Tag Archives: Arthritis

Inspirational People – Maud Lewis, Folk Artist

Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis

Maud Lewis

The story of artist Maud Lewis is one that has touched the hearts of many, due to her facing of formidable challenges throughout the duration of her life, and creating art that embodies the simplicity and colour of a happy life in rural Nova Scotia in the 1900s. Through newspaper and magazine articles, as well as an upcoming film this year about her life and art, “Maudie”,  Maud has become a unlikely inspiration and sensation.

Maud suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), a type of arthritis that causes joint inflammation and stiffness in children, and it continued to plague her during her life, deteriorating as she aged. JRA is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body mistakenly identifies some of its own cells and tissues as foreign. The immune system, which normally helps to fight off harmful, foreign substances such as bacteria or viruses, begins to attack healthy cells and tissues. The result is inflammation — marked by redness, heat, pain, and swelling. Progressive rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints causing a painful swelling that can eventually result bone erosion and joint deformity.

The renovated house of Maud Lewis folk artist

Maud Lewis’s House

maud-lewis-house-inside

Inside Maud Lewis’s home

She lived a life that wouldn’t be considered enviable by many. She was born in 1903 in the town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and reportedly spent a solitary childhood, due to her physical differences to other children her age. Maud received her first art lessons from her mother, who taught her to hand-paint Christmas cards, which they then sold to neighbours, to bring in some money. She also learned to play the piano, but had to stop when her rheumatoid arthritis ravaged her fingers. Her physical disabilities brought her some early grief: classmates teased her cruelly, which may be one reason why she dropped out of school at 14, having completed only Grade 5. But it was reportedly a relatively happy childhood, until her parents died in the late 1930s, and her older brother, Charles, claimed the family inheritance and sold the family home where she had lived all her life.  About the same time, Maud fell pregnant and gave birth to a child. As Maud was an unmarried woman in her late 20s, the baby girl was put up for adoption and Maud never saw her again.

Not long after, Maud married Everett Lewis, a fish peddler, after responding to his advertisement for a housekeeper as a means to support herself. Upon moving in with him, she began to paint the entire house with colourful images such as butterflies, birds and flowers, which were nostalgic of Nova Scotia in the early 1900s, her happiest childhood days with her parents, and seemingly showing an inner contentment in her life with Lewis, despite reports that he scrounged away her supplies and income from her paintings. It eventuated that she wasn’t physically able to do the housekeeping, due to her arthritis, so she spent her days sitting by the window and painting. She brought in money with her artwork, with a sign on the road advertising “paintings for sale”, and Lewis kept the house. They seemingly lived a quiet, peaceful life.

Maud Lewis art

Maud Lewis Folk Art

Painting Maud Lewis disabled artist

Known as a folk artist, Maud was mostly self-taught, and lived most of her life in poverty without the money to buy painting supplies. She painted on the walls, on scraps of wood, card, plywood, the windowsills, anything she could get her hands on. She painted scenes and objects from her every day life – wildlife, flowers, trees, fishermen, simple colourful scenes that were filled with joy.

Maud passed away in 1970, having developed emphysema on top of rheumatoid arthritis in advancing years. Like many great artists before her, her work has received much higher acclaim after death, with some of her paintings now selling for over $125,000.

Maud Lewis painting arthritisMaud Lewis Folk art arthritis disability

Perhaps her art is experiencing a revival and has found a new audience in the present day because of our desire for simpler lives, for a return to nature, for creativity as an outlet for overstimulated brains in a world of technology. People are drawn to the naiveté and nostalgia of Maud’s work, and she serves as a timely reminder that a return to colourful childhood simplicity can be the greatest source of comfort in these modern times.

A film has been made about Maud Lewis and the trailer is available to watch below.

 

How To Measure Your Walking Stick / Cane

Top & Derby walking stick stylish

Top & Derby Chatfield Canes

When buying a new cane or walking stick, you need to ensure that you are buying the correct size. Buying the wrong sized cane can result in a stressed shoulder or elbow joint. The length of the walking stick is not determined by your height, but by the distance from your wrist joint to the floor. You will find that the correct length of walking stick will be more comfortable and more efficient when you use it.

