Rob Camm, a 21-year-old student at the University of Bristol in the UK, became the world’s first quadriplegic to compete in the grueling 12-mile Tough Mudder course. The challenge has been dubbed “probably the toughest event on the planet.”
Camm was paralyzed from the neck down in a car accident two years ago. He participated in the Tough Mudder in an Extreme X8 electric off-road wheelchair set on top of a quad bike. Camm controls the wheelchair with his chin. The wheelchair can reach a speed of 10 kilometers per hour. He can even clear tree branches and tow his father’s 4×4 with it.
Camm was unable to take on some of the obstacles, such as monkey bars, mud pits, high walls, and narrow tunnels, but he was able to navigate some difficult terrain in his wheelchair. He said that many people believed he should not participate in such a grueling competition, but he wanted to prove them wrong.
Camm is a former rugby player. He had just played his last rugby game for the Dursley RFC team when the accident happened in September 2013. He was supposed to start pre-season rugby training at York University in a matter of days. Camm was paralyzed from the neck down and in intensive care for 96 days.
He wanted to do a Tough Mudder before the accident and still wanted to participate after his injury. Camm used to participate in many physical challenges. He doesn’t do as many anymore, so he was excited to be able to participate in the Tough Mudder.
Camm participated with a team of friends and family. The challenge raised money for SpecialEffect, a charity that provided technology that helped him adjust to life after his accident.
This April he began working with Rex Bionics in the UK and Rome to test their exoskeleton, nicknamed Rex, which was provided by SpecialEffect. A cap placed on his head is covered with 79 electrodes attached to his skull that can read brain signals and help him move. In July, he became the first quadriplegic in the world who uses a ventilator to learn to walk again with a robotic exoskeleton that is controlled by his thoughts.
Rob Camm has displayed extraordinary determination to continue to challenge himself in spite of his injury. His courage and perseverance make him a role model for people with and without disabilities. We hope he will continue to participate in other challenges with his wheelchair and exoskeleton.Read More
The spinal cord injury research team from the Medical University of South Carolina held a celebration of the Longevity After Injury Project in Minneapolis on June 7. Study participants and guests came together for the event.
The event celebrated 40 years of research for the study, which was started by Dr. Nancy Crewe at the University of Minnesota in 1973. Participants were proud of the knowledge and understanding of SCI and the changes that people with SCI undergo as they age that has been gained through their participation in the study. Several participants received awards for their longevity post-injury and their contributions to improving the lives of people with SCI.
When the study began, the idea of living for 40 years after a spinal cord injury seemed impossible. However, 26 people at the event have been living with SCI for over 40 years. The group included 10 SCI survivors who are at least 50 years post-injury. The group averaged 41.8 years post-injury, and most had lived for 30 or more years after their injuries.
The study has included more than 2,200 participants since 1973. They have collectively worked over 12,500 years and more than 22 million hours. Several have written books about their experiences.
The event was inspiring, even for people who have lived with SCI for decades. The participants have confronted many obstacles and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people with SCI. They have helped to achieve accessible environments, promote employment, and advocate on behalf of policies that create opportunities for people with disabilities. They look forward to the next generation of people with SCI building upon their accomplishments and living long, healthy, and fulfilling lives.Read More
Angela Madsen, an L2 para, is a six-time Guinness World Record holder in rowing. When she was growing up in Fairborn, Ohio, Madsen knew nothing about rowing, but she was always athletic. She enjoyed swimming and diving when she was younger.
Madsen joined the Marines after high school and was stationed in California, where she took up surfing. She joined the Women’s All Marine Corps basketball team but was injured while playing a game when she fell forward and someone landed on her back. Even though she could still walk, the accident ended her military career. She needed back surgery 13 years later, but the surgeon made a mistake and removed the wrong disc, which compromised her spinal cord.
Two years after her surgery, Madsen discovered adaptive sports. She began with wheelchair basketball and then became involved in rowing. She won gold in the Rowing National Championships from 2000 to 2008. Madsen competed in the Paralympics for the first time in 2008 and placed seventh in rowing. She won gold in shot put in the Paralympics in 2012.
Madsen has also become involved in ocean rowing. She has crossed the Atlantic and Indian Oceans non-stop without a support boat and has circumnavigated Britain. She plans to try to cross the Pacific Ocean in 2017.
Madsen is currently busy coaching adapted rowing and running her foundations, Row of Life and California Adapted Rowing Programs. She believes rowing is the most all-inclusive sport available and wants to promote its versatility for people at all levels of ability.
Angela Madsen has not let her injury slow her down or keep her from accomplishing her goals. She has achieved more than many people ever will. What a role model she is.Read More
Jessica Harthcock persevered despite obstacles and accomplished her goal of creating an app that helps people with neurological disabilities find the best facilities that match their needs.
Harthcock was paralyzed in 2004 but received treatment that helped her learn to walk again. She was overwhelmed by the many options and was inspired to create the app to help others navigate them. She completed college and graduate school to build her business.
Things began to fall apart in 2012, but she and her team at Utilize Health persevered. The challenge reminded her of the progress, setbacks, and eventual success she experienced when learning to walk again.
For the next three years, Harthcock and other members of her company participated in a business accelerator program, a global health challenge, a start-up challenge, and a complete rebranding effort. While they didn’t win any competitions, they received valuable feedback. They realized what set their company apart and focused on the value it could provide to others.
