Thanksgiving is fast approaching. If you are like most American families, you are scurrying about this month, gathering ingredients for time-tested, memorable family meals. But the Thanksgiving menu can be tricky when planning for family members who have specific dietary needs. What are the health needs in your family? An uncle who is managing his weight? A cousin who is a vegan? A son who avoids refined sugars? Loved ones with health concerns such as food allergies or gluten sensitivity? Harnessing the wisdom of healthful eating can satisfy everyone at the table. “Healthful eating is an acquired skill” says Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Each October, Post-Polio Health International hosts the We’re still here! campaign, to raise public awareness of both the successes and the current health needs of polio survivors. In the spring of 2009, I attended the New York premiere of The Polio Crusade, a PBS documentary directed by Sara Colt for the American Experience. If you are from that generation, the story of polio is not an unfamiliar one. The film catalogs the race for a cure and the public health campaign that resulted, inspired by Franklin. D Roosevelt. Watching the footage of the beginnings of polio history was compelling, but the film also highlighted what is less known to the wider public—the story of polio survivors estimated at 750,000 in the U.S. today.
Each year in the U.S., 765,000 American youths, about one every 40 seconds, visit an emergency room for a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Compounding this complex diagnosis, families have to navigate an
often-frustrating maze to access health care or discover the lack thereof. “Whether you are prince or a pauper, you face the same struggle across the U.S.,” says Patrick Donohue, founder of The Sarah Jane Brain Project (SJBP).
Donahue knows the challenges parents face firsthand. The Sara Jane Brain Project is named after his daughter, Sarah Jane, who at 5 days old was shaken by her baby nurse, breaking four ribs and both collarbones and resulting in severe pediatric acquired brain injury (PABI). From the outset, Donahue became harshly aware of what families of children with brain injuries contend with—an uncoordinated system of care, a medical issue with minimal research dollars, and haphazard treatment options.
Paying attention to what we choose to eat is one of the most direct ways to improve and maintain our health, particularly heart health. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer at CNN in May 2010, former President Clinton spoke about the changes he made with his own eating habits – adopting a plant based diet— to take hold of his heart health.
“I want a brothy soup… I want an ocean in a bowl…something salty and spicy,” mused Chef Erica Wides in a recent episode on Manila clams on her radio show, Let's Get Real, on Heritage Radio Network. Chef Wides is committed to her focused effort: to get her listeners to cook easily and enjoy it. “I try to cater my show to everyone, empowering listeners to make educated choices about food.”
Healthy eating as a tool for disease prevention and maintaining wellness is a frequent topic amongst many health initiatives nationally, but Wides spotlights an overlooked issue: “I don’t think people know how to cook. For people who grew up in homes where their family did not cook or relied on processed foods, they may not have developed an innate sense of cooking – the shopping and preparing, for example. We need to move away from frozen meals and diet cokes.”
Blissful Bedrooms is a one-of-a-kind nonprofit organization seeking to transform the bedrooms of young individuals with significant disabilities into spaces where they can experience peace, comfort, and joy. The idea was born from a special bond between Martha Gold- Dvoryadkin, physical therapist/yoga instructor at New York's PS 118 and a former student,Tamisha.
"My partner Alex and I brainstormed one day on how we could bring more happiness into her life. We decided to paint and decorate her bedroom. We were amazed at the impact on her and us," said Gold-Dvoryadkin.
“I wish to be, I wish to go, I wish to meet, I wish to have.” These are the magical questions in the wish-making process that have guided the granting of more than 1,700 wishes of children with progressive, degenerative, or malignant life-threatening medical conditions by Hudson Valley Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation . I recently had the privilege of attending the annual Wish Gala, and took few moments to speak with Denise D'Amico, Vice President of Program services, on the work of the Foundation.
Exploring better ways to move, exercise or sustain physical resilience with mobility challenges is a constant source of interest for me. I recently discovered the Feldenkrais Method, with the help of Stacy Barrows, PT, GCFT, CPI, a physical therapist, Pilate’s instructor, and passionate practitioner of the approach. We explored some of the benefits for persons with disabilities. The main distinction of this form of movement therapy is its engineering viewpoint on understanding the body, “How do all the parts of the body work together? It's less of a cause and effect mindset,” Barrow notes.
[I had the privilege of speaking with Judy Goldberg back in 2011. Passionate with an advocacy spirit in every sense, Judy cared deeply about empowering young women. Judy passed away on November 5, 2013. It was an honor to know her and this post is in memoriam to her work and to the continuing work of IWD...]
The Initiative for Women with Disabilities (IWD), Elly and Steve Hammerman Health and Wellness Center, located at the NYU Hospital for Join Diseases, is a comprehensive health care facility designed to empower women and adolescent girls with disability. IWD is fully equipped with an accessible GYN table, and scale, and it offers a variety of wellness education resources, “We teach the wellness aspects of disability - how to sustain a healthy life style with nutrition, acupuncture, stress management – not only to help to minimize hospitalizations, but also to bounce back easier after relapse,” says Judith Goldberg, director of the center. The wellness movement is a growing one; health care centers around the U.S. are each defining how this approach would translate for their patients.
The world of hand control driving technology for persons with
disabilities is not a widely known area of accessibility. Three years ago, when I transitioned to hand controls, I embarked on a new learning curve that I had little familiarity with. I reached out to my former teacher, Beth Rolland, an occupational therapist, driver rehabilitation specialist, and tri-athlete at Kessler Institute
for Rehabilitation, to gather advice for people who may be thinking of taking this step.
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