Disabled persons made up many of the Camp Fires' dead

   Paraplegic and Paradise resident, Mike Clement, along with his wife, Jen, in front of what was once their home.

Paraplegic and Paradise resident, Mike Clement, along with his wife, Jen, in front of what was once their home.

One of our greatest fears has now been confirmed as it’s been determined that the disabled and elderly residents of Butte County made up the majority of those who died in last month’s Camp Fires, according to the Sacramento Bee. The fast-moving fire, which was torching a football field per second at times, caught all the support services unable to aid this vulnerable population.

You can read the full article HERE.

NorCal SCI’s #GivingToParadiseDisabilityCommunity fundraising efforts continue through Dec. 31st. Thus far, we’ve received $920 out of a goal of $5,000. Your generous contribution will make a significant difference in the lives of those who must overcome their physical challenges and now must contend with rebuilding their lives, a long-term undertaking.

DONATE HERE. if you have a Facebook Account
DONATE HERE. Choose the intent of your donation “Northern California Wildfire”

UPDATE: Complex Rehab Tech provisions added in year-end legislation, still needs urgent support

Two very important Complex Rehab Technology provisions have been added to a larger “Medicaid” House bill, H.R. 7217 which is expected to be voted on this week. Passage of this bill won’t happen without your voice. Go to www.protectmymobility.org for links to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to pass H.R. 7217. Please encourage others to send emails and make phone calls, too.

The two CRT provisions in the bill:

1. Provide a permanent exemption from the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program for CRT manual wheelchair bases (just like CRT power wheelchairs).

2. Provide an 18-month “suspension” in Medicare’s inappropriate application of Competitive Bidding Program payment rates to CRT manual wheelchair accessories. These accessories will go back to being paid at the traditional Medicare rates (just like CRT power wheelchair accessories). The 18-month suspension goes from 1/1/19 to 6/30/20 and will allow time for the needed discussion to make a permanent policy change.

California's Ability Tools offers free live webinar on Dec. 19 on Assistive Technology basics

Ability Tools is California’s Assistive Technology Act Program, providing a variety of services for Californians with disabilities of all ages and they’re holding a live webinar on Wed., Dec. 19th where you can learn about how tools and devices can enhance your life and where to find those services.


Assistive Technology (AT) is products, equipment and systems that enhance learning, working and daily living for persons with disabilities. This webinar will cover the basics of AT and participants will also learn where to find AT resources at a national, state and local level. 

This free webinar starts at 10 a.m. and those new to disability or those who serve the disability community are strongly encouraged to participate. REGISTER HERE.

Sex & SCI: it's all about thinking outside the box


Sexual activity and satisfaction take a significant plunge following a spinal cord injury when compared to the able body population. While there are many medical reasons for this, there is also the emotional insecurities as well as loss of confidence that play a large role in the reduction of sexual activities. So, it was great that we came across THIS ARTICLE last week chronicling the lives of three persons with SCI and how they’ve navigated this aspect of their post-SCI life.

The Reeve Foundation has also developed a robust section on their web site that deals with SEXUAL HEALTH that we invite you to check out.

SEARCH FOR SCI CURE: Magnetic stimulation of spinal cord helps restore bladder control


This is one of those groundbreaking studies we see come out of the research involving persons with a spinal cord injury that is a life changer. With over 80% of persons with SCI suffering from incontinence, this incredible work involves stimulating the part of the spinal cord responsible for bladder function using a magnetic stimulator. Though the sample size was small, the results and the speed of the recovery are stunning.

There’s a lot more work needed as the participants in this study lost their gains once the magnetic stimulation ended. Read more about this study HERE.

Free donated medical equipment available to disabled persons in need


Where is all this good stuff? It’s one of our many services here at NorCal SCI where generous donors of such equipment contact us with the hope that we can find a new home for the stuff they no longer need. You can find our inventory RIGHT HERE. If you, or someone you know, needs such items, please check out our web site today.


