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Alberta’s Health & Lifestyle Magazine for People with Spinal Cord Injuries & Other Physical Disabilities

Fall 2010

Racing wheels How Sam Schmidt came to own an Indy Racing League Team

Publications Mail Agreement #40011327


Fall 2010 Volume 25 Number 4



16 Racing Past the Finish Line

4 Editorial Raising a Dollar 5 Inbox

Executive Editor............ Larry Pempeit Assistant Editor........... Betty MacIsaac Design / Writer......................Aaron Yeo

Material printed in Spinal Columns may not be reproduced without written permission from the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta). We neither endorse nor guarantee any of the products or services advertised within Spinal Columns. Readers are strongly urged to thoroughly investigate products/companies before purchase. Spinal Columns is available in alternate formats by contacting our office as listed above.

ISSN 1195-5767


In your Community In the News


On Your Behalf CPA (Alberta) Advocacy

Fit Zone 12 Taking Care of the Old Ball and Socket Feature 13 Accessible Terrain Vehicles Multimillionaire Sam Schmidt shares his story of success on the Formula One racing track. FEATURE STORY

14 A Flexible Design Approach

In Recognition 18 The Golf Tournament Must Go On! Feature 22 Help From Dogs With Wings Research 24 p.a.t.h. SCI Education 26 Dr. Gary McPherson Scholarship Profile 27 Giving Back: Scott Sankey In Recognition 28 Give a Kid a Lift 29 Team Apache Services 30 Wheelchair Sports Alberta Alberta Aids to Daily Living

Publications Mail Agreement #40011327 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) #305, 11010 - 101 Street Edmonton, AB T5H 4B9 E-Mail:

Meet the Staff CPA (Alberta) Staff Profiles

Innovations 10 Surfing for Solutions 11 Hidden Gems

Spinal Columns is published four times a year by the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta). Advertising rates available upon request. Ideas, submissions, requests, suggestions and letters are always welcome. Address them to: The Editor, Spinal Columns Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) #305, 11010 - 101 Street Edmonton, Alberta T5H 4B9 (780) 424-6312


32 Regions What’s New in Alberta 34 Perspective American Disabilities Act Part II of this feature on universal design and accessible housing by Ron Wickman shows us how he tackled the problems he faced.

36 Travel Cruising the Seven Seas with SCI 38 In Our Library Maternity Rolls Spinal Columns




ecently I was contacted by a CBC investigative journalist who wanted to talk about the cost of fundraising. She was motivated to talk to me based on a review of tax returns for charitable organizations across Canada. Of interest to her was the cost of fundraising and, in particular, if we used thirdparty fundraisers—contracted service of a forprofit company. Our phone interview led to a live interview and a television interview which aired on the CBC’s morning show and the late night television broadcast. I believe the interviews left the listeners and viewers with a positive view of the practices employed by the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta). The experience left me with the reflection that communication to all our stakeholders is important around the cost of raising a dollar. First of all, you may be interested to know the breakdown of our revenue sources: Federal Government Grant (6.6 per cent); Provincial Government Grants (22 per cent); Foundations (24 per cent); Fund Development (21 per cent); United Way Grants (24 per cent); Fee for Service for Workers’ Compensation Board (1.5 per cent); Publications and Advertisements (.75 per cent); and Management and Consulting fees (7 per cent). All of our revenue sources require time and energy to maintain relationships via grant contracts, sponsor, and donor relationships. The hardest work, however, is related to the 21 percent of our revenue that comes from fund development activities, such as special events (five across the province), and an annual mail appeal. In order for these activities to be successful, we rely on the cooperative work of countless volunteers along with support from our staff. These activities not only generate funds for CPA (Alberta), but also helps to raise awareness for the association and the services it provides. We also benefit from the sale of chocolate almonds. This last activity is the one that caught the interest of the investigative journalist because of the cost of raising a dollar. CPA (Alberta) reports to the Canada Revenue Agency that we receive 45 per cent of the net return on a box of chocolate almonds. For example, the base cost of a box of almonds and packaging is $2.30. If you stop at your local gas station and purchase a box for $3, the net profit is 70 cents. Of that, 32 cents come to CPA (Alberta) because the other 38 cents makes up the cost charged by the distribution company. They deliver the cartons of almonds across the province to local businesses. This is the only activity that we participate in that uses an external fundraising company. We have had the discussion at our board and at the level of senior staff many times around the ethics of this type of cause-related marketing of a product. At this point, our rationale for continuing our relationship with a for-profit fundraising company is simple. Consumers who purchase chocolate almonds are doing so for the primary reason that they enjoy eating chocolate almonds, and secondarily because there may be a benefit to an organization. Most consumers are aware that the return to the charitable organization is small. So for the time being, we will continue with this relationship unless you, our readers, advise us differently. Your thoughts are always welcome.

Teren Clarke

Executive Director

4s Spinal Columns

Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) Toll Free: 1-888-654-5444 Find us on Facebook and become a fan! Watch videos on our Youtube channel: HEAD OFFICE #305, 11010 - 101 Street Edmonton, Alberta T5H 4B9 Telephone: (780) 424-6312 Fax: (780) 424-6313 E-mail: Executive Director: Teren Clarke SOUTHERN DISTRICT OFFICE 5211 4 Street NE Calgary, AB T2K 6J5 Telephone: (403) 228-3001 Fax: (403) 229-4271 E-mail: RED DEER OFFICE #103, 4719 - 48th Avenue Red Deer, Alberta T4N 3T1 Telephone: (403) 341-5060 Fax: (403) 343-1630 E-mail: GRANDE PRAIRIE OFFICE #104, 9715 - 105 Street Grande Prairie, Alberta T8V 7X7 Telephone: (780) 532-3305 Fax: (780) 539-3567 E-mail: LETHBRIDGE OFFICE #360, 515 - 7th Street South Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 2G8 Telephone: (403) 327-7577 Fax: (403) 320-0269 E-mail: MEDICINE HAT OFFICE 26-419 3rd Street SE Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 0G9 Telephone: (403) 504-4001 Fax: (403) 504-5172 E-mail: ST. PAUL OFFICE Box 653 St. Paul, AB T0A 3A0 Telephone: (780) 645-7147 Fax: (780) 645-5141 E-mail: LLOYDMINSTER OFFICE 4419 52 Avenue, Lloydminster, AB T9V 0Y8 Tel & Fax: (780) 875-1046 E-mail: FORT McMURRAY Gregoire Park Centre 194 Grenfell Crescent Fort McMurray, AB T9H 2M6 Tel: (780) 743-0307 Fax: (780) 743-4563 E-mail: CPA (Alberta) BOARD OF DIRECTORS Dale Williams, Chair Aaron Miller, Vice Chair Martin Purvis, Past Chair Scott Sankey, Treasurer Lisa Crown Harvey J. DeCock Kent Hehr Bill Hendsbee Timothy Hill Ray Royer Ned Shillington Eleanor Sugarman


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Dear Spinal Columns, As the mother of someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury, I always read all of your editions. I forward anything relevant to my daughter, and I know of other parents who do so as well. I think that when young people are injured some of them simply want to get on with their lives without alluding to the SCI part, so they don’t take the time to wade through the information and research that’s going on. Since my daughter’s injury, she and I have approached this as a team activity—she has her jobs and I have mine. Gradually she’s taken on more and more over the last 11 years, but I still have some pieces that are mine; like information gathering. This is something to consider, I guess, when you’re putting out these magazines and newsletters—that a portion of your target audience are the relatives (parents, siblings, spouses, etc.) rather than just those with SCI. I also know seniors who follow your newsletters as they want to be aware of what’s going on in the accessibility areas. Keep up the good work. I always look forward to your publications. They’re well-written and interesting. I’d love to see more articles written from the perspective of people with SCI (and not just the super-successful folk—more of the everyday living aspects would be nice). I always like the human interest stories myself. b In response to “From My Perspective” in the Summer 2010 issue of Spinal Columns: I agree 100 per cent! There is absolutely no valid reason for us not to keep an old power chair as a back up! I’ve encountered that exact same problem on numerous occasions. People just don’t understand how important it is to keep mobile for those that otherwise can’t be without power assistance. Sam Halabi Dear Sir or Madam: I hope that you will be in good health. Secondly I have gone through your website where I’m very happy to know about the excellent services provided to persons with disabilities in your country. Congratulations and please keep up the good work. The Development and Ability Organization works on the social reintegration, capacity-building and advocacy for persons with disabilities in Afghanistan. We also run radio and TV programs for persons with disabilities, plus the production of a 50page disability-focused publication called Gadoon. DAO is also closely working with other organizations focused on persons with disabilities and other national organizations on the formation of a National Disability Federation in Afghanistan. Omara Khan Muneeb Director of DAO, Spinal Columns



Staff Profiles

Sue Edwards started working full-time for the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) as a Regional Rehabilitation Counselor in 1997, where her duties included both client services and community development out of the Medicine Hat Office. In 2002, parenting her two young children took priority and she decided to resign. Unable to stay away, Sue returned to CPA (Alberta) in 2005 as a part-time Client Services Coordinator, and later as a Southern Alberta Team Leader. Family is very important to Sue and she enjoys watching her kids Mason, 12, and Madison, 10, compete in many sports. Volleyball and golf continue to be a passion for her, as well as traveling with her husband Tyrone. “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”

Kaitlyn Matthews is a Community Development Coordinator and Client Services Coordinator for the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) office in Lloydminster. Kaitlyn joined the CPA (Alberta) team in 2008. “My favourite part of working with CPA (Alberta) is working with clients as well as making communities accessible to everyone. I have a great team of colleagues across the province that I enjoy working alongside.” In her time with CPA, Kaitlyn has conducted many accessibility audits throughout her region resulting in six fully accessible dorm rooms at the local college, the increase of parking fines, curb cuts being put into place, and the replacement of many sidewalks throughout Lloydminster. She is also helping the city build its very first accessible playground in the main park. Kaitlyn enjoys spending her free time driving her five-year-old daughter to different recreational activities.


