Monday, December 19, 2011

10 Inspiring Movies to Get You Through the Holidays

The Holidays are upon us and, unfortunately, if you're laid up from surgery or on crutches, all of the merriment can be a bit overwhelming. Our suggestion? Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and settle in to a marathon of movies featuring inspirational characters who beat the odds.

Image by *USB* ; Creative Commons
Borrowing from "Best Inspirational Movie" lists by Movies Crunch, TopTenz, and Couples Company, we compiled this list of 10 inspiring movies.

In no particular order...

  1. It's a Wonderful Life  A man is visited on Christmas Eve by his guardian angel who shows him all that he's done for others during his life.  
  2. Chariots of Fire Two competing Olympic athletes forge a friendship against all odds.  
  3. Field of Dreams An Iowa farmer builds a baseball diamond in his fields where legends from the Chicago Black Sox come to play. 
  4. Mr. Holland's Opus High school music teacher and composer realizes success is in how you define it. 
  5. Rocky A struggling boxer gets his one chance against a heavyweight champion. 
  6. Cinderella Man Another story of a boxer who became an unexpected champion. 
  7. World's Fastest Indian A New Zealander builds an Indian motorcycle and sets a world record. 
  8. The Sound of Music A woman leaves the convent and becomes a governess to children - finding unforeseen love and family. 
  9. The Pursuit of Happiness A struggling businessman loses everything, yet with custody of his son, preservers to make ends meet.  
  10. Shawshank Redemption Two men, while in prison, forge an uncommon friendship.  

What would you add?

Monday, December 12, 2011

One leg surgery. Two titanium plates. 11 Screws. And, the road to recovery.

This guest post is written by Kathilyn Solomon, a writer/editor and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) practitioner and a Mobilegs user in week seven of recovery. Reach her at

A Cat. A Skateboard. A Sunny Day. Recipe For Disaster? 

It started innocently enough. With a skateboard. A sunny autumn day. And a cat. But when you take all three and add a middle-aged woman who has only occasionally skateboarded, these three things are a recipe for disaster.

Yes, in answer to your question, I fell. And caught the cat instead of catching my fall. My leg. Ouch. Broke two bones, one with many broken pieces. One surgery, two titanium plates and 11 screws later, I am in recovery.

No Weight Six Weeks.

You don’t just get a walking cast after breaking a tibia and fibula, I learned. You get a warning to avoid putting any weight whatsoever on the leg for the first six weeks.

The first weeks were the hardest.

First, there was the surgical pain. Incisions four inches long on either side of my right calf starting at the ankle. I keep thinking – how did they do it. How did they cut into me? Was there a lot of blood? What side did they start the knife on?

How to Get to the Bathroom.

There were the practical questions, like when I woke in the middle of the night, not only once but several times (full disclosure, I am an intimate friend of menopause, which means that I waken in the night with steam pouring off my chest… they should use the hot flashes – aka power surges – of menopausal women as a power source to heat the nation.) – how do I get from here to the bathroom without peeing in my pants? Yes, if you have broken leg or ankle bones, you are probably dealing with that, too, initially.

Crawl – It Works!

The pain was so intense that I didn’t want to move, but I had to go. Crawling helped. A lot. I used my son’s soccer pads as kneepads as cushion.

CAM Boot Issue

After the splint was taken off and I was given an Air boot, a CAM boot, I believe they call it. I was given this instruction only:

Stay off it and don’t put yarrow in the cast. Come back in one month to see me.

Drugged with painkillers as I was, I nodded.

Once home, my ankle, which heretofore had felt pretty darn good, started hurting. By evening? Excruciating. What El Doctor and his assistant did not tell but what I found online after researching is that unlike the splint, which is custom fit, the boot is one size fits all – and not for everyone, at least initially.

It was heavy enough to pull my hip out of joint and it caused a bunch of bruising on my foot where there had been none before.

It had pushed on the ankle causing internal bruising and somehow, the entire area where the boot covered my foot began swelling and was bruised now.

I decided no more boot for now. Got a lightweight splint. None of the doctors believed that the boot had caused this problem, but then, so what?

Mobilegs Helped Me Land – And Cruise

In addition to crawling, I began using Mobilegs. This was after the regular crutches started giving me problems under the arms and also they were very jarring. Mobilegs have shock absorbers like my old maroon interior leather Cadillac – nice. It feels good to land. I love them.

