Wellness Programming for Independent Living Centers

Introduction to Wellness Programming for Independent Living Centers

Advanced rehabilitative care along with the independent living movement of the 1970s and 1980s have successfully promoted and cultivated high levels of independence and quality of life among people with chronic neuromuscular disabilities. Today individuals with a variety of disabling conditions from polio, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and spina bifida are not only flourishing, they are living longer than ever before. But as they live well into their fifties, sixties and beyond, they are at high risk for developing new debilitating secondary conditions. Many of these conditions are preventable through self-management tactics that can be taught in health promotion workshops. Currently several of these workshops are being offered at a few medical centers and Independent Living Centers (ILCs) across the country. Because these programs transcend the traditional medical model by promoting self-empowerment to achieve life-long high levels of wellness and independence, greater numbers of our nation's ILCs may soon begin to consider and embrace this important new role: to sponsor and provide community-based wellness programs. Additionally, ILCs and neighboring academic medical centers could collaborate to investigate barriers and aids associated with health promotion for their consumers. This joint research could include a special focus on their potential partnerships to advocate for local health promotion opportunities/access as well as to directly provide community-based services. This newly emerging health promotion paradigm could be an excellent opportunity to merge the best of two models: medical expertise with the consumer-driven self-empowerment spirit of the independent living movement.

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