When sizing your cane, it is best to have someone to help you.  Put on a pair of shoes that you most frequently wear and stand upright, letting your arm hang loosely by your side, with your arm very slightly bent. The person helping you should then measure the distance from the floor up to your wrist joint. This measurement will determine the ideal length of cane for you. If you are purchasing a cane that is pre-cut in various size options and your measurement falls between two sizes, we recommend purchasing the cane that is the size above your measurement.

size-guide-for-top-derby-walking-sticks

Sizing guide for walking stick measurement

If you have bought a cane to cut to size yourself, again, having a friend to help measure the size would be helpful. In this case, remove the ferrule and turn the cane upside down, so that the handle is resting on the floor and measure up to the wrist joint and with a piece of chalk or a pencil, make a mark on the shaft of the cane at this point. You will need to factor in the measurement of the ferrule and then using a small saw,  cut the cane to customise it to your size. You can then replace the ferrule onto the end of the cane.

If you already have a cane that you feel is the perfect height for you, then simply measure the length from the bottom of the cane to the top of the handle and repeat as above.

If you are buying a walking stick as a gift for someone and you are unsure of the length of walking stick to buy, an adjustable height walking stick would be the safest option and these are widely available as either a telescopic/height adjustable walking stick or a folding height adjustable walking stick.

folding adjustable walking stick black

Flexyfoot folding height adjustable walking stick

A new cane need not be dull, if you purchase one that has some style or flair it can be used as a fashion statement, just like a pair of trendy glasses that says something about who you are.  So be brave and bold and let your cane say something about who you are #StayActiveWithStyle.

colourful stylish funky canes

Sabi Classic Canes

At designed2enable, we have an enviable collection of stylish, trendy, funky and contemporary walking sticks and canes that will help you stand out from the crowd. Click HERE for our full range.

 

 

Top & Derby: The Design Interview

designed2enable has a few words with Matt and Ben of Canadian design company Top & Derby, the people behind our beautiful new Chatfield Canes and Compression Socks.

Trendy contemporary walking stick

Top & Derby Canes 

Ben: Matt and I met while working for the international furniture retailer, EQ3. I did store planning and design for the each of the company’s corporate stores and independent retail partners around the world. Matt worked as an independent product designer, and designed many of the company’s top selling upholstery and casegood items.

We saw there was a gap in the home healthcare market for well-designed products, and from this little spark, Top & Derby was born.

d2e: What inspired you to focus on healthcare products and on the Chatfield cane as your launch product?

Matt: Although we would have loved to design and launch a large portfolio of products, we decided to focus initially on one product in order to test the market. Since walking canes were once used as a fashion accessory, and they are currently the most frequently used mobility accessory, we decided to launch a cane as our first product.

Additionally, the Chatfield was designed to be a simple and beautiful product, crafted of premium materials. We wanted people to be excited by the cane that they use, since many people are embarrassed to use a cane. Essentially, we started with a product that we felt our customers would be proud to own.

Top & Derby 3 canes resize

d2e: Was there a particular person who inspired you to produce such a dandy cane?

Matt: We didn’t have one particular person in mind when we designed the Chatfield. We thought about every person who uses clinical looking home healthcare products and how we could enhance their lives; we didn’t think it was fair that there was limited choice in the products that they were using. Overall, our goal with Top & Derby has been to make an impact on the industry with unique, design-driven home healthcare products.

Medical socks for tired legs

Top & Derby Compression Socks

d2e: Why did you choose compression socks for your second product?

Ben: We decided to launch compression socks because they represent a meaningful product extension for the Top & Derby product range. Like canes, compression socks are also fashion accessories for people who use home healthcare products. We’ve been delighted with the reception to our decidedly different sock designs.

d2e: You launched your products with Kickstarter funding. Did you have an overwhelming response to the Kickstarter campaign? Can you give us any insight into the pros and cons of the crowdfunding process?

