I’ve always enjoyed traveling. One of my favorite movies is the 2009 comedy-drama “Up in the Air.” I easily identify with the main character, Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney. Bingham, who loves his job although it requires him to fly around the country, has a goal of accumulating 10 million frequent flyer miles, putting him in lofty company, indeed. In the late 80’s through the 90’s, I had a job where I found myself on a different flight four or more times a week, and I loved it. While Clooney’s character briskly walked through airports, I, as a T10 complete para, was much quicker wheeling through airports. Domestically, I flew around the country from Maine to Alaska. My international assignments took me from Europe to Mexico and Central America.
Among my jobs, I write about traveling in a column called “Travel Matters” for New Mobility magazine. In addition to my own travel experience, I’ve learned valuable travel tips writing columns and profiles. In March, I went on a seemingly “easy” one-hour flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles to attend the L.A. Abilities Expo, a trip that seriously tested many of my travel tips. Here’s a look:
Skin protection on aisle chairs:
The surfaces of some aisle chairs on planes offer, at best, minimal skin protection. Most of them, however, offer no skin protection. Over the years, I’ve written about quite a few wheelers that have experienced skin breakdown caused by aisle chairs, especially as their skin gets more fragile with age. At 53, and in my 28th year as a para, this is something I’m well aware of.
Tales of aisle chair-induced pressure ulcers I’ve written or heard about were either the result of spending too much time strapped in the aisle chair or from a hard or worn surface of the aisle chair itself. For this reason, I always travel with THE ADAPTOR® PAD by ROHO in my daypack and put it on the aisle chair before transferring.
The least amount of time spent in an aisle chair the better. When boarding the plane, I make it a point to be sure there is clear path to my seat with no other passengers clogging the aisle and that the aisle chair attendants are ready to go before transferring to the aisle chair. When deplaning, I make sure the path is clear, my chair is ready and waiting at the jet way and the aisle chair attendants are ready before transferring from my seat to the aisle chair.
Putting your cushion on the airplane seat:
I place my wheelchair cushion on the airplane seat—being sure it is properly oriented, with the back of the cushion at the back of the seat, and the seatbelts are cleared to the sides of the seat—before transferring onto my seat. At cruising altitude, the cabin pressure of an airplane is the equivalent of being on top of an 8,000 foot mountain—this means a ROHO cushion will become quite firm, so I open the air valve and let some air out. When I land, I re-inflate the cushion. As a caveat, don’t bother with the ROHO inflator pump; I clean the air valve off with a handi-wipe and blow into the valve to re-inflate the cushion.
Protect your skin on accessible hotel shower benches:
The surfaces of hotel shower benches are usually rock-hard and.to make matters worse, they often have water-draining grooves in them that can become a recipe for skin breakdown. THE ADAPTOR PAD provides great protection for this, and I always use one. However, as the photo shows, this “accessible shower” was an epic fail because the water control was out of reach from the shower bench—a problem I’ve encountered before. Who designs these things anyway?
My solution in this case was placing the hose of the shower nozzle in between the grab bar, turning on the water and adjusting the temperature while still in my wheelchair, then transferring onto the shower bench while pushing my chair out of reach of the water. I lifted the nozzle up for my shower, finished, placed the nozzle back in between the grab bar, transferred back to my chair and turned off the water. I somehow managed this feat three days in a row without soaking the chair.
After three exciting days at the Abilities Expo, I returned to LAX with plenty of time—or so I thought—to make it to my quick one-hour return flight. After passing through the long TSA line, I found my return flight was leaving from a satellite gate serviced by bus located outside the first floor. I went to the accessible elevator, only to find it was out of service.
By the time I finally located a working elevator and took the bus ride to my gate, it was time to board. Unfortunately, I had forgotten one of my important travel tips.
When booking a flight, ask for a seat with a moveable aisle armrest:
Although bulkhead seats have more room, the armrests don’t move. Requesting a seat with a moveable aisle armrest–usually the seat behind the bulkhead–can be done when booking a flight or during check-in. Moveable armrests make it easier and safer to transfer from the aisle chair to your designated seat. I know stories of people that have gotten serious pressure ulcers from bumping their backsides on a fixed armrest during a transfer. Since I forgot to ask about this, and it was a full flight and time to pre-board, I channeled my inner Homer Simpson and thought: DOH! Fortunately, I was able to direct the aisle chair attendant to position me for an easy transfer.