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Sylvia Hamilton has worked in the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) head office in Edmonton for the last 11 years as the Corporate Accountant. She values working in a non-profit environment and appreciates the expertise that CPA (Alberta) provides to its clients as well as to the community. Sylvia’s interests include spending time with family and friends, and working in the kitchen. She also loves to travel, whether it be across the Pacific to Australia, out east in the Maritimes, or even just a weekend of camping.

Art Erickson has been with the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) since March, 2010, working out of the Fort McMurray office. He enjoys working with CPA, saying “I really feel as if I’m contributing in a meaningful way to our community, and not just making a living. I have a spinal cord injury as the result of an electrocution, and while my mobility is impacted, I’m not in a chair.” Working for a non-profit organization is a new role for Art, who has an incredibly varied background—he’s spent time in the military, operated heavy equipment and explosives, has qualifications as a communication electrician, worked as a water quality consultant, and has experience as a corporate communicator. Most recently he was a councillor in the Village of Wabamun and was also involved with the Capital Region Board. “In my spare time I like to float on the river in my inflatable boat, or rig it up with a mast and sails and demonstrate to the local power boaters that you can have a nice day on the water without a noisy engine.” With a daughter in Edmonton and a son in Calgary, Art will be celebrating his thirtieth wedding anniversary this year.




Red Carpet Affair Likely one of the most successful professional actors with a disability in Canada, James Sanders has been announced as the guest speaker at this year’s Red Carpet Affair and as winner of the 2011 Christopher Reeve Award. Presented at the annual event held in the spring every year in Edmonton, the award is both an internal and national recognition bestowed to an individual with a spinal cord injury who has made an outstanding contribution to the greater community of persons with SCI. Regular readers of Spinal Columns should recognize the name, as Sanders was featured as the cover story of the Spring 2010 issue. The Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) established the award in honour of famous actor Christopher Reeve who was slated to speak at the Red Carpet Affair in Calgary in 2004. His sudden illness and ultimate passing made Reeve’s appearance impossible, but left an immediate legacy that we honour to this day. CPA (Alberta) clients will have the special opportunity to meet Sanders in person and hear him speak at the Red Carpet Affair on Friday, March 18, 2011 in Hall D at the Shaw Conference Centre. Sanders will be the first Christopher Reeve Award recipient to follow the same career path as Reeve. Turning professional as an actor is a huge accomplishment; but doing so following an incident resulting in a spinal cord injury is seemingly insurmountable. Yet Sanders went straight back to his acting program at Simon Fraser University, then graduated and embarked on a career that has included movies, television, stage and the founding of his own theatre company. The upcoming Red Carpet Affair will be the eighth annual fundraising and community recognition gala in support of the CPA (Alberta). You can find out more information about Sanders at his website, or the Red Carpet Affair at

Contact Sports The Capital City Showdown Wheelchair Rugby Tournament is coming to town, hosted by the Edmonton Steel Wheels Rugby Club in collaboration with Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association. If participating isn’t your thing, not to worry as there’s sure to be plenty of excitement. If you still want to be involved though, there are some great opportunities to volunteer. There are few other chances to experience wheelchair rugby up close and personal! It’s all happening at Harry Ainley High School, at 4350 111 Street, Edmonton. The tournament is slated to start at 9 a.m. on December 4 and 5 this winter. To volunteer, contact Dale Nording at or Mike Sandomirsky at (780) 427-8699 or

The Protection for Persons in Care Act The provincial government has updated critical legislation to better protect vulnerable Albertans from abuse. This includes the new Protection for Persons in Care Act, which just came into effect July 1, 2010. The new act makes many improvements to the old legislation it replaces by increasing the emphasis on preventing abuse before it happens. Under the new act, all publicly-funded service providers—those funded by the government of Alberta—must do all they can in their power to prevent abuse from happening. Those service providers are responsible for keeping clients safe from abuse. The act also requires that all suspected abuse be reported. In addition, not reporting abuse is considered an offence. While service providers are responsible for doing all they can to prevent abuse, everyone must share this responsibility. Every person who interacts with vulnerable adults has a responsibility to keep them safe from harm. If you ever suspect abuse, or if you want more information about reporting abuse, call the toll-free Information and Reporting Line at 1-888-357-9339. If someone is in immediate danger and requires urgent assistance, call local police or equivalent authorities. The new act works together with other pieces of recently introduced legislation to better support and protect vulnerable adults. These include the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act, which has a process to review the suitability of potential co-decision makers, trustees and guardians of vulnerable Albertans. In additin to that, the Supportive Living Accommodation Licensing Act allows the Alberta government to carry out a full range of activities associated with licensing supportive living facilities, including monitoring, compliance management, and investigating complaints. For more information on these three acts, go to

Congratulations to Louise miller Recently, Louise Miller received the highest honour that Alberta can bestow on individuals. The Alberta Order of Excellence is given in recognition of people who have made a lasting contribution on the provincial, national, and international stage. Louise received this prestigious award for her long lasting and effective advocacy for persons with disabilities. As co-founder of the Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre Society, Louise has been a strong voice in the promotion of applied research and state-of-the-art technology to benefit those with spinal cord injuries. She has offered leadership on a wide range of boards, task forces and associations dedicated to improving the lives of persons with disabilities. The Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) would like to congratulate Louise on this well deserved recognition.

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ADVOCACY HEALTH AND HOMECARE There are a number of medical supplies that have been delisted by the Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL) program. Some of these supplies include disposable blue pads and other ostomy products. As of July, disposable blue pads will not be covered through the program. This includes individuals who are on AISH or otherwise limited incomes. CPA (Alberta) is aware that this could affect some of our members dramatically, and we would like you to know that we will be working very closely with the Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities and the Multiple Sclerosis Society to lobby for the full reinstatement of these items, as well as request that in the future, the community be informed of impending changes well in advance. The Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities and CPA (Alberta) have completed a position paper on single-use catheters, and it has been presented to the Alberta Aids to Daily Living program. The group is now researching information on single-use catheters and their benefits. The AADL program currently provides a limited number of one-use catheters, which some of our members may find insufficient. Through the







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position paper and additional advocacy, we hope to increase the availability of single-use catheters that may be required by some individuals with disabilities.

HOUSING CPA (Alberta) continues to work towards the development of a combination NGO office and affordable housing project. We are also working with Red Deer Family Services towards the development of property in the downtown area. The building would include barrier-free commercial, program, and apartment space. Discussions are currently still in the infancy stage. CPA (Alberta) is working with Excel Resources and the Multiple Sclerosis Society, as well as a number of community stakeholders, in the development of a centre for people with high needs who are under the age of 65. A location near the Century Park LRT station in Edmonton is being considered. There is a possibility of transitional units being included for individuals who have a recent spinal cord injury. CPA (Alberta) is a member of the SCI Solutions Alliance Task Force on housing. The committee has just developed five strategic objectives regarding housing, each of which will move towards providing a funding model for continued development. The exciting Boyle Renaissance project was to include 30 new wheelchair-adapted apartments for people of aboriginal descent. The Edmonton city centre project is now awaiting funding. CPA (Alberta) will continue to be involved in this project. CPA (Alberta) is in discussion with housing developer Communitas about the possibility of incorporating a number of wheelchair-adapted suites into their proposed community project, to be located in the Belvedere area of Edmonton. We are advocating for cooperative ownership of units at an affordable price.

Community Access All over the province, CPA (Alberta) staff have been providing community accessibility presentations to a wide variety of individuals and groups. Responses to these presentations have so far been excellent. If you know of a group (government or private)that could benefit from such a presentation, please do not hesitate to contact a CPA (Alberta) Community Development Coordinator in your area. CPA (Alberta) is participating on a universal design committee that is reviewing ways to make our communities more accessible. The committee is being led by the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities. The Edmonton International Airport is now well into their latest terminal expansion project. Their current plans are to double the existing size of the airport, and CPA (Alberta) is working with this committee to ensure that all areas meet barrier-free standards.


