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Top Ways That You Can Stay On Top Of Your Congress Member

Staying in touch with your congressional representative is crucial if you want your voice heard and your views to be known.  Finding ways to get a hold of your representative can be tricky because of their busy schedules and all of the other people who want to discuss matters with them.  At NCART, we wanted to share some simple ways that you can take part in the debate with your member of Congress and make a change!

Resistbot

By using this technology, your texts are turned into faxes to your representative by the service.  Overtime, you’ll unlock more uses of Resistbot to become a more influential advocate.

Email

Email is the fastest, most popular way to get in touch, but so many people use this platform that it is important to make your views stand out by being innovative, factual, and to the point.  You can also look online for forms that your member of Congress may provide for you to send a message to them.

Countable

This service seeks to give you a greater voice in politics.  Countable gives you a simple and short overview of the bills your representatives are debating.  Then it lets you send emails to them describing how you feel about the issue and how they should vote.

ThinkUp

This tool is used as a way to gauge popular sentiment through social media.  ThinkUp shows social media analytics so government officials can learn more about their followers.  By liking your representative’s social media posts over certain topics, they will be able to go in and see what is most popular so your voice is heard.

Advocacy Groups

Apart from spending money to lobby, many advocacy groups have created networks in order to have connections with members of Congress.  Advocacy groups do research over main pieces of legislation and know who is on which committees.  By knowing this, they will be able to organize meetings, phone trees, and small campaigns, so if you stay involved with a group, you will have more immediate access to your Congress person.

By using these diverse tools and strategies, you will be able to successfully get your views across when contacting your Congress person.  At NCART, we believe these different tactics can help you can make the difference you’ve been wanting!

 

How an Accessible Playground Improves Your Community

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Playgrounds can provide more than just a break from class. They offer the chance to build friendships, develop teamwork, and create joyful memories. At NCART, we believe that every child, no matter their physical restrictions, should have the chance to enjoy the benefits every recess brings. Find out how accessible playgrounds can benefit your community and how you can help ensure that no child gets left behind.

Why do we need accessible playgrounds?

For children affected by spinal and nerve diseases, playgrounds provide potential problems. Loose rocks covering the ground makes it impossible to maneuver crutches and wheelchairs. Swings do not provide additional back support and can cause potential danger from falling. Jungle gym equipment is narrow and steps hinder children with disabilities. Due to this, playgrounds are no longer safe and fun but provide potential risk of injury.

How can an accessible playground benefit my community?

For parents of children with special needs, the start of school brings additional concern. Since many schools do not have accessible playgrounds, they not only worry about injury, but about their child being left out of the group. By incorporating an accessible playground, you are procuring inclusion for all children as well as installing the belief of teamwork in your community. Ensuring that everyone feels welcome in your neighborhood can strengthen the ties of your town.

How can I help build an accessible playground?

Getting an accessible playground built can seem like an overwhelming endeavor. To ease this concern, start by forming a committee within your community. Make sure to include individuals that can further help your cause such as lawyers, accountants, caregivers, and construction project managers. Speak with local businesses to expand your team. Create a separate committee for fundraising and keep your community involved throughout the process. Once you have your team, start planning tactics to raise awareness of your efforts. Continue to partner with companies across the state to aid in your fundraising events. Doing so will help spread out your workload and ensure maximum exposure. For more information on starting an accessible playground visit www.unlimitedplay.org to find out the steps you can take to help make your community stronger.

Accessible playgrounds are just one way to ensure that children with special needs are included in their community. At NCART, our members help make these ideas possible. Learn more on how your business can become a member today and the benefits our team can provide.

 

3 Ways to Show Support for Loved Ones with Spina Bifida

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This past October was National Spina Bifida Month, recognizing the 1,500 babies born each year with Spina Bifida. The leading neural tube defect in the United States, an estimated 166,000 people are affected with this condition each day. However, at NCART, we know that individuals with Spina Bifida have long demonstrated the strength and resilience required to conquer the world. By showing your support, you can provide additional help to spread awareness and assistance year-round.

What is Spina Bifida?

The most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States, Spina Bifida literally means ‘split spine’. It occurs when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column does not close all the way. Scientists have not determined the cause of the defect, however, they believe that genetic and environmental factors act together to cause the condition.

