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    Rocky's Law: A Win for Student Athletes

    Last updated 8 months ago

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    On Sunday, Governor Pat Quinn signed a new bill into law requiring Illinois high schools to provide insurance for athletes who have sustained major injuries. The law is called “Rocky’s Law,” inspired by Rasul “Rocky” Clark who passed away in 2012.

    With three former NFL players in attendance at the signing, as well as hundreds of Rocky’s friends and supporters, Rocky’s Law is a win for student athletes everywhere.

    Rocky’s Legacy Lives On

    During a high school football game in 2000, Rocky sustained a spinal cord injury which left him paralyzed from the neck down. Rocky spent the final years of his life going head-to-head with the insurance industry after his policy reached its lifetime cap, which inflicted major stress on him and his family—and more important, his treatment.

    “I am so proud of Rocky and the legacy he has left behind,” says Anne O’Sullivan, RRT, RCP, who knew Rocky well.

    What the Law Means for Illinois

    Rocky’s Law will take effect on January 1, 2014. According to Governor Quinn’s official statement, the law institutes the following requirements for public and private high schools:

    • Catastrophic accident insurance coverage for student athletes who sustain injuries during school-sponsored sports and incur expenses greater than $50,000.
    • Insurance policies must have collective limits of $3 million or five years (whichever comes first).
    • Coverage is in addition to other insurance with an estimated cost of $5 per student.

    Protecting Athletes against Injuries

    The National Federation for High School Sports (NFHS) recently instituted new rules and regulations for high school football to protect student athletes.

    “These new rules are the only way we’ll save football—and the students who play the game,” says Mark Elias, RCP, an official for high school football. “The NFHS is putting some teeth behind the rules.”

    An official for the last 37 years, Mark explains the changes coming to football this fall. Among the changes, officials have been instructed to closely monitor helmet-to-helmet contact and players can no longer lead with their helmets without risking a foul or ejection from the game.


    How will this new law affect you and your family, and what changes have you seen in high school or professional sports to protect athletes against injuries?


    Rehab at Home: Weaning Andrew off the Vent

    Last updated 8 months ago

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    Andrew was born at 26 weeks – and less than 1 lb. – after his mom was diagnosed with a life-threatening complication. Due to Andrew’s severe prematurity and emergency birth, he developed severe pulmonary hypertension and was placed on a ventilator.

    Now 2, Andrew is crawling, using sign language to communicate, and has been working with his physicians, nurses, and parents to accomplish his biggest goal yet – to breathe on his own without a ventilator.

    Coming Home

    “Even though we were well prepared when we took Andrew home, I wouldn’t leave his side,” says Jennifer, Andrew’s mom.

    Andrew survived his first 10 months of life in a NICU before coming home. Upon discharge, he was on a ventilator, oxygen, g-tube feedings, subcutaneous pump for Remodulin (a painful and expensive treatment for hypertension), and required 24/7 private duty nursing.

    Andrew has been thriving at home for the last 15 months thanks to his family, medical team, and private duty nursing care.

    Vent Weaning Progress

    Beginning mid-June, following a successful discontinuation of the Remodulin, Andrew's physician gave the okay to begin  vent weaning. He started slowly with going off of the vent for 15 minutes, three times per day.

    Today, Andrew is off of the vent twice a day for two hours at a time!

    “Andrew’s transition off the vent is natural as he appears very comfortable breathing on his own,” says Stacey Turner, Clinical Manager at Independence Plus.

    Developmental Milestones

    Being off of the vent has allowed Andrew more mobility. He has been crawling since Memorial Day and is now able to explore his environment without restriction of a ventilator circuit. He recently celebrated his second birthday with a party where he was able to go off his vent.

    He communicates using sign language and knows commands for “thank you,” “please,” “dog,” “hungry,” and more. Check out the video below to view his progress:

    Andrew’s strong social skills are a testament to his loving family and frequent visits from nurses, therapists, and friends. And he has a smile that will make your heart melt!

    We will continue to share Andrew’s progress with you here on our blog, and wish him continued success as he works to achieve his goal.