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i nnovations

S urfing

for Since the national branch of the Canadian Paraplegic Association discontinued the Swap and Shop on our website, we’ve been looking for another online site for people who have items such as medical equipment and accessible vans to buy or sell. Jay McCue, a quadriplegic living in Calgary, has started a website called Disabled Deals. It’s dedicated to helping people with disabilities and seniors buy and sell anything disability-related. Here is a new site where you may find what you’re looking for at a reasonable price! Computer trouble got you down? Some of the disability-related computer programs that are supposed to make your life easier sometimes do nothing but cause frustration. Linda Tauscher is a Calgary-based assistive technology consultant who provides a full range of services including needs analysis, technology selection, installation, training, and troubleshooting. Her mission is to optimize technologies for the particular abilities that her clients possess and the tasks they perform, which sometimes requires research and technology trials. Some of the assistive technologies with which she is familiar include voice recognition software, text-to-speech systems, magnifiers, and more. Rates are negotiable for individuals and non-profit organizations, and house calls can be made in the Calgary area. For

S olutions

more information or help, contact Tauscher at (403) 651-6340 or through e-mail via Do you like going to the movies? If you need someone to provide assistance while at the theater—to help with refreshments or a trip to the washroom—be sure to make use of this great program, Access 2 Entertainment, originally launched in 2004 by Easter Seals Canada. Upon visiting the website, you must verify your disability and submit the necessary application, before you’ll be enrolled in the program and sent your special A2E card. They have since expanded into venues and attractions, but unfortunately the card in Alberta is still limited to just movie theatres. Show your card at the ticket booth, along with a photo ID, and your attendant can accompany you free of charge. Just don’t use your card to pick up guys or girls in the ticket line, okay? I’m sure most of you don’t think of your wheelchair as a work of art. But believe me, your tune would probably change if you had a wheelchair from Marvel Wheelchairs, Inc. who offer a revolutionary new take on the old standard wheelchair. Recently Marvel reorganized and strengthened their managerial and financial positions to better serve their customers. Take a tour of their site and check out their new wheelchair designs! If you’ve got a self-managed care contract with Alberta Health Services or just hire staff on your own to help care for you in your home, you should know that the Canadian Revenue Agency wants you to submit a cheque every month to cover your employee’s Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance. Trying to figure out those exact contribution amounts may not be easy when you try to do it by hand using the tables provided by government. The CRA now provides a Payroll Deductions Online Calculator to help you do the task in a simple and easy way. Just go to their website, look up the calculator, type in the required information for each caregiver you have, and it will calculate everything you need. It’s simple and straightforward, and may help you avoid having to hire a highly priced accountant or bookkeeper. Even though you might use a wheelchair to get around, you still don’t want to stop looking stylish. IZ Adaptive Clothing is an online retailer launching a line of everyday adaptable clothing for the “seated” client. As a popular and talented Canadianborn high fashion designer having dressed numerous musicians and movie stars, Izzy Camilleri is leading the way as a pioneer in a new industry. So now you can support a fellow Canadian trying to do something good to help others and look amazing yourself while doing so.


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i nnovations

Hidden Gems

innovative products to help you live life to the fullest


If you’ve been a wheelchair user for a while, you probably know that your choice of vehicles is somewhat limited. Check out the MV-1—it looks like a cross between a limo and an SUV on steroids. The new MV-1 was designed from the ground up for wheelchair accessibility. It even meets and exceeds the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) vehicle guidelines for transporting people with disabilities. While it isn’t for sale yet, you can learn more about it at


Humans aren’t the only species on the planet that can age and suffer from physical disabilities. Man’s best friend may also find himself needing the occasional accommodation or medical support in order to live happily into old age. Dog Quality is a website and company dedicated to helping them out. They know that just because a dog has a disability, doesn’t mean it should be treated with any less love or support. Check them out at


Imagine a website where anyone with a disability can learn from other travelers with disabilities and you have This is a resource dedicated to accessible travel information, and it’s filled with details on businesses from around the world that specialize in disability travel. This website also features travel products that can make the difference between a person with a disability sailing smoothly on their journey or requiring a trip back home!

Know of a new or innovative product that you think other Spinal Columns readers would like to hear about? Send us a description and company contact information to and we may publish a profile in an upcoming issue!

Peer Program Video Profiles Home Renovations

Hitting the Slopes

Violet Loewen is married, the mother of two children and is quadriplegic. Loewen is a long time member of CPA (Alberta), a past member of the Board of Directors, and has worked on many volunteer committees. In this video she describes the modifications to her home, primarily done by her husband. Especially interesting are her kitchen renovations and her unique BBQ.

After his injury in 1984, Andy Adamson always thought about skiing again. When he came across information about the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiing, he became even more interested. After going out to Castle Mountain a few times with the CADS group, he was hooked. He says that he hasn’t tried anything better in a long time.

Benefits of Exercise

Penny Oman started mouth painting in 1972. Injured from a motor vehicle accident, she is C3-C4 quadriplegic. Oman talks about how she started painting when she was going through rehab at the Glenrose Hospital, how she was inspired to continue after leaving and how she got involved with the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.

Nelson Garcia, once a professional motorcycle racer, injured his spinal cord as a result of a bad spill. Garcia is paraplegic and in this video he shows how he is getting on with his life as a wheelchair user. He also demonstrates the use of leg braces and talks about how using them is helping him to maintain and prevent health issues that can affect many wheelchair users.

Mouth Painting

Go to to watch these videos and more! Spinal Columns



Taking Care of the Old Ball and Socket by Amy MacKinnon


ndependence. For manual wheelchair users, its loss is not usually the result of the old ball and chain but rather the old ball and socket. Ball and socket joints, tend to be very stable because typically the socket is large and the ball half is able to fit in nicely. However, in the shoulder, the ball is larger than the socket, making the shoulder more susceptible to injury. This is why it’s important to maintain the health of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the shoulder joint. As a wheelchair user, having healthy shoulders equates to independence. The shoulder is designed for reaching and carrying, not for repetitive movements such as pushing a wheelchair, transferring and lifting things overhead. This puts the shoulder at risk of overuse which, in turn, causes injury and pain. Some common shoulder issues include rotator cuff injuries, bursitis, shoulder joint instability, frozen shoulder, degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis. However, as a regular wheelchair user, there are many things you can do to help keep your shoulders in tip top shape and decrease your chance of developing a serious injury. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Maintain a healthy body weight: this will decrease the long term stress on your shoulders from wheeling and transferring.

Transfers Perform transfers in both lateral directions. This avoids putting constant stress on the same arm. Level transfers are also preferable whenever possible, and avoid turning the arm inwards as it can lead to impingement. Leaning forward or sideways periodically while sitting in the wheelchair also helps to relieve pressure.

Equipment Get the lightest chair possible and make sure your equipment is set up appropriately. If the wheels are too far back, you will be reaching behind and causing unnecessary stress on the shoulders. The elbow should be bent at around 100 to 120 degrees when your hand is at the top-centre of the push rim. Also make sure your seat is not too low, as that will cause extra strain as well. Make sure to regularly maintain your wheelchair. Even a slight decrease in tire pressure can cause a significant increase in the force required to push.

Technique It’s a smart move to develop an efficient wheelchair stroke. Minimize your strokes per minute by using long smooth motions instead of short and small ones. Be sure to perform a consistent semi-circular pattern when pushing as well. When you let go of the rim, your hands should fall and swing back for the next push.

Treatment What to do if you already have shoulder pain? Address it early. This can help prevent long term damage and pain which can be difficult to manage. Don’t forget to rest too. If doing certain tasks and activities typically cause you pain, think about other ways you can accomplish the same results in a more relaxing manner. Once the pain has subsided, remember to gradually return to your normal activities. Most importantly, consult your physician who can discuss options with you. Ask if a referral to a physiotherapist or other rehabilitation specialist is appropriate. If so, make sure to follow the rehabilitation plan they give you closely and you’ll be sure to see results.

Demonstrated by CPA (Alberta) staff member Ross Norton, here are some simple stretches and exercises that you can do at home with small dumbbells or an exercise band to keep the shoulders flexible and strong. Exercise can help decrease the chance for injury and overuse.


Spinal Columns


Accessible Terrain Vehicles

by Sam Halabi


rom as far back as I can remember, the outdoors has always been my passion. When my life changed dramatically as a result of a fall on September 15, 1995, leaving me as a C4-C5 quadriplegic and using a power wheelchair, this passion still burned. I spent a lot of time thinking of ways that I could safely return to those remote places I once enjoyed so much. While attending the Edmonton Boat & Sportsman Show this spring with a couple of my friends, who happened to be a mechanic and a welder, the idea came to us that perhaps we could modify an all terrain vehicle for my use. But which one would be safe, economical, and easy to convert? After considering many models, we decided on an amphibious Argo, which seemed to be structurally easiest to modify for access by power wheelchair and to be able to take hand controls. We found out quickly that “easy” had no place in this project! We had to modify it by creating an access at the rear and adding a lightweight wheelchair lift; we then had to remove the gas tank and seats in the middle and reinforce the floor; and finally, a wheelchair locking device and hand controls were added. Four months later, after a few roadblocks and some frustrating moments, we had a vehicle I could drive safely from my chair. There are still some kinks to work out and we are still making changes, but for the most part, it’s an incredible machine. Imagine being restricted from going on most uneven surfaces for 15 years, and then suddenly having the means to go

Sam has rediscovered the outdoors with a custom amphibious vehicle. wherever you want. It’s overwhelming! It’s hard to get me out of it! Water, mud, snow, you name it—they’re no longer barriers. I have a cell phone and an emergency satellite transmitter with me at all times just in case, but so far it’s been great!

Sam gives his new ride a spin at the Blue Rapids Recreation Area just south of Drayton Valley during the Adaptive Parkland Challenge in late August. Spinal Columns





by Ron Wickman Part one of this feature was published in the Summer 2010 issue of Spinal Columns. Ron Wickman explained his passion for building accessible environments and how it grew as a result of growing up with a father who was disabled. He described meeting the Ennetts, who approached him to help build an accessible home for a young boy named Daniel.


wasn’t the only one who was struck by the positive attitude of Kathleen and Daniel Ennett—I was joined by the whole community of Edmonton. The local media gave attention to Daniel’s story and many people came together to see how they could help. Fundraising began at Daniel’s school and soon family and friends contributed their efforts. A local radio station begun a fundraising drive, a trust fund was set up, and soon a piece of land was purchased close to the school. I had been part of this kind of community-driven team before, working with groups such as Habitat for Humanity. However, this project

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600, 404 6th Avenue S. W. Calgary, AB T2P 0R9


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was much more unique, since there were no major charitable organizations involved. It made fundraising more difficult, but thanks to many individuals and organizations who donated their time, money and building materials, we were able to complete the project in a fairly timely fashion. As architects, our role in these community building projects is critical. Typically, we are the first to get involved, often before enough money has even been raised. We set the tone for others to follow. The architect must be extremely flexible—he must be able to communicate and share his vision with all the stakeholders. The design has to be accessible to the public, especially from a visual standpoint. In addition, it must be humble in its form and use of materials; otherwise donors may feel their contributions were not used wisely. The project should be easy and straightforward to build as well as be open to last-minute changes, since the labour often has a large volunteer base. In the past, I have worked on similar projects, and occasionally finishing materials, such as siding and windows, are changed because alternate materials have been donated. Construction details are not always as crisp as they should be, and special architectural features and embellishments get eliminated in an effort to save money. For an architect, this can all be a very humbling yet frustrating process. However, it reminds us of something greater than a finely crafted architectural detail: community spirit, and the human urge to give and to help others. The Ennett house project gained a life of its own. In the end, so many people wanted to lend a hand that I was no longer working on an architectural project—I was involved in a lifefulfilling experience.

