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.