Successfully Golfing After a Stroke for Fun and Fitness

There is no denying stroke survivors have a lot to deal with as they go through the rehabilitation process and learn to live with physical limitations. Unfortunately, far too many people treat having a stroke as a sign they can no longer enjoy physical activities. For stroke survivor’s who love to play golf, those so-called physical limitations aren’t as pronounced as one would imagine.

Playing Golf Again is a Real Possibility

Except in the worst of cases, the only thing that keeps most stroke survivors from getting back onto the golf course is the assumption they can’t do it. That assumption is wrong in so many ways. Will their golf game be as proficient as it was before the stroke? Probably not, but everything in life changes after medical trauma. The reality is golf courses aren’t going anywhere and any golfer who wants to golf belongs on the golf course. That includes stoke victims who love the game.

It only takes three things to make it happen. First, the person affected by the stroke has to believe they can do it. Second, they need to accept certain limitations and learn to play within themselves. Finally, the stroke victim needs to minimize expectations and maximize the joy that comes from being out on a golf course instead of laying in a bed feeling disabled.

The Benefits of Golfing for Stroke Survivors

The benefits of being able to return to the golf course will touch almost every aspect of the stroke survivor’s being. From a physical standpoint, they get the health benefits of fresh air and exercise. Doctor’s often encourage stroke victims to exercise their muscles and get the heart beating again. The walking and swinging of a club help to move all the right muscles and bring balance and coordination back.

As far as mental and emotional issues are concerned, there is nothing that revitalizes the spirit and soul more than overcoming impossible odds to achieve something important. If a golfer loves to golf, then learning to do it again under a different set of circumstances is an accomplishment that should bring a great sense of pride to a disabled golfer. In many cases, depression is actually a bigger threat to one’s well-being than another stroke. By going out there on the golf course and proving they are still a player, the afflicted individual won’t feel so afflicted anymore.

Finally, there is great value is participating in a social activity for a stroke survivor who has been hospitalized and/or confined to the home for a period of time. The chance to get out among friends and golfing buddies serves to make the person feel they are still a part of life here on this planet.

Exercises Designed to Make Golfing Easier for the Stroke Victim

While contemplating that first post-stroke round of golf, there are several exercises that can help reestablish stamina, balance and coordination. Walking is a must. Even cart riders will log distance during a round of golf. By getting out each day for a walk, it will improve endurance on the golf course. For balance and coordination, doctors recommend sitting on a stability ball but for those affected by stroke, a physical therapist should be close by unless one has progressed. By doing this exercise for just a few minutes everyday, one’s balance and ability to control their arms and legs will show marked improvement over time. A more sensible exercise at home would involve use of a chair. While the person affected by the stroke stands in a corner of a room, they hold on the back of the chair and practice moving hips forward and back and from side to side. This is also beneficial for strengthening the weakened side. If the survivor also has dropfoot which many stroke victims experience, a brace recommended by the persons doctor for safety. It can help immensely as even if a cart is used, as the walking can tire out the weakened leg quickly at times.

Making Golf Easier for Stroke Survivors

The golfing world is well-aware that some stroke victims love the game of golf. With that in mind, there are plenty of custom equipment designers who are more than happy to help design golf equipment that compliments a golfer’s disabilities. Another way golf is made easier for stroke victims is the process of making them feel normal. Disabled golfers are often reluctant to play golf with healthy people for fear of slowing the group down. First of all, golf is a game of courtesy and golfers tend to be very patient with those who might not be as skilled as the others in the group. That said, there are many golf courses that sponsor groups that have disabilities. By playing golf with other disabled golfers, the individual doesn’t feel it necessary to perform, only to enjoy the outing.

Golf is a great sport and activity. If you or someone you know has suffered a stroke and would still love to hit the links, by all means make it happen. With reasonable expectations, that first round of golf will feel like a rebirth of sorts, prompting the stroke victim to stop feeling like a victim and more as a winning survivor.

Text-Based RPGs: RP Cliche Pitfalls And How To Overcome Them

Few things are more annoying to a roleplayer than a poorly-executed cliché. Those who roleplay a cliché character require attention, work, and still oftentimes do not become more bearable as time progresses.

This is not to say that such clichés are an impossibility to play, simply that there are inherent difficulties in playing them that are often overlooked or ignored. The aim of this guide is to offer ways to make these roleplay types more bearable – specifically those featuring a ‘disabled’ character. This guide is not about those who actually have a disability in real life, but players who decide, for whatever reason, to give their character an ailment, be it physical or mental.

Many of those who work with novices have, at one point or another, encountered a character with a roleplayed disability. Oftentimes these are poorly done, sloppy, and not well thought out. And, unfortunately, it is also quite frequent for them to resist any and all attempts of a cure, falling to the time-honored ‘a wizard did it’ defense (or something equally unbelievable) to explain why their disability is resistant to all remedies. This is, quite frankly, jarring and annoying and should be avoided at all costs.