If you have durable medical equipment in good condition that you wish to donate, please contact us at info@norcalsci.org.

BORP launches Access Northern California's content rich web site with a sparkling look


The most comprehensive web site chronicling the many outdoor recreational and accessible activities available in Northern California could have always been found in Bonnie Lewkowicz’s pioneering web site, Access Northern California (ANC). Last year, Bonnie and Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP) decided to join forces and have worked feverishly on combining their wealth of information and resources about accessible travel and outdoor adventures in Northern California. All that work has finally paid off and resulted in the official launch of the brand new web site at http://accessnca.org/

ANC was founded in 1997 by Bonnie who is a former BORP staff person and ongoing supporter, collaborator and participant. Her vision was for all people with disabilities to have the freedom to participate in universally accessible travel and recreation. Now, this vision is aligned with BORP’s mission and dovetails with their Adventures and Outings program and will enrich the lives of BORP participants and make it easier for people with disabilities to explore outdoor destinations and take advantage of Northern California’s rich array of natural resources.

CALL TO ACTION: Congress must pass HR 3730 to support Complex Rehab Technology

Last year, disability advocates scored a major victory when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would no longer apply Medicare Competitive Bid program information for Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) products and supporting services. This decision was specific to only power wheelchairs but it averted significant cuts and staved off drastic reductions in access to specialized equipment like seating and positioning systems, standing devices, gait trainers, among many other examples.


However, more than a year later, there has been no change in payment rates for manual wheelchair users who depend on CRT for greater health and independence. By reducing access to CRT equipment, there will be an increase in medical complications and out-of-pocket costs for people with disabilities.

Late last year, H.R. 3730 was introduced to stop CMS from using Competitive Bid pricing for CRT equipment for manual wheelchairs. With Congress in session for just two more weeks, it’s critical we put pressure on our legislators to pass this bill.

Power and manual CRT wheelchairs and CRT components are essential for many wheelchair users who are living with spinal cord injury. For these individuals, a wheelchair is not complete, usable, or safe without the appropriate complex rehab technology components included.

This legislation also has implications beyond people who require Medicare support. Insurance groups use the payment rates from the Medicare Competitive Bid program to define what they will and will not cover. That means many more people may have to fight or pay significant costs for equipment that is vital to their overall independence and quality of life.

People with disabilities who use a CRT manual wheelchair should have the same access to critical wheelchair components as those who use a CRT power wheelchair. 

The Reeve Foundation has set up THIS EASY FORM to reach your Congressional Representative and press them to vote on HR 3730.

Palo Alto VA seeking volunteers for adapted indoor rock climbing research study


If you’ve ever found yourself to be a least bit curious about indoor rock climbing, this is your chance to try it out. The Palo Alto VA is conducting a research study on the health benefits and risks of adapted indoor rock climbing. The study is seeking only those individuals with a spinal cord injury, with the climbing sessions taking place at multiple Bay Area climbing gyms.

There is no cost to participate and for information on the study and how to join, please contact: Elissa Zakrasek at (650) 493-5000, ext 64015.

SEARCH FOR SCI CURE: A drug to cure spinal cord injury? Bring It On!

OK, so each week, we try to bring you news of the latest research involving spinal cord injury and normally it’s stem cell this, epidural that, or something in between. Imagine our surprise when we came across this headline: “We aim to de­ve­lop a drug that will cure spinal cord in­jury”. One can’t help but fall out of their chair upon reading what may appear to be an exaggerated and preposterous claim.

   Professor Rauvala and some of his researchers

Professor Rauvala and some of his researchers

A research group headed by University of Helsinki Professor, Heikki Rauvala, is aiming to develop a drug that can cure spinal cord injuries as late as in the chronic stage, enabling wheelchair users to stand on their own legs.

Professor Rauvala has long been studying the significance of intercellular material to the growth, development and regeneration of the nervous system. In the last five years, Rauvala and his research group have focused on applying their findings to the treatment of spinal cord injury.

You can read the full article HERE.