Something New

Reprinted from PN March 2011

We’d like input about a new section in PN that will address federal action on items of interest to the disability community.

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In January (2010), I addressed some of the changes that would be taking place in PN in the coming months. We have been discussing for some time the possibility of creating a new section to highlight federal action on items of interest to members of PVA and the entire disability com­munity, as well as material related to veterans issues. These could be as broad as legislation—pending and completed—that deals with compensation, pension, changes in healthcare entitlements and airline rules and regulations, federal disability architectural mandates, and a plethora of other items.

In many instances, as subsequent issues of PN are published, there would be little change in legislative and administrative action, since some matters under consideration on the federal level take time. Therefore, you would likely see a heading listing a specific bill or committee and the description, then an explanation something like “action still pending by House or Senate” or similar language.

One of the advantages of a section like this is the ability it would provide to PVA chapters to stay up to date on such matters. It would also give chapter staff information on which they might like to take action, as well as set the stage for PVA National Office requests for coordinated action by PVA membership on contacting the appropriate folks in Washington, D.C.

If you have an interest in seeing a section such as this added to PN, let us know by e-mail, regular mail, or a telephone call. These contact sources are listed near the front of each issue of PN. If there is enough interest, we will pursue with our national leadership the appropriate coordination to create such a section.

This issue includes Dr. Rory Cooper and Rosemarie Cooper’s article about wheelchairs. Cooper has been a frequent contributor to PN; if you are a regular reader of the magazine, his name will be familiar.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with his background, the “doctor” does not refer to an MD (medical doctor). Cooper has a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, a master of engineering in electrical engineering, and a doctor of philosophy (PhD) in electrical and computer engineering. He is a life member of PVA who sustained a spinal-cord injury while serving in the United States Army.

Cooper currently is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health Rehabilitation Sciences. The first part of his career was devoted to work on manual wheelchairs and their various applications for wheelchair users. He more recently moved into powered assistive devices and is one of the authorities and advanced researchers in this area. I urge you to read his article and any articles he submits for inclusion in PN. He knows of what he speaks, because he is not only knowledgeable of the subject but is also a user and consumer of what he develops because of his injury.

You will also find part two of an interesting article by Jean Hartley on postpolio syndrome (PPS). I had a friend, now deceased, who began to suffer from this unfortunate problem as he grew older. Many of us who are younger do not consider polio a problem. However, it still exists in many areas of the world. It has been almost wiped out in the United States due to vaccinations. However, I remember that when I was a very young boy, parents tried everything to avoid their children contracting polio.

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a virus and can result in paralysis. PPS is not completely understood but usually occurs many years after the onset of the initial infection and results in a steady loss of muscle use after years of stable function. It is thought to be the result of the aging process and also the disuse or overuse of muscle neurons. Regardless, it is a significant life-changing event for those afflicted by it.


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