There are two basic things to keep in mind while roleplaying a disability, it requires a strong ‘what and why’, and a heavy degree of restraint and flexibility.

The ‘what’ is the most obvious of the three – what is wrong with the character? Many seem to default to physical disabilities or problems, a missing or crippled limb, blindness, deafness, inability to speak, and other such actions. While it is possible to roleplay these, these are difficult to convincingly show if the mechanics of the game can prove you wrong.

Unfortunately, mechanics must almost always trump RP, and this is one such case. Roleplaying a missing arm can be confusing if one is suddenly forced to wield a sword in the supposedly non-existent hand, or is struck in the right hand by an attack. Similarly, if cures for blindness, deafness or stuttering exists, it hardly makes sense to play these out as disabilities. For instance, in Achaea, blindness is cured by an epidermal salve or a mindseye tattoo – someone roleplaying a blind monk in Achaea is likely to be drowned in a sea of epidermal salves and the inks required to create a mindseye. Explaining why a cure that works for every other person on the planet but not for you can be a very tricky proposition.

Instead of roleplaying such common physical ailments, roleplaying some other problem may be just as entertaining without the suspension of belief required for more high-profile disabilities. Perhaps your character is allergic to a food or animal, or has a fear of birds. Whatever the choice, care must be taken that it both makes sense, and that it is not overly demanding of others – which leads into the next topic, restraint and flexibility.

There are two things to consider here – your impact on others, and your dependence on others. A deaf/blind/mute character will have trouble with many tasks, and will likely require another to help them on a regular basis. These are the types of disabilities to be avoided, if another character is not there to help yours, then you will be unable to do many things without breaking role. A healthy degree of independence must be maintained or the character rapidly becomes unviable in the long-run, you will get bored as will other players.

Similarly, your character should not be too demanding of others. Other players are not obligated to help yours through every trial in their life, and you should not force yourself on them. Such actions will likely make your character unpopular, and quick to be ignored whenever the opportunity presents itself. This also leads to an unenjoyably and hostile environment. Allowing other players to ‘opt out’ of roleplay situations whenever they like will allow you to get some of the role-play with a willing group, and still allow them to do as they please.

Though there is more work required, roleplaying a disabled character is not entirely impossible – simply improbable – and all roleplay associated with it should be approached with due caution. Remember, when planning your character, that often times mechanics trump roleplay and your character should be kept within the confines of possibilities. You should also execute the proper restraint – forcing others to care for your character constantly will not win you many friends, and may serve to alienate you from other players. Proper care must be taken to ensure your disability does not interfere with the fun of others.

Almost Every Fifth Child in the US Suffers From Some Form of Disability – Can We Help?

November is a month of giving, which, of course, comes in so many different forms: From writing a check to volunteering your time or even just finding a place in your heart for someone with special needs.

Doctor Rada Sumareva, New York, decided to do all of the above. Over 12 years ago she gathered a group of mind-like professionals, those who shared her wish to give, including most recently, to improve quality of life of special needs patients. “At RADA, Russian American Dental Association, we place an emphasis on a concept of sharing. There are hundreds of organizations designed to provide help to those who need it most, however there is no real and working system of referrals among the organizations, thus patients always get only fragmented information about help that is available. We’re trying to foster closer relationship between the organizations, not only nationwide, abroad as well; share experiences, try to implement in the U.S. what has proved to be success in Eastern Europe or Middle East.”

Echoing the challenge Doctor Sumareva has voiced, Yekaterina Konovalova, M.S. speech-language and feeding therapist through the Early Intervention Program says, “The only clinic we’ve referred so far meant a long commute for my patients.” Through attending RADA Special Care for Special Needs Campaign round table last week Yekaterina got contacts for more clinics, specializing in providing medical care to kids with different forms of disabilities.

Here is another example of how little we know about programs designed to help: Over half a million New Yorkers pass by Coalition of the Concerned Medical Professionals building in Brooklyn every week and most of us probably don’t know that the organization advocates for uninsured population in need of medical care, without ever asking about immigration status of the patient. “We do all it takes, to the extent of delivering fresh fruits and vegetables, because if we want to address diabetes in Brooklyn and Queens, that’s what it takes”, shares Elizabeth Stevens, President of the Coalition of the Concerned Medical Professionals.

One more important concept implemented by RADA is focusing on abilities rather than disabilities. It sounds like such a human thing to do, yet somehow we get so absorbed by dealing with “disabilities” that forget about people behind the word. Award-winning jazz pianist, Justin Kauflin, whom you might know from documentary, “Keep On Keepin’ On,” was genuinely touched, touched to tears when he first heard from Doctor Sumareva that RADA’s focus is on abilities. Justin began his musical journey at age 4 and by age of 6, was performing in concerts, nursing homes and weddings, eventually becoming concertmaster for several orchestras. Sadly, it was during this time he also lost vision due to a rare eye disease. The total blindness however didn’t stop the 11 years old boy from exploring the world of music further and building up his carrier. My guess, a good number of jazz lovers really grateful for his courage.