How You Can Help

  • Become a respite provider

For families with Spina Bifida, there is little time to rest. Specialized doctors’ visits must be scheduled months in advance and usually require a full day of dedication. Equipment that provides assistance such as braces, crutches, and wheelchairs must be maintained to ensure that they are in proper working order. Respite providers give temporary relief care to aid in these responsibilities. They also provide support so that family caregivers can accomplish their day-to-day tasks.  Learn more about becoming a respite provider and the lasting difference you can make in a families’ life.

 

  • Volunteer at an adaptive sports camp.

For individuals with Spina Bifida, life does not slow down. Each year, adaptive sports camps offer the chance to show off their athletic prowess, determination, and spirit. From archery and skiing to rafting and kayaking, there is literally no boundaries to what individuals with Spina Bifida can accomplish. By volunteering at an adaptive sports camp, you are aiding in asserting their independence and health as well as creating new lifelong friendships. To get involved, visit http://www.disabledsportsusa.org/ and find out how you can help this important program.

 

  • Participate in a Walk-N-Roll.

Each year, funds are raised to support local community programs and services for those affected by Spina Bifida through family-friendly Walk-N-Roll events. These non-competitive one mile walks include educational resource fairs and are free of charge for the public. Find out when a Walk-N-Roll will hit your town and get involved today.

Families that are affected by Spina Bifida face challenges each day but, by offering support, you can make a difference. At NCART, we strive to ensure that all people with disabilities get the care they require. That’s why we are working to stop Medicare cuts threatening specialized wheelchair systems needed by family with spinal cord injuries. Help our mission by emailing your Members of Congress today to ask for their support.

How to tell your CRT story to your legislator

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If you’re lucky enough to attend the 2016 RESNA/NCART Conference, then you might be looking at the possibility of meeting with your legislator. While this may seem intimidating, it can actually be an excellent chance to tell your CRT story. Here are a few tips on how to make it successful:

  • Start with an introduction—who you are, where you live, what your connection is with the CRT world. If you use CRT, tell them for how long, even if it’s been your whole life.
  • Think of a specific personal incident that highlights why CRT is so important to you (if you use it) or to the people with whom you work. It doesn’t have to be dramatic or extreme to be impactful—just honest.
  • Talk about how current legislation impacts your or your clients’ access to CRT, and what changes need to be made.
  • Ask for a commitment to support legislation that will make access to CRT easier.
  • At the end of the meeting, remember to thank them for their time.

You can use these bullet points as a template to frame your story before you meet with legislators. The last thing you want is to walk out of the meeting thinking, “Oh, I should have said THIS!” Practice it several times beforehand. Legislators are pressed for time, so you don’t want to stumble as you try to find the word to convey what you want to say.

Remember to be real! This is your story, and you are the expert on this issue. It’s impossible for legislators to know everything about the topics they vote on, and they often rely on stories and input from their constituents before deciding how to vote. Your one visit can make all the difference.

If you find yourself stuck as you try to frame your story, our website has examples of other people telling their CRT story. Check out our video library for some inspiration.

 

Get Excited! It’s almost time! Preview of the 2016 RESNA/NCART Conference, Part 2

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In our previous blog, we highlighted some of the things we’re looking forward to during the 2016 RESNA/NCART conference. We would like to continue that preview for today’s blog:

CRT Legislative and Regulatory Update

The policy landscape for CRT is ever-changing, and this session’s aim is to keep attendees abreast of those changes. Industry experts will provide a comprehensive look at what’s going on at both the federal and state levels. Some of the things covered will include: Medicare Separate Benefit Category legislation, Medicare’s application of Competitive Bid pricing to CRT wheelchair accessories, other Medicare issues and state CRT legislation.

Seating, Mobility, and CRT Show and Tell

Just as the regulations surrounding CRT are constantly changing, so are the technologies going into them. This session will allow attendees to have a hands-on demonstration of recent emerging and innovative technologies for Complex Rehab Technology.

Capitol Hill Visits

If you have a stake at all in the world of Complex Rehab Technology, we would encourage you to attend this event! During this visit, you will have direct access to the policy makers who impact the legislation around CRT. Participants will be able to meet with both their senators and representatives in Congress. Those who do sign up for the Capitol Hill Visit will be required to attend the session titled “Congressional Prep for Capitol Hill Visits” The session will equip you with talking points about specific target issues, as well as familiarize you with the logistics of the visit.

The actual time that you visit with congressional members will vary. Since you will meet with the representatives from your area, everyone will meet with different legislators, and not all of them are on the same schedule. Remember, if you attend this session, you will need to dress appropriately! Dark suits for men, and pants or skirt suits for women.

 

We’re looking forward to seeing all of our supporters at this year’s conference! You can find full conference information here.

Get Excited! It’s almost time! Preview of the 2016 RESNA/NCART Conference, Part 1

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The 2016 RESNA/NCART conference is coming up soon! We’re excited to gather together with like-minded individuals and talk about the issues that are impacting us. For today’s blog, we’re going to talk about some of the highlights from the conference we’re looking forward to:

CRT Industry Leader’s Panel

Those who provide complex rehab technology know that our industry is facing many changes. This session will feature a panel of industry leaders who will share their thoughts and perspectives about what’s happening. Those who attend this session can expect to walk away with both an overview of the industry changes, as well as suggestions as to what to do.

No More Addendums! Get it right the First Time when Documenting the Medical Necessity for Complex Rehab Technology

This interactive workshop will help attendees gain some insight into Medicare documentation requirements. All clinicians are familiar with the frustration of having a patient who clearly needs complex rehab technology, but then are told the documentation doesn’t reflect medical necessity. This session will present in an easy-to-understand manner what it is Medicare expects. Those in attendance will have the chance to review actual wheelchair evaluations, and report back to the rest of the group what they found.

CRT Town Hall

If you need to speak your mind about something, this is the place to do it! The CRT Town Hall offers an open forum for people to talk about the many topics surrounding the CRT industry, including its future. The actual topics will be based on attendee suggestions, although they must be suitable for group discussion.

Those are just a handful of the sessions that we’re most excited about. With the conference coming up fast, we would like encourage you to register, if you haven’t already done so. We hope to see you there!

Etiquette to use when interacting with a wheelchair user

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If you’re a wheelchair user, you have certain “pet peeves” when it comes to how people interacted with you. Among them may be how people interact with you. Today’s blog covers what is proper etiquette around a wheelchair user:

Don’t touch my wheelchair. In many ways, my wheelchair is an extension of my body. You wouldn’t touch a stranger on a random part of their body, so don’t do it to my chair.

Don’t talk slower to me. I can understand speech perfectly fine. Even if my condition prevents me from speaking clearly, I’m still able to comprehend what you’re saying.

Don’t pat me on the head. I’m not a little kid.

Don’t talk over my head like I’m not there. Even if I’m with my caretaker, I can still talk, make decisions and interact with other people. Similarly, if I was standing up next to you, you would never think to talk through me as if I’m invisible—yet, that’s exactly what you’re doing when you talk over me.

Don’t grab my wheelchair handles so I can’t move. You wouldn’t like it if someone kept you from moving freely.

Don’t make me strain my neck. Pull up a chair or sit down next to me if you want to have a long conversation. It can strain my neck if I’m looking up at you too long, and that’s just uncomfortable.

Don’t ask me what happened. For some wheelchair users, this is a personal and touchy subject. Just like anyone else, some of us are more private than others, and really don’t want to reveal parts of our lives to complete strangers.

Don’t assist me when I say no. I like to maintain my autonomy and independence. It’s condescending for you to assume I need help when I haven’t asked for it. Also, if you jump to the “rescue” without asking, you could throw me off balance.

At NCART, we believe education is the key when it comes to changing both society and governmental regulations when it comes to wheelchair users. We continue to fight for the rights of wheelchair users, and you can help us. Visit our website to learn how!

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

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In our last blog, we took a closer look at Traumatic Brain Injuries, one of the conditions those who use complex rehab often live with. For today’s blog, we’re going to look at another condition: multiple sclerosis.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis occurs when the myelin coating around the nerve fibers in the central nervous system become damaged, leading to an interference with the transmission of nerve signals between the brain, spinal cord and the rest of the body. One analogy people often use is that multiple sclerosis is akin to an electrical wire that’s been stripped of its protective coating.

Who gets Multiple Sclerosis?

Doctors aren’t sure what causes multiple sclerosis, but they think it may have something to do with people being pre-disposed to it and then being exposed to something in their environment that sets it off. It has not been proven to be hereditary, but doctors do know that it’s much more prevalent among those of northern European descent. Women are also more prone to developing it than men. Multiple sclerosis usually develops between the ages of 20-50, but some have had it as young as 2 and as old as 75.

What are the signs of Multiple Sclerosis?

Some of the common signs include:

  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs
  • Partial or complete loss of central vision, usually in one eye, often with pain during eye
    movement (optic neuritis)
  • Double vision or blurring of vision
  • Tingling or pain in parts of your body
  • Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain head movements
  • Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

 

These symptoms can also appear in other diseases, so if you experience any of these, make sure you’re tested by your doctor.

At NCART, we fight for those who are living with Multiple Sclerosis, to make sure they can have access to medically-necessary complex rehab technology.

We would like to acknowledge the work that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has done for those who are living with MS. They seek a cure to the disease, as well as offer resources to those who live with multiple sclerosis. We would also like to recognize the work of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America for their contributions to finding a cure.

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury

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In last month’s blog, we talked about a few of the conditions people who use complex rehab are living with. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at another one of these conditions: Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI.

TBI is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to about 30% of all injury deaths.

Every day, 138 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.  Those who survive a TBI can face effects lasting a few days to disabilities which may last the rest of their lives. In 2010, about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, or deaths were associated with TBI—either alone or in combination with other injuries—in the United States.

A TBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. A rapid acceleration or deceleration of the head, which can force the brain to move back and forth inside the skull, can also cause TBI.

Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). Many times, those who have experienced TBI lose motor skill function, and as a result, they rely on complex rehab technology to help them with everyday life.

Here at NCART, we fight to make sure that those who have suffered from TBI continue to receive Medicare coverage for their medically-necessary wheelchairs. We encourage you to contact your representatives in congress to let them know that they should support Medicare funding for complex rehab technology.

We would also like to recognize the work of the Brain Injury Association of America for their contributions to this cause. They are the voice of advocacy on Capitol Hill for those who have suffered from brain injuries.

NCART would also like to recognize the work of the Brain Injury Network for bringing awareness to the rights and issues of those who are living with brain injuries.

Who uses CRT wheelchairs? A closer look, Part 2

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In last week’s blog, we talked about some of the diseases, conditions and life circumstances that can lead to a person needing the use of a CRT wheelchair. For today’s blog, we will continue to talk about some of these conditions, and what you can do to help make sure they get the coverage they need!

ALS

Also known as Lou Gehrig’s, this disease received attention a few years ago when people performed the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise money for research for a cure. Physicist Stephen Hawking, who also lives with this disease, has been portrayed widely in popular media. But the truth is, this disease is sinister, leading to a total breakdown of all muscle function. In the end, those living with it are unable to swallow food, and eventually, unable to breathe. Many depend on CRT wheelchairs to give them relief from the effects of the disease and a better quality of life.

Muscular Dystrophy

Many people are familiar with this disease because of the green shamrocks that appear in retail windows every year during the MDA’s annual fundraising. But muscular dystrophy itself wreaks terrible havoc on the lives of young children, weakening their muscles until they are no longer able to stand or walk. Some even have issues swallowing or breathing. Those suffering from MD often rely on CRT wheelchairs for daily life.

Cerebral Palsy

This condition develops as a result of abnormal brain development before birth. Those who live with cerebral palsy can have varying degrees of symptoms, but some require a CRT wheelchair in order to achieve mobility. They also may have trouble speaking or swallowing, due to motor impairments. Many became familiar with this disease because of actor RJ Mitte, who played Flynn on the show Breaking Bad. Both Mitte and the character he portrayed have a mild form of cerebral palsy.

What can you do?

You can contact your representatives in Congress and let them know how necessary CRT wheelchair accessories are—and to overturn CMS’s interpretation of the new Medicare guidelines. Tell them there needs to be a permanent solution in place to protect the independence of those who need is most. And, you can become a member of NCART. Our members help support the work that we do. Learn more about becoming a member here.

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