Massages Helped With the Water Swelling

To help alleviate the pain from the water swelling – I did not like to have my son see me crying too much from pain, I got a massage – on the foot – not on the broken bones, but the foot where the swelling was.

And the edema (water stuck in there) began to go down and drain. Then I got another massage, and it got even better. And so on. Or, and so it goes, as Mr. Kurt Vonnegut (RIP) would say.

It still is slightly swollen some weeks later, but I am wholly on the mend – and just started Physical Therapy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is It Possible to Lose Weight Using Crutches?

After reading that New Orleans Saints' coach, Sean Payton said he lost 15-pounds since using crutches, we got to thinking...Is it possible that being on crutches, and, essentially less mobile than usual, could contribute to weight loss?

Well, the Livestrong website says that a person weighing 155 pounds burns 352 calories per hour walking with crutches, according to NutriStrategy calculations.  That's more than 90% MORE calories burned than walking without crutches!*

We've certainly seen Coach Payton doing a lot of walking up and down the sidelines with his Mobilegs crutches, but, at 352 calories per hour, how much walking would one need to do?

At 3,500 calories per pound, a 155-pound person would need to do nearly 10 hours of walking on crutches to lose one pound (150 hours to lose 15 pounds).

Certainly, post surgical patients on crutches have other factors going for them as well that could possibly contribute to weight loss, such as changes in diet due to surgery, loss of appetite due to pain medications, or, simply being driven by a motivation to get moving and stay healthy.

And, if you've been watching the Saints and Payton lately, it's fair to say he's doing a bit more than a leisurely walk up and down those sidelines.

*Based on this calculation from the Mayo Clinic that a 160-pound person burns 183 calories per hour while walking. 

DISCLAIMER: Mobilegs provided a pair of Mobilegs Ultra crutches to Sean Payton as a gift. Payton is under no contractual obligation to use the product or to provide endorsement. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day: Some Facts You Might Not Know

In honor of this important day, we share the following facts on what this day is and what means to our country and the men and women who have served in our military.

Veterans Day is a national holiday dedicated to thanking all men and women who have served honorably in the military during times of war and peace.

United States Department of Veterans Affairs
2011 Veterans Day Poster
Veterans Day originated as "Armistice Day" on November 11, 1919 - the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I. It became a national holiday in 1938 and was renamed to Veterans Day in 1954.
Source:, Veterans Day Facts 

400,000 of the United States Armed Forces died during World War II.
Source: Associated Content, Interesting Veterans Day Facts

There were 21.9 million military Veterans in the United States as of the 2009 U.S. Census. Of those, 1.5 million were female.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 

A national Veterans Day Ceremony is held each year at Arlington National Cemetery, which begins with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Similar ceremonies take place at VA National Cemeteries throughout the country. 
Source: United States Department of Veterans Affairs 

Red Poppies are the official flower of Veterans Day in reference to the poem, "In Flanders Fields." In 1918, Moina Belle Michael pledged to always wear a red poppy as a sign of remembrance, an idea that spread and was later supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars with their "Buddy Poppy" program.
Source: Veterans Day Quiz

Although he was born before Veterans Day was established, famous World War II American military officer, George Patton, shares his birthday with this holiday.
Source: American History Fun Facts About Veterans Day

Veterans Day is spelled without an apostrophe "s" because it is not a day that belongs to veterans, but a day for honoring all veterans.
Source: United States Departement of Veterans Affairs

There are many ways that you can show your support. Consider purchasing a pair of Mobilegs for a wounded Veteran or any of the ideas listed in this post, "11 Ways to Help Veterans On 11-11-11."

Friday, November 4, 2011

9 Online Resources and Mobile Apps for Medical Information

When you need some basic medical advice, chances are you want it fast, and you're maybe even feeling a little anxious - not exactly the time to be wading through pages for search results.

With that in mind, we combed the web to find some reliable, user-friendly online sources and mobile applications for finding medical information, or to research specialists. (You might not need this today, but it's worth bookmarking for when you do.)

Here's our list...what would you add? Please share in the comments.

Online Resources
Mayo Clinic's online health information portal offers information on tests and procedures, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as tools for healthy living.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Information site offers an A-Z listing of health topics as well as health and wellness resources and information on clinical trials being conducted in the United States and around the world.

