Monday, July 28, 2008

Randy Pausch Has Died

On July 25th, the Last Lecturer lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and his Last Lecture has been downloaded millions of times from his website, YouTube and countless blogs. It also led to a best-selling book by the same name.

Here is his last lecture:

It is 76 minutes long, but it is very good.

His legacy is impressive and can
inspire us all. I am always looking for new opportunities to learn, and I learned a great deal by watching The Last Lecture.

Randy Pausch was only 47.



Monday, July 14, 2008

SCI Facts and Figures

In reviewing some of my recent posts, it seems I am focusing on disability issues. I want to continue doing that and give you a great website to learn more about spinal cord injury facts and the incidence and prevalence of SCI in the United States. If you are a spinal cord injured person, have a family member or friend who has a SCI, or just want to learn more about the issue, you should check out this page and the rest of this website.

According to the
National Spinal Cord Injury Database's website:

The National Spinal Cord Injury Database has been in existence since 1973 and captures data from an estimated 13% of new SCI cases in the U.S. Since its inception, 26 federally funded Model SCI Care Systems have contributed data to the National SCI Database. As of October 2007 the database contained information on 25,415 persons who sustained traumatic spinal cord injuries.

You can get to the rest of this piece by clicking here.

One of the interesting trends I have seen these last several years is the changing terminology. One word in particular is changing — quadriplegia is being replaced by tetraplegia. They mean the same thing, and I am not quite sure why the change. Do you know? This article uses tetraplegia throughout.

In my mind, I will always be a quad. To me, a tertra is a tropical fish. Of course, that's coming from an old quad.

I look forward to your comments.



Sunday, July 6, 2008

Founding Father Had A Disability

One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had cerebral palsy. Stephen Hopkins was active in Rhode Island politics for more than forty years. He was elected governor nine times. Hopkins was more than just another signer: he was a key leader in the revolution. As he signed, here’s what he said: “Though my hands shake, my heart does not.”

Hopkins is the man wearing a hat standing in the back of the room. You can learn more about him by clicking here.

We all know Franklin Roosevelt was stricken with polio, and dealt with its effects for much of his adult life. What you may not know is just how many of our former Presidents had disabilities of all sorts. There are several.

Here is one of only a few known pictures of FDR in a wheelchair:

There was a feeling in the country if a leader were to have a disability of some sort he would not be fit to hold office because of his disability. Hopefully, we know better now. We have had many examples of leaders with disabilities since FDR's time. From former Alabama Governor George Wallace to
former Georgia Senator Max Cleland, to name just two, we know people can carry out the duties of their elected offices and make important decisions despite their disabilities.

I find it interesting one of our Founding Fathers had a disability, and it took over two hundred years to enact the Americans with Disabilities Act that granted certain rights and protections to an entire group of about fifty million people.

I will have a job as long as disability awareness is a topic we need to address.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.



Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Promise of Embryonic Stem Cells

I can't tell you how many times I've watched the 60 Minutes piece I posted a few weeks ago. It has given me renewed hope they will find a cure for spinal cord injury and so many other diseases that will improve and even save lives! That doesn't even mention the idea they may be able to grow replacement tissue and organs for people who need them. It is fascinating!

In doing a little research on human embryonic stem cells, I came across this Position Statement on the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation website. Go to it by clicking here.

The highlight of the article for me is:

The Key Facts About Stem Cells

Stem cells are the building blocks of our bodies. They have the unique ability to turn into and regenerate the specialized cells that make up our tissues, bones and organs.
  • Adult type stem cells are found in the body tissues, including tissues in the bodies of adults and in discarded umbilical cords and placentas. Scientists have been conducting research with adult stem cells for over 50 years and have developed a number of medical therapies that use adult stem cells, such as bone marrow transplants to treat leukemia.
  • Embryonic stem cells are the new frontier in stem cell research. There are two basic sources of embryonic stem cells: leftover fertility clinic embryos that would otherwise be discarded and a process called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT).
  • SCNT is a recent medical breakthrough that can use a patient's own cells and an unfertilized human egg to make embryonic stem cells that match the patient's genetic makeup. Embryonic stem cell research does not use or harm an embryo or fetus in a woman's uterus.
It truly is a fascinating read. Let me know what you think.