Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Rebuilding the faces of soldiers, veterans

Master Sgt. Todd Nelson

In photo, Master Sgt. Todd Nelson being fitted with facial prosthetics at Wilford Hall, Wednesday, June 23, 2010 in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay).

Using specially designed computer equipment, technicians at the prosthestics lab at Lackland Air Force Base can turn an MRI into three-dimensional molds to create custom-fit pieces to replace missing facial bones, facial features, and even pieces of skull for returning soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan War.

Before the war, the lab’s patients consisted primarily of cancer and civilian trauma survivors — only an occassional Vietnam-era war veteran looking for a new prosthesis. Since the war, the military has begun sparing no expense in the cost of outfitting soldiers with these amazingly real looking facial prosthetics from the lab. The lab is one of two major facial prosthetic programs in the Defense Department, and it has seen an unprecedented new stream of wounded soldiers.

The prosthetic replicas are so realistic, so customized, its hard to identify what is flesh and blood and what is prosthetic. Though the technology is available in the civilian world, the Lackland lab has the resources and expertise necessary to giving the soldiers the best possible care with little concern about the financial burdens that civilian trauma patients might face.

Read more on the lab, its work, and the life-changing effects of the prosthesis for one Master Sgt. injured by a flash from a car bomb here in this Yahoo!News article from the Associated Press.

Roberts, Michelle. “New Program Rebuilding Faces of Soldiers, Veterans.”
Yahoo! News. Associated Press, 27 July 2010. Web. 28 July 2010.

First Aid for Seizures

As the summer ends and faculty and staff gear up for the upcoming Fall semester, one of the campus’s big focus is on training to keep our students safe. This effort is maintained by regular demonstrations and training classes on First Aid & Safety and training for use of the AED Defibrillators that are secured in every building on campus. Here at DSS we would like to contribute to this effort by teaching you First Aid for Seizures.

Not all types of seizures require first aid. In many cases all the person needs is emotional support, reassurance, and understanding. This guide is designed to assist you with generalized tonic-clonic seizures (grand mal/convulsive).

First Aid for Seizures

Available by the Epilepsy Association of Central Florida (EACF)

The Diagram anove provides a great visual representation of the important steps to assisting someone having a seizure. Now, here’s the steps:

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Prevent injury. During the seizure, exercise common sense by insuring that there is nothing within reach that could harm the person if s/he struck it.
  3. Turn on side. Make the person as comfortable as possible. Also, loosen any neckware such as ties and/or open buttons to tight fitting collars.
  4. Do not hold the person down. This is as much a matter of your safety as it is their’s. Thrashing is a symptom of these types of seizures. The person having the seizure will be safe as long as you have followed Step 2.
  5. Do not place anything in the person’s mouth. Contrary to popular belief, a person having a seizure is incapable of swallowing their tongue.
  6. Keep onlookers away. We know, easier said than done, but most people will remain at a safe distance if they see the situation is under control.
  7. Try to keep track of the length of the seizure. This will be important for the person having the seizure and EMT’s to know.If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, call 911.

  8. After the seizure, if they are not already in this position, place the person on h/er left side. Keep in mind that there is a small risk of post-seizure vomiting, even before the person is fully alert. For this reason, be sure the person’s head is positioned so that vomit will drain out of the mouth without being inhaled. Also, do not give the person water, pills, or food until they are fully alert.

  9. Look for an I.D.. Stay with them.
  10. Be sensitive and supportive. Offer help and reassurance.

Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses

Stouffer’s, with their “Let’s Fix Dinner” challenge, has taken the families of America to task to make the change from fast-food home dining to real family-time dinners. In particluar, the challenge followed the Jones family who, of their three children, have two autistic son’s, both of which have difficulties with speech and vocalization. The Joneses took on the challenge in the hopes that not only would their family structure grow stronger, but that the opportunity to be together would strengthen the boys speech and vocal ability. The videos below follow the family throughout the challenge and offer a depth and insight into the difficulties faced by autism, as well as some interesting insight into how autism affects the boys thinking processes.