WebMD offers a Medical Dictionary that defines and explains terms as well as an A-Z guide for common health concerns. And, their Physician Directory includes a searchable database of doctors by location, name and/or specialty.

HealthGrades features a searchable database of doctors and hospitals by location, name or specialty. Information includes quality ratings, patient surveys, and cost information.

If you're looking for specific information on an Orthopaedic Surgeon, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has a searchable database by doctor's name and location.

Mobile Apps

The WebMD app for iPhone, iPad and Android includes a symptom checker, drugs and treatments, first aid, and information and local health listings.

Ask a Doctor app for Android allows users to ask health questions to a team of doctors, free of charge. Similar to the "My Doctor" app for iPhone and iPad (cost is 99 cents, but once downloaded, questions are free).

My Medical for iPhone and iPad and My Medical Info for Android make it possible to store personal medical information on a mobile device.

Disclaimer: Each of these links are to serve only as suggestions and resources presented here are intended for information but should not replace professional medical advice or treatment. This list is not an endorsement by Mobi nor is Mobi being compensated in any way for publishing these links. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Design Matters...An Interview with Mobilegs Designer, Jeff Weber

We spoke with Mobilegs' designer, Jeff Weber, about the role of design in the products we use. Here's what he had to say...

Why is design important for consumer products?

Jeff Weber, designer of Mobilegs Crutches
Design is the connective tissue between people and the world we inhabit – the quality of that design profoundly affects the quality of the human experience and thus, defines our existence.

When using a product, we should be almost unaware of its existence. Comfort is the absence of awareness. The less aware we are of the device we’re using, the better. And, the more likely we are to select the well-designed product over one that is inferior.

Consumers want a good product, and deserve to be given that choice.

What is most essential to successful product design?

Empathy is the key to good design. It requires a total understanding of the needs of the people you are design for. This user-centric point of view is critical in improving the design of any product.

The designer must understand the user’s pain, frustration, joy, and physical and emotional well-being. There should always be a human benefit associated with product design – it’s about the experience, stimulating a person’s senses in a positive or beneficial way

Armed with that information, a designer can begin to construct a good product. It is a blend of art and science – using them in combination to positively impact how people live or work.

What has inspired your work and career?

The human body is a constant source of inspiration for me. Comfort and health are like love and peace – they go together and we can really never have enough. Throughout my career, I’ve set out to produce things that will improve the human experience.

Jeff Weber, of Studio Weber + Associates is an industrial designer who has developed such products as the Herman Miller Embody® Chair, PUR® Water Filtration Systems, and Mobilegs Crutches.

Monday, October 10, 2011

An Olympic Experience

Guest post by two-time Paralympic archer and Mobilegs user, Lindsey Carmichael. 

I suppose I could be predictable and say that the most exciting thing about the Paralympic Games was standing on the podium to receive my Bronze Medal. It was certainly one of the best moments of my life. But instead, I have to admit that the most exciting moment was the Opening Ceremonies—both for Athens and Beijing.

Lindsey at Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Paralympics.
Photo Credit: Kevin J. Stone
To this day, if I tell the full story of what it was like to be a part of the Opening Ceremonies, I will begin to get choked up and my eyes will become teary. I have seen this happen for other people, too, even the coaches and team staff members who were present.

You see, athletes aren’t spectators like everyone else. We are part of the show. So, on the day of the Ceremonies, the officials keep the athletes in the tunnel system of the stadium for hours until just the right moment for the Parade of Nations to begin. Everyone is in full uniform and grouped together by country. The waiting is almost painful, because everyone is so tense and excited. Finally, you can hear the Ceremonies begin with distant rumbles and music. They begin calling the countries out in order, one by one, and the line moves slowly.

I will never forget the moment when Team USA was poised at the entrance to Oaka Stadium in Athens.

Picture hundreds of athletes in red, white, and blue, holding our breaths in the dim light of the tunnel. Just beyond the opening, there is a swirl of brilliant light and color. Then imagine hearing the booming words of the stadium announcer in English, French, and Greek: “Ladies and gentlemen! The United States of America!” We surged out onto the track and into the bright light. The roar of the crowd was stupefyingly loud. I have never felt anything like it—it wasn’t just deafening, it was an avalanche of cheers. Around the bowl of the stadium, tens of thousands of people rose to their feet and snapped photographs, which produced a wave of glittering flashes. I have seldom felt so proud to be an athlete and an American as I did at that moment. The same exact thing happened in China, in the Bird’s Nest Stadium with an even larger crowd.

