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Entries in disabled (5)

Wednesday
Jan182012

Calif. Clinic Brings Free Dental Care to Developmentally Disabled

Comstock/Thinkstock(MORENO VALLEY, Calif.) -- For most adults, a cavity calls for a quick prick of novocaine and a 20-minute filling. But for 40-year-old Tina Lumbley of Moreno Valley, Calif., the routine procedure was a day-long ordeal.

Lumbley has autism, a developmental disorder that makes the sounds, smells, tastes and bright lights of the dentist's office overwhelming.

"She would get so anxious and have meltdowns," Lumbley's mom, Marjorie, told ABC News. "When she was a child, we had a great pediatric dentist and she was fine. But as she got older, it just wasn't working."

Most dentists refused to take Lumbley after she turned 18. And the few who were willing would only treat her under general anesthetic, which raises the risk and price of the procedure.

Lumbley is not alone. Across the country, adults with intellectual disabilities suffer from a lack of access to dental care.

"It's the biggest health care problem in the country today," said Dr. Steven Perlman, professor of pediatric dentistry at Boston University School of Dental Medicine. "People with intellectual disabilities are the most medically underserved population we have, and dental care is by far the most unmet need."

Adults with disabilities are usually covered by Medicaid. But the reimbursement rate is so "pathetically low that no dentist wants to participate in the program," Perlman said. And they don't have to. Dental schools are not even required to teach students how to treat disabled patients.

"These kids are coming out of school with huge loans," said Perlman. "What are they going to do when they get out? I'll tell you who they're not going to treat: people who are poor or disabled."

In 2009, California dropped dental coverage for all adults on Medicaid. That prompted Marianne and Russell Benson to open We Care, a nonprofit that brings free dental care to people with disabilities.

Now Lumbley, with her parents, makes the hourlong trip to the Rancho Mirage-based dental clinic where she gets cleanings and fillings like any other patients, without general anesthetic. The clinic has four dentists and student volunteers from nearby Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine.

"They treat her with dignity and respect and expect her to come out with a beautiful smile," said Marjorie Lumbley. Other dentists, she recalled, suggested pulling her daughter's teeth. "Yes, Tina has a lot of challenges but she has a right to have decent teeth."

Having healthy teeth and gums not only looks good; it also guards against disease. And for people with disabilities who are unable to communicate, a minor toothache can quickly evolve into a major emergency.

Marjorie Lumbley said she's grateful for We Care but worries about the future, as her daughter's dental and medical needs will surely grow.

"They have all the same things that go along with people getting older, but they still have these needs that can't be met any other way," she said. "I think people forget what happens to them after they grow up. They're not cute anymore. She's 40 years old and she deserves good care."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct272011

Brain Waves Experiment Offers Hope to the Disabled

A.J. Doud et al, PLoS ONE(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Imagine a person who is confined to a wheelchair but can still get around through nothing less than the power of thought.

Neuroscientists have experimented with brain waves for years, making slow progress.  But now, Dr. Bin He of the University of Minnesota and his team report a promising experiment.

They outfitted volunteers with caps with EEG sensors, and asked them to steer a helicopter on a computer screen through a series of randomly generated rings that appeared on the screen ahead of it.  There were no hand controls, no joysticks.  They could only try to will the helicopter forward with their minds.

It worked surprisingly well, Dr. He and his colleagues reported in the current issue of the online journal PLoS One. Eighty-five percent of the time, the volunteers could steer the virtual helicopter accurately.

"People have never done anything like this using noninvasive techniques," said He in a telephone interview.

There have been other experiments before, but the most successful required that electrodes be surgically implanted in the brain.  In one famous case, Massachusetts researchers were able to get a young quadriplegic man to steer his own wheelchair -- but he ended the experiment, partly because he hated having wires inside his skull.

"Our technique was noninvasive," said He.  The BCI -- short for brain-computer interface -- "is approaching the reliability that used to be done only by invasive procedures, though I will not say that it is better yet."

The challenge in using EEG signals is that they are, in the jargon of scientists, "noisy."  The brain generates minute amounts of electricity as one thinks, and sensors can detect it, but readouts can look like random vibrations, and it is hard to tease out, say, a signal that means you want to turn left or right.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug222011

Surfing Dog, Ricochet, Helps Disabled Surf

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- There are dogs who play ball, dogs who chase cats and dogs who catch Frisbees. But near San Diego there is Ricochet, a 3-year-old golden retriever who catches waves and captures hearts.

Ricochet helps teach disabled people how to surf by acting as a canine co-pilot.

"She stabilizes the board," said Sabine Becker, who was born with no arms. "Somehow, she does it so we're not off-balance. She is just standing there and just surfs with us."