“They looked at me, but only saw my wheelchair,” remembers Vlady Gurari, Esq. It took Vlady 2 years, after receiving degree in law, to find a job. For the first year and half he would send out about 20 CVs each day, honestly mentioning his disabilities in the resume. Not a single respond came through. Then he decided not to mention his health condition at all, and thus he would get appointments. However once potential employers would see his wheelchair, the questions asked during the job interviews would have no relations to his profession and it was obvious they are not going to hire him. Now Vlady works as a Counsel on Government Relations and Regulations Hivrat Hashmal, Israel and his boss told him once, “When you work, I don’t see your disability.”

Third concept RADA has been successfully implementing is encouraging students to get involved in charity work. Doctor Sumareva convinced, “It’s pretty straight forward really, if youth don’t get involved today who we would count on to continue our work in the future? Besides kids are very talented, they have these wonderfully creative and bright ideas. One example is our Special Care for Special Needs video-promo that was compiled by a 15 years girl. It’s heartwarming and inspiring.”

Rachel Motsenyar also joined RADA Special Care for Special Needs Campaign round table last week. Rachel is a currently a student and spends her breaks between semesters working at Camp HASC to brighten up days of kids and adults with special needs, “Giving truly feels like receiving to me, it’s very fulfilling. I joined the Special Care for Special Needs discussion to see if I can be of a help somehow. Perhaps there are also some collaboration opportunities for our organizations; maybe we could host a fundraising together as well.”

Even though there are thousands of initiatives exist, public awareness of life and needs of people with limited abilities is still largely lacking. This is to say if you know anyone who is in need of special care or their relatives and friends are in search of advice and direction, please be sure to refer them to Despite the fact RADA doesn’t raise as much money as, let’s say, Red Cross, the association might be much more resourceful at a given situations thanks to a zero administrative cost and network of professionals who volunteer. This is to say if you would like to contribute, volunteer or have an extra space for a person in need in your heart, you now know one more place to go.

Aging Out of EPSDT – Part IV: States of Disarray

The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment program (EPSDT) forces states to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income children for almost every medical service — but adults are a different story. There are genuinely consequential restrictions on Medicaid benefits offered to adults, as many if not most of the services that enable a person with disabilities to maintain their function within their community have very limited coverage options. These include prescription drugs (Adderall for ADHD), respiratory care (inhalers for severe asthma), and therapeutic services (speech therapy for autism-spectrum disorders), as a few common examples.

While every state offers some degree of these optional services, none of them offer coverage for all of the optional services used by people with disabilities. For example, as of 2012:

• Only 23 states offered private nursing service benefits (used by any person with a disability that prevents them from cleaning themselves),

• Only 26 states fully cover speech, hearing, and language disorders,

• Only 32 states fully cover eyeglasses,

• Only 25 states fully cover psychiatric services, and

• There are still 3 states that offer absolutely no mental health coverage!

Restricted Access

The other side of this horrible coin is that there’s no guarantee a disabled young adult will be able to get coverage even provided the state offers a Medicaid program relevant to their needs. That’s because states are given broad leave to limit the scope, duration, and amount of benefits offered to adults. For example, some states’ prescription drug coverage restricts any given individual to receiving just 3 different prescriptions per month. Any parent of a child with severe ADHD can tell you that 3 prescriptions will just cover someone who needs a daily, a school-time, and a ‘booster’ dose of Concerta to be able to function effectively across the day. Heaven forbid that same child also be diabetic and require insulin!

Similarly, many states that offer therapy services such as occupational, speech, or physical therapies only cover a specific number of sessions each year, which is totally acceptable if you’re someone with an injury they’re trying to recover from. For someone with ongoing special needs for whom the therapy acts as maintenance rather than recovery, who needs a therapy session every week or more for all of the foreseeable future, it’s a complete disaster.

Waivering Support

Finally, many states are attempting to reduce health care burdens by offering less-expensive Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS), by obtaining a special waiver from Medicaid enabling them to create a location-based program. These HCBS waivers are good in a way, because many states wouldn’t offer some services at all without them — but they’re also very bad, because anyone who can’t qualify under a waiver is put on a waiting list and receives no Medicaid services unless they have a genuine medical emergency.

How Bad Is It Really?

Genuinely bad: one recent study showed that, of the roughly three million Americans who need daily assistance to perform the most basic activities (toileting, eating, getting dressed, etc.), fully one million of them weren’t able to get the assistance they needed regularly. Specifically:

• 80% said they regularly go one or more day each month with no clothes on.

• 30% said they had soiled themselves at least once in the last month because they had no other option.

• 10% said they had gone to bed hungry at least once in the last month because they had receive the help they needed to eat.

You may be thinking of senior citizens at this point, but remember — roughly 10% of those three million people are between the ages of 19 and 35. That means that, in the last month, there are thirty thousand American adults who went to bed hungry because they couldn’t feed themselves, and the programs that got them to age 19 vanished out from under them.