Ben: Kickstarter is a topic that we could write a book about; we’ve launched two crowdfunding campaigns and have become quite intimate with the process of it. We have been fortunate to receive funding through both of our campaigns, but we don’t take for granted the hard work that goes into planning a successful campaign.

In a nutshell, the pros of crowdfunding are twofold.

1) It gives people the opportunity to access capital, test the market with an idea, and generate pre-sales for a product before it goes into production.

2) Crowdfunding provides people the opportunity to gain exposure in the market – sometimes through press and other times through organic site traffic – which helps to generate awareness for both a product and company.

Often, the biggest pitfall for crowdfunders is underestimating the capital required to launch a project. Underestimating capital can compromise a person’s ability to be able to deliver on his or her promises further down the road. Fortunately, we have not encountered these issues. Prior to launching each of our campaigns, we have been quite diligent in fully understanding the strategy and economics of crowdfunding.

Compression flight socks

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d2e: Can you share any information on the design process and how long it took to design the canes.

Matt: The design process for our canes, and for all of our products in development, is often quite long. Ben and I often jam on product concepts, then I start drawing rough sketches. Eventually these sketches are turned into renderings and we will build some rapid (rough) prototypes before finding factories that we might want to work with to produce our designs. Once we narrow down the factories that we want to work with, we get some pre-production prototypes built and refine them until we are happy for them to go into production.

d2e: What challenges/setbacks did you come up against in manufacturing the products – or did the whole process run very smoothly? 

Matt: The most challenging thing about manufacturing any type of product is finding high quality manufacturers that can deliver on the vision we have for a product. Since our products often combine multiple materials, it can be challenging to find one manufacturer with the capabilities to produce products that use many different materials and manufacturing processes.

d2e: How do you select the manufacturers that produce your products? Did they have to meet certain criteria?

Matt: We spend a great deal of time finding the high quality manufacturing partners. Once we design rough prototypes, the longest part of the development cycle is finding manufacturers that we want to work with.

d2e: Have you had any specific feedback from retailers/design institutes and the general public? Are the larger department stores buying into the idea?

Ben: The general public (who use home healthcare products) seem to really resonate with the T&D brand and what we are trying to achieve. Larger department stores are not as open to the idea, since they don’t believe that consumers want design-driven home healthcare products. However, we believe that it will only be a matter of time before the market demands it.

If you would like to know more about Top & Derby’s products, check out the Chatfield walking cane and compression socks at designed2enable.co.uk

 

 

National Arthritis Week: 12th – 18th October

Arthritis Research logo

In the UK, around 10 million people have arthritis.

Arthritis Research UK are a charity committed to preventing the onset of arthritis, developing a cure for arthritis and transforming the lives of those with arthritis.

This National Arthritis Week, you are asked to share your stories of living with arthritis to help more people get closer to living free from the pain of arthritis.

Arthritis Research are also raising awareness that on the 25th November, the Government will set out its spending plans for the country in the Comprehensive Spending Review. This will decide how much money is spent on everything: from welfare to healthcare, to support for research. They urge you to tell your MP they must fight for a fair deal for people with arthritis during the Spending Review. Register or sign in to email your MP, and give people with arthritis in your community the champion they need.

The fair deal that is being campaigned for is to make arthritis a public health priority, demanding a commitment  to protect and increase the amount of money councils receive to maintain the health of local resident. Protecting the welfare benefits for disabled people with arthritis and committing to protect and then increase investment in medical research to support the fight to cure arthritis.

You can lend your support to National Arthritis Week by sharing your story here. Your stories will be used to guide the research Arthritis Research UK fund in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self Lacing Shoes and Footwear for Disability

Putting on a pair of shoes can be a daily struggle and a chore if you are disabled or elderly.  But shoe designers are coming up with some interesting, futuristic designs that could help make life easier.

