Monday, February 18, 2008

Riding for Rehab

Rocky Mountain Stroke Association (RMSA), headquartered in Littleton, Colorado, launched its Riding for Rehab fundraising campaign this past week. Denver Metro resident, Mary Kay Engel, 51, climbs atop her Special Carbon Fiber Ruby Pro bicycle in two weeks to pedal across the United States, raising money for RMSA. In 2006, Mary Kay’s sister, Kathy, suffered a stroke. As is often the case with stroke survivors, Kathy’s immediate care used up available insurance money. Through the efforts of her family and friends, Kathy’s rehabilitation continues. Specifically, through the affordable services and scholarships available through RMSA, Kathy is able to attend weekly therapy classes, gaining improvements physically and emotionally.

A stroke occurs every 45 seconds in the U.S., affecting over 700,000 Americans. Each year 150,000 Americans die from stroke. Thirty-percent of strokes occur in women under the age of 35. The most amazing thing is that many strokes are preventable. Exercising, eating well, monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and staying on top of stress are just a few of the proactive steps we can all take. In some cases, though, as with Mary Kay’s sister, the stroke is a result of a congenital disorder that was never discovered until the stroke occurred.

Mary Kay, who developed a passion for bike riding a few years ago, has traveled many parts of the world on her bike. She decided last year to focus on a cross-country tour. She also decided it was time to use this passion to raise awareness about and funds for stroke survivors and their families. She is traveling with Women Tours, so will not be trekking across this land on a bike all alone. She looks forward to the adventure and companionship of other women bicyclists, while she stays focused on and motivated by raising money for RMSA to deliver direct services, often through scholarships.

“The reason it’s important to me to raise funds for Rocky Mountain Stroke Association is they have been very helpful to my sister in providing physical and speech therapy,” Mary Kay writes in her bike blog. “Insurance covers only a limited number of visits, which does not enable a stroke survivor much opportunity for improvement. Thanks to RMSA, my sister can afford the necessary therapy to enable her to live a more independent lifestyle. Without this organization and the help they offer, my sister would not be able to speak as well as she does, or perform daily tasks that you and I take for granted.”

Mary Kay leaves San Diego, California on March 6 and arrives in St. Augustine, Florida on May 2. To read more about Mary Kay’s journey and to contribute your support of stroke rehabilitation through Rocky Mountain Stroke Association, visit or

Guest blog: Enneagram blastoff (updated)

You’ve met Inga Tomasino a couple of times. She is a great supporter of Capabilities and a woman of many talents. We introduced you to Inga in September when we told you about her foot reflexology sessions. We then described her expertise with the Enneagram of Personality Types. She is a certified trainer of this modern tool with ancient roots, designed to help discover more about the self and others. Inga offered a class at Capabilities in January. In the blog that follows, Inga summarizes the class and some of the reactions of her students. She and the group had such an amazing experience, Inga plans to run the class again. Please check our Events schedule for details. You can call Inga at 303.423.7903 or email her to ask questions or to sign up.

All I can say is WOW. I just completed presenting the first Enneagram/ EFT Workshop and it stretched us all in ways that were not expected. The looks of surprise and recognition of their own Enneatypes was a memorable event.
We laughed, we stared in amazement and I saw a lot of heads nodding.
In workshop #3 we paired up and tried to guess the other person’s Enneatype by asking key words we learned along the way about ourselves.
Also, in class #3, I presented some new information on cognitive development in the conscious and subconscious mind….basically, how we got to be who we are.
Class 4 was all about healing. Of course we all have “stuff” we are not too pleased with.
We learned the basics of Emotional Freedom Techniques and I am delighted to say that I was able to get 5 EFT practitioners to volunteer their time to work in small groups giving more personal attention to the needs of the individuals in teaching how to use EFT effectively. I am so grateful for these volunteers.
There was some homework involved at times in the nature of waking up to patterns that we keep repeating and that no longer serve us as individuals.
With their permission, here are some of the comments regarding the workshop:

“Was skeptical. After first class my “eyes were open”. This is the first tool that I can relate to. Psychotherapy and psychology classes felt wrong for me.” Kirsten C.

“It was very good. I learned a lot. My counselor was very pleased!” Linda M.

“My daughter and I took this class together. This was amazing synchronicity as we had not arranged to do this. Through this class we both have made a huge breakthrough in understanding ourselves. Well presented – got to my core!” Anne B.

“Fascinated with the Enneagram – opened my eyes to a lot of family issues. How a family of 9 kids have so many different personalities.” Carol L.

“It’s a good class to find out who you are and why you do what you do.” Brenda R.

“An eye opener. Though I was skeptical at first, my interests overcome by the end.” Chris L.


