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Thread: Aging with a Disability

  1. #1

    Aging with a Disability

    I am not sure where I am going with this post or what I am looking to achieve but here goes. First I'll start with a little background. I am 50 years old, a C7 para complete, 32 years post injury. I have had what some would consider few health concerns while others would consider them several. I am a type 1, insulin dependent diabetic. I've had relatively few skin problems, mostly on my feet with just a couple on my rear end and those have been within the last couple of years. My main issue other than the obvious of being a para is my shoulders. I have had shoulder issues/pain for the past 13 -15 years I have had an MRI and it revealed a small tear on my left should which is also my dominate hand. I have been receiving cortisone shots every 3 months for the 18 months. The shots are affective in reducing the pain and I am able to return to a somewhat normal routine unless I tweak it somehow then I suffer through the pain until the next shot. The Dr. told me that I needed to lose weight as carrying around extra pounds will be the biggest limiting factor in maintaining my independence so I dropped almost 70 pounds but still should problems still exist and re-occur on a regular basis. I use a manual assist (E-motion wheels) wheelchair and a van with a driver's seat that I transfer into. I used to use just a regular manual ridge frame chair and various vehicles that I had to transfer into & disassemble the chair each time. I am completely independent in my daily activities, work fulltime and volunteer for several activities throughout the community.

    The shoulder issues are a real concern for me as I know that long term cortisone shots are not the answer and can in fact cause further damage. Shoulder surgery doesn't sound like much of an option as the rehab can be up to 12 months and there are no guarantees that it will work. This past month or so the pain in my should has been unbearable and it has gotten me thinking about the whole aging process with this disability. Are there precautions I should/could be taking doing to prolong an active lifestyle and maintain my independence? I have always been as active as I could be and would like to be able to continue the kind of lifestyle that I am accustomed to. Are there Drs. that specialize in older people that have been living with a physical disability for a considerable amount of time? Are there articles/publications out there that I can read?

    Thank you in advance for any help, suggestions and advice.

    "If I'd known I'd live this long I'd taken better care of myself"

  2. #2
    Hey ND,
    Read the manual t the SOS link below. It has a lot of suggestions. I will be back. I am nursing tendonitis in my right forearm today. Grrrr!
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @

    See my personal webpage @

  3. #3
    I have some problems with my shoulders (70 years old, 33 years post injury) too, but I listened to my doctors, 15 or so years ago, who told me to preserve my shoulders by going to a power chair and minimizing transfers. That would be my suggestion to you, look into full power chairs, get some physical therapy to teach you some good exercises for your shoulders, and get into a wheelchair modified van where you don't have to transfer and break down the chair.

    Hey, by the way, congratulations on taking off 70 pounds. That's a great achievement!

    All the best,

  4. #4
    Senior Member lynnifer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Windsor ON Canada
    Echo minimizing transfers ... went back to a board. Purchased a power chair for part time use.
    Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

    T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

  5. #5
    I would also add that when you are tired or hurting, don't hesitate to ask for a little help. For example, wHether it be asking someone to help with dinner or bringing it in, anything you can do to save wear and tear on then will help. If you opt to go to a power chair, even part time, you might want to consider one that tilts you back, even though it is larger. Mir can help you with pressure reliefs.
    Hope this helps!

  6. #6
    Same issues here. Two years ago got a zx1 and it has saved me. Use a van so loading is no problem - mainly use it outdoors. Also went through a PT program to learn light stretching techniques. Small microwaveable pack heated is on my shoulder at 1 hour naps, and bedtime - every single day. It brings lot of relief. Also use Motrin if shoulder cranks up with pain. I'll sometimes start trouble for the least little "different" motion of shoulder, like once I used a dust pan, leaning down from wheelchair to hold pan. Oops....pain for a week.
    Also put Pledge on my transfer board weekly. Hold my arm out straight moving it forward for light stretch, also get relief by hitching shoulder up slowly for 3 or 4 times, and pain starts to go away.
    Mainly, baby my left shoulder. Surgery is not an option.

    Wish we had a forum for this topic you raise: Aging with a Disability.

  7. #7
    I agree with you. It ould be helpful to add a forum on this. I will pass it onto KLD.


  8. #8
    Thanks, SCI Nurse. It seems there may be a lot to share at a Forum like that.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Baldwinsville, N.Y.
    My doctor wanted me to try PRP plasma treatments and stop getting the quarterly cortizone injections. I recently submitted all the paperwork to go thru this process. I will let you know how it works after I get it. Here is some info. The clinic conducting this is the New Jersey sports medicine clinic.


    What is PRP?
    PRP is an acronym for Platelet Rich Plasma which is an emerging modality being used in the treatment of orthopedic, musculoskeletal, skin and dental conditions as well as sports injuries. This procedure is rapidly becoming "mainstream" with many professional and elite athletes having received the treatment. The process involves preparing an autologous (same donor and recipient- it’s yours) tissue graft of platelets from a patient’s own blood. The person being treated has some blood removed, which is spun in a centrifuge that separates the blood components eventually creating a solution of concentrated platelets.
    Depending on the indication, the solution may be injected into ligament, tendon, joint, or grafts (tissue or hardware) prior to being transplanted or implanted to aid in healing and improved structural integrity. PRP is being used with success to promote wound (ulcer) healing in diabetics and people with bad circulation. PRP is being used to coat titanium implants during lumbar spinal fusion and to aid healing from complicated fractures and post joint replacement procedures1. One study demonstrated treatment of patients with chronic elbow tendinosis with buffered platelet-rich plasma significantly reduced pain.
    How does this stuff work?
    Platelets are known to most as blood cells that help the blood clot. However this is only one of many roles that platelets play. In fact, by being the first cells on the scene of an injury they have a key role in initiating and coordinating the healing response. In ones body, receptors on the surface of platelets tell them to go to the sight of injury where they initiate clotting and interact with signaling factors released by injured tissue. Platelets can release a multitude of signaling proteins, growth factors, chemotactic factors which stimulate tissue repair and vascular remodeling. This returns the tissue to a normal structure to do its job and results in less or no pain.
    Through scientific research much is known of the armamentarium contained within a platelet. Through electron microscopy and biochemical studies it is known that platelets have many different granules or storage containers for different signaling proteins, structure proteins, coagulation factors and proteases. The surface of the platelet has a variety of membrane embedded protein which provide for a dynamic action in response to tissue damage. By receiving signals from the local environment platelets have the ability to release their healing factors in a control and appropriate fashion.

  10. #10
    Just a comment - you stated the treatment is provided by a sports medicine clinic. Twenty years ago I had one elbow flare up to the size of a golf ball - for no reason I was aware of, over the course of 24 hours. Went to my family doctor who drained a small amount of fluid and sent me on my way, still in pain, but less. Someone at work suggested a sports medicine clinic which I contacted right away. They drained the rest of the fluid and injected something - sorry I didn't ask. I was completely pain free, no swelling, and never had another problem with it.

    After that, I had the greatest respect for Sports Medicine! Their patients are so highly motivated to return to their sport. At that time I had been involved in road racing (in a race chair, no handcycles were around then), but had never had any physical problems, aside from being paralyzed. I was mainly concerned about pushing my wheelchair!

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