As a result of an open letter sent  by a teenager with Cerebral Palsy, Nike have developed a cool pair of trainers designed for people with disabilities. Matthew Walzer, then 16, wrote asking Nike to make a pair of accessible shoes that would provide support and a closure system that could be used by everyone.

Nike Flyease

Nike Flyease trainers

In his letter, Matthew said “Out of all the challenges I have overcome in my life, there is one that I am still trying to master, tying my shoes. Cerebral palsy stiffens the muscles in the body. As a result I have flexibility in only one of my hands which makes it impossible for me to tie my shoes. My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes everyday”

In response to his plea, Nike have developed Flyease, a trainer that uses a wrap around zipper system to secure the shoe, whilst a larger opening has been created to make it easier to slide the foot in and out.

In a posting on the Nike website, designer Tinker Hatfield said “While varying levels of mobility make it difficult to provide a universal solution, we feel this is a significant development for anyone who has ever struggled with independently securing their foot within Nike shoes.” Matthew responded by saying “There are not enough ‘thank yous’ in the world to express my undying gratitude.”

Limited quantities of the LeBron Soldier 8 FLYEASE are now available on Nike.com website.

 

Japanese footwear designer Masaya Hashimoto has joined forces with Italian shoe maker Vibram to create the Vibram Furoshiki; a minimalist piece of footwear that has been described as Origami for the feet.

Vibram-furoshiki shoes

Vibram Furoshiki

Furoshiki-Vibram-shoes-stretch

Furoshiki is the traditional Japanese technique of cloth wrapping which is still used today for gift wrapping and transporting goods. This ancient technique has been used to create a minimalist piece of footwear with an innovative and anatomical grip sole that literally wraps the shoe in place. This is a really interesting concept which may help those with limited hand dexterity. You could imagine they would feel like second skin footwear; whether they will be waterproof or more of a slipper shoe is unclear but we will watch the shoe’s progress with interest.

 

Later this year, Nike is planning to release the Nike AIr MAG, a pair of self-lacing shoes, inspired by the time travel film  ’Back to the Future II’ worn by the fictional character Marty McFly when he is transported in the movie to 2015.

nike-mag-2015-release

Nike Air MAG

Rollers embedded in the sole of the Nike Air MAG  would be activated by a control system which senses weight in the sole of the shoe. The power laces then respond by tightening and wrapping themselves around the shoe. Teasers have been dropped recently by Nike’s designer Tinker Hatfield as to the launch date later this year for the Air MAG so watch this space…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Article by Arthritis Digest – New Osteoarthritis Treatment?

 

credit-followtheseinstructions

Image credit: followtheseinstructions

Transplanting a person’s own fat cells could reduce the symptoms and heal some of the damage of osteoarthritis, says research published in Cell Transplantation.

A total of 1,114 people (average age 62 years, 53% male) with osteoarthritis received self-donated fat cell transplants and were followed for an average of 17 months. Before treatment and at three, six and 12 months, assessments were made of pain, non-steroid analgesic usage, limping, extent of joint movement and stiffness. Hip and knee joints were the most common joints treated and some patients had more than one joint treated.

“No serious side effects, systemic infection or cancer was associated with SVF cell therapy,” report the researchers. “Most patients improved gradually three to 12 months after treatment.”

At least a 75% score improvement was noticed in 63% of the volunteers. And after 12 months, at least a 50% score improvement was seen in 91% of the volunteers. Painkiller use declined dramatically after treatment.

Obesity and a higher grade of osteoarthritis were associated with slower healing.

“Autologous stromal vascular fraction cell therapy for degenerative osteoarthritis is safe, cost effective and clinically effective, and can lead to an improved quality of life,” the researchers conclude. “However, there is no guarantee that this cell therapy can lead to a definite cure for degenerative osteoarthritis. Future patients receiving SVF will need longer follow-up to answer questions about durability and long term safety of SVF cell therapy.”

