Tips for Curbing Lower Back Pain While Driving

Lower back pain is the scourge of a sizeable portion of the American public. Indeed, according to the ACA, some 31 million U.S. citizens suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. For a few, the problem is mild; for others, it is a chronic issue defined by discomfort. And these problems […]

Tips for Curbing Lower Back Pain While Driving

Lower back pain is the scourge of a sizeable portion of the American public. Indeed, according to the ACA, some 31 million U.S. citizens suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. For a few, the problem is mild; for others, it is a chronic issue defined by discomfort. And these problems are only exacerbated by common activities such as flying, sitting in an office chair for extended periods of time, and, yes, even driving. For many back-pain sufferers, that long road trip or weekend drive brings with it the promise of aches and pains.

But while this affliction is a common one, there is no need for the average person to resign him or herself to a life of lower back pain. In fact, there are plenty of things the average person can do to alleviate discomfort each and every time they get in the car. Here are just a few of them.
[Read more...]

An Uneven Playing Field for Parents with Disabilities

Dear Mr. Dad: My husband and I both have disabilities. He is blind and I suffer from a traumatic brain injury I received serving in Iraq. I’m pregnant and we’re due in about a month. We were both so excited, but a friend told us that there’s a chance we could lose custody of the baby because we both have disabilities. Now, instead of looking forward to becoming parents, we’re both in a panic. Is that true? If so, what can we do?

A: Thank you so much for your question. I often hear from parents with special needs kids, but rarely from disabled parents themselves—which is surprising for two reasons:

First, there are more than four million parents in the US who have disabilities and children under 18. Second, those parents are far more likely than non-disabled parents to have their children removed from their home or to lose their parental rights. Parents with disabilities are also more likely than non-disabled parents to lose their children in a divorce and they face many obstacles when trying to adopt.

I have to admit that this surprised me. I grew up in northern California, which has always been the center of the disability rights movement. And the Americans with Disabilities Act, which passed more than 20 years ago, was supposed to ensure that disabled people—including parents—have rights. But then I read an eye-opening report from The National Council on Disability (ncd.gov), called “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children.” The report shows that when one or both parents have a psychiatric or cognitive disability (which could include your traumatic brain injury), removal rates can be as high as 40 to 80 percent. In addition, “Parents who are deaf or blind report extremely high rates of child removal and loss of parental rights.” The report also tells a number of heart-wrenching stories of people with disabilities who had their children taken away and lost their parental rights.

he big issue, of course, is whether the children of disabled parents are more likely to be mistreated or less likely to be properly cared for than children of non-disabled parents. If the kids are in danger, I’m all for removing them. But the criteria should be the same whether the parents are disabled or not.

One of the best ways to determine how well parents do their job is to ask the kids. And that’s exactly what two researchers at the National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families have been doing for several years. Paul Preston and Jean Jacobs have interviewed more than 1,000 people 17-21 who were raised by at least one parent with a significant physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disability. Fifty-eight percent said their experience having a parent with a disability was positive or very positive. Thirty-four percent said it was mixed, and 7 percent said it was negative. Doesn’t sound much different from the answers kids with non-disabled parents would give.

Interestingly, most of the young people in the study said that having a disabled parent gave them some specific advantages over their peers, such as learning better life skills and resourcefulness, and becoming more compassionate and independent. Only 39 percent felt they had too many responsibilities at home.

Next, connect with other parents with disabilities in your area and familiarize yourself with your legal rights. Through the Looking Glass (lookingglass.org) is a great resource for all of that.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month – Celebrate and Spread the Word!

I have often admired the strength and courage parents of children with Down Syndrome must have.  With October begin Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Julie Cevallos, who’s the VP of Marketing at the National Down Syndrome Society, gives those of us without a child with DS a wonderful lesson, and those who do, a reason to celebrate.

October means a lot of things to a lot of people; crunchy leaves, apple cider, Major League Baseball playoffs, final Halloween costume decisions. But for those of us with a connection to Down syndrome, October takes on an added meaning. October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, which is the perfect time to inform our friends, our families and ourselves about Down syndrome and people who have it. People with Down syndrome have come a long way in recent years due to improved healthcare and inclusion in society. In 1983 the life expectancy for people with Down syndrome was 25. Today it is 60! People with Down syndrome are included in elementary school, high school and college. They hold jobs, maintain relationships and contribute to society in a number of ways. If you don’t know someone with Down syndrome you might not have heard this before. By reading this you are already doing your part to raise awareness this October.

[Read more...]

The High Cost of Ignoring Men’s Health

With Men’s Health Month in the news, just about everyone knows that men live shorter (by about 5-6 years), less-healthier lives than women. Every year, hundreds of thousands of men die prematurely from thoroughly preventable causes. And millions more suffer injury, disability, and chronic illness that could have been prevented.

Given all that, you’d think that men’s health would be a major part of any discussion about healthcare reform. But it’s not. And that’s too bad, because even if you forget about the tragic loss of life (and quality of life), ignoring men’s health costs Federal and state governments and the private sector more than $300 billion per year.

[Read more...]

The heavy, heavy price paid by returning veterans: almost half make disability claims

“America’s newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.

“A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press.”

This is an excerpt from an article by AP Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. Read the rest of this important story here.