I am not exaggerating when I say that both times, the Opening Ceremonies changed my life.

Adding to the experience, I was struck by a true sense of community among all of the athletes. I had never seen so many wheelchairs, crutches, and canes all in one place, and all in different styles and sizes—some of them pretty tricked out with fancy paint jobs, too. Wherever you went, all over the Athlete Village and competition venues, there were people from all countries of the world who might have otherwise felt out of place in “normal” society.

And yet, there were so many of us that the usual barriers began toppling almost immediately. Even the most introverted people became comfortable speaking about their disability, their struggles to adapt, and the hundred little ways they had overcome their obstacles each and every day. We even had a professional comedian, one of our Team USA soccer players, give a stand-up routine to a crowd full of athletes—the kinds of jokes that perhaps only a disabled person might be able to laugh at, but good clean fun for us, anyway. It was surprising to discover that a community like that exists at all.

Throughout my Olympic experiences, I felt tremendous freedom to be exactly who I am, regardless of appearance or ability.

Monday, October 3, 2011

5 Tips for Preparing for Surgery

If you are heading into surgery, you're likely focused on the road ahead of you - post surgery. But, you don't want to wake up on day one and find yourself unprepared for that journey.

We reached out to our Mobilegs Facebook community for these tips to prepare for a positive, post-surgical experience:

  1. Start your physical therapy now. Don't wait until after your surgery to start your exercises. Getting your body in as good as shape as you can before the surgery can help to ensure that you're a healthy surgical patient. This also puts your body in better shape to deal with possible weight gain due to limited post-opp activity and decreased metabolism.

  2. Treat yourself. Whether it's a nice dinner out, a day at the spa, or an outing with friends and family, take the time to to what you most enjoy as it might be some time before you're out and about again. This can also help to put you in a more positive mindset before surgery.

  3. Go shopping for post-surgery necessities. Items you might want to consider are:
    • Recovery items such as a shower seat, cast cover, ergonomic pillows or cushions, and crutches or other mobility items. Sometimes these can be purchased at the doctor's office or hospital, but taking some time to look and purchase ahead of time gives you the luxury of choosing from a wider selection of options to find the best fit for your needs and comfort. 
    • Clothes that are easy to put on, fit over any cast or brace that you might have and most importantly, are comfortable.  
    • Groceries that are easy to prepare. The last thing you want to worry about when you come home from surgery is grocery shopping. Stock up ahead of time with items that are easy to prepare, whether it's you or a family member who will be taking on this responsibility.  
    • Activities for the kids. For parents of young children, post-surgical times can be especially challenging. Consider picking up things like puzzels, books, word games or other activities that you can do with your kids while you're recovering.

  4. Organize your home. Consider your post-surgical mobility and arrange spaces to accomodate. Move furniture to create safe passageways if you're going to be on crutches. If you have a multi-level home, move essential items to the main level and consider setting up a bed for yourself on that level as well, to avoid the struggle (and potential hazard) of going up and down stairs.
  5. Talk to, and listen to, your doctor. Discuss your surgery before hand, and understand the procedure as well as your options for pain management. You might want to inquire about a nerve block and whether or not it would be an option for you to consider. During the entire process, follow your doctor's instructions regarding everything from prescriptions for pain and infections as well as your post-surgery routine and mobility restrictions. 
Do you have additional tips to share? Please do so in the comments below. 

Want to talk to others who have taken this journey? Please join the conversation on Facebook.

These tips are provided as suggestions and are not intended as professional medical advice. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Red Carpet Appearances with Crutches

Think the Hollywood elite wouldn’t dare to walk the red carpet with a pair of crutches? Think again.

After all of the splendor of this week's Emmy Awards, we thought it'd be fun to bring you this list of people who have made red carpet appearances with crutches:

Dot-Marie Jones (Coach Beiste) at the premiere of the third season of Glee last month.

Susan Sarandon at the New York City premiere of "You Don't Know Jack" in 2010.

British soap opera star, Kelly Marie Stewart at the British Soap Awards in 2010.

Serena Williams on the "orange" carpet for the Miami Dolphins game November, 2010.

Matthew Gray-Gubler at the premiere of 500 Days of Summer in 2009.

Soccer star, Christiano Ronaldo at the 2008 Espy Awards.

George Clooney's date, Sarah Larson, at the New York premiere of "Michael Clayton" in 2007, and George himself back in 1997.

Just because you're on crutches, doesn't mean you're not fabulous. Crutches can make quite a fashion statement, especially when blinged-out with d├ęcor or skins. Make your own unique red carpet statement and think about ways you can add some personality and fun to your crutches…and share your ideas with us in the comments below!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Teaching Your Children How To React to People with Disabilities

Guest post by Lindsey Carmichael

Most people are afraid or embarrassed to interact with someone in a wheelchair or on crutches, and I think this is common for two reasons. First, many people have not had the opportunity to interact much with disabled people. That’s the primary reason anyone feels awkward or nervous around someone from a minority group.

The second reason is a scenario I see very often and it is almost tragic. In an effort to be polite, most people will teach their kids to not bother any disabled people they meet. Let’s say for example that I am at the grocery store checkout next to a mother and her son. He is naturally curious about my Mobilegs and will look at me quite openly, trying to figure out why I am different.

Often a kid in his position will ask the obvious question. At this point, the normal reaction of the mother is to turn beet red, scold her son for being rude, apologize to me, and drag her son away. I feel really bad for the parent in this situation since they are only trying to be polite — and are probably just doing the same thing their parents told them.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t teach the child to be polite. This teaches the child that a disabled person is scary, different, and shouldn’t be approached. It is true that nobody likes to be stared at, and when I was young I used to be embarrassed. Think of what it might feel like for a mother to tell her son not to stare at you. Wouldn’t you start feeling different and wishing people wouldn’t approach you, either?

The best solution for this that I have seen is for the parent to allow the child to look and ask their question, then to answer calmly. Even if you feel weird, just pretend that everything is normal — and it will be. I love it when the parent suggests to the child that maybe they could ask me politely why I am on crutches. This has the added benefit of giving the child full permission to interact with me, and to become comfortable with speaking to someone different.

I am always sure to take the question seriously and to give an honest answer, even if it’s just as simple as “I get sore sometimes and these help me get around.” When a parent responds instead of overreacting, he or she will help the child and the disabled person so much more than if they simply tried to be “polite” in the first place.

Lindsey Carmichael is a two-time Paralympic archer and Mobilegs user.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Five Stretches to Prevent Fall Sports Injury

With a new school year comes a new season of fall sports, from elementary school to college athletics and beyond.

Football…22 players on a 100-yard field tackling one another over the pigskin.

Gymnastics, cheerleading, diving…athletes flying through the air without any protective padding.

Cross-country running…which has been reported to have the highest injury rate of scholastic sports.

Unfortunately, fall sports bring the tendency for injury that can be devastating for young athletes and of course, a constant worry for parents and coaches alike. A large majority of injuries are caused by dehydration and improper (or utter lack of) warm up and stretching.

The Mayo Clinic offers stretching exercises as a guide for injury prevention. Here are five basic stretches that can help prevent common sports injuries to the legs and hips:

1. Calf Stretch. Using a wall for balance, place one foot in front of the other and slightly bend the front leg forward, keeping the back knee straight and heel on the floor. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

2. Hamstring Stretch. Lie on the floor and raise one leg, keeping the knee slightly bent. Straighten the knee and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

3. Quadriceps Stretch. Using a wall for balance, grasp one ankle and pull heel up and back. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

4. Hip Flexor Stretch. Kneel on one knee, placing the opposite foot in frond of you. Lean forward, shifting more body weight to our front let. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

5. ITB Stretch. Using a wall for balance, cross one leg over the other at the ankle and extend the same arm overhead, reaching to the other side. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

Regardless of preventative measures, there were an estimated 1,195,815 high-school sports-related injuries in the United States during the 2010-11 school year. Injuries do happen, and often times, athletes are given crutches that have the potential to cause additional injury. If you (or someone you know) suffers from an injury, we hope you’ll consider Mobilegs crutches during recovery, and get back in the game as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Five Amazing Feats That Took Place on Crutches

Being on crutches got you down? Here are some amazing feats that have been accomplished by people with their crutches.