How to empty your bladder while flying.
Bladder management while flying is a subject near and dear to my kidneys, and something I wrote about in “Bladder Matters: Airline Bladder Management.”
The bottom line is to try to avoid having to empty your bladder while flying by keeping fluid intake to a minimum before a flight and avoiding coffee and other caffeinated drinks. Caffeine is a diuretic and causes your kidneys to work overtime. On this particular day, waiting for my cab for the airport, I was thirsty and tired, so I drank a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. I thought to myself, “I have plenty of time and it’s only a one-hour flight!”
Because of the gate change and the elevator debacle, I was running late and didn’t have time to visit the restroom before boarding the flight. Again, my thought process was, “It’s a one-hour flight and my bladder isn’t full…yet.” Like clockwork, the sardine can of a commuter jet, with every seat full, pulled back from the gate right on time and proceeded directly to the departure runway, where unfortunately, it proceeded to stop. The engines shut down and the captain announced that due to air traffic we would be waiting for at least an hour before take-off. DOH!
Now I was in trouble. My bladder was quickly filling up and the plane I was on was so small they didn’t have an onboard aisle chair for the restroom. Over the years I’ve heard tales of (male) wheelers discreetly draping a blanket over their laps and catheterizing into an empty plastic water bottle or closed system catheter (internal catheter that drains into a bag that can be capped when finished) bag. I asked the flight attendant if they had a blanket—despite the fact that it was quite warm—they didn’t. Luckily, I had my jacket and a closed system catheter—also luckily, the passengers around me were either dozing or immersed in a book. Throwing embarrassment and modesty to the wind, I draped my jacket over my lap, hoping the plumbing wouldn’t come apart and hoping my jacket would stay tucked around my sides and not slide off, which would leave me in full flash mode, complete with filling a clear catheter bag.
Fortunately, it worked! The closed system bag was full and capped, my bladder was empty, pants zipped up, jacket still over my lap and nobody seemed to notice. I managed to continue my ruse and carefully slid the capped-off, closed system bag inside an airsickness bag and sealed the top. Just as I was finishing doing that, the plane’s engines revved up and the captain announced we would be on our way. AS it turns out, we only sat on the runway for 10 minutes instead of the hour we were told. DOH!
=Accessible Air Travel, A Guide for People With Disabilities: http://www.unitedspinal.org/pdf/2012-accessible-air-travel-brochure.pdf
=Bladder Matters: Airline Bladder Management: http://www.newmobility.com/articleView.cfm?id=12014&srch=Travel%20Matters
=Travel Matters: Air Travel 101: http://www.newm
The ROHO Group will unveil the new ROHO® AGILITY™ Back System at the 2012 International Seating Symposium in Vancouver, Canada.
With the unveiling, The ROHO Group will offer International Seating Symposium attendees a firsthand look at the new ROHO AGILITY Back System. The unveiling will take place on Wednesday, March 7, 2012, at 10:40 a.m. at The ROHO Group Booths 65 and 66 in the exhibit hall located at the Westin Bayshore.
The unveiling will begin with an introduction by The ROHO Group’s President, Tom Borcherding, and followed with a presentation by The ROHO Group’s Sr. Director of Training and Education, Darren Hammond, MPT, CWS. Following the presentation, attendees and media will be able to have hands-on experience with the new product.
“The International Seating Symposium is rapidly becoming the premier global conference for professionals around the world with a focus on seating, positioning and mobility, making it the ideal event for the ROHO AGILITY Back System unveiling,” The ROHO Group’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development Pat Chelf said.
Don’t worry if you can’t attend the International Seating Symposium. You can still sign up to receive the latest scoop on the product at agility.therohogroup.com.
The International Seating Symposium features the latest developments in the areas of seating, positioning and mobility. Topic areas include product development, research, outcomes and service delivery. More information about ISS can be found online at www.interprofessional.ubc.ca/iss.
