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Muscular Dystrophy Researchers Working on a Therapy Breakthrough

Image copyright by iStock International. Used by MobilityWorks with permission.

Scientists, led by 2012 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan, have announced that they are inching closer to a therapy for muscular dystrophy. The therapy works by using genome editing to convert a patient's skin cells into healthy muscle cells. Genome editing involves using enzymes to remove faulty genetic material before replacing it with corrected DNA.

Researchers hope that the newly made cells improve the performance of failing muscles in patients----which may alleviate some of the worst symptoms of the condition.

Muscular dystrophy is a group of muscle diseases that weaken the musculoskeletal system and impede movement. Muscular dystrophies are characterized by progressive skeletal muscle weakness, defects in muscle proteins and the death of muscle cells and tissues.

Dr. Yamanaka's work has also revealed that by creating healthy muscle cells from a patient's skin cells, any risk of cells being rejected by the patient's immune system appear to be avoidable.

The goal is that the injections of healthy cells will provide enough dystrophin (cytoplasmic protein that connects the cytoskeleton of a muscle fiber to the surrounding extracellular matrix through the cell membrane) to boost the existing muscle tissue in the patient. A lack of dystrophin is what causes muscle fibres to become damaged and waste away.

For patients who have difficulty breathing, chewing and/or swallowing, targeting and strengthening the muscles that control those functions could result in dramatic physical improvements and quality of life.

The healthy cell injections would focus on improving certain localized muscles (such as those that impact breathing, chewing and/or swallowing), as correcting all of the muscle fibres in the entire body would, at this time, would be too challenging.

Further work and safety-testing will be required before the new technology can be taken to clinical trials.

For more information, please visit the Guardian website.



SmartFloor™ for Commercial Vans Offers Custom Flexibility for Wheelchair Transport Vehicles

Revolutionary flooring product offered by MobilityWorks now available for Ram ProMaster and Ford Transit commercial van platforms.

SmartFloor™ seating inside a Ram ProMaster van. The vehicle has a BraunAbility Century lift installed in the back.

Whenever someone sees the Transit Works SmartFloor™ product for the first time and begins to grasp the benefits of being able to quickly rearrange the seating, or remove them altogether, there’s always an ‘aha’ moment.

Inside most of the newer MobilityWorks commercial fleet vehicles, the SmartFloor that’s being installed will provide its new owner/operator with more flexibility than they’ve ever had before. That flexibility will result in operational savings and better service to the customer.

Here’s how:

Instead of having all of the seating permanently bolted to the floor, a transportation company or fleet owner now has the option to quickly rearrange the interior layout and re-purpose the vehicle for a different function in literally a matter of minutes.

In the case of a wheelchair transportation provider (such as an assisted living center), there may only be a few occasions every week where they need to have two wheelchair positions available, while the remaining passengers typically being transported need bench seating. If given notice that a second wheelchair passenger is being picked up, they can easily remove the necessary bench seats and re-install them when the trip is completed. This reduces the number of total trips being made. For the wheelchair community, that means better service because providers will be able to quickly adapt to changing needs.

With this type of flexibility, the SmartFloor installed on the Ram ProMaster or the Ford Transit really is a smart decision. The SmartFloor is a patented product available exclusively in North America from Transit-Works and its certified bus, OEM and mobility dealers across America.

For more information on the SmarFloor for Commercial Vans, call Transit Works at 1-855-337-9543.


2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games Coming to Los Angeles

Venues throughout Los Angeles, including USC and UCLA, to host 25 different sporting competitions.

The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games are being held this summer in Los Angeles, California July 25-Aug 2nd. 7,000 Special Olympic athletes will be competing in 25 different events ranging from beach volleyball to tennis! Go to 2015 Special Olympics in LA for details.

Three cheers to Kaiser Permanente for dedicating their Rose Bowl Parade float in Pasadena this year to honor the Special Olympics World Games and its athletes!

Volunteers Needed

The committee is looking for volunteers. Thousands of volunteers support the athletes in creating a memorable and unique experience at the games. Enthusiastic and committed volunteers will be recruited to serve in many capacities.

Please go to for more information if you are interested in this rewarding experience.