House Design At first, we explored the idea of a bungalow, so that the entire home would be on one level. Unfortunately, the Edmonton bylaws restrict single-family home site coverage to only 28 per cent of the area of the lot, which would have made the Ennett home too small. Instead, a two-storey home designed with interior ramps could accommodate Daniel and his power chair and give him the freedom to independently move about. The Ennett home is a three bedroom, four level split, at about 2,500 square feet of space. There are no exterior ramps, so from the outside, the home doesn’t appear to be any different. With an east-facing entrance, the main floor consists of the living, eating, and kitchen spaces. Part of the kitchen counter was lowered and is open underneath so that Daniel can use it like a desk. There’s also a large room with a vaulted ceiling, two large windows and double French doors—the lofty volume and abundance of natural

feature light makes the space feel very large. A 30-foot-long ramp leads up to the second storey space that houses two bedrooms and a wheelchair accessible bathroom. The window in Daniel’s bedroom comes right down to the floor level giving him a magnificent view. The bathroom includes wheel-in shower, a bathtub, change table, sink, and a toilet complete with a remote-controlled bidet. From the first floor, a second 50-foot long ramp leads down to a lower level which includes a play and family area, bedroom, bathroom, and laundry room. This floor can also be reached from a set of exterior steps on the west side of the home. Homes in Canada are typically built with below grade basement spaces, complete with a concrete foundation that reaches below the frost line. A thicker concrete foundation wall below grade is finished with thinner wood walls higher up. For the ramp going down, we were able to create a shelf where the thinner wall rests on the thicker one. A window is also located at the end of the ramp to help make this underground level feel more welcoming. The bathroom here is smaller than the one above, but is still accessible with a wheel-in shower, sink and toilet.

Flexibility It’s important for me to work closely with my clients. I was quite demanding of Kathleen and Daniel throughout the design and construction phases of the project. Currently, the house really only needs to accommodate Kathleen and Daniel, but we wanted to consider the future. When Daniel grows up, he may want more privacy. While he uses the two lowest levels to hang out with his friends right now, in the future he may want to move down to the basement level to sleep. The split level design solution offered two very important benefits: more space and more flexibility. The home was designed so that Daniel has the option of living there for the rest of his life. Sustainable features include a passive solar design, low-flow water fixtures, a well insulated concrete foundation system, and low maintenance finishes, such as lightweight concrete siding. Sitting on a corner lot, the majority of windows face south with

no windows on the north, allowing passive solar heat gain. Landscaping also played an integral part; we incorporated a south facing concrete patio with stone walls and a wood trellis to help mark the pathway from the city sidewalk to the house entrance. Unfortunately the trellis was never completed.

Results I phoned Kathleen shortly after she and Daniel moved into their home to ask how the design was working out. She told me about the day Daniel mentioned going to his room one floor up from the kitchen; Kathleen was doing the dishes and simply said, “Okay.” This one simple comment proved that we succeeded in providing Daniel with complete independence. He pointed out that he loves the ramps, and feels fearless going up and down. As for Kathleen, her feelings about her new home are as a loving mother’s should be: at peace. As an architect, I often concentrate my designs on moving people in an emotional way. Yet architects often neglect the connection of this issue to the challenge of physically moving people through a building and its spaces. We need to functionally reach the maximum audience through our designs. Until we consider how everyone uses our buildings, we are not meeting the full expectations of our job. When we maximize the true functional and emotional design potential in our projects, the result is usually deeply felt by both the user and designer. This is architecture! This is architecture with value beyond artistic and creative vision. This is architecture with spirit and soul. To this day, I frequently visit the Ennetts, and they have become an important part of my circle of friends. Daniel now has a service dog and life is continuously improving for him. I am honoured to have been able to play a role. Their house allows Daniel to experience home with pure independence that will give him the confidence that he can transfer to the world outside. Ron Wickman is an award-winning architect based in Edmonton, whose interest and expertise is in the area of barrier-free design. He is well-known for both modifying existing houses to become more accessible, and for innovative housing projects he starts from scratch.

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Racing Past the Finish Line

by Aaron Yeo


ver since he was five, Sam the Indy 500 with a best starting position Schmidt’s attention was alof sixth and best finish of 21st. ways focused on the fast and “I was fortunate to race Indy Cars furious world of motorsports. for three years and had some dreams Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, he was no fulfilled,” Schmidt said. At the end of doubt influenced by his drag-racing the 1999 IRL season with the Treadfather, who brought the entire family to way Racing team, Schmidt ranked fifth the tracks on a regular basis. overall, only seven points away from “I didn’t play basketball, football, the podium. baseball, soccer or hockey,” he exOn January 6, 2000, Schmidt was plained. “I didn’t do any of that stuff, I running preseason laps at the Walt just liked to race.” Disney World Speedway near Orlando, “I got into road racing when I got when he lost control of his vehicle. older, and eventually the dream was “I was just testing for the upcoming Indy cars.” season, and I backed into It was a reason the wall at 180,” he said. A g raduate of Pepperdine Univerto get up every “It sounds like a lot, but it’s sity in California, not out of the norm for an morning. Schmidt became a Indy car.” He was immediprosperous businessman which helped ately airlifted to the hospital, where he him fund his passion for racing. He was told he had suffered a spinal cord bought his dad’s auto parts business injury at the C3-C4 level and would be and soon found himself competing in quadriplegic. Nevertheless, he soon regional racing events in 1992. made it out of bed, off the ventilator, He scored his first professional race and into a power wheelchair. But he in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series at still wasn’t certain what he would do. the age of 31, unusually late for pro ra“Basically after racing for eight cing. In 1997 he made it onto the Indy years, you have this high level of an Racing League, competing three times in injury, you’re not really sure what you


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can do after you’re out of the rehab hospital.” “Now it takes two to three hours to get up every morning, and I had to find something that I’m passionate about doing enough to make that effort worthwhile. For me, it came back to racing.” With his successful business background and passion in racing, it didn’t take long for him to start his own team: Sam Schmidt Motorsport. “I’ve never been a team owner per se, but it was the next best thing to driving,” he admitted. “It was a reason to get up every morning.” Sam Schmidt Motorsports has been very successful in the IRL scene, focusing mostly in the Firestone Indy Lights Series, accomplishing 39 race victories and 4 championships. While he is the man who started it all, Schmidt humbly attributes the team’s success to the racers and pit workers. “It’s all about the people you put around you. You’ve got to hire the right people,” he explained. “You’ve got to put together the right chemistry with the right group of guys.” “Really, I just work on the market-

coverstory ing and logistics side of things. I’ve got to raise all the money and they spend it!” he added with a chuckle. With the accomplishments of his team and the attention he was receiving, he soon followed it up with the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. “The foundation was a natural fit, because we had all these supporters in motorsports who wanted to help me and my situation in the industry,” he explained. “So that gave them a conduit to do that. The first couple of years were all about [finding a] cure, and then I realized that was a pretty big project.” Nevertheless, the organization still funds research projects as well as providing many services in support of people with disabilities. Currently, the foundation is primarily based in the United States, providing research grants and sponsoring other smaller foundations and organizations. It might not be long until the Sam Schmidt Foundation becomes a household name here in the Great White North.

“We’d like our impact in Canada to be larger,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of good science going on here; a lot of smart minds as well.” Schmidt has always looked at his accident with great optimism—it gave him the chance to be in a place where he never would have dreamed of being. Owning a professional Indy-calibre racing team and assisting those with disabilities couldn’t make him happier.

“I’ve got hundreds of stories in my head that are pretty spectacular of people who have done more with their life after paralysis than they did before.” For Sam Schmidt, it took a strong heart and a healthy dose of determination. “In my life,” he explained. “There’s a direct correlation between effort and results.”

Sam Schmidt Motorsports fuels his racing passion, and has been competing for almost a decade.

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The Golf Tournament Must Go On! by Marc Quinn

Both rain and shine mark the 2010 charity golf season It rained in Red Deer. It was sunny in Calgary. It was sunny and hot in Edmonton. What a year it was for weather at the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) three annual charity golf tournaments. With thanks to our lead sponsors, numerous auction and prize donors, and hundreds of golfers across Alberta, we are pleased to report another successful round of golf tournaments to raise money and bring profile to the needs of persons with spinal cord injury and other physical disabilities. Just shy of $90,000 was raised this year across the province.

PROVINCIAL SPONSORS A special acknowledgement must be offered to those generous organizations that sponsored two or all three of our tournaments this summer.


July 15, 2010 at the Silverwing Golf Course

Entertaining highlights of the tournament in Calgary included Master of Ceremonies and Auctioneer Rick Casteglione, Lisa “Long Ball” Vlooswyk, who challenged every golfer to beat her outstanding drive, and Clark Robertson, a very funny Don Cherry impersonator. Our friends from Spolumbo’s and Marble Slab served up some tasty food to our hungry golfers and, thanks to One West, the banquet room looked stunning.

