Children with disabilities reach their peak potential through rock climbing

These kids are determined, motivated and utterly excited to rock climb. They’ve learned nothing will stop them — not even a disability. 11-year-old Rachel uses crutches.

“It feels so good and perfect for me,” she said. “It’s actually really fun and helps my legs a lot.”

Eight-year-old Chanel can’t walk, yet she seems to fly up the wall.

“This program has to be the single most fulfilling thing in my entire life,” said Peak Potential founder Dr. Jenfu Cheng.

About 18 years ago, avid climber and medical doctor Cheng founded Peak Potential, an organization that provides adaptive rock climbing to children with disabilities.

Full story at

HSS takes young patients with physical challenges on a surfing trip

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) made a splash this week with a surfing trip for young patients. Giving new meaning to the term “patient care,” the Adaptive Sports Academy at Lerner Children’s Pavilion at HSS treated 12 patients, along with some of their siblings, to sand and surf in Long Beach, Long Island.

The Academy enables young people with cerebral palsy or another physical challenge to experience the benefits of exercise. The program’s trips and recreational experiences aim to build their self-confidence, encourage independence, and increase physical activity and mobility. The excursions are offered without cost, thanks to the generosity of donors.

Adaptive surfing and other activities are competitive or recreational sports for people with disabilities. Sometimes rules or equipment is modified to meet the needs of participants. Some are understandably nervous at first, but they almost always exceed their own expectations and have a blast.

Full story at

Tommy Hilfiger is making clothes easier to wear for people with disabilities

Tommy Hilfiger has a new line of clothes for an often overlooked set of customers — people with disabilities.

The collection, which goes on sale Wednesday, uses magnets and Velcro to make it easier for people to get dressed. The line has 37 styles for men and 34 for women — shirts, pants, jackets, sweaters and dresses.

The button-down shirts have buttons and cuffs that fasten with magnets to help people with disabilities take them off over their heads, or get dressed with one hand.

Full story at

More than 1 in 10 Working-Age Americans Has 1 or More Disabilities; Rates Reveal Disparities

In what it describes as a “conservative” estimate, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that nearly 12% of the working-age population in the United States (18-64) has at least 1 disability, and that more than half of those disabilities are related to mobility. The numbers are based on a recent study that also found disparities in disability rates along income, education, and racial lines.

The report, published this week, analyzed 128,014 results from the National Health Interview Survey from 2011 to 2014 to capture a picture of not only the prevalence of 1 or more disabilities among adults, but the characteristics of those adults—CDC’s first attempt to look at disability in this way. The study tracked adults who reported “serious” disability related to hearing (deafness or near-deafness), blindness (blind or “serious difficulty seeing even when … wearing glasses”), cognitive function, mobility, self-care, and independent living. Respondents did not include adults aged 18-64 living in institutional settings or group homes.

Full story of working-age Americans and disabilities at APTA

Wheelchair, Robotic Advances Show Promise

Need an antidote to the nagging feeling that personal health technology is turning us into walking databases and little else? Maybe it’s time to check out some cutting-edge technologies that are less about quantifying people and more about empowering people.

In a recent Disability Blog, guest blogger Kathy Pretz, editor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) member newspaper, touches on some projects now in development that could make mobility and communication easier for individuals with disabilities.

Full story of wheelchair and robotic advances at APTA

House Passes Bill to Allow Tax-Exempt Savings for Individuals With Disabilities

The US House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would help Americans with disabilities achieve a greater level of independence, and strong bicameral, bipartisan support makes the legislation nearly certain to pass in the Senate.

On December 3, the House overwhelmingly approved the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE), a bill that allows people with disabilities to establish tax-exempt savings accounts that would not disqualify them from receiving Medicaid and Social Security benefits. Currently, disability benefits are not provided to individuals with more than $2,000 in assets earning more than $680 a month.

Full story of tax-exempt bill for people with disabilities at APTA

Don’t Forget World Physical Therapy Day September 8

There’s still time to gear up for World Physical Therapy Day on Monday, September 8—don’t miss out!

This year the theme is “Fit to Take Part,” emphasizing the physical therapy’s role in helping people with long-term illnesses or disabilities fulfill their potential by maximizing movement and functional ability.

For more information on the World Physical Therapy Day, visit APTA

U.S. Stroke Deaths Fell 30% Over Past Decade

Stroke deaths in the United States have been dropping for more than 100 years and have declined 30 percent in the past 11 years, a new report reveals.

Sometimes called a brain attack, stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability.

Stroke, however, has slipped from the third-leading cause of death in the United States to the fourth-leading cause. This, and a similar decline in heart disease, is one of the 10 great public-health achievements of the 20th century, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even so, there is still more to be done, said George Howard, a professor of biostatistics in the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Howard is co-author of a scientific statement describing the factors influencing the decline in stroke deaths. The statement is scheduled for publication in the journal Stroke.

“Stroke has been declining since 1900, and this could be a result of changes leading to fewer people having a stroke or because people are less likely to die after they have a stroke,” Howard said in a university news release. “Nobody really knows why, but several things seem to be contributing to fewer deaths from stroke.”

Full story of stroke death rates at Web MD

Disabled on the outside of virtual worlds (VIDEO)

Virtual Worlds Can Aid Chronic FatigueDr Kirsty Best of Murdoch’s School of Media Communication and Culture has used the 3D program Second Life to explore the effectiveness of virtual worlds for those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

While she believes virtual worlds can provide outlets for creativity, jobs with real world payment and socialising, she said future technologies needed to be created with the needs of disabled people in mind at the design stage.

"Given the multiplicity of disabilities, designers need to consider a range of needs when developing programs. We found ad hoc features added later to fix gaps resulted in a number of technical issues, which hampered communication," Dr Best said.

"We spent a lot of time troubleshooting, which is an added stress to people who already find it difficult to concentrate and who suffer mental fatigue."

Dr Best said new technologies had to move away from the idea of ‘one disability’ and realize what works for one group, does not necessarily translate across impairments.

Full story of virtual word aids at

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin,

Horseback riding helps children with disabilities

By Annie Tubbs

For some children and teens who have disabilities, the best part of their day is spent on a horse.

Kelly Jones of Jeannette has been bringing her son, Quinn Kopas, 8, to Nickers ‘n Neighs, a nonprofit therapeutic riding center in Westmoreland County, for about a year. Quinn, who has Down syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, rides once a week.

"There’s a kind of calming factor for him," Ms. Jones said, adding that Quinn talks about the horses at home.

"It’s something that engages him. I think he feels success doing it."

Full story at