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Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses P…, posted with vodpod

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Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses P…, posted with vodpod

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Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses P…, posted with vodpod

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Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses P…, posted with vodpod

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Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses P…, posted with vodpod

It’s simply amazing what a difference having a family dinner can do not only for the family but also on a disability like autism!

See more families involved in the Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner Challenge here.

Bravo’s Work of Art: Erik Johnson

Work of Art: The Next Great Artist- Erik Johnson

Bravo's Work of Art: The Next Great Artist- Erik Johnson; photographer Andrew Eccles

We brought you the interesting personality of Miles Mendenhall from Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, but now we’d like you to meet Erik Johnson.

Visit Bravo’s Workf of Art official page for all the skinny on the artistants (artist + contestant = artistant; wish we had thoughf of it but this was all Bravo’s brilliance), video clips of the show, private confessions and interviews, bios, and hear from the judges.

While Erik is new to the fine arts industry, his unique perspective and passion for art rose from his found passion for filmmaking. His short film “The Ghost of Christmas Presents” put him on the art world’s radar with its debut at Cannes Film Festival in 2006.

Though Erik was eliminated in Work of Art’s latest episode, it wasn’t up until the latest few episodes that producers focused in on Erik’s personal story. Though admitting that he was always an artistic child, Erik credits a motorcycle accident as the catalyst for the sudden explosion of artistic vision in his later years, after he was left partially brain damaged to the left hemisphere of his brain.

View Erik’s profile here and don’t forget to check out the portfolio gallery of his past works made available by Bravo.

America’s Got Talent: Ali & Christina update

If you haven’t been keeping up with Ali and Christina on America’s Got Talent, hopefully you’ve been keeping up with them here. Last Tuesday the signing sisters competed as one of the top 48 contestants in Hollywood for one of 4 coveted spots in the America’s Got Talent final competion. Below is a snipet of the show featuring the girls performance of “The Broken Road” by country band Rascal Flatts.

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America’s Got Talent: Ali & Christina in Hollywood, posted with vodpod

The sisters were chosen as one of the four acts to continue on to the next round of America’s Got Talent.

Wheelchair rugby meets sports camp status

Wheelchair rugby star Will Groulx of Portland, widely known for his role in the hit film “Murderball,” was a main attraction last week at a national wheelchair rugby camp at Beaverton, OR, based ADAPT Training.

Paralympic Rugby U.S. Team Assistant Coach Ed Suhr teamed with specialists from ADAPT Training to put on the rugby clinic which ran June 28th through July 2nd. Seven athletes attended the clinic which cost $600 for the week per athlete.

The video below is the local news coverage story on the camp.

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Wheelchair rugby rumbles in Beaverton , posted with vodpod

Along with playing wheelchair rugby as a member of the Portland Pounders, Groulx also mentors children who have similar spinal cord injuries, helping them cope with the transition.

Rewire Your Brain One Step on a Treadmill at a Time

Walk This Way

From the article "walk This Way" by Amy Paturel, M.S., M.P.H. Copyright © 2010 Neurology Now. Published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Treadmill and task-oriented training have been shown to mobilize people with stroke, Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases that impact gait. But it’s not all as simple as that.

Richard Macko, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Maryland and director of the Veteran Affairs (VA) Rehabilitiation Research and Development Center of Excellence in Exercise and Robotics, explains in the article “Walk This Way” by May Paturel, M.S., M.P.H., in the May/June 2010 issue of Neurology Now, explains:

One of the main problems with stroke is that people get these motor deficits that cause them to lose their functional independence…There’s a 70 percent fall rate within the first year of stroke. Plus, fitness levels are half normal and the energy cost of walking for stroke patients is about double that of people who haven’t suffered a stroke because of abnormal nervous system connections. And that’s a bad combination. (p. 23-24)

But stroke patients aren’t the only people to suffer problems with gait. As the article continues to explain, problems with and balance are pervasive across neurological disease.

As Paturel explains, walking is actually a very complex task that requires an integration of multiple systems in the body. The task of walking is so complex that Dr. Jessie VanSwearingen, Ph.D., P.T. even likens walking to a sixth sense. This level of complexity means that if there is a disruption to any of the centers that are related to processing information coming into the brain (i.e. where your foot is in relations to space or the body) or the centers responsible for sending commands back out from the brain (i.e. “lift your foot”), your ability to walk with become greatly compromised (p. 24).