Never underestimate a golfer, especially John Johnson


Our golf activity did not end with our own charity tournaments this summer. With the help of a few corporate golf tournaments, CPA (Alberta) hosted several 50/50 draws over the summer. This brought profile to the needs of persons with spinal cord injur y a nd dolla rs into the orga nization to suppor t our ser v ices. We are very grateful to those who invited us to their golf tournaments and other events during our first season. They include: • Canadian Heavy Oil Association • City of Edmonton Management Association • General Petroleum Association of Canada • Moody International Ltd. • Oil City Derby Girls • Open Sky Music Festival • Showgirls • Tap House Bar & Gill Thanks to these companies, our newest program of sustainability is off to a wonderful start.


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August 13, 2010 at the Riverbend Golf Course

A very positive vibe came from the golfers as they made their way out of the wet weather and headed inside for a warm steak dinner in Red Deer. The 12th annual tournament will be best remembered for a very funny Jack Daines who acted as MC and Auctioneer (yes, he’s Dwayne’ father). This year’s auction items featured a pin flag from the 2010 British Open bearing the signatures of all of the past winners as well as this year’s winner Louis Oosthuizen – all beautifully framed.


August 25, 2010 at the Petroleum Golf and Country Club

In this, our 11th annual tournament in Edmonton, 2010 was only our second year at the Petroleum Club and the golfers showed their appreciation of this unique and beautiful course. The day featured Gold Medal Paralympian Ross Norton as Master of Ceremonies and David Nilsson as auctioneer. Both Ron and Jamie Hodgson spoke on behalf of our top sponsors – a first in their years of support for CPA (Alberta). Many of the prizes this year were donated generously by Double Diamond Electronics Ltd.

Auctioneer, Jack Daines

The Sugarman Family

Harvey DeCock, Ron Hodgson and Jaime Hodgson talk about CPA

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Serious Injuries • Serious L • Over 45 years serving Albertans with their personal injury claims. • An established tradition of legal excellence. (Left to Right) Tim Sax, Frances Zinger, Bill Hendsbee, George Somkuti, Frank Mackay, Ron Jewitt, Warren Stengel



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Help from DogswithWings

CPA (Alberta) staff Shirley Jago (left) and Sue Edwards accompany Mike Hambly at the “Now We’re Talking Employment” event in April.


ver since my car accident on July 31, 1994, one of my biggest struggles is mobility. Since I am totally blind and paraplegic, how do I get from point A to B? I did extensive research and found that there was no easy answer. So then I thought about getting a guide dog. In 2002 I was given my first guide dog, Tucker. He was an amazing dog and for 8 years Tucker and I were a great team. Then in July of 2009 Tucker passed away. During my time with


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him I learned that I needed more than just a guide dog. So I contacted the Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society in Edmonton, and imagine my surprise when I heard that they were already way ahead of me! Having heard that Tucker was sick they had already started training a dog that they thought would work well with me. My new dog Finn is one of a kind. Not only is he a guide dog but he is also a service dog! How is this possible you ask? With very, very extensive training. I received Finn on April 6, 2010 and we are still working on being a team. I tell people that the dog is trained but I’m not! Finn guides me in my manual wheelchair. Finn’s harness has a bend in the handle to ensure that he stays a short distance from my wheels. He pulls the left side of my chair and I push the right side of my chair. At six-foot-seven and 270 pounds, I am a pretty big boy, so Finn has to be too. He’s a cross between a golden retriever and a black lab and weighs in at about 80 pounds. He is very tall and very long! As a guide and service dog, I must say that Finn is amazing. He can pick up pretty much anything you can think of and place it in my hands—even a dime off a hardwood floor! Finn can also push power door buttons so that we can pass through with ease. There are limits however. Even though Finn has greatly enhanced my mobility and independence, going up and down sidewalks and using public transit is far from realistic! If Finn is off by even a tiny bit, I could roll off a sidewalk or an uneven area. Before I could get Finn from the dog training school, I had to understand that safety is first and that there are some limitations. Finn had about two years of intense training and is valued at approximately $30,000! The nice thing about it though is that people don’t usually have to pay for these kinds of dogs. Finn is a sponsored dog through Stahl Peterbilt. And for that, I am extremely grateful! If you would like to know more about guide or service dogs, please feel free to give me a call in our Calgary CPA (Alberta) office at (403) 228-3001 or send me an e-mail at mike.hambly@ You can also find more information at the Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society in Edmonton at (780) 944-8011.


Philanthropy for the Future Planned Giving by Zachary Weeks


lanned Giving is quite simply making the necessary preparations to continue giving after death. It is a rather important issue which most of us rarely take the time to reflect on. It is also one of the most powerful philanthropic tools available to you today, providing you with the satisfaction of knowing you are giving back. The Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) is an organization that is passionate about making a change for the future. Although there are a variety of benefits to such giving, one of the greatest benefits of this type of charitable giving is knowing that you will have absolute full control over such arrangements. There are a variety of arrangements one can choose from when it comes to considering whether or not Planned Giving is an option for you and your family. The more popular methods of giving back include: Bequests, Gifts of Life Insurance, Securities, Real Estate Gifts, and Gifts in Kind. CPA (Alberta) hope you take comfort in knowing we will strive to ensure you and your family’s wishes are properly and respectfully met. For more information don’t hesitate to contact Zachary Weeks, Special Event Coordinator at (780) 424-6312 or via

Memoriam and Tribute gifts Tribute gifts are a meaningful way to make a donation in honour of friends or family members. They may celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and the holiday season, or in-memoriam donations to remember a lost one. Memorial tributes can be made immediately. Notification of all memorial gifts is sent to the families. Please call 1-888-654-5444 to make a tribute gift or e-mail We would like to thank you in advance for supporting the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta). This thoughtful gift will help assist persons with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities to achieve independence, self-reliance and full community participation. You are helping to change lives.

IN MEMORIAM The CPA (Alberta) would like to recognize the following individuals who have recently passed on. Blaine E. Lynch Charlie Foster Donald Harris Douglas Andreas Joyce Leuck Patrick Hirschi Mike Means Wilf Cline

Camrose Grande Prairie High Level Medicine Hat Coronation Edmonton Rocky Mountain House Red Deer

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p a.t.h. SCI .

A specialized rehab program in Victoria, B.C. by Barry Lindemann


hen I was first hurt back in the mid-‘90s, the only rehabilitation therapy I received was about an hour or two each day until I was discharged from the hospital. After that, I had two choices: either find myself a fitness facility and work out on my own, or pick a comfortable spot in front of the television. Today there are a few more options available. One is a service offered through the p.a.t.h. SCI Centre, an athletic training facility in Victoria, B.C. The centre operates under two distinct methodologies: neuromuscular therapy, for those clients looking to regain movement below the level of injury; and adaptive therapy, for clients who want to increase the functionality of their upper body. The p.a.t.h. training system was designed through a collaboration by J.J. Fowler and Brian Cassidy of the ADAPT Training Center in Oregon. According to their website, the centre’s system creates a road map for recovery that is unequaled in the field, and the system ensures that the progression of stimuli is delivered in a safe manner, which guarantees that the client is continually building tools of recovery. This progression speeds up the recovery of the spinal cord injury process by minimizing plateaus and helping to rebuild the client. While the CPA (Alberta) cannot endorse or guarantee any success the p.a.t.h. SCI Centre program has had so far with spinal cord injured individuals, here is what two individuals have to say about their experiences.

Brandice Thompson by Brandice Thompson When I made the decision to go to the p.a.t.h. SCI Centre I had already been out of the hospital for three years. Once rehab bids you farewell, you find yourself asking “what next?” Besides working out traveling expenses, my decision was really quite easy. There was nowhere that offered specialized treatment in Calgary so I had to look elsewhere. I wanted to go anywhere that had some rehab therapy and relevant knowledge for individuals with SCI. At the hospital I found that the therapists were more concerned with anything from above the injury level—very by-the-book. Truth is, there was plenty going on below my injury, but the time I spent unaware of this meant years of atrophy to my muscles. The p.a.t.h. program gave me hope for further recovery. From the moment I first met with J.J., there was a strong feeling of warmth and caring. One of his first questions was to ask me what I hoped to get out of being there, and what my goals were. This is extremely important so that individuals get what they want out of their visit, or gets the tools to try to achieve it at home. The facility was equipped with many training devices to aid in recovery such as an equalizer, a standing


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Brandice, a 23 year-old C6 quadriplegic, benefited from the program. frame, hand bikes, and parallel bars. More importantly, however, it was equipped with two amazing trainers who were positive and full of knowledge and expertise. No time was ever wasted while at the gym. We all worked very hard to assess my body, create any movement possible, and I, for sure, worked my butt off every moment that I was there. It didn’t take them long to figure out the great potential that my body had to offer and especially the muscles I had no idea still worked and existed. I am 100 percent satisfied with the outcome of my visit. I received the take home program and hired a trainer in Calgary to work out with me based on all the tools I got from p.a.t.h., and I continue to exercise two times a week with my trainer. My muscles stay strong and are given the opportunity to develop, whereas before they were dormant or gone all together. The p.a.t.h. SCI facility is your chance to use your body to its full potential. If you are willing to put in the effort, go for it. See what you and your body have been missing.