For more information, contact:
eMarketing & Support Surface Product Coordinator
The ROHO Group
800-851-3449 ext. 2220
The Net Impact, a St. Louis-based internet and web development and design company, won a Gold TAM award in the Website Development—Landing Page category. The TAM Awards (Targeted Advertising & Marketing) Awards highlight the best business-to-business marketing campaigns in the St. Louis area. The awards honor agencies, companies and the individuals who make them. The awards are presented by the Business Marketing Association of St. Louis.
The awards feature several categories including print advertising, direct mail, trade exhibits, large format displays, promotional materials, public relations and human resource communications, corporate identity graphics, annual reports and newsletters, web development and social media, and multifaceted campaigns.
The awards reception was held on Monday, September 12, 2011 at the Starlight Roof at the Chase Park Plaza.
Congrats to The Net Impact team! We appreciate all that you’ve done!
The ROHO Group, manufacturer of support surface products for medical and consumer applications, is introducing a new non-powered ROHO® SOFFLEX® 2 Mattress Overlay System, designed for individuals who require skin protection.
The SOFFLEX 2 Mattress Overlay System provides the same effective ROHO® Shape Fitting Technology® pressure redistribution known throughout the industry. The SOFFLEX 2 is designed to meet the needs of individuals who require skin/soft tissue protection or other medical needs. It has three sections to conform to the individual’s body shape, size and needs. The three non-powered sections easily snap together to form a complete mattress overlay.
“SOFFLEX 2 represents the first of a new generation of support surfaces coming from ROHO that use new materials science to provide the same ROHO® quality,” Sr. VP of Sales and Business Development, Pat Chelf said.
Made from flame-retardant polyurethane, the new SOFFLEX 2 only weighs 6.5 pounds (2.9 kilograms) and is 36 inches (91.5 centimeters) wide by 81.75 inches (207.5 centimeters) long by 3.5 inches (9 centimeters) tall.
The SOFFLEX 2 comes with a hand inflation pump, operating instructions and a repair kit. It also has two cover options: ROHO® Reusable Mattress Overlay System Cover or ROHO® Mattress Overlay Enclosure Cover. The SOFFLEX 2 has an 18-month limited warranty and has a Medicare Part B HCPCS code of E0371 Group II Support Surfaces.
The ROHO Group specializes in Shape Fitting Technology®, manufacturing cushioning and mattress products for medical applications as well as for recreational and commercial vehicle use. For more information, visit The ROHO Group’s website at www.therohogroup.com or contact customer service at (800) 851-3449 in the US, or at (618) 277-9150 if outside the US.
For more information, contact:
The ROHO Group, Inc.
1-800-851-3449, ext. 2220
Learn about ROHO: http://www.therohogroup.com/corporate/about.jsp
I normally never read my college’s alumni magazine (University of Missouri-Columbia’s Mizzou Magazine), but the latest issue happened to arrive just as I was heading to the airport so I had some time to kill. As most alumni magazines do, it mainly features accomplishments of the university’s alumni. What I didn’t expect is that it actually had interesting content.
This issue happened to have a medical focus that featured several pretty cool medical advancements.
One of the articles was about a Missouri School of Journalism student, Alex Rozier, who submitted a story about a non-profit mobility device organization for a journalism contest, “Project: Report.” The Personal Energy Transportation (PET) Project, which started in Columbia, Mo. and is similar to Wheelchairs for Humanity, builds lever-powered mobility devices for people in poorer countries who don’t have access to wheelchairs. Many of the people who receive the devices have had to crawl to get from one place to another or were never able to leave their homes.
Alex’s video submission titled “The World Mobility Problem,” won the contest’s grand prize of $10,000 toward an international reporting project. Then last fall, Alex used half of the money to pay for distribution of PET devices to Guatemala. Alex along with two local TV anchors produced a series for the TV news station titled “The Culture that Crawls” with footage from the delivery of the devices in Guatemala. You can watch the six-part series at theculturethatcrawls.com and don’t forget to let me know what you think. You can read the full article in Mizzou Magazine at mizzoumagazine.com.
The ROHO Group
P.S. For full disclosure, I am alum of the Missouri School of Journalism, BA ’09. The issue also features some medical advancements including a new type of knee replacement made with living bone and cartilage that is grown in a laboratory.