Source: Arthritis Digest magazine, http://arthritisdigest.co.uk

Guest Article by Arthritis Digest – Brain Chemical Gives New Clues In Treating Chronic Pain

brain neuron  Birth Into Being

Image credit: Birth Into Being

A chemical in the brain usually associated with movement, reward-motivation behaviour and cognition may also play a role in promoting chronic pain, according to experts from The University of Texas in Dallas.

A research group followed the sequence of pain impulses travelling from the brain to the spinal cord in mice. They found that by removing a collection of neurons (called A11) that contain dopamine, chronic pain was diminished.

“These findings demonstrate a novel role for how dopamine contributes to maintaining chronic pain states,” explains Dr Ted Price who is involved in the research. “This may open up new opportunities to target medicines that could reverse chronic pain.”

We know that pain signals travel like electricity from an injury to the spinal cord where they pass pain signals to other cells. Those pain signals then travel upward and relay the information to neurons in the brain. There is no one pain centre in the brain, but experts believe that chronic pain may change how these pain centres are activated.

In people with chronic pain, neurons continue to send pain signals to the brain, even in the absence of injury. We don’t yet know why but it could be because of the A11 neurons. The current research found that these neurons didn’t affect acute pain, but they did have a profound effect on chronic pain. By targeting these neurons in mice with chronic pain, the researchers permanently reversed a chronic pain state.

“In future studies, we would like to gain a better understanding of how stress interacts with A11,” Dr Price says. “And we’d like to know more about the interaction between molecular mechanisms that promote chronic pain and dopamine.”

Source: Arthritis Digest magazine, http://arthritisdigest.co.uk

 

 

Guest Blog – Arthritis Digest Report Latest Findings on Knee Surgery

Arthritis-Digest-masthead-low-res-web

Recovery after knee surgery at home could be as effective as rehab in hospital. Arthritis Digest reports

People who have knee replacement surgery may be able to recover just as well at home as they would by staying in a rehabilitation facility, according to research from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Data from over 2,400 people enrolled in the HSS Knee Replacement Registry was analysed. After surgery, some recovered at home while others went to inpatient rehab. The research focused on patients with similar characteristics when comparing those who went home versus those who went to inpatient rehab after surgery. They were matched by age, health conditions and pre-operative function.

Results

Home-based patients received visits from physiotherapists for three days a week for four to six weeks, while those treated at the facility received physiotherapy six days a week and often stayed for 10 to 14 days.

There were no difference in complication rates within six months of knee replacement, regardless of whether patients went home or to an inpatient rehab facility after leaving the hospital. Both groups had similar outcomes in terms of pain and function two years after surgery.

The research therefore suggests that home-based treatment may be a more cost-effective option in many cases.

Implications

“There’s a common belief that people should go to a rehab facility after joint replacement,” explains Dr Douglas Padgett, who led the research. “Our study found that patients can be safely discharged to their home following knee replacement, dispelling the notion that rehabilitation at an inpatient facility is essential for a successful recovery.”

A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK comments:

“In the UK, post-operative exercise programmes vary from hospital to hospital. It’s very important that people who have had knee replacement surgery have access to a rehabilitation and exercise programme, as it’s been proven to have a big beneficial effect on their recovery.

“We’re currently investigating whether intensive post-operative physiotherapy can improve poor satisfaction rates following knee replacement surgery. Currently, outpatient physiotherapy is not routine; often patients are given a home exercise package, but there isn’t usually any supervised physiotherapy provided on the NHS. If targeted intensive physiotherapy is shown to work and made deliverable on the NHS, it could help a lot of people.”

Subscribe to Arthritis Digest magazine, the UK’s fastest growing arthritis magazine for all the latest arthritis news, reviews and celebrity interviews. You’ll know what your doctor is talking about, what new drugs are in the pipeline and be up to date on helpful products. Hard copy and digital versions both available. For more information visit: http://arthritisdigest.co.uk/

Guest Blog by Move It or Lose it!