John Sandford Hart has completed SIX marathons on crutches, earning him two Guinness World Records - Fastest Marathon Completed on Crutches – one leg (6 hours, 24 minutes 28 seconds in the 2011 London Marathon) and most marathons completed on crutches.

And, Sandford was not the first to hold the one leg record. Simon Baker completed a marathon with one leg and crutches in 6 hours and 47 minutes in 2008, smashing the then current record by 26 minutes.

After suffering two stress fractures in her leg during her 5-year run around the world, 61-year old Rosie Swale Pope completed her journey…on crutches.

This man crutched his way up the steepest street in the world, Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand.

After polio rendered him paralyzed from the waist down at the age of two, William Tan walked using his hands and dragging his feet because his parents were too poor to buy him crutches. He did this until the age of 10 when he was given an old pair of crutches. He later went on to pursue an Ivy League education, become a doctor, train at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic and became the first man in history to complete 10 marathons over 8 continents over 70 consecutive days.

So really, the sky is the limit – being on crutches doesn’t have to stop you from accomplishing anything. Tell us…what feat, large or small, do you (or did you) hope to accomplish while on crutches?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Meet Lindsey Carmichael, Two-Time Paralympic Archer

The following is an excerpt from our interview with Lindsey Carmichael, two-time paralympic archer and user of Mobilegs crutches. Watch for her future guest posts here on the Mobilegs blog.

I was born with a rare bone condition called McCune Albright Syndrome. Basically, it amounts to lots of broken bones in my adolescent years, and as I like to reassure people, “rockstar parking.” It isn’t the kind of condition that really lends itself to sports, because even in something gentle like swimming there is the chance of slipping and falling.

When I was in middle school, a teacher suggested that my friend and I go take an archery class, and I stuck with it. Archery woke up my competitive nature. As much as I enjoyed practice with friends, I began to look forward to each new tournament, where I might have a chance to prove my abilities and determination. Little did we know at the time that my teacher's suggestion coupled with my enthusiasm and determination would pave my way to Athens and Beijing.
Photo Credit: Marsha Miller 

Archery is a sport that is open to just about everyone—whether you are short, tall, male, female, six years old or ninety-six, able bodied, on crutches, in a wheelchair, one-armed, or even blind. I fit into some of those categories (short, female, and on crutches) but I have seen all kinds of people find joy in the sport of archery, which really does try to level the playing field for everyone.

I upgraded to a pair of Mobilegs in February of 2011 at the suggestion of my dad, who is also my primary archery coach. My old pair of crutches had once seemed cutting edge, but over a decade of use had strained the nerves in my wrists enough to give me carpal and radial tunnel syndrome. This is bad news for someone who relies on her arms and hands all the time!

My crutches were causing me pain during archery practice and made me dread the days where I knew I would have to cover a lot of territory on foot. Sometimes I would have to ice my forearms before going to evening archery practice. So clearly, even though I had grown very attached to my crutches—enough to joke about them as extra limbs—they were doing me more harm than good.

I feel silly admitting this, but I actually put off trying Mobilegs because I was so attached to my old crutches. When you rely on something so much that it’s nearly impossible to imagine life without it. But once we took them out of the box and adjusted them for my short height and my unusually long arms, I was beginning to consider using them — you know, maybe as backups to my normal crutches.

Then, I noticed how similar the grip of the Mobilegs was to my archery bow grip – so much so, that when I first had the honor of talking to Jeff Weber, the designer of Mobilegs, I asked if he had used an archery bow grip as his inspiration. (He hadn’t—he just has the good sense to make an adaptive product that conforms to a moving human body, instead of the other way around.)

Mobilegs have become far more than I guessed they would. I use them all the time and can barely stand to be on my old pair of crutches. I took Mobilegs with me everywhere throughout my final semester at the University of Texas, with all its staircases, steep hills, crowded hallways, and slippery linoleum. I even used them to walk in my commencement ceremonies when I went to receive my diploma and more recently, out dancing with my boyfriend.

Additionally, I really like that Mobilegs look cool. My old crutches were things I went out of my way to hide, to the point that I would photoshop them out of photographs. Mobilegs feel more like big accessories. I get compliments on them just as much as I would from a nice purse or pretty pair of earrings. That may seem like a small consideration… but when you have to keep something with you 24/7, you want it to look good.

