Friday, May 23, 2008

Oscar Pistorius Can Run

The "Blade Runner" will be allowed to compete for the opportunity to run in the Olympics in Beijing, China in August. Why is that significant? Because the South African athlete had both of his legs amputated below the knees when he was only eleven months old! Here is a picture of his blades as he is getting into a set of starting blocks:

Initially, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banned Pistorius because they claimed his carbon fiber blades gave him a mechanical advantage over the able-bodied athletes. Just a week ago, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAF) overturned that January ban and ruled Pistorius could compete in the Olympics. He will also be competing in the Paralympics in Beijing in September.

You can read a good Associated Press article about him by clicking here.

This is a HUGE ruling for people with disabilities throughout the world. It means someone with a disability can compete with able-bodied athletes on an even keel. He still needs to qualify. Right now, he is 1.01 seconds from the qualifying time to compete in the 400 meters. Even if he doesn't get down to the qualifying time of 45.55 seconds, the South African team may put him on the 4 by 400 relay team. This is a big step (pardon the pun) for equality for people with disabilities and will be fun to watch play out.

Even if he doesn't qualify for the Olympics this year, he is only twenty-one years old and plans to continue training for the 2012 Olympics in London.

It will be an interesting story to follow. If you would like to watch him run, and see a good video about Oscar Pistorius' story, check out this video:



Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's Prom Time

The annual rite of spring is upon us and it brings loads of fun. Yes, it's Prom Time! Unfortunately, prom night and subsequently, graduation night far too often end sadly with a traffic accident that affect thousands of teenagers, their families and countless friends. Many of these traffic accidents involve drinking and driving. Spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and very often death are the tragic results.

According to Gary Pace, PhD, the clinical director from the May Institute's school for children and adolescents with brain injury, "Statistics reveal that eight young people die every day in alcohol-related crashes. Many of these deaths occur in the spring and summer months following prom night and graduation parties. And many of these fatalities are caused by traumatic brain injuries that, in most cases, are preventable."

Pace states those numbers come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). His entire article may be read by clicking here.

Check out these related statistics and facts from the Centers for Disease Control.

As adults, we all know from personal experience how teens feel invincible. I remember as a 16-year-old telling my mother not to worry about me. "I'm not going to get hurt playing football." Or so, I thought.

Because of that sense of invincibility, many young people don't use their seatbelts. Studies show seatbelt use amongst teens goes down dramatically the later the hour.

If you're a teenager: buckle up, no matter the time of day, who's in the car or how far you're traveling. And please, please don't drink and drive, or get in a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking.

Parents: take the time today to have that talk. If you've already had it, have it again!

I hope both you teens and parents have a wonderful prom and graduation night experience. Make sure you get plenty of pictures. It will give you something to look back on in a decade, or two, or three and laugh about!

Have a wonderful and safe spring and summer.



Sunday, May 11, 2008

Classic Carson

Many of us grew up watching Johnny Carson hosting The Tonight Show. Sorry kids, Jay Leno hasn't always been the host! My cousin sent me this hilarious piece from 1969 when the show ran for ninety minutes.

His guests that night were incredibly funny people, namely Bob Hope, Dean Martin and he was interviewing George Gobel during this clip. Watch what Dean Martin is doing as George Gobel is talking to Johnny. Everybody seems to be aware of the joke except Gobel.

The reason I put this post up is to show just how far the paradigm has shifted with what we find funny and what used to pass as good, clean fun. Also, note both Martin and Gobel were smoking. We don't see that anymore.

See if you agree with me about how humor has changed.


Change is a constant in our lives. It is happening faster and faster all the time. I think it is important every once in a while to slow down and see where we have been to better appreciate where we are now and contemplate where we are going. I believe humor is a good barometer to measure change. What do you think?

I look forward to your comments.



Saturday, May 3, 2008

Spinal Cord Injury — any questions?

That's me, number 26, on my back, in the end zone, September 3, 1971. It was the end of my first life and the beginning of my new life as a quadriplegic. The journey I was beginning has been extraordinary, with many ups and downs. It was a traumatic event that affected not only me, but all my family and friends. It also affected the community and many people in the area around Worthington.

Click on the image to enlarge:

Dr. Roger Hallin was a physiatrist who happened to be at the game that night. He was also my rehab doctor when I was in Worthington. One day my physical therapist had me on the mat in the PT gym doing range of motion when Dr. Hallin came in. He gave me the best advise I have ever received. He said, "I want you to learn everything about your body and your injury you possibly can because you will be in situations when people won't know how to handle you, and you will have to tell them what to do."

I have learned a great deal about SCI, it's effects, the hope for a cure, and much more. However, a friend just sent me a website with answers to many other questions I had not even thought about.

The Morton Cure Paralysis Fund has a wonderfully informative website you can peruse and learn from by clicking here.

The following paragraph comes directly from their site:

"Spinal cord injury is devastating, not only for the injured person but for families and friends as well. While much information is available on the Internet, most of the material is scattered and out of date. This article summarizes answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by people who are encountering spinal cord injury for the first time. Spinal cord injury disconnects the brain from the body. This leads not only to loss of sensation and motor control below the injury site but may be associated with abnormal activities of the spinal cord both above and below the injury site, resulting in spasticity, neuropathic pain, and autonomic dysreflexia. Many functions of our body that we take for granted, such as going to the bathroom, sexual function, blood pressure and heart rate, digestion, temperature control and sweating, and other autonomic functions may not only be lost but may be abnormally active. Finally, contrary to popular notions about spinal cord injury, recovery is the rule and not the exception in spinal cord injury. The recovery takes a long time and may be slowed down or blocked by the muscle atrophy and learned non-use. Finally, there is hope. Many therapies have been shown to regenerate and remyelinate the spinal cord. Some of these are now in clinical trials and many more should be in clinical trial soon."

If you are at all interested in learning more about spinal cord injury, I encourage to check out their site.

I look forward to your comments.