ACHIEVA and HealthMeet

 Your Health Matters

Volume 3 Issue 2                                                                                 February 2014 Edition




In This Issue
Can I Exercise if I Feel Sick?
Tobacco Cessation
Sexual & Social Development
Affordable Care Act Resource
Jump-Start Your Exercise Routine
Heart Health
An Accessible Fitness Center
Start Eating Healthy
Letter of Medical Necessity
Helping Doctors Communicate & Treat Patients
Dating & Disabilities
Health Literacy Fact Sheets
HealthMeet Calendar of Events

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Can I Exercise if I Feel Sick?

From Melissa Allen, ACHIEVA Disability Healthcare Initiative Manager


Staying on track with your exercise program is important.  At this time of year due to the cold weather, it might be more difficult to do that if you don't feel well.  


You might be getting sick when you are not able to concentrate; your head feels stuffy; you have a runny nose; you don't have an appetite or you feel sleepy, aching or dizzy.  If you are ill, you should avoid exercise because lack of concentration can put you at risk for an injury.  Once you feel better in a few days, you can return to your routine.  In cases of a mild cold, muscle aches or fever, you can continue light exercise 4 - 5 days after complete recovery.  For more severe symptoms, you need to allow 2 - 4 weeks of recovery before returning to more intensive exercise.


Remember that physical activity is vital to our health and it does build your immune system so when you are feeling well, exercise can keep you from getting sick.  


Information taken from Health Matters: The Exercise and Nutrition Health Education Curriculum for People with Developmental Disabilities.

Webinar: Tobacco Cessation for Individuals