Award-winning comedy writer, Ian Heydon (Kingswood Country, How Green Was My Cactus, The Samuel Pepys Show, The Year My Country Broke) recently took out an unexpected award – for writing about travelling with a disability. In 2010 Ian was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That led
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Award-winning comedy writer, Ian Heydon (Kingswood Country, How Green Was My Cactus, The Samuel Pepys Show, The Year My Country Broke) recently took out an unexpected award – for writing about travelling with a disability.
In 2010 Ian was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That led to the question – what does a writer who has a disability and who loves to travel write about? The answer was pretty obvious. Because Ian uses a cane for mobility assistance, he built a website called Cane & Able Travel and that site won the inaugural Business disAbility Award for Business Innovation in 2012.
Back in 2003, Ian had a travel book on Australia published called The Small Guide to A Big Country (Explore) and he subsequently bought a travel agent’s licence (Small Guide Travel). Much of Ian’s research for that book is still valid. As Ian says, “They haven’t moved the Sydney Opera House or most of Australia’s main attractions, so all I really needed to do was update where necessary and add the accessibility and disability facility information. It’s a bonus that the Small Guide Travel consultants can assist with itinerary advice and bookings.”
When Ian travels these days he uses both a cane and a wheelchair for getting around. “Before my diagnosis with MS I guess I felt a bit of pity when I saw other people in wheelchairs. I didn’t realise that wheelchairs give a person with a disability so much freedom. Mine allows me to get around much better at airports, especially when the boarding gate can be a fair distance from check-in, and it makes art galleries, museums and theatre so much more accessible and enjoyable.”
Ian first took his wheelchair on a trip to Dubai, London and Paris in 2012. While there are websites with attractions and disability information for those destinations in the pipeline, Ian’s first priority is writing about Australia. In late 2012 he visited Cairns and road-tested attractions like Skyrail and Quicksilver’s Great Barrier Reef as well as disabled-friendly accommodation. From this came the destination specific website, Cairns Disabled Travel.
The next cab of the rank was Canberra. According to Ian, Canberra is arguably Australia’s most rewarding destination for travellers with a disability. “There are flights from all other major cities and centres, they have an excellent public transport and wheelchair-assisted taxi system and all the major attractions are accessible, with many of them free. There’s excellent accommodation, terrific restaurants and bars and so much to see and do. It really is a fabulous tourist destination. Sure, after a couple of weeks there might be some thumb twiddling but for a few days away it is fabulous.” Ian visited Canberra in 2011 and 2013 to research accessible accommodation and attractions and the Canberra Disabled Travel website is now live.
Ian has a multi-destination itinerary on the drawing board for all Australian capital cities and major regional centres so you could see him soon in your part of the country. But the Kingswood? No, he won’t be taking the Kingswood!
The lower back is critical to our function as a human being. It provides structural support as well as enabling movement in all directions. The lower back is primarily responsible for forward and backward movements and also allows sideways bending and rotation. Another critical function of the lower back is to protect the tissues of the nervous system, spinal column as well as the organs of the pelvis and stomach. As such an essential aspect of our lives it is also susceptible to a number of injuries that cause us pain. The top 8 most common causes are outlined below.
8. Bone Injuries
Fractures of the lumbar spine usually occur after a traumatic event such as a fall or motor vehicle accident. If the fracture is unstable, risk of damage to the spinal cord and permanent paralysis is extremely high. Patients are stabilised and immobilised for long periods. If the fracture is stable patients are treated with rest and pain relief. In some cases people with osteoporosis, or those taking medication such as cortisone long term, can be susceptible to fractures even with minimal stress on the spine. This may cause a crush fracture where the vertebrae loses some of its height. Pain can be severe and is often aggravated by movement.
7. Congenital Inherited Conditions
Some of the common inherited conditions that cause lower back pain include scoliosis which is a sideways curve of the spine, sometimes caused when one leg is shorter than the other (functional scoliosis). You can also get structural scoliosis which is a fixed sideways curve often due to unknown factors, more common in women. Another common congenital cause of lower back pain is a forward slip of the lower lumbar vertebrae on top of the sacrum. This is referred to as spondylolisthesis, which in some cases can be associated with fractures of the joining bones in the vertebrae and is known as a pars defect.
6. Bone Encroachment
Sometimes when the bony canal of the spinal cord and the spaces that the nerves exit can be narrowed by bone spurs or other soft tissues. This can cause sciatic pain which radiates down the leg. Often pain from narrowing of the spinal canal gets worse with walking and improves with rest.
Arthritic changes and inflammation can affect the lumbar vertebrae as well as sciatic joints and can commonly cause lower back pain and stiffness, which is often worse in the morning. Degeneration can also affect the disc and is known as sponydolosis. This shows up on x-rays as narrowing of the lumbar disc joint space.
4. Lumbar Radiculopathy – Damage to a Disc
When the disc is injured or weakens over time the outer rim can bulge or rupture (herniate), putting pressure on the spinal cord and/or the nerves exiting the bones. This can produce both local low back pain as well as sciatica characterised by pain down the leg. It can also be associated with pins and needles, numbness and weakness. In more serious cases, patients may experience problems with bladder and bowel function. They should seek medical attention immediately.
3. Nerve Irritation
The nerves exiting the bones of the lower back can be irritated by pressure from bone, soft tissue, as well as inflammation. Pain can be both local, as well as radiating down the leg.
2. Tendon and Ligament Strains
The soft tissues supporting and connecting the bones of the lower back can be stretched or injured in a number of ways. Commonly there is some sort of microscopic tear of varying degree which is often caused by an acute injury or overuse.
1. Muscle Strain
The most common form of lower back pain is of muscular origin. Muscle pain can be brought on by poor posture, overuse, improper use, sustained positions and even trauma. It is so common because not only is it the primary cause of most lower back pain, it is a significant component of all the other causes of lower back pain. This is because with arthritic changes, structural changes, such as curvature of the lower back, disc disease or even ruptures will all sensitise the muscles. This is why it is essential to understand muscle pain specifically, to learn strategies for prevention as well as self-management long term.
If you, your friend or family member suffer from back pain please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly Camp Hill physiotherapists on 07 3847 8040. Our Camp Hill physios can also provide treatment from our Camp Hill Physiotherapy practice in Brisbane.