More all-terrain wheelchairs added to Michigan state parks

By Sophia Brandt: Complete Post through this link…

Three more Michigan state parks will receive all-terrain wheelchairs this summer to make parks more accessible.

They include Wilderness State Park in Emmet County, Warren Dunes in Berrien County and North Higgins Lake in Crawford County. That brings the number of state parks that have at least one of the chairs to 14. Some have two or even three, including Holland State Park, Grand Haven State Park and Ludington State Park. 

These chairs can go through water up to 8 inches, drive over sand and other terrain a typical wheelchair could not get through.

Track chairs range in cost, typically between $15,000 to $20,000, according to Action Trackchair, a Minnesota-based manufacturer.

Most chairs have been donated or bought through fundraising efforts for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources parks and recreation department. 

The park system’s first five track chairs were donated in 2016 by Kali’s Cure for Paralysis Foundation, an organization founded in 2008 to fund spinal cord research at hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

“The parks were not only the best way to reach the largest number of people, but also make them accessible to people who might never have had a chance to experience the outdoors or even enjoy an afternoon at the park with their family,” said Kali Pung, co-founder of Kali’s Cure, based in Alma.

The Hidden Impact: Lingering Brain Injury Symptoms Haunt Concussion Patients

By UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE: Complete Post through this link…

Mild traumatic brain injury – concussion – results from a blow or jolt to the head. It can occur as a result of a fall, a sports injury or from a cycling accident or car crash, for example. But despite being labelled ‘mild’, it is commonly linked with persistent symptoms and incomplete recovery. Such symptoms include depression, cognitive impairment, headaches, and fatigue.

While some clinicians in recent studies predict that nine out of 10 individuals who experience concussion will have a full recovery after six months, evidence is emerging that only half achieve a full recovery. This means that a significant proportion of patients may not receive adequate post-injury care.

Predicting which patients will have a fast recovery and who will take longer to recover is challenging, however. At present, patients with suspected concussion will typically receive a brain scan – either a CT scan or an MRI scan, both of which look for structural problems, such as inflammation or bruising – yet even if these scans show no obvious structural damage, a patient’s symptoms may still persist.

Dr Emmanuel Stamatakis from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences and Division of Anaesthesia at the University of Cambridge said: “Worldwide, we’re seeing an increase in the number of cases of mild traumatic brain injury, particularly from falls in our ageing population and rising numbers of road traffic collisions in low- and middle-income countries.

[Updated] CMS Proposes New Rule Requiring At Least 80% of HCBS Medicaid Payments To Go Toward Worker Compensation

By Robert Holly: Complete Post through this link…

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday announced a new proposed rule that would, among its provisions, establish a strict requirement for the amount of Medicaid payment going toward home care worker compensation.

Specifically, the proposed rule from CMS would require that at least 80% of Medicaid payments for personal care, homemaker and home health aide services be spent on compensation for direct care workers. That’s opposed to expenses such as “administrative overhead or profit,” according to the agency.

“If adopted as proposed, the rules would establish historic national standards for access to care regardless of whether that care is provided through managed care plans or directly by states through fee-for-service (FFS),” the CMS announcement explains. “Specifically, they would establish access standards through Medicaid or CHIP managed care plans, as well as transparency for Medicaid payment rates to providers, including hourly rates and compensation for certain home care and other direct care workers.”

13 Signs You Grew Up With Unaddressed Anger

By Juliette V.: Complete Post through this link…

Anger is often a tricky emotion to express in adulthood, but for many, it was even trickier to express in childhood. If you can relate to having unaddressed anger from childhood, you’re not alone.

Maybe you grew up in a household where it wasn’t safe to express your emotions, so your anger went unaddressed. Maybe you grew up with a mental illness and because struggling was your norm, you didn’t realize you were actually deeply upset about your circumstances. Or maybe you were being abused and your deep anger was constantly repressed so you could survive.

Whatever your unique situation was, we want you to know your feelings matter and you are not alone in your experiences. We wanted to know how people knew, in hindsight, that they actually had unaddressed anger from childhood, so we turned to our community. Below they shared the signs they could recognize now as adults that they had unaddressed anger in childhood.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

A Radical Experiment in Mental Health Care, Tested Over Centuries

By Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Koba Ryckewaert: Complete Post through this link…

A painful loop has defined Iosif’s 53 years on earth: trauma, mental breakdown, psychiatric institutionalization.

From his native Romania to a failed asylum bid in Belgium and later divorce and financial distress, Iosif’s condition has punctuated crises in his life that often spiraled out of control.

But as he sat at the dining table overlooking the woods through wide glass doors, he seemed at peace.

He spoke about his daily chores (feeding the donkey, doing the dishes), favorite pastimes (reading the Bible, shopping), worries (forgetting to take his pills, overspending).

In the living room, the sounds of cartoons filled the air. Etty, 71, and Luc Hayen, 75, were transfixed watching a children’s show involving a mouse on an outlandish adventure. The house cat was curled up on a cream sofa.

All of them live with Ann Peetermans, a 47-year-old beautician, and her teenage son in a long-term arrangement where people with mental illnesses move in with local families.

Opinion | Direct care workers need better pay to help our most vulnerable

By Todd Culver & Robert Stein: Complete Post through this link…

For years, those of us working in Michigan’s behavioral health sector have been warning of an imminent systemic collapse. Now, it’s reached our doorstep.