Enneagram/EFT Workshop

The Enneagram is a dynamic system of nine personality types that once understood empowers you to a better understanding of yourself and others. You may be asking, "Who cares, I already know what kind of person I am and what my personality is like, why should I take this workshop?" Simply this... another term that could be substituted for the Enneagram is “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places”. Did you know that? Are you aware that so much of what has happened to you is actually controlling your life without you being aware of it? So how much do you know now?

By understanding this process, instead of being blindsided, we can reconcile and relocate ourselves to a place of greater understanding and compassion. We are able to understand why we keep doing the same things over and over with no different results. And to think that a little bit of information can do that for you. Not only that, but this process of being blind-sighted happens to everyone in the world, no matter whom they are, or where they’re at! Talk about how mass consciousness happens.

So okay, you find this out, then what? How do you change aspects of yourself? That will happen with EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, which I will present to you and show you how to use it. EFT is a very simple and wonderful technique that works in marvelous ways.

If you are intrigued and you don’t plan on going anywhere during Spring Break; I ask to consider this very small investment for an all-so-important YOU!
Check out the events section for times and dates.

R.S.V.P.s are a must: 303.423.7903 or
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sea Legs. How About Air Legs?

You know all the wonders of travel. You have scrapbooks full of great photos and stories to tell. You also probably have a memory somewhere in the back of your mind about some of the discomforts of travel. I’m not just talking about the packing and unpacking, the long waits at airports, and the worries about the drinking water. For many, the most agonizing part of travel is flying. (Yes, the scary parts of flying, too.)

While air travel has certainly become more common and, in many cases, more comfortable, there are some elements of flying that don’t really change. On flights longer than a couple of hours, for example, you know how cramped you can feel, especially your legs. Did you also know that the long hours of sitting can also be hazardous to your health, especially if you have deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

DVT is a blood clot that forms deep in the body. For some, this is a silent disease that can cause sudden death when the clot erupts or blocks a key artery. For others, symptoms such as swelling, redness or tenderness in the legs alert the individual to seek treatment. It is rare that flying can cause DVT, however, it can occur, especially on long flights.

So when you fly, it is important to move around, get up frequently, walk, stretch your legs to improve circulation. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, too. It is becoming more common now to wear compression stockings. Even lightweight compression can aid circulation while on a plane. They feel comfortable, too, resting your legs by ensuring that the blood flow stays steady, reducing swelling and aching.

Getting your air legs is essential if you love to travel, or have to travel a lot. Just as passengers who love to travel the seas have to make preparations to ensure they stay healthy and steady while on a boat for days at a time, frequent flyers should take precautions to be sure they stay as do as much as possible to ward off any hazards while in the air.

Please read our earlier blogs on compression for more details about how wearing these stockings or socks actually helps with circulation. We have a full selection of compression garments at Capabilities. See our sampling here.

If you have worn compression socks while flying, post your comments about that experience. Or if you have questions about compression garments, please contact us and we’ll get back to you.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Stairlift To Heaven…Or To Your Second Floor, At Least!

I can’t tell you how many customers lately have come into the store and been taken with our working stairlift display. It catches their eye, and then captures their imagination as they do a test run up the flight of stairs we had specially built. Whether for themselves or someone they know, the response is always one of amazement. And when they hear the price of a standard stairlift installed, they are even more amazed. The fact that for many situations the basic cost, including installation, is just under $3000 seems surprising.

As stairs get more and more difficult to maneuver, many people just stop going upstairs or downstairs. Their homes shrink around them. Others make plans to move to a home with just one level, to an apartment or retirement community. Suggesting a stairlift is like that revelation of yore, “I could have had a V-8!” I love watching people as they learn about things like stairlifts, as they begin imaging themselves or Aunt Betty or Grandpa moving around again, going to their favorite places in the house, living fully in their own homes. It is especially satisfying to watch the caregivers, too, imagine sleeping through the night not worrying whether mom will fall down the stairs while stubbornly denying she is not as steady as she used to be.

Slight modifications to the home makes it safe and fun again. You can see our working stairlift display at our flagship store in metro Denver. Please contact us for more information whether or not you are in the Denver metro area. We can answer your questions and offer you a referral of a specialist in your location. See our special Leap Year special on stairlifts currently underway.

If you have a stairlift or knows someone who does, tell us more about that experience here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Inside Our Minds: Buying New Products

We have written in these blogs before of the amazing experience we have owning and operating Capabilities. As a relatively new business (almost half-way through our third year of operation), my partner, Pam, and I, are still the chief cooks and bottle washers. We do have a great staff that continues to gain your respect as they work with customers to help solve problems and match solutions to needs. In addition to working with customers, too, Pam and I also do most of the behind-the-scenes jobs of running a business. To be sure there are things we love and things we don’t like so much in that long list, but one of the things that’s high on our list of favorites is buying product.