Jobs for Transportation Coordinators and Managers

The Special Olympics Committee is currently advertising for a Transportation Coordinator, Transportation Manager of Special Events, and Manager of Transportation Scheduling. If you have a professional background in this area, go to to apply.

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HANDICAP THIS! with Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach Appearing in Chicago Jan 21-25

Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach of HANDICAP THIS!

Step Up Productions Presents HANDICAP THIS!
January 21 – 25, 2015 at Stage 773

Join us at a special one-week engagement of the touching and humorous two-man show HANDICAP THIS! – part comedy, part storytelling and part insight on living with disabilities.

Written and performed by nationally acclaimed duo Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach, HANDICAP THIS! is inspired by the original script by Molly Mulcrone and directed by Denis Berkson. This special collaboration will play January 21 – 25, 2015 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago.

Comedic duo Mike Berkson (born with cerebral palsy) and Tim Wambach (his one-time aide) tap the power of laughter for an unconventional evening of storytelling. The unique journey of their friendship over the past 13 years celebrates the power of diversity and inclusion – and provides new insight on people living with disabilities.

Tickets are on sale at or, by calling (773) 327-5252 or in person at the Stage 773 Box Office.

Partial Proceeds to Benefit Keep on Keeping On Foundation

Partial proceeds from HANDICAP THIS! will benefit the Keep On Keeping On Foundation, assisting those living with severe physical disabilities and educating and empowering others to make a difference in their community. For additional information, visit As part of its mission, Step Up Productions donates a portion of its proceeds to organizations in and around Chicago that support issues often highlighted in its productions.

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Microcars for Wheelchairs: Then and Now

Harold Downey’s wheelchair micro-car could reach top speeds of 45 mph.

The Need and Desire for Independence is the Mother of All Mobility Inventions

Most of us have seen the latest Mercedes-Benz ‘Smart Car’ on the road these past few years, but did you know that a wheelchair microcar was invented back in the 1950s? Along with entrepreneurs like Ralph Braun, the founder of today's BraunAbility minivan conversions, people were simply looking for ways to be independent with whatever means they could. Vans for wheelchair drivers simply weren't available.

Back in October of 1956, Harold Young of Downey California was featured in a Modern Mechanix magazine article with his three wheel, 10HP wheelchair accessible microcar that he drove on city streets for many years. The hand controls he installed were a push-stop, pull-to-go lever design, similar to the mechanical driving aids being used today. Hooks attached the dashboard were used to secure the wheelchair in place.

Fast Forward to 2015…

The all-electric Kenguru is designed for local community driving with a top speed of 25 mph.

The Kenguru shown above is a Hungarian designed, electric powered micro-vehicle with a top speed of 25 mph. It can travel around 60 miles per day, but is not legal on roads above 35, depending on local restrictions. For practicality purposes, it appears to have more of a golf-cart application, perhaps for getting around in senior living communities, than for actual road use. It has a motorcycle-like handlebar steering design with a throttle for acceleration.

The Kenguru has been reported to be coming to the United States by the efforts of former attorney, now entrepreneur, Stacy Zoern of Austin, TX. Stacey was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and has been in a wheelchair her entire life. She formed a company call Community Cars based in Texas to manufacture and distribute the vehicles. When it becomes available, the single-passenger wheelchair microcar will cost somewhere around $20-$25k. Community Cars is also designing a model that will be controlled by a joystick or small-diameter steering wheel for those with limited upper body strength. for more information, go to

Spreekt u Nederlands? (do you speak Dutch?)

The Canta has a top speed of 28 mph.

The "Ride-in Canta" (Inrij Canta) shown above is a wheelchair microcar from the Netherlands developed in 1995 by Waaijenberg, a company that specializes in a variety of smaller vehicles (for disabled and able-bodied customers). Equipped with a rear-entry ramp, the Canta pneumatically raises up off the ground when the engine is started and the driver is ready to move . It comes with a Honda 5-stroke, 160cc engine (200cc optional) and has a top speed of 28 mph. Canta hand controls can be placed on the left or right side, depending on the need.

In the Netherlands, the Canta is legal to be used be used on cycle paths and sidewalks as a mobility aid. A driver's license is not required. There are no known plans to bring the Canta to the United States.

Editors note: Modern Mechanix magazine's last published issue was their March/April edition in 2001.