Worldwide mobileWOMEN in South Africa

Some of our MobileWOMEN from around the world have shared with us what living life in a wheelchair is like in their country. What you read about the differences or similarities between their stories and life in the United States might surprise you. In this installment, we interviewed Linda Brown.
Mobile Woman, Linda Brown

Please describe your disability?

I had a car accident in 2008 and broke my back at T12/L2. 
I have an incomplete spinal cord injury and use a wheelchair for mobility. I do have slight movement in my legs, especially the left leg and no bladder nor bowel control. I have a colostomy bag for my bowels and use pads or nappies (diapers) for my bladder. 

Please describe where you live? Are you in a city or rural location?

I live in a rural location in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa with a population of just over 9,000.

Have you been able to receive, in your mind, adequate medical care in your area? Has the quality of medical care changed since the onset of your disability?

Medical care in private hospitals are adequately prepared but not the state hospitals. They are always out of medication or colostomy bags. Medical care has not improved at all, since my disability. 

With regard to wheelchairs, durable medical equipment and medical supplies, do you have access to items suitable for your needs?

I do not have access to proper medical equipment because of the high prices demanded for wheelchairs etc. 

In terms of accessibility needs, what are your living arrangements? Is your home modified  for your needs, and do you feel like you're able to live as independently as possible?
Linda and her daughter, Chante

Let's Celebrate International Women's Day!

By Wendy Crawford
Today marks International Women’s Day, the day to celebrate women around the globe. As I sit here at my computer, I cannot help but reflect on the great strides that women of all ethnicities, ages and abilities have made.

I joined this community over 33 years ago when my vehicle was rear ended by a driver who had been drinking. I did NOT want to be a “woman with a disability”. How will people view me?  Will they pity me? Will I be considered less than? Can I still be productive member of society? These were only a few of the destructive thoughts and preconceived notions that filled my head as I lay, in my hospital bed.

I carried this heavy burden for several years until I began to spend more time with other women who used wheelchairs.  I was in awe of the strength, their perseverance and their ability to power over the seemingly unsurmountable obstacles that life had thrown, in their path.  I learned of their accomplishments and suddenly, there was a little, tiny sprout that pushed through the dark, multiple layers of negativity that said “I’m still me. I’m still the same person. Maybe I can do this.”   

We at mobileWOMEN, want to take this opportunity to applaud each and every one of you. We feel pride, being able to feature outstanding women, like yourselves, on our site. We are extremely grateful for all of our contributors, sharing their journeys, knowledge, experiences and perspectives. There is a common, undeniable bond and sense of unity, no matter where you live or what you do, that is indestructible. Bravo to all you trailblazers, mothers, professionals, students, athletes, community leaders, volunteers, wives  and friends; you are not just surviving, you are thriving warriors, forging a better world, for the next generation!

The Effects of Mobility Issues on Mental Health and Some Mood-Boosting Tips

By Lucy Lawrence

For many women, poor mobility and mental health are closely linked. Often, the energy and time invested in looking after physical needs can mean mental health is overlooked. Low mood is generally an unseen health problem. The North Carolina Office of Disability and Health reports that individuals with disabilities are more likely to experience long-term depression.

Reasons for depression can range from lack of work, a loss of sense of identity, along with isolation, loneliness and lowered activity levels. Read on to find out how to mitigate this situation.

PLEASE NOTE: These are just a few alternative approaches to elevate your mood but if you experiencing signs of depression, it’s imperative to consult your physician or a licensed professional immediately, to determine the best treatment for you.

Mental Health and Team Sports

Studies have documented a clear connection between exercise and better mental health.

For instance, Research in Developmental Disabilities found that people who participated in wheelchair basketball scored significantly higher on various indicators for positive mental health and social skills than did non-players. Apart from the positive effects of the physical exercise, team sports, such as basketball, involve players in a supportive community which can help to avoid isolation and loneliness and create a sense of identity. Players report they find it easier to focus on their ability rather than their disability.

Adaptive sailing is another great example of a sport that can be enjoyed by those with disabilities. Sailing is an ideal challenge, as it requires a lot of mental functioning with just a few physical movements. Sailboats can be decked out with adaptive equipment, so that there is little or no need to move around the boat. As well as appreciating the serenity of cruising around a bay, or going further afield, sailors can also learn valuable social skills such as leadership and discipline.