The cause? Our system only works when direct care workers are available to care for people in need of services. These individuals provide hands-on care and support for people with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges, helping with everything from training and counseling to daily bathing and food preparation.

Since Medicaid is the funding source for families and private providers, they can’t simply increase the pay of their DCWs. As a result, the pool of available DCWs is dwindling, due to poor compensation and benefits. This leaves many Michigan families in a state of crisis as they try to ensure their loved ones are safe and well cared for.

The hard truth is that inflation is pushing the cost of living higher than ever. And for the most part, salaries across Michigan have kept pace, with one notable exception: DCW pay remains low, with a starting wage of $15.20 per hour, according to recent survey findings. 

This level of compensation is just too low to keep DCWs on the job, leading to a 42-percent turnover rate in the field.  As you might imagine, turnover adds its own costs and risks to the care Michiganders need. These pressures are unsustainable and require urgent legislative action.

Communication Boards & Resources for Recreation

From TechOwl: Complete Post through this link…

Available Boards

Communication boards will be posted here. Boards for different activities and in multiple languages will be added soon. Check back here for updates!

Playground Communication Board

Image of Playground Board. This board features core vocabulary and playground specific vocabulary for communication.

Click here to download a PDF version of the Playground Communication Board. It is currently available in English.

A document with a list of the terms used for the Playground Communication Boards is available.  This list describes the icons and their meanings by location on the page. Click here to download the terms list.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Reminds Healthcare Providers of ADA’s Effective Communication Requirements

From Eastern District of Virginia: Complete Post through this link…

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced today that it has sent a Dear Colleagues Letter reminding healthcare providers of the effective communication requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To strengthen awareness and understanding of these requirements, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is inviting the public, including personnel at healthcare providers, to an informational meeting that will be held on June 6, 2023, at 1 p.m.

When Congress passed the ADA, it recognized that discrimination against individuals with disabilities persists in critical areas, including health services, which often involve high stakes communication. Through the ADA, Congress established a national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities by providing strong and enforceable standards. In support of these goals, the ADA and its implementing regulations require covered entities, including healthcare providers, to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services to individuals with communication disabilities without imposing a surcharge on the individual, including qualified sign language interpreters, computer-aided transcription services, and effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

The ADA requirements apply to a variety of healthcare providers, including those operated by either private entities or state and local governments, such as hospitals, nursing facilities, urgent care providers, physicians, dentists, optometrists, durable medical equipment retailers, infirmaries located at institutions of higher learning and correctional facilities, and local mental health agencies. Further, the ADA applies to all services that covered entities provide, including in-person medical services, telehealth appointments, electronic kiosks, and websites.

The Dear Colleagues Letter explains that “[p]ursuant to the ADA, healthcare providers are required to ensure that communication with people with disabilities is as effective as communication with people without disabilities.” Further, “healthcare providers may not decline to provide treatment to an individual solely because they have a disability and may need auxiliary aids and services.”

Livonia Public Meeting Access Barrier

From KH Green: Complete Post through this link…

Hello Livonia Neighbors and friends,

Please join AccessLivonia504/ADA to join in equal participation in City of Livonia (city owned) property public meetings.

Recently a friend tried to go to a public city meeting at Livonia City Hall and navigate the steep cement ramp using a manual wheelchair only to find that he could not get in the building due to lack of “access-ibility.” The ramp is too steep.

The auditorium ramp is also too steep. No closed captioning, no podium for wheelchair users, no sign language interpreters as required by state and federal law.

The City of Livonia discontinued virtual online meetings during its public meetings that had closed captioning. It’s time to get our house in order so everyone can participate in local city government.

There are so many things like this that make Livonia City unusable for wheelchair users.

Join AccessLivonia504, a newly formed citizens committee to make Livonia City Hall accessible to wheelchair, rollator, walker users able to attend public meetings, pay taxes inside, and more.

AAC for Playgrounds and Beyond

From AT3: Complete Post through this link…

This summer, TechOWL (the PA AT Act Program) and Oak Hill’s NEAT Center (a partner of the CT Tech Act Project) are building community with communication boards for outdoor recreation, learning, and public awareness. #DisabilityPride.

In 2019, a Michigan non-profit, Communication is Key, posted a message to Facebook about a large all-weather alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) board they’d installed at a playground to support children with complex communication needs. On August 27, the post went viral (amassing nearly a half-million views). “People from all over the world have reached out, including the U.K., Australia, South Africa, South America, Canada, and many different cities across the United States! How exciting to be able to reach our community like that and spread awareness for our kiddos!” reported Executive Director Julia Dapkus.

Since then (and before), symbol-based boards have been installed in multiple states to support visitors who communicate using AAC. In 2021, news outlets reported playground AAC signage in Michigan, Minnesota, MarylandNew Jersey, and Massachusetts (where the Doug Flutie Foundation is providing grants for boards throughout the Commonwealth).

On playgrounds, communities around the country are helping to grow a culture of inclusivity. Communication boards display symbols and words for selection by users with speech disabilities (and others) to convey needs, feelings, wants, and ideas. These outdoor symbol-based boards support equity, raise awareness, and make it easier for people of all abilities to interact with one another.