Dr Anrich Burger is Health24's Handicap Expert, and he replies to questions regarding health, lifestyle, therapy, equipment and care management covering various disabilities. Read more about Dr Burger, and send your questions in to the Handicap Expert.
Q: Tools and equipment for disabled persons
Do you have details of where we can buy tools that can help a person that has suffered a stroke to manage on their own a bit better?
My mother had a stroke a couple of years ago and she has recovered well and is now living on her own again in a retirement village. Her arm still has a lot of spasticity and makes it difficult for her to for example cut bread tomatoes etc. (She does have a maid/care worker that is there 3 days a week but she likes her independence). Are their websites, shops etc where one could purchase implements that will make my mothers life a bit more comfortable?
A: You can contact the Association for Physically disabled in Cape Town. They have a Roll In Shop in Milnerton with wonderful "tools" which your mom will find extremely helpful.
Q: 4-yr-old diagnosed with 15-month-old brain development
My sister's child has been diagnosed by a teacher/ dr at one of the schools, advising that he has a brain of a 15mth old - he is 4 years old.
He does not talk and was seeing a speech therapist for 2 years until he started with this school. Now they say that because he can not talk he is also unable to do certain things e.g. thread beads. He does however know how to do other things, e.g. identify animals and colours etc.
Who can I ask for a second opinion please? I do not think that the evaluation was true and, maybe because he's the only one that can't talk, he is being treated like someone who is stupid due to this.
A:I strongly suggest that you consult a neurosurgeon, in order to see if there is an organic cause for his problem, and allow for proper testing.
Q: Paraplegic or not?
I crushed part of my upper leg in 1988. A part of my hip was planted in my upper leg.
This was held in place by a steel plate of 27,02 cm, which was removed after two years.
I visited doctors, physiotherapists and orthopaedic surgeons, but none of them could help me to determine the percentage (paraplegic) disability of my leg. This is not only for my place of work, but also for taking part in paraplegic sport. Can you assist me with contact persons who will be able to help me?
A: I suggest that you consult a occupational therapist, in order to determine your level of disability – there is a good chance that they will be able to do a sound assessment.
Q: Exercise for paraplegics
I'm looking for as many ways to exercise as possible. I am a T4 paraplegic and have been in a wheelchair for 14 years. I'm totally independent and quite healthy, but don't exercise much and want to change that. I'm particularly looking at ways to exercise my abs since I don't have any muscle there. What are the possibilities?
A: It's my suggestion that you consult an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist in this regard. They will be able to evaluate your possibilities and options, and start you on a programme that you can continue yourself.
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(Joanne Hart, Health24, December 2010)