Not only is it fun to look for unique AND practical tools to respond to the many needs we hear about on a daily basis, but it’s also a process that requires plenty of balance and clarity, as you can imagine. We are approached every month by someone with a new product, whether it’s the inventor him or herself, or a company representing a product that we have not yet discovered. We also do lots of research based on the requests we get from customers, adding things all year long as these customers’ needs direct us.

Just this year alone, for example, we have nearly doubled our wound care selection based on responsiveness to customers’ requests. We also have won the confidence of several Metro Denver hospitals and burn units by listening to their experts’ recommendations for bandages and dressings that are most appropriate for those recovering from serious burn injuries. We also train our staff, generally with experts in these fields, whenever we add new product, increasing your confidence in us as a resource that is “more than a store.”

We also added more choice for gift ideas, including teas from Boulder-based, The Teaspot; chocolate from Metro Denver local, Julie Pech, The Chocolate Therapist; a new lift chair, Risedale, that features traditional design and a seat that elevates, for those who prefer not to have a reclining lift chair, or whose home is too small to accommodate those larger chairs. We also feature products in our newsletters to keep you on top of this broad selection of products we are committed to at Capabilities.

Before the rush of winter holidays and again as the days lengthen towards spring, we focus on new collections we will add to Capabilities. The twice annual focus is meant to pull our attentions towards gaps that might exist, or replacement products for a line or brand that might be discontinuing, or that has not attracted people as we thought it might. Sometimes we shop for the unique, those products that one might not associate with some of our traditional health care products. Among other things, it’s sometimes those products that give Capabilities its unique appeal to such a broad range of people. As a case in point, we launched our Capabilities private label two weeks ago with our Mobile Art collection of Crutch Covers & Grips and Canes, handpainted by local artist, Amy Vicioso, exlusively for Capabilities. We have also purchased a new line of arthritis products just release from one of our trusted vendors. We’ll feature those online when they arrive later this month.

Last Fall we launched our first New Product Showcase, an evening where we highlighted a half dozen of new products and their representatives before an audience comprised of Capabilities’ customers, some brand new and others who have shopped with us quite a bit. It was a terrific evening. Be sure to read our blog with the highlights of that event. We added some of the products to our mix as a result of the feedback given to us by customers, people in the real life world of caring for themselves or others while facing some of big challenges that come with illness, injury or the aging process.

Our first New Product Showcase was so successful we plan to do another one this spring. We have our eye on April and will release details soon. If you are an inventor or know of a product you think we should consider carrying at Capabilities, please email with your ideas. If you participated last time and want to do so again, we welcome you with open arms. Email your interest and contact information so we can keep you posted as details emerge. Please also consider a post here with your reflections on that event to inspire others who might be feeling a bit too shy just yet to commit. If you would like to see what’s it like viewing a product presentation and getting in on the inside track of helping us make a decision about buying it, please contact us. We are delighted to share details of the first event and refer you to others who were our “judges.”

We’ll keep you posted on our “shopping” results. Please also feel free to send your ideas for products and other services. As you know, we are here for you!

Incontinence: The Silent Condition

Incontinence is a topic that is hard to discuss for many people. The ability to control our bodily functions, once mastered as a child for typical individuals, is an essential part of the definition of “healthy” for most adults. When a temporary or permanent condition causes urinary incontinence, individuals go through a period of adjustment that is often accompanied by sadness, depression, and sometimes more prominent emotional responses. The inability to control the flow of urine equates for many with this condition a lack of control in general, causing for some embarrassment or a desire to limit social contact. A study completed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services over 10 years ago noted that over 13 million people suffer from urinary incontinence in the U.S. The number is probably greater as there are numerous individuals who suffer in silence, purchasing over the counter briefs and pads, some even hiding the condition from their family members.

Incontinence affects 10%- 30% of women in the general population of those aged 15 to 65 versus only 1.5% - 5% of men. Nearly half of all those in nursing homes throughout the country are have urinary incontinence, 70% of those are women. As with all conditions, the causes are varied and dependent generally on a multitude of factors. There is the acute and temporary incontinence caused either by childbirth, medication, limited mobility, or a urinary tract infection. While affecting individuals in the same ways as does more permanent instances of incontinence, individuals with these temporary conditions often find treatments that resolve the situation fairly quickly.