    Meeting Legendary Inventor Dr. Bird

    Last updated 8 months ago

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    Last week, our Founder and CEO, Tamara Müller, and three of our clinicians, had the honor of traveling to northern Idaho to meet the infamous Forrest M. Bird, MD, Ph.D.

    An aviator, inventor, biomedical engineer, and World War II veteran, Dr. Bird is a man of many talents and many stories, like the times he met Henry Ford and Orville Wright.

    During the short stay at his 300-acre residence and farm – also home to Percussionaire® Corporation and the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center – our team learned about Dr. Bird’s life, passion for innovation, and how he single-handedly transformed the world of mechanical ventilation.

    Aviation and Mechanical Ventilation

    With encouragement from his father who was a World War I pilot, Dr. Bird became interested in aviation at a young age and took his first flight in his early teenage years. An avid aviator and aircraft collector, Dr. Bird applied many of the principles used in avionics to his work with mechanical ventilation.

    “What I learned in aviation… I applied that to the heart and lungs,” says Dr. Bird in “Fate, Chance & Circumstance,” his video biography.

    The “Bird” and “Babybird”

    A recipient of many awards and honors – including the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama – Dr. Bird is most well known for creating the Bird Mark 7 Respirator in the late 1950s. Commonly referred to as the “Bird,” it is one of the first mass-produced, cost-efficient mechanical ventilators ever made.

    In the early 1970s, Dr. Bird created a ventilator for infants and small children, nicknamed the “Babybird.” In approximately two years, this invention had reduced the infant mortality rate from roughly 70 percent to less than 10 percent for infants with respiratory issues. Among all of his achievements, Dr. Bird once said he was most proud of the “Babybird.”

    Percussionaire® Corporation Summer Seminar Series

    “I was most impressed with Dr. Bird’s stories about how he came up with ideas for ventilation based on principles he learned from aviation,” says Corey Elliott, RRT, RCP, and Director of Business Development for Independence Plus’ Respiratory Home Medical Equipment business, which provides respiratory equipment to medically-fragile, technology-dependent patients.

    Completing a course called Cardiopulmonary Dynamics, our team learned about many new technologies, such as Intrapulmonary Percussive Ventilation (IPV®) for Mucus Clearance, the VDR4 Intensive Care Ventilator, and how the Phasitron patient interface works and is the key to all Percussionaire® devices.

    To learn more about Dr. Bird, watch the “60 Minutes” special, which profiles his life and accomplishments.

    Do you remember the “Bird” and “Babybird”? How has mechanical ventilation changed in healthcare since the early days?

    Get Out, Enjoy Life!

    Last updated 9 months ago

    Our friends over at Wheel:Life, a global online community for people who use wheelchairs, are hosting their third annual “Get Out, Enjoy Life!” photo contest. The contest encourages people who use wheelchairs to get out of the house and enjoy their summer by attending events, going on vacation, or trying a new activity

    The contest runs from July 15 to July 28, 2013. Submit your photos today!

    Our patients and families have been enjoying life this summer, too! From horseback riding lessons and high school graduations to mouth painting and swimming in a pool, there’s a lot going on at Independence Plus this summer. Click here to read their inspiring stories.

    What are you doing to enjoy your summer? Share your photos with us at

    A Medical Breakthrough: Robotic Limbs Controlled by the Mind

    Last updated 9 months ago

    CBS’ “60 Minutes” recently aired a segment about an innovative new research study focused on robotic limbs controlled by the mind.

    “Humans can now move robotic limbs using only their thoughts and, in some cases, even get sensory feedback from their robotic hands,” reports “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley.

    Although there are some risks and complications to the medical procedures that make robotic limbs controlled by the mind possible, the benefits are endless. Candidates include patients who have been affected by paralysis, ALS, spinal cord injuries, amputations, and more.

    For the “60 Minutes” full episode, please visit:

    What implications do you think this medical breakthrough has for the future of ALS and spinal cord injuries? 

Do you like Independence Plus, Inc.?

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Independence Plus is looking for skilled caregivers who share our passion and dedication for providing the finest in-home healthcare services. BOTH FULL-TIME & PART-TIME AVAILABLE. Just click on the Career Opportunities button below to get started!


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