Melissa Petrinack by Cath Petrinack, mother When Melissa was injured in a sledding accident in January, 2009, we did not accept that her rehabilitation was over. Our search for rehab options brought us to CPA (Alberta), where we were provided with information about the p.a.t.h. SCI program in Victoria. We knew there had to be something other than the “standard” physiotherapy options that were available in Calgary at the time. Melissa tried to get into a program called Community Accessible Rehabilitation, which the hospital said would be no

research problem. Melissa wasn’t accepted and when we asked why, we were told that she did not qualify. It seems that an individual has to have a certain amount of physical ability before they can be part of the program. Our question was, how can a person progress—to get the physical ability that is needed—if there is no program provided to get there in the first place? We knew that Melissa’s ability to progress was continuing because she was experiencing new sensations or movements every week. Over three months, we had a private therapist come to our home, and we are confident that helped Melissa in her progress. Our search led us to meet Marilyn Erho and Russ Bray at CPA (Alberta) in Calgary. Bray asked if I had heard of a program called p.a.t.h. SCI, or Project Walk, and I had heard of neither. That night I watched a video about the program on the CPA (Alberta) website and just cried—the people we saw were just like Melissa. My husband then watched the video and he knew that we needed to take her there. We asked Melissa to watch and let us know what she thought, and a few days later she said she was willing to go. She saw that the program could help people just like her. The first day we arrived, J.J. met us at the hotel. He talked about what would happen during the week, as well as observed Melissa and her level of movement. The first day of treatment was more of a full body assessment, in order to set the tone for the rest of the week. As the observer, it was a week of exciting energy, as new movement and sensations returned. Their approach is to see the whole body not just from the

injury up, but to also take into consideration the emotional and mental aspect of what the person is going through and assist the person to regain self-confidence. As parents, we are so happy and thankful with the results that Melissa left with and continues to achieve. She is the one who needs to be happy with the results and she can’t believe all that transpired there. She came home with a sense of accomplishment, knowing that the future has fantastic possibilities, and she now feels that many new doors have opened for her future. Our recommendation, if you decide to go to Victoria for the p.a.t.h. SCI program, would be to go with an open heart and mind and no expectations. Know that each person’s injury, attitude, and beliefs are different, which create their own unique experience—just perfect for them. A couple of days before we went, Melissa said she hoped that she could come home without the wheelchair, however felt this wasn’t a possibility. I said, “Who knows?,” as we truly didn’t know what they were all about. For me, not knowing and just letting things unfold was the best, as there were so many wonderful experiences there. When we were trying to decide if we should go, I called a previous participant of the program and her words of advice were fantastic: “Even if I didn’t go for the physio, with the encouragement that was given, it was all worth it.” This truly says a great deal about how p.a.t.h. SCI approaches each and every individual. For more information about the p.a.t.h. SCI program, visit their website at, and check out the video on the CPA (Alberta) website at

The p.a.t.h. SCI centre in Victoria provides excellent resources and features cutting edge exercise equipment technology for individuals with SCI. Spinal Columns



Continuing the McPherson Legacy the dr. Gary McPherson Leadership Scholarship


arlier this year, Alberta lost a great man—and a great friend for many of us. Dr. Gary McPherson passed away in May, but his legacy will be celebrated for many years to come, thanks to a new scholarship created by the Government of Alberta. A celebration of McPherson’s life was held in Edmonton in June, where hundreds of guests attended to show their support and remember a magnificent hero of Alberta. It was there that Premier Ed Stelmach and his wife Marie introduced the new Dr. Gary McPherson Leadership Scholarship. For those who may not have personally known Dr. Gary McPherson, he was a renowned advocate for people with disabilities. A member of the Order of Canada, the Alberta Order of Excellence and both the Edmonton and Alberta Sports Halls of Fame, he served the Alberta community immensely. The scholarship in his name recognizes students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, especially in the area of disability, or initiative to improve the conditions and lives of others. This is a scholarship that will not soon be forgotten—100 awards of $2,000 each will be awarded annually to recipients who meet the eligibility criteria, which are really quite basic: you need to be a Canadian Citizen currently living in Alberta, be enrolled in a full-time post-secondary program, and have

shown outstanding leadership. Helping the community, especially in the area of disability and accessibility, will be looked highly upon as well. Hopefully, this will result in a large number of student applications, who will learn about McPherson as a person, whether they receive the award or not. Anyone who applies must read a short biography about McPherson and then attach a one-page essay using examples from their own lives as to how they have shown leadership in the past, especially in the area of disability. This will help to ensure that individuals who are approved for funding will know they are following in the footsteps of a great man or, in McPherson’s case, wheelchair tracks! You can learn more about the new Dr. Gary McPherson Leadership Scholarship by visiting the Government of Alberta website and searching through their list of Scholarships and Bursaries.

Gary McPherson, Order of Canada, did many great things for Alberta.

Student Funding Information for Students with a Permanent Disability

Information on how to apply for funding as a student with a permanent disability can be found under the Students Finance section on the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at Look under the “Applying Online” tab, and then “Before you Apply,” and under “Forms and Resources”. It will be also be posted shortly on the disabilities page of ALIS under the “Before you Apply” tab, and under “Forms and Resources”. It will be also be posted shortly on the disabilities page of ALIS at www.


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Giving Back:

Scott Sankey


cott Sankey grew up on a farm in eastern Alberta near the village of Consort. In 1992, Sankey was riding his motorcycle through his acreage, when tragedy struck. “I was on the way to chasing cattle on the farm, and I crashed into a fence.” At the hospital he was told that he had lost function in both legs and his left arm, leaving him triplegic. “My first exposure to CPA was actually as a client,” he explained, but he hadn’t thought about working with the organization. A few years later, he was living in the same building as Kent Hehr,MLA, long time CPA (Alberta) board member, and they quickly became close friends. Hehr eventually led Sankey into getting involved with CPA (Alberta). “I was looking for opportunities at the time to volunteer and give back to the community more,” he said. “Two months later, Kent came to me and suggested that I join the CPA board as treasurer, given my finance background.” Sankey earned a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance from the University of Calgary in 2002, started work with BP Canada right out of university and is now Operations Finance Team Leader. In addition to his work at BP Canada and volunteering with CPA (Alberta), Scott spends a lot of time training his

dog. Not any household canine can be turned into a well trained service animal, so a lot of people go to certain shelters to take their pick. It is possible however to train your own dog, and that is what Scott is doing. “My goal is to get [her] certified as a helper dog,” he explained. But ultimately he wants to train her to his specific needs as a triplegic and to have her obtain certification as a service dog through the Government of Alberta. In the meantime, Scott will continue to focus on helping CPA (Alberta) to reach its strategic and financial goals.

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Give a Kid a Lift by Kaitlynn Mendes


espite the global financial crisis, a group of local businesses in Calgary have joined together to assist families who are struggling to meet the costs that are often associated with having a physically challenged family member. Canwest Elevator & Lifts, Beattie Homes, Rona Inc., and Easter Seals Alberta have decided to supply and install at least one accessibility elevator or inclined-platform lift into a home each year at no cost to the family, through the Give a Kid a Lift program. While these products enable a person to access each floor in their home, some of the families most in need of this type of product are the least able to afford it. Funding agencies are seldom able to help due to the significant costs involved. This year’s recipient, Lorinda Bye, 18, said she couldn’t wait until her lift is finished in the fall. A Calgarian, Bye was injured in August, 2009, when a freak storm swept through the area in which she was camping, injuring her and many other individuals. Paraplegic as a result of the accident, Bye currently relies on a series of stairlifts to get her to the various levels of her split level home. The process is inconvenient and time consuming, as it involves her being transferred between

her chair, a stairlift, and a folding chair, and then having a family member drag her chair up and down the stairs to each level. This new lift will enable Lorinda to remain in her chair and access each level of the family’s home, giving her the independence she currently lacks. While the cost of her lift and the labour have been covered by local businesses, Canwest Elevator & Lifts President Helder Mendes said he is “very passionate about making a difference in the lives of people who truly need a helping hand,” and hopes to further expand the program in 2011. In order for the program to continue and grow, public support is vital. All costs associated with the program are donated by local businesspeople and charity fundraising through Easter Seals Alberta’s Calgary Charity Golf Classic. Canwest Elevator & Lifts is putting out a call for community partners to make a financial contribution to programs such as Give a Kid a Lift. They have the ability to make a life changing impact on Alberta families. “You don’t realize how great they are until you need them.” Bye commented. More information about making donations can be found through Alberta Easter Seals at (403) 235-5662, or via their website at

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Team Apache: More Than Just Fundraisers

by Ariella Calin


hen Apache Canada signed on as the title sponsor for the 10th Annual Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) Charity Golf Tournament in Calgary this summer, they knew they were supporting a great cause. But they were even more pleased to hear about the success of the event, which raised close to $40,000 this year. Team Apache sponsored the event after being approached by Mitchell Ravvin, Manager of Fund Development for CPA (Alberta). Duane Norgaard is a member of Team Apache, a group which coordinates all volunteer and sponsorship opportunities for Apache employees in Calgary. Ravvin’s presentation hit close to home for Norgaard, whose cousin Bryan Smith became paraplegic in February 2002 after a plane crash. Smith was heading to High Level on a work assignment when the accident happened. “Life is different now, but I take it one day at a time,” Smith said. “The fact that I survived the crash made me more aware of life and what is really important. I used to be

With the help of Team Apache, Bryan Smith is enjoying the outdoors again.

