DISABILITY ACCESS: Empowering Tribal Members with Disabilities & Their Families
Provided by Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
The most common orthopedic impairments are amputations, spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy. Epilepsy, under previous legal definitions considered a physical disability, is now included in the federal definition under "other health impairments".
Spinal cord injury is a loss of feeling or mobility that is a result of damage to the spinal cord. On the reservations, the most common cause of spinal cord injury is car accidents. Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.'s Turtle Mountain site coordinator, Willie Davis, was a typical high school student, playing baseball, going to parties and planning to enter the University of North Dakota. Then, he was a passenger in car accident involving drinking and driving. In 2004, he was CANAR vocational rehabilitation counselor of the year. In between, though, he experienced depression, divorce, failure in school, success in school, difficulty finding a job before finding his dream job.
A person may be missing a limb due to amputation, accident or genetics. Amputations most commonly occur as a result of other health problems and are more common in older adults. The most common cause of missing limbs are diabetes and accidents.
Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects the brain’s ability to send messages to the body, thus affecting the use of muscles. Cerebral palsy is evident early in life, usually in the first year or two. Depending on the specific case, the disability can be mild to severe, and may be accompanied by mental disabilities. Because cerebral palsy affects muscle control, a person with this disability often has difficulty walking. A person with cerebral palsy may also have trouble speaking not due to mental retardation but rather because he or she cannot control well the muscles that produce speech. Physical therapy can be used to improve muscle control, in some cases.
Spina Bifida is a disability that is present at birth. It occurs when there is damage to the spinal cord and the column does not close completely, causing an impairment of lower body movements and functions such as bladder/rectal troubles and even paralysis. As with cerebral palsy, there is a wide range in severity.
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