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University of Missouri fundraiser simulates using a wheelchair

At the University of Missouri, students majoring in physical or occupational therapy may work with disabled clients someday. For those who are not disabled themselves, it may be a challenge to empathize with what it is like living with a disability.

Recently, several MU students spent a while in wheelchairs as part of the 14th Annual Wheelchair Relay on April 5. While a few hours in a wheelchair cannot truly simulate a lifetime, it did give participants at least a taste of adjusting to a life without the use of one’s legs.

The event, which is a fundraiser for the Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball program, put participants into groups of four. While in wheelchairs, they competed against each other in a series of activities. Some of the challenges were athletic, such as playing basketball and volleyball. At other stations, they dressed themselves, communicated in sign language and played Jeopardy. As the name of the event implies, there was also a relay race.

The coordinator of the Relay said that events like this one help raise awareness of people living with disabilities, including Mizzou students and other Columbia residents. That could be especially important for future physical therapists and social workers, to better understand their client’s abilities, challenges and goals.

A disabling injury that results in paralysis, or otherwise affects your ability to move, can have a dramatic impact on your life. It may no longer be possible for you to support yourself through work. Social Security disability benefits were created to provide financial support for people in that position.

Source: Columbia Daily Tribune, “University of Missouri event challenges participants to experience life in wheelchair,” Jodie Jackson Jr., Aril 6, 2014

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