very driven to make my business a success before, but now I realize it is more about the people around me and my family.” Smith currently resides in High River where he runs his own business designing custom made signs for everything from companies to driveways. He also recently got married to his girlfriend of three years. “It’s just really more of a hobby for me, but it keeps me busy and moving forward,” he said. He attends acupuncture sessions on his legs regularly and stays active on his passive exercise bike and standing machine. Smith used to waterski before the accident, but he isn’t letting his current situation deter him from enjoying life. He bought a specially designed waterski online in order to continue his favourite activity. He also hopes to get into skiing the snow slopes one day. “I am always keeping my options open,” he explained. “In the future I hope to get involved with ‘Project Walk for Calgary’ and provide Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) bikes to people in the city.” Unfortunately for Calgarians, the only available FES bike in Alberta is in Edmonton. Even then, it’s not very easy to access—the current waiting list extends for over two years. “Many of us have a personal story—a paralyzed relative or friend and we have seen firsthand the challenges that everyday life brings to them,” said Jodie Southcombe, president of Team Apache. “The Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) not only aids individuals seeking help, but also plays a role in teaching and encouraging the community to see paraplegics as contributing members.” Apache frequently invests in a variety of programs to help build stronger, longer lasting communities. The annual CPA (Alberta) golf tournament is a great example of such an activity and Apache employees were able to contribute in it while helping those within the community. Spinal Columns



Wheelchair Sports Alberta


f you have recently suffered a spinal cord injury, you may be unaware of an excellent resource that is available for persons with physical disabilities looking for information and advice regarding sports and athletics - Wheelchair Sports Alberta (WSA). WSA is a non-profit association responsible for the development and delivery of provincial level wheelchair sport programs and services throughout Alberta. They support sports like wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis, and sledge hockey. Whether you are a guy who likes to shoot baskets on the weekend, or a girl who doesn’t mind a long handcycle after getting off work, WSA can help. They also provide opportunities for you to meet other aspiring wheelchair athletes. Around for almost 25 years, the WSA is governed by a strong set of beliefs: that people in wheelchairs should have the same access to sport opportunities; wheelchair sports are important because of both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits to the participants; wheelchair athletes should be recognized for their ability, not disability; and to support all levels of athletes and coaches, from elite team members to recreational participants. The WSA strives to be a good resource for all athletes and teams participating in disability sports in Alberta. They are here to not only help encourage individuals with disabilities to get active, but to offer many valuable services as well. Club Assistance: WSA has a positive working relationship with all the sports clubs in the province. When a club wants to host a tournament or clinic, WSA is available to assist. Coaching and Officiating Program: WSA aids in the development of both new and experienced coaches and other training officials by providing assistance to further their abilities. Equipment Rentals: WSA rents specialized equipment to its members for a small fee. They loan racing and sport chairs, rollers, and sports equipment to developing athletes so that no one is ever excluded from participating. Insurance: WSA provides very affordable insurance to all its members, covering general accident and third party liability for all training and competition activities. Scholarship Program: WSA provides financial assistance to Alberta’s top developing and elite athletes. Their many scholarships and bursaries assist athletes in expenses for training, equipment, and competition fees. Training Assistance Program: WSA provides assistance for athletes to attend certain training and development camps, clinics and workshops. For more information on WSA and all their programs, call them at 1-888-453-6770 or go to


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Understanding the Programs that Affect Your Life: AADL


lbertans with physical disabilities are fortunate to have some great programs. At the top of the list is the Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL), a government program which helps Albertans with a longterm disability or a chronic or terminal illness to maintain their independence.

The AADL program aims to provide aid to individuals, whether they live at home, in lodges, or in group homes, by providing financial assistance to buy medical equipment and supplies. A detailed assessment conducted by a health care professional determines the equipment and supplies that an Albertan is eligible to receive through this program. While there is a 25 percent cost share component, which low income individuals may be exempt from, no Albertan will have to pay over $500 per year for medically required items. You may be eligible for benefits through AADL if you are an Alberta resident, have a valid Alberta personal health card, and require assistance because of your disability. The list of benefits that you can access once on the AADL program is quite extensive, ranging from hearing aids and home care beds to speech-generating communication devices. For more information, be sure to check out their very thorough website at Once there, we would suggest a quick read of the AADL Program Manual which will help you to understand the policies and procedures of the program. You can also add your e-mail address to the AADL Mailing List sign-up area, so you can receive information on updates or changes to the program and how it may affect your life here in Alberta.

Website Updates

Coming up in 2011 are some exciting new additions to the CPA (Alberta) website. Watch for it at!


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If you would like to try one of Coloplast’s catheters (including SpeediCath) or find out about our other continence products, please call our Consumer Support Team at 1-866-293-6349.

Coloplast develops products and services that make life easier for people with very personal and private medical conditions. Working closely with the people who use our products, we create solutions that are sensitive to their special needs. We call this intimate healthcare. Our business includes ostomy care, urology and continence care and wound and skin care. We operate globally and employ more than 7,000 people. The Coloplast logo is a registered trademark of Coloplast A/S. © 2010-01 All rights reserved Coloplast Canada, Mississauga, Canada.

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r egions

what’s new in

Alberta ACROSS ALBERTA Trailriding the 5 Peaks Race On July 17, Chad Lorenz, Amy MacKinnon, Margaret Conquest, Austin Bergquist, and Cam Mang participated in probably the first ever trail race with the Trailrider, a platform made for those with physical disabilities to fully experience hiking. Run by 5 Peaks, a company that promotes hiking and trail races, the course was based on a seven kilometre loop at Chickakoo Lake, just west of Edmonton. It was a gorgeous day, and Margaret was a great sport, enduring many bumps, rough terrain, steep hills, and even a bit of air once, while her heavily-breathing and sweating companions played Sherpa, carrying the Trailrider through the course. The team received much encouragement along the course, and had the opportunity to show off the Trailrider to participants afterwards, offering many individuals the chance to try it out (as a rider or a Sherpa). It was a great experience for the whole team, who hope to participate in other events down the road.

CALGARY Peer Christmas Lunch Join us on December 5 for our Peer Christmas Lunch being held at the Sheraton Cavalier from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Tickets are only $10 per person. Don’t forget to RSVP with Marilyn Erho at or (403) 228-3001 by November 25th. See you there! Hockey Night in Calgary Come on down and enjoy the Calgary Hitmen this winter with your friends at CPA (Alberta). Our Calgary staff and members will cheer on Calgary’s WHL team on January 16 as they take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and it’s sure to be a great game. If you can’t make it out then, we’ll be sending another CPA (Alberta) contingent to the arena to watch the Hitmen challenge the Red Deer Rebels on March 13. Just because it’s not NHL doesn’t mean it’s not fun! Tickets are free of charge, and the seats are amazing! Feel free to invite your friends, and be sure to RSVP with Marilyn Erho at or (403) 228-3001. Past Events Our Calgary office was busy planning and holding helpful events for the community over the last few months. On August 27, the Tetra Design Ideas Symposium was held. Facilitated by Brad Clements with the Tetra Society, participants talked about equipment challenges and ideas for adaptation or tools that can make life easier. We had scheduled our Orienteering Adventure and BBQ for September 19, but after lots of planning and hard work, we unfortunately had to cancel because of bad weather. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. On October 13, a wheelchair fencing session was held. It was a great opportunity to see a wheelchair fencing demonstration as well as give it a try—a nice change from the ubiquitous wheelchair basketball and rugby!

EDMONTON Peer Christmas Party The Edmonton annual Christmas Party is being held on December 1st at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. Come on by at around 6:30 p.m. and find your way to unit 3B. Don’t forget to RSVP by November 24th to Roswitha Dziwenko at (780) 424-6312 or roswitha.

(From left to right) Chad Lorenz, Amy MacKinnon, Margaret Conquest, Austin Bergquist and Cam Mang tackled a 5 Peaks course, seven kilometres in mid-July with the Trailrider.


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Past Events CPA (Alberta)’s office in Edmonton held a number of peer events over the summer and fall of 2010. Our Ladies Night on August 26 was a great success. We had Heather Kuttai, author of Maternity Rolls: Pregnancy, Childbirth and Disability, come out to talk. She was a great speaker and we were glad to have her. Be sure to check out the In Our

r egions Library section of this issue for a review on her amazing book! In early September, Brock Masters talked about various issues and made a presentation on dealing with disability. He was diagnosed at the age of 10 with spina bifida and so he stressed the importance of staying active and touched on topics like intimacy and body image.


Winter Sports Interested in Participating in a winter sport? How about cross-country sit-skiing? It’s great exercise, lots of fun, and allows you to enjoy the outdoors during the winter. We are planning a six-session cross country sit-ski lesson package in the Edmonton area for the 2010-2011 winter season. We hope to begin the affordable lessons in mid-December and to end in March. We also welcome suggestions, offers of volunteer help or sponsorship. If you are interested in participating, contact Kuen Tang at or Laurie Beresnak, an Alberta Amputee Sports and Recreation Association member at

The Medicine River Wildlife Centre celebrates its upgraded and now accessible trails during a ceremony in October. CPA (Alberta) staff member Aaron Tarnowski is pictured at front.

Kuen Tang was a guest speaker at the United Way Kick-Off Luncheon. This marks the 69th campaign held by the national organization.

Medicine River Wildlife Centre With help and advice from CPA (Alberta) in Red Deer, the Medicine River Wildlife Centre is making its facilities more accessible. As part of trail upgrades, old wooden benches will be upgraded to wheelchair accessible picnic tables and a one kilometre hard surface trail will replace the packed dirt trail that was lumpy with tree roots. These upgrades will make it much easier for persons with disabilities to access the nature and beauty of the 453 acres surrounding the centre. The observation tower overlooking the wetlands will also be receiving some upgrades for accessibility. CPA (Alberta) will also be working closely with the Medicine River Wildlife Center when they begin Phase II of the project which will include accessibility upgrades to the buildings and facilities itself. On Sunday, October 12, a groundbreaking opening ceremony was held to celebrate the new upgraded trail. The Medicine River Wildlife Centre works to rehabilitate and release injured and orphaned wild animals from across Alberta .