But as Lisa Schulman, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Maryland and co-director of the Maryland Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center, argues, the medical world often overlooks the nonpharmacological interventions like exercise, in favor of prescribing medications that have shown to have an improving effect on neurological disorders, but more often than not cause more problems with gait than alleviates them. As Schulman argues, “…nonpharmacological interventions like excercise…reinforce the patient’s need to feel in control and may sometimes even have more potent effects than conventional pharmacological therapies” (p. 24).

The remainder of the article describes in detail Dr. Macko’s treadmill and task-oriented training, how the regimine is applied and how this regimine is more effective on neurological problems of gait than traditional pharmacolical therapies. In truth, the regimine all sounds so simple in application that its a bit baffling why this therapy isn’t applied more often. But with knowledge comes power and with that comes a stronger ability to self-advocate for you or a loved one who may need treatment for problems of gait.

The article isn’t very long; in fact, this post summarized the whol first half of the article, all you need read is the sections Treadmill Training and Task-oriented Training for information on Dr. Macko’s treatment. The article can be read in the May/June 2010 (Vol. 6 Iss. 3) issue of Neurology Now; subscription is free. You can also read the published online version here. The page also provides a link for a printable PDF version of the article. The article also gives you 10 quick tips to get you moving if you have problems walking and often lose your balance, or is you are out of shape and get winded quickly.

Related: Paturel, M.S., M.P.H., Amy. “Walk This Way.” Neurology Now May/June 6.3 (2010): 23-25. Print.

America’s Got Talent: Ali and Christina

Oops…we got so wrapped up in talking about Connor Doran on America’s Got Talent [and here] that we let these two lovely ladies fly right under the radar.

Ali (20) and Christina (13), sisters, come from a family of four kids, all of whom have cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affectst the lungs and digestive system. A defective gene and its protein cause the body to produce unusually thick and sticky mucus that:

  • clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections and obstructs the pancreas, and
  • stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

The video below is from their Portland Oregon audition where the two sisters performed “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.

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America’s Got Talent: Ali and Christina, posted with vodpod

The sisters earned a spot in America’s Got Talent Las Vegas auditions, where they performed “Temporary Home” by American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. Their performace is below:

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America’s Got Talent: Ali and Christina in Las …, posted with vodpod

The girls are one of 48 contestants who will perform in front of America in the America’s Got Talent finals in Hollywood.

For more information on cystic fibrosis visit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at, or simply click on the hyperlinks made available in this post.

Canine Companions for Independence

Tommy and Service Dog Hiley

For Tommy, help is a four legged word ~ Tommy and service dog Hiley

Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. Headquartered in Santa Roas, CA, CCI is the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs, and is recognized world-wide for its excellence in dogs, and quality and longevity of the pairings it makes between dogs and people.

For more information on how to apply for a CCI assistance dog, visit, or call 1-800-572-2275. CCI trains four types of assistance dogs: Service Dogs, Skilled Companions, Hearing Dogs, and Facility Dogs.


Canine Companions for Independence

If you are interested in volunteering, the organization is always looking for volunteer breeder caretakers who provide homes for the breeder dogs and whelp the puppies, returning the puppies to CCI in Santa Rosa, CA, at age eight weeks. Volunteer puppy raisers accross the nation then work with the puppies to socialize and obedience train between the ages of fifteen and eighteen months.

Donations are also always needed and CCI offers several programs for donations including In Memorium, Planned Giving, Monthy Giving, and simply charitable gifts.

Visit fro information on any of the programs described above.

Free Admission to National Parks…A “Did You Know” Service Announcement


Image found via Google search

The National Forestry & Wildlife Division offers a free lifetime access pass for any person with a disability or for the caregivers of a person with a disability. The pass allows access to ALL national parks for FREE!

Simply take a letter from your physician (*required) stating the disability to your local National Forestry & Wildlife Division to get the pass. Each pass will admit up to 4 adults, and children under 16 are always free.

For more information visit

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