Most importantly, though, at the end of a day spent on Mobilegs, I can shoot archery without pain. I can type, and write, and swim laps, and chop vegetables, and do all the things that used to make my wrists ache after a day spent bearing my full body weight at the worst possible angle.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

10 Pain Management Alternatives


No matter if you’re recently injured, post-surgical or in rehabilitation, it’s the one word that’s probably on your mind a lot.

And how could it not be?

When you’re hurt, pain is often all you can think about. It overrides the circuits, clouds your worldview and sits in judgment on every step in the healing process.

For many, pain becomes a long-term companion too.

The Institute of Medicine, the medical branch of the National Academy of Sciences, estimates that chronic pain afflicts 116 million Americans. Ten percent to 50 percent of surgical patients who have pain after surgery go on to develop chronic pain, depending on the procedure, and for as many as 10 percent of those patients, the chronic postoperative pain is severe. (Source, New York Times)

Unless you are post-surgical, finding a drug to treat your pain can be a challenge (many doctor’s don’t like to prescribe them and they can make it hard for you to function in other parts of your life). So where else can you turn?

Below are 10 ideas to think about. Please note, the options below are NOT recommendations made by a medical professional, but rather resources you may want to investigate. Please consult with your doctor before you pursue any treatment options.

1.     Physical Therapy: PT is usually the first option doctors recommend for pain management. Treatment may be performed by a physical therapist or physiotherapist, whose first course of action is usually to reduce pain and swelling and then to increase your flexibility, strength, and endurance using exercise. A  physical therapist also may use manual therapy, education, and techniques such as heat, cold, water, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation (see next two items).

2.     Iontophoresis (a.k.a. Electromotive Drug Administration): is a technique using a small electric charge to deliver a medicine or other chemical through the skin. It is basically an injection without the needle. This is often a tool used by physical therapists and can come in a “to go” model which your PT can charge up, stick on you and send you on your way.

3.     TENS Unit: TENS stands for Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, the use of electric current to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes. TENS units can often be clipped onto your belt so you can use on the go too.

4.     Acupuncture/Acupressure: Acupuncture is an alternative medicine that treats patients by insertion and manipulation of needles in the body -- different variations are practiced and taught throughout the world. Acupressure uses fingers to press key healing points instead of needles.

5.     Prolotherapy: Prolotherapy uses a dextrose (sugar water) solution, which is injected into the ligament or tendon where it attaches to the bone. This causes a localized inflammation in hopes of stimulating the tissue to repair itself.

6.     Cortisone injections: A cortisone injection is the injection of an anti-inflammatory, synthetically produced steroid which can be used to treat the inflammation of small areas of the body (local injections), or inflammation that is widespread throughout the body (systemic injections).

7.     Chiropractic Treatment: Chiropractic Treatment is form of alternative medicine that emphasizes diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine, and usually involves manual therapy, including manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues.

8.     Massage Therapy: Massage is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote well-being. There are countless massage approaches including Myofascial release, Shiatsu, Trigger point and Watsu (which takes place in the water).

9.     Self-Hypnosis/Biofeedback: Self-hypnosis is a form of hypnosis which is self-induced, and normally makes use of self-suggestion to put yourself in a calm state to reduce tension or stress that is connected to the pain. Similarly, biofeedback is the process of becoming aware of various physiological functions using instruments that provide information on the activity of those same systems, with a goal of being able to manipulate them at will.

10.  Topical Pain Creams/Patches: Over the counter creams or ointments like Aspercreme, Bengay and Tiger Balm or painkillers like Zostrix, can help decreases inflammation and relieve pain by causing either coolness or heat at the pain site. A transdermal patch that contains lidocaine can also offer chronic pain relief. Lidoderm and Lidopain are two, available by prescription.

For an additional perspective on Pain, check out the excellent book, The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering.

What other recommendations do you have on pain management to add to our list?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Flying with Crutches: Common Questions Answered

Let’s face it….there’s probably never a convenient time to be injured and on crutches. But, if you are injured during summer vacation season, you may find yourself wondering how to navigate airports and flying with your crutches.

Here are some helpful answers to questions you probably have on your mind:

How early should I arrive at the airport?
Understand that it’s going to take you little longer to get around. Give yourself an extra hour or so to avoid the stress of having to rush.