FORT MCMURRAY Parking Spaces On October 8, volunteers from Syncrude, in conjunction with the Fort McMurray office of CPA (Alberta), painted disabled parking pavement signs as part of the Fort McMurray United Way Day of Caring. They also refreshed the signage at the Wood Buffalo Community Village, the Royal Canadian Legion and the Primary Care Network offices. Many thanks go out to Syncrude and their hard-working volunteers! Spinal Columns





went y years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in the United States. This piece of legislation is now being celebrated for the significant impact it has had on the lives of persons with disabilities. It has been felt in nearly all aspects of their lives, whether it be community access, employment, human rights, education or other avenues that lead to full community participation. If you’ve spent any time down south, you will have noticed that accessibility is much less of an issue. From curb cuts to wheelchair accessible businesses, access is almost everywhere. When buildings are erected, developers pay close attention to the regulations of the ADA. Why is it that, in such an open and inclusive country as Canada, there is no such legislation? We do, on one hand, have human rights legislation, and we do have various building codes that need to be followed. However, as most of us with disabilities know, the process of bringing individuals or businesses to task over not meeting legislation can be an onerous process. When I think about our progressiveness as a great nation, I think of our universal health care, laws that are less restrictive, and even


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legal marriage between same sex individuals. While some of you may not agree on all of these points, it does show that our country is open to new ideas and ways of doing things. Ontario proclaimed their disability act in 2007. It was passed to ensure that individuals with disabilities are protected from various forms of discrimination. While the intent of this legislation is good, it doesn’t come close to meeting the far reaching and effectiveness of the ADA. And it only affects those in Ontario. As we move into the second decade of the 2000s, it would be a great move by our government to pass a Canadians with Disabilities Act. It would provide an opportunity to incorporate some of the good things that are part of the ADA, as well as eliminating some of the shortcomings. There are loopholes in the ADA, but we can learn from our neighbors through the implementation of our own act. Some people in the USA who don’t like the legislation have pointed out that issues can get tied up in the court system for years. At least they can take their issues to court! In Canada, what can we do? Slap their wrist? We need to get our act together. That’s my perspective.

From your perspective I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on these issues, as well as any other issues that may be bothering you. Please submit your opinion or thoughts as a Letter to the Editor via e-mail to

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Cruising the Seven Seas with SCI by Larry Pempeit


aking a winter vacation has obvious appeal to anyone who spends January in northern Alberta. However deciding what type of vacation to take can be a daunting task, especially for those of us with spinal cord injuries. Fortunately for me, I noticed an offer for a cruise to Mexico last September, scheduled with six stops over 11 days. The cruise was offered by Royal Caribbean International aboard the ship Radiance of the Seas. Having taken a cruise five years ago, I knew that the boats were likely going to be very accessible. The stops, on the other hand, weren’t going to be quite as good, but at the very least they would offer me an adventure. If you read my previous article in the Spring issue of Spinal Columns about the Mexico portion of this trip, you’ll know that adventure seems to follow in my stead. So I took a chance and booked the cruise.

The suite featured a wheel-in shower, among other accessible amenities.


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I found the staff at the agency, VacationsToGo, very helpful, easy to deal with, and the price was right. I was even able to purchase cancellation insurance at a reasonable rate, which brought me some peace of mind; I was booking the trip more than five months in advance. I booked a balcony room on the Radiance of the Seas. The travel agents told me the suite would be extra-large and wheelchair accessible, complete with a wheel-in shower and easy access to the balcony. With my collection of Air Miles, I then booked the airfare and hotel rooms for my journey. I was also able to rent a powered transfer lift for the duration of the trip from Eric’s Medical Supply in San Diego. After a long wait, the day of boarding arrived for my caregiver, Genita, and I. Lo and behold, everything went smoothly. Our luggage was taken from the hotel to the ship and then, as if by magic, appeared in our room early that evening. It was suggested that we register early on arrival day, which we did at around 2 p.m. I’m glad we did, as the lobby wasn’t crowded at that time of day so things moved along quickly. We explored the corridors looking for our room number, and when we arrived at our room we found that the entryway had a powered door. All I had to was simply slide my card into the slot, and the door opened on its own. As I rolled into the suite, I was amazed at the amount of space there was. The layout left plenty of room throughout the suite to maneuver easily, and even had enough space at the end of the bed to turn my power wheelchair around. The door to the bathroom, thankfully, was also powered. Inside the room was a refrigerator, which always comes in handy. It was stocked with snacks and non-alcoholic refreshments—all for a hefty charge of course. The balcony was very spacious. Looking across the side of the ship, it seemed to me that we had the largest balcony of all. There was more than enough space on the balcony for me to swivel around, even with the chaise lounger extended. The oversized door handle was easy for me to open, and the ramp onto the balcony wasn’t steep at all. The bathroom was great—fairly large with a five-foot turning radius. There was a small but usable sink and a 17-inch high toilet with solid grab bars on the sides and behind. The wheel-in shower had great side controls making it easy for me to manage the temperature, and there was even a pull-down bench on one wall.

travel Leaving the room was simple—all I had to do was touch a button and the door would open, just like that. The rest of the facilities aboard the ship were extremely accessible and I had no problem accessing all the public areas. To make things better, on the other decks there were a number of family-sized washrooms that had powered doors and electronic lock systems. Of course, there were also some areas that were not very accessible. Most notably was the on-deck pool, where a wheelchair user would face difficulty getting close to the edge. Many of the whirlpools were not designed to be accessible, though one of them did have an electronic lift. The restaurants were accessible, although they did get a little crowded at mealtime. I wasn’t too impressed, however, with the buffet. Most of the food was not within my reach and the labels on the food faced upwards, conspiring to keep me ignorant of what I was putting on my plate. This may have been a mixed blessing—the quality of the buffet food itself wasn’t great, so Genita and I soon returned to the more accessible dining room for our delicious evening meals. You know, things like prime rib and lobster. The staff were especially good in the dining room, paying attention to guest names along with our culinary preferences. Entertainment on board was excellent. You could find something to keep you busy at any time of day, or night for that matter. The stage show lineups changed daily, but I found it problematic to find good seating at later shows, so I’d suggest getting there early. For those with a knack for nightlife, the casino and nightclubs were all accessible, and some of the game tables even were lowered. Internet access is available, but know that you will pay dearly for it! Daytime activities ranged from auctions to wine tasting, and dancing classes and cooking lessons were even offered. One thing to be aware of—the advertised cost for the cruise is not the true cost you actually end up paying. On board, tipping is expected for all the staff who provide you with personal services: waiters, room stewards, bartenders etc. It can all add up by the end of a cruise. To be fair, the staff do deserve it well, as they go out of their way to try and ensure you are comfortable and happy. You may also have to pay for any refreshments you buy on board. And they’re not cheap! If you find shore excursions that you want to take, you’ll find that they can be quite pricey as well. Of the six stops in Mexico, only two were tendered: smaller

boats were needed to get to shore. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go ashore those days, as the lift required to get passengers onto the smaller boats could only handle a maximum load of 400 pounds. And that didn’t work for the combined weight of my power chair and I. Using a manual wheelchair shouldn’t cause any problems for most people, and I did see many others with disabilities using the tender boats. For the other four stops, I found disembarking quite easy. Getting off the boat only required rolling down a ramp followed by a walkway. The ramp portion was rather steep, and it forced me to use my power tilt to get on and off. If you don’t have a power tilt feature on your wheelchair, you may have to take your footrests off. One of the biggest disappointments of the trip was that the tours provided by Royal Caribbean at each of the stops were not suitable for people with wheelchairs. It frustrated me even more that once off the ship, no wheelchair taxis were made available. This meant I was forced to wheel to whatever I could find that was accessible. I still managed to make the best of the situation and I found a number of interesting sights and sounds rolling around Mexico. Despite some disappointments, I would say that I found the Radiance of the Seas to be one of the most wheelchair-friendly ships on the seas. To my knowledge, the Radiance of the Seas and its sister ship, the Brilliance of the Seas, are the only ones with power assist doors into the stateroom. Both ships are rated at four-and-a-half stars, and I was impressed with the luxury on offer. Worry-free cruises are no longer a dream.

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Maternity ROLLS

By Karen Viens


e at her K ut t a i’s b o ok “Maternity Rolls: Pregnancy, Childbirth and Disability” is an extremely enlightening read. As a spinal-cordinjured mother of five children, a birth doula, and a childbirth educator, I have read countless books on pregnancy and childbirth over the years. Fully expecting this book to focus on just that, I was quite surprised to find that it’s about so much more. The book takes the reader through Kuttai’s phenomenal and exciting life via a series of journal entries as well as musical lyrics that have inspired her. The book begins with details of the car accident that left Kuttai paraplegic at the age of six, and progresses through the years onto her time as a paraplegic athlete, a university student, and how she implemented change in her community. When she and her husband decide to start a family, the story weaves its way through her two pregnancies and the different physical and emotional challenges she had to face. Certainly an eye-opener and guaranteed to make you both laugh and cry you need not have a spinal cord injury or a baby in your tummy to truly enjoy this moving piece.

Do You Suffer From “Drop Foot?”

One of the newest treatment options available for foot drop is the WalkAide System. The WalkAide utilizes electrical stimulation which restores specific muscle function. More than simply bracing the foot, WalkAide uses advanced sensor technology to analyze the movement of your leg and foot. It then sends electrical signals to your peroneal nerve, which controls movement in your ankle and foot. These gentle, electrical pulses prompt the muscles to raise your foot at the appropriate time, producing a much more natural and efficient pattern of walking. Although highly advanced, WalkAide is surprisingly small and discreet, and quite easy to use. To inquire if the WalkAide is appropriate for you please call our office.

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Spinal Columns: Fall 2010 Volume 25 Number 4