Utilize Health was launched this spring. The web-based matching service asks users questions to help them find the best facilities to treat their conditions. It considers location, disability, payment options, health, and other factors and uses an algorithm to deliver results. It is intended to be used by people with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, stroke, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and cerebral palsy, but the team hopes to expand it to help individuals with other conditions.
The service has grown to include other features. It can help people contact their doctors, write insurance appeals, and find transportation. That led to Utilize Health’s patient advocacy program.
Matt and Jill Wheeler were two of the first people to be helped by Utilize Health. They were able to find treatment options and get their insurance company to cover extensive therapy for Matt’s type 2 spinocerebellar ataxia that dramatically improved their lives.
This exciting new app can help people with neurological disabilities find treatment options to improve their lives that they might not otherwise have known even existed. It is inspiring to see someone with a disability persevere to accomplish her goal and work to improve the lives of others with disabilities.Read More
Abilities Expo offers members of the disabled community an opportunity to gather and learn about many products and services that can help improve their lives. Visitors can learn about new technology and products, participate in dance and sports, attend informative workshops, and learn about service animals.
Come visit HDS Medallion at our booth (#500) at Houston Abilities Expo and see our selection of designer wheelchair and walker bags. We will be offering all of our bags at discounted prices at the Expo. Our Demi-Premier bags will be 5 percent off (including new bags), Premier and Metro bags will be 10 percent off, and Classic bags will be 15 percent off. We will be selling pashminas for $2.50 below the regular price. If you buy a bag, you can also get a pashmina for just $12.50, regardless of the original price.
We will be selling two of our new bags in Houston. Our Demi-Paisley Pink and Blue bags are based on our best-selling Premier bags. They have a beautiful jewel-colored paisley on a black background.
Come meet us, Carol Rady, Co-Owner, and Sharon Richardson, Designer of HDS Medallion Bags. We are very interested in what kinds of bags you would like to see added to our collections. You can enter a drawing to win a wheelchair, power chair, mobility scooter or walker bag of your choice. You can also meet our adorable mascot, Abby, a fuzzy teddy bear with a slicker raincoat, fancy bow, and sweet expression. She is in a wheelchair with a matching bag sewn by Sharon. We look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones at Houston Abilities Expo.Read More
Nike responded to a request from a teenager with cerebral palsy and designed a new line of sneakers specifically for people with disabilities.
Matthew Walzer wrote an open letter to Nike in 2012, when he was 16. He said he was able to dress himself independently, but he still needed his parents to help him tie his shoes. He found that frustrating and embarrassing. He wanted to become more independent so he could attend college. Walzer is now a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Nike developed the LeBron Soldier 8 FLYEASE sneaker in response to Walzer’s request. Nike worked with him for three years on testing prototypes. Designers talked to other individuals with disabilities and learned that being able to put shoes on easily was just as important as the lacing system.
The new shoes are an “easy-entry footwear system.” They have a larger opening at the back to make it easier for wearers to slide their feet in and out. Instead of laces, they have a wrap-around zipper system that secures the shoes.
Nike was unable to create a universal solution because different people have varying levels of mobility. However, the company believes FLYEASE is a significant development for people who seek more independence.
LeBron Solider 8 FLYEASE sneakers began to be sold in limited quantities on Nike.com on July 16. The company is working on other FLYEASE styles.
Walzer was surprised by the response from Nike. He had expected to simply receive a letter politely acknowledging his request. He is extremely grateful to Nike for designing the new shoes.
It is encouraging to see Nike take the request of someone with a disability to heart and work to create products that can help others with similar limitations. We hope that more companies will follow suit and create products to improve the lives of people with disabilities.Read More
Job seekers with disabilities have more opportunities than they did in the past thanks to new legislation and initiatives that encourage employers to hire qualified workers with disabilities.
This year is the first full year of Section 503 regulations, which encourage federal contractors to create workforces that include at least 7 percent workers with disabilities. The Workforce Investment Opportunity Act helps students with disabilities pursue their chosen career paths after high school. State Medicaid buy-in programs that let people with disabilities work without losing their benefits are becoming more popular.
Think Beyond the Label, an advocacy group for disabled workers, recently conducted a survey that found that job seekers with disabilities use many of the same tools as other job seekers. Most would also use targeted job boards and network with employers who want to hire individuals with disabilities.
Employers are usually not permitted to ask about disabilities during the hiring process. One exception is the Section 503 voluntary disability disclosure form used by federal contractors.
Think Beyond the Label can help employers target workers with disabilities. The group conducts print and TV advertising campaigns that stress that labels can get in the way of employment, but disabilities rarely do. It has created a community of 7,000 disabled job seekers and has helped to connect them with employers who are actively seeking workers from that group. Job seekers disclose the fact that they have a disability, and then employers can focus on their skills and experience.
Think Beyond the Label hosts quarterly online career fairs where candidates can interview with recruiters from their chosen employers. Since 2012, 2,500 job seekers, 350 recruiters, and 50 businesses have participated.
Employers have found that job seekers with disabilities are often highly qualified. Over 60 percent of the job seekers in Think Beyond the Label’s community have five or more years of relevant experience, and they are more likely to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree than the general population of job seekers.
Think Beyond the Label plans to expand its programs to include mentoring and networking opportunities. The group is also developing more partnerships with universities and businesses.
While challenges remain, job prospects for workers with disabilities are improving. We support the efforts of job seekers with disabilities and groups that are working to make a difference on their behalf.Read More