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Patient-Centered Guides

July 1999

Wheelchair Users: People Making the Most of Their Lives

Who uses a wheelchair?

  • Someone who has experienced a trauma such as a spinal cord disorder or amputation.
  • A person with a genetic condition, like muscular dystrophy.
  • A person with a progressive condition, such as multiple sclerosis.
  • Someone who's had a brain trauma or stroke, which can affect people of any age.
  • Children born with a disabling condition, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida.
  • Elderly people, due to falls, arthritis or rheumatism.

SEBASTOPOL, CA -- These are just a few examples of the 1.5 million people in the U.S. who use a wheelchair. Despite the seemingly similar features of a given disability, each person will experience life differently. What they have in common is the fact that they are able to live fuller lives than the general society believes possible.

To help address the diversity of experiences and demonstrate how wheelchair users live active, independent lives, Gary Karp has written Life On Wheels: For the Active Wheelchair User. It is the essential road map for wheelchair users who are in control of their lives. Karp, an ergonomics consultant and long-time chair user, describes:

  • How to get the most out of the rehabilitation process
  • Medical concerns common to many chair users such as pain, pressure sores, and spasticity
  • Health topics such as keeping fit, diet, and personal care assistance
  • What disability feels like on the inside and how people adapt and interact with others
  • Selecting the right wheelchair
  • Making a home environment more accessible and convenient
  • Intimacy, sexuality, and parenting
  • Spinal cord research
  • Disability legislation and activism
  • Getting out there--travel, adaptive technology, employment, education, sports, and recreational activities

The experience of a disability can be a mystery for those new to it. In truth, it is often less limiting than it appears. This book is the only one on the market that orients a chair user to the core issues of life on wheels and guides each individual in the right direction for further research. It offers practical ways for chair users to manage their own health and discover adaptive approaches to optimize the quality of their lives.

About the Author:
When he was 18, Gary Karp fell out of a tree, breaking his spine in mid-back and becoming paraplegic. He went on to college, graduated, and worked in the computer graphics field. In 1992, Gary developed a repetitive strain injury. After recovering, he began his own ergonomics consulting business, Onsight. Karp's first book, Choosing a Wheelchair, a companion to Life on Wheels, was published in the summer of 1998.

Life On Wheels: For the Active Wheelchair User
by Gary Karp
$24.95, 573 pages, paperback
ISBN: 1-56592-253-0

About Patient-Centered Guides:
Patient empowerment is the central theme at the core of the Patient-Centered Guides series. We believe that people are empowered when they have the knowledge and skills to partner with their doctor or healthcare provider to get the best medical care possible.

We publish books that contain clear, concise, easy to understand information about the medical, practical and emotional aspects of health issues. All of our authors are experts in specific conditions and diseases and are the driving forces behind building strong and networked communities of patients, families and caregivers.

In addition to our books, we publish information on the web ( Our site is an extension of our mission to empower individuals to become informed health-conscious consumers.

Patient-Centered Guides is a division of O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. O'Reilly is recognized worldwide for its technical books that fill a void and provide value to people who are experiencing information pain. O'Reilly publishes books that make a difference in people's lives.

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