Chronic incontinence is often caused by birth defects, bladder muscle weakness, nerve disorders, spinal cord injuries, or a blocked urethra brought about by the presence of a tumor or some benign prostate conditions. Vaginal prolapse, which occurs when the muscles and tissues designed to hold organs in place around the vagina, weaken, causing the protrusion of an organ in the pelvis (e.g, uterus, urethra, bladder) or the walls of the vaginal vault weaken. This event causes pressure that results in urinary incontinence.

Diagnosis includes common techniques of urinalysis to sophisticated testing, some of which involves invasive surgical techniques. Treatments, too, include non-surgical solutions, medications, surgical- and self-catheterization, and state-of-the-art surgical implants designed to simulate urinary processes.

One of my own family members suffered from incontinence on the heels of a series of surgeries that started with a benign prostate condition that was treated surgically and then further complicated by a later episode of prostate cancer, treated with radiation seeds. While the results of all procedures were considered “successful” by medical measures in so far as the situations were eventually corrected and the cancer contained and eliminated, this family member was left ultimately with severe urinary incontinence. He became an expert at various brands of briefs, and types of bags to carry products in. He worked hard to keep his spirits high, in spite of the constant weight and worry on him.

He admitted, however, to feeling depressed and low quite often. He also assessed every invitation and opportunity to travel based on where restrooms were located and how frequently he had to stop to change briefs and pads. His normal enthusiasm for life and its adventures waned for a few years while he struggled with this condition. He learned of an implant technique, pioneered at a university hospital near his home, that held the promise of helping solve his urinary incontinence. But he had concerns about the notion of plastic and metal parts living inside him for the rest of his life. Given the fact that with every procedure to date he had fallen into the statistical deviations, he did not have a lot of confidence that this procedure would yield higher odds for what he considered success. Finally, however, he ventured into the process that took a number of months to complete.

It’s been about three years now since he underwent the surgical implant that turned out to be the charm for controlling his condition. His confidence is restored and he has reengaged fully in his life, traveling and participating easily in events. He wears a medical alert bracelet that will help avert any internal problems if he is in an accident or requires emergency treatment. Apart from that, there are no signs to the rest of us that he has been through one of life’s difficult passages, dealing with chronic urinary incontinence.

Please investigate our line of incontinence products at Capabilities. We feature Tena brand with a reputation for comfort and protection unmatched in the industry.

What’s your story? Have you or someone in your life faced temporary or chronic incontinence? If you have questions, solutions or would like more information on the surgical implant, please email or post your comments.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Guest blog: Maximize Your Recovery With Music

We are big fans of the Rocky Mountain Stroke Association (RMSA). Their weekly programs held in Capabilities’ conference room bring so many interesting, wonderful and inspiring people into our lives. We love being part of their journey to recovery. Please see our Events section for details on weekly programs. This month RMSA introduces an extremely interesting new program into their repertoire for stroke survivors and their families. The Neurologic Music Therapy Group launches on February 13, 2008 in the conference room at Capabilities. Sarah Lawton, MT-BC, NMT, will bring music to our midst on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from 11:30 a.m.—1:00 p.m. As a Board Certified Music Therapist and a Neurologic Music Therapist Fellow, Sarah brings her rich array of techniques designed to assist with recovery from stroke. This approach is something very special! Please contact Rocky Mountain Stroke Association for details at or at 303-730-8800.

Did you realize that music is a key component of recovery from a stroke? While music has been used to positively change lives of patients for thousands of years, the use of music as medicine has become as much science as it is art. The field of music therapy no longer aims to just help people to feel better. Instead, the field of neurologic music therapy utilizes evidenced based techniques to maximize recovery. You can benefit from these cutting edge techniques by joining the neurologic music therapy group through the Rocky Mountain Stroke Association. Groups are led by Sarah Lawton, MT-BC, NMT.

Sarah is a trained health care professional who is board certified, and has advanced training in neurologic music therapy. She is also a trained musician, with the ability to sing and play a wide variety of instruments. She has worked

In our group, you can sing and play your way to a better you. Research shows that music accesses unique processes in the brain, giving you a new avenue for your rehabilitation. All groups are interactive and fun. Just like any other therapy, you have to be involved in your own recovery.

Music therapy does not aim to make you a musician, and you do not need any musical experience in order to benefit from neurologic music therapy. The overall goal of neurologic music therapy is to help clients to function better in daily life. A neurologic music therapist is trained in how to use music to effect non-musical brain and behavior.

If you would like to improve your skills in one of the following areas, join us for the neurologic music therapy group:
Initiating speech
Speech intelligibility
Vocal control
Rate of speech
Neglect and inattention
Attention Deficits
Planning, decision making
Range of motion
Fine motor skills

Join us on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays from 11:30am -1pm! See you there.