MIOLI (203)

We’re often told we have to exercise more and yet just the word can put people off! But what about the people who would like to exercise but can’t? The ones the fitness magazines with their six-packs and perfectly toned bodies often overlook? Those with disabilities and conditions which make getting out of bed, washed and dressed seem like running a marathon?

I’m used to trying to persuade the ‘reluctant’ to exercise – I was a secondary school PE teacher! Now I’m teaching people who would love to exercise but think they can’t, or have problems which prevent them from accessing traditional forms of exercise.

After retraining to teach exercise for older people and those with disabilities, I soon realised that all the theory in the world counts for nothing if people don’t enjoy themselves. Coming along to a class, especially when you’re fearful of what to expect or of doing more harm than good, is a giant leap of faith, so creating an atmosphere of inclusivity and warmth is vital. Then you can start to focus on doing exercises which will help with everyday life.

 

MIOLI (202)

So, how did it all begin? Well I began to set up classes in the West Midlands for older people and those with health problems. I specialise in chair-based exercise which is ideal for less mobile people as they’re still able to join in and improve their fitness. But, key to my success, is making the routines so much fun that they don’t even realise they’re exercising.

Everyone who came to my classes couldn’t believe how much they enjoyed themselves and how much they could improve just by working out in chair! They were desperate to continue the exercises by working out at home too. So, I was persuaded to make a DVD of the exercises. They helped with the choice of music, got involved with the filming and they even came up with the name –Move it or Lose it!  It was vital to make the exercise routines safe, enjoyable, effective and accessible to everyone whatever their ability. Our DVDs are made by real people for real people and all endorsed by The Centre for Healthy Ageing Research (at the University of Birmingham).

Despite the success of all 5 of my DVDs and the amazing customer feedback I get, I know nothing can compare to a class! The benefits of working out in a group are endless – the camaraderie, friendship, motivation and support they all offer one another is fantastic! Each class becomes a little community, which is so lovely to see when all you hear in the press is the loneliness and social isolation that many older adults face in today’s society.

I know there’s still a desperate need for more classes across the UK, so I’ve set my sights on spreading the magic of Move it or Lose it! into more local communities. I get countless letters and emails from customers asking where their local classes are. So, with the Centre for Healthy Ageing Research, we’re now training more people and translating the latest research ensuring our Chair-based exercise instructors are part of a highly respected network. We’re looking for more people who are passionate about helping older adults to stay fit for life! Empathy, humour and patience are all a must! But, it’s the most rewarding job, seeing people who think they can’t do something actually achieve success so they can live life to the full.

Find out more about Move it or Lose it! at www.moveitorloseit.co.uk/careers or call 0800 612 7785.

By Julie Robinson, Move it or Lose it!

National Arthritis Week

National Arthritis Week 2013 logo

National Arthritis Week is taking place from October 7-13 this year.

Arthritis Research UK  organise the week to raise awareness about what it’s like living with arthritis or caring for someone affected, and  to raise vital funds for research that will make a difference.

In a National Arthritis Survey held last year, and completed by over 9,000 people, the Arthritis Research UK gained valuable insight in to the impact of arthritis on the UK population and how the condition is seen and understood:

There are still some common myths about the condition with some people either being unsure or believing these to be true:

• Arthritis is an inevitable part of ageing.
• Not much can be done to treat arthritis.
• It’s caused by a cold wet climate.

SO this year’s National Arthritis Week is about working hard to bust these myths, by helping people living with arthritis feel properly informed about their condition and able to make choices and lifestyle changes to ease their condition rather than just ‘putting up with it’.

So if you want to help with fundraising you can download an official fundraising pack here

And to see who will benefit from your Joint Effort Pledge read about three-year-old Rosie Jupp from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex who was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) after her parents  noticed that she began to wince in pain when they encouraged her to walk around as normal. read more here

For further information on Arthritis Research UK visit their website here

garden hand tool set

Gardening lovers suffering from arthritis love our Radius Hand Tool Set. These garden tools are strong, lightweight and kind to the hands and wrists.