Surfing isn't even Ricochet's first career. From birth, she was trained to be a service dog, a companion to someone who needed help with everyday tasks. But she is a little mischievous and likes to chase birds -- poor traits for a companion who needs to provide constant attention.

Owner Judy Fridono discovered Ricochet had other ways to help.

"I wanted her to make a difference in one life, and she's touched millions and millions now," Fridono told ABC News.

Ricochet started boogie boarding at 8 weeks old and is now a pro on the surfboard. Fridono swears she adjusts her balance and stance depending on the disability of the person she is surfing with.

Ricochet is just as valuable on land: She has raised more than $100,000 for different charities on her Facebook page and her videos have gone viral, garnering more than 3 million views.

She is also a finalist for the annual "Hero Dog Award" from the American Humane Association, where she is up against a guide dog and even a military dog -- all amazing animals. And while they all might rate a 10, only Ricochet can hang ten.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul212011

Paraplegic Explains Passion to Climb Kilimanjaro

Chris Waddell is the first person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro using a handcycle, a trek documented in the 2010 film "One Revolution." (Courtesy Chris Waddell)(NEW YORK) -- Chris Waddell's face was inches from the ground, coated in volcanic ash. He was exhausted, drained from the previous days of climbing the varied terrain of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. But there was a mountain he needed to climb, so he turned the crank on his handcycle one revolution, and then another, and then one thousand more times until he reached camp for the day.

A skiing accident two decades before had left Waddell paralyzed from the waist down. But because of a hand-cranked wheelchair, he was able to achieve what many assumed was impossible, becoming the first person to summit Mount Kilimanjaro using a handcycle, a trek documented in the 2010 film One Revolution.

"The idea of climbing a mountain, people could understand that," Waddell, now 43, told ABC's 20/20 in an interview. "That's the metaphor for life: This idea that we're all climbing a mountain."

After his accident, Waddell said, he refused to focus on what he could no longer do, telling ABC News that the accident was the best thing that has ever happened to him.

"I felt like a transformed person," he said. "I felt, in a lot of ways, like the person that I'd always thought I was, like the best form of myself."

Waddell was back on the ski slopes on a mono-ski, a ski in which both feet are attached parallel to the board, a few months after his accident. He set his goals high, determined to focus on the positive aspects of his disability.

"That was my full intention, that I was going to be a world-class skier," Waddell told Roberts. "I was going to be the best in the world."

He eventually competed in the Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano and Salt Lake Paralympics Games, winning 12 gold medals for mono-skiing and one gold medal for wheelchair racing in the Sydney games. He became the most decorated paralympian in U.S. history.

But at the apex of his career, he decided to retire and set his sights on his next goal: Kilimanjaro.

"This thought just popped into my head, 'Well, I should just climb Mount Kilimanjaro,'" Waddell said. "I had no idea if it was possible, but I felt like we had to tell the story."

After months of training, Waddell and his team began the climb in September 2009. On the first day, he climbed 3,000 feet of elevation, arriving at camp ahead of schedule. He defied expectations as he cranked through miles of difficult terrain with the help of porters, who placed boards under his wheels to make the trails passable.

Amanda Stoddard, who directed One Revolution, told 20/20 the porters were amazed by Waddell.

"They were astounded," Stoddard said. "There was a word on the mountain that the porters called Chris. I translated it as nguvu-man: superman."

But for Waddell, making it to the top meant more than just defining himself as superhuman. It meant changing the perceptions of disabled people, a message he shares through his One Revolution Foundation and Nametags programs.

"One Revolution is the idea that something small, that one turn of the crank, can lead to something big," he said. "Hopefully, it can lead to something else, to this idea of change in how we see ourselves.

Waddell hopes that his accomplishments will make an impact on perceptions of the disabled community.

"I want to change the way that the world sees people with disabilities," Waddell said. "It's not what happens to you, it's what you do with what happens to you."

Learn more about Chris Waddell and find out what "kryptonite" almost derailed his climb to the top on a special "Super Humans" edition of ABC's 20/20 Friday at 9 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar292011

Medicare Could Go Broke In a Few Years

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- Medicare, which provides health insurance for 47 million elderly and disabled Americans, could be broke within years, unless spending cuts or tax hikes are made. A new study looks at what would happen if the eligibility age for Medicare is raised.
 
Taxpayers could save billions of dollars if the eligibility age for Medicare is raised from 65 to 67, but a new report from the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation finds there'd be ripple effects. Most 65- and 66-year-olds dropped from Medicare would pay a lot more health care, but so would employers because a lot of workers would stay on the job longer to keep their health benefits. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio