhere close to being done. That’s why it’s so exciting, because the sky is the limit.

“Our vision is to create innovative technology that is accessible to everyone and that adapts to each person’s needs. Accessible technology eliminates barriers for people with disabilities and it enables individuals to take full advantage of their capabilities.” 
—Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft is an amazing company that recognizes all sorts of minorities. What they offer goes beyond what I can put in this article. If you want more information go to Microsoft Accessibility at www.microsoft.com/enable.

It is extremely hard to feel your body changing and you are powerless to it. The body that once pushed you, is now starting to work against you. Individuals with disabilities meet barriers of all types but technology is defiantly lowering many of these barriers. Do not let your disability affect your lifestyle; there are tools and devices that exist to help you overcome these obstacles.

“Out potential, is not contained in our physical bodies but rather in our mind and our spirit.”

           - NFL hero Steve Gleason. 

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Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina but moved to Canada at the age of 3. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago and it has forever changed her life.  She is a regular contributor and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way and what she continues to learn today. Read Ivana’s personal blog at: https://milarosa6.wordpress.com/ 

 

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Keith Knight

As the world celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, 2014, we decided to take a look at some of the interesting ways those in the Muscular Dystrophy Canada community use technology.

We asked client Keith Knight to tell us about how he uses technology to raise awareness, funds and to simply have some fun!

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20121004_170042As an individual with a neuromuscular condition, I’ve grown to rely on technology. Through the use of my computer, I’ve been able to reach hundreds of thousands of people and show them that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I’ve made friends from all over the World when before I struggled to make friends where I live because they only saw me as different. All of this has been from my involvement in playing computer games.

I’ve played video games since I was a little kid as it was one way for me to connect with my peers that wasn’t physically limiting like sports as long as I 20131004_183508could find a way to play. As I got older, playing console games became more challenging as the remotes got more complex, so I transitioned to computer games. Over the years, I’ve tried everything from touchscreen to voice recognition to motion sensors to interface with a computer to find a best method. Every solution has its own merits and downsides, and the method I use changes depending on the game I’m playing. I currently use a combination of switches by my feet and elbow, typing with a pen in my mouth, and moving my mouse with my cheek/earlobe. While this method is quite low tech compared to the alternatives out there, I’ve found that things like motion sensors and neural sensors have too much of a delay in their current forms to compete in most games. With that said, the future is bright for individuals with neuromuscular conditions who enjoy playing video games. Neural sensor based controllers will one day be good enough to allow us the freedom of being restricted by our physical limitations, and I look forward to that day.

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Here is a great short documentary on Keith, showing both his gaming and his day to day life.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hH0y2YaLxY8&w=640&h=360]

 

You can check out Keith’s YouTube page so see videos of him in action – like this one:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eNv88ojGMQ&w=640&h=360]

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