Are crutches considered a carry-on item?
Airlines allow crutches as an additional approved carry on item, like a jacket. However, if you do plan to use carry-on-luggage, consider opting for a backpack instead of a roller suitcase that will be easier for you to carry.

What about security - do my crutches need to go through the X-ray machine?
Crutches will need to go through the X-ray machine. If you have a cast or brace, security officers will examine it and likely screen it with a hand wand. During this time, you can ask to sit down once you have passed through the screening device. If you’ve had surgery and have any metal pins or plates, know that titanium may not set off the security alert, but it might be a good idea to alert the TSA.

Can I get any help getting to my gate?
Most airlines offer in-airport wheelchair service to those needing assistance, free of charge. With the wheelchair, you’ll be able to hold your crutches while being assisted to the gate. (Consider bringing small bills to tip the wheelchair pusher.)

How will I get to my seat, and where will my crutches be stowed?
If you requested wheelchair assistance, airport staff will transport you down the ramp to the aircraft. Once on the aircraft, you might be comfortable using your crutches to get to your seat, or, you may use an onboard wheelchair designed to fit through the aisle. Flight attendants will then stow your crutches, and assist you with the onboard wheelchair as needed during the flight.

These recommendations are based on accommodations provided by most major airlines. Please check with your individual airline prior to your trip.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Five Ways Your Crutches Could Be Hurting You

Getting a pair of crutches, post-injury is something a lot of people look forward to. After being stuck in bed or in the house, crutches come to us wrapped in opportunity – opportunity to move around again, to go out and see your friends to resume doing the things that you enjoy the most. But, there’s also a downside to that gift that is less visible.

While crutches can play a critical role in your rehabilitation or long-term mobility needs, their use can also initiate a domino effect -- new movement patterns start stressing new parts of your body, which can create new aches, pains and injuries. Before you know it, the very thing that is supposed to literally get back on your feet, can end up knocking you back down again.

Yes, crutches can hurt you. And here are the top five ways they can do that:

  1. Skin irritation: One of the most common side affects of using crutches is that the chaffing and rubbing of the crutch saddle in the axilla (underarm) can cause skin irritation.
  2. Soreness or bruised ribs: The ongoing pressure of the crutch saddle against your ribs can cause armpit soreness and bruised ribs.
  3. Nerve damage: Using a traditional pair of crutches for an extended length of time can put significant pressure on the axilla (underarm) from the crutch saddle. Over time, this pressure can cause nerve damage, and in some cases, lead to crutch palsy (compressive neuropathy) of the brachial plexus, ulnar nerve.
  4. Wrist/hand injuries: Upper extremity stress can contribute to a number of conditions: wrist pain and soreness, carpal tunnel syndrome, calloused or blistered hands, shoulder fatigue or discomfort or cardiac arrest in patients with heart disease.
  5. Arterial damage: Adding significant pressure on the arteries in axilla (underarm) from excessive weight bearing on a crutch saddle can cause damage in your arteries or aneurysms, which may require surgical repair (bypass, angioplasty) or amputation.

While crutches may seem like a temporary aid for a temporary period in your life, the reality is that they can be a critical component of your rehabilitation, so think carefully about the style of crutch that you choose (particularly if you will be using them for an extended period of time) and to make sure you get education in how to use them properly. It could make the difference in ensuring that your road to recovery has an end in sight.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mobilegs at the Abilities Expo with Lindsey Carmichael

Coming to the Abilities Expo in Chicago July 8-10? Then be sure not to miss an Adaptive Archery demonstration presented by Lindsey CarmichaelBeijing Paralympics Bronze Medalist and Two-Time Paralympian.

Lindsey will demonstrate her sport and also discuss the adaptive equipment she uses to compete - Mobilegs. After the demonstration, attendees are welcome to visit with Lindsey and learn more about archery by seeing the equipment up close.

Lindsey will also share resources for getting involved in archery in the local Chicago area. Mobilegs will also be at the Expo at booth 114.

The Chicago Abilities Expo is a free event, being held at the Schaumburg Convention Center in its Exploration and Discovery Halls. The Expo will be open Friday, July 8 from 11 am-5pm, Saturday, July 9, from 10am-5pm, and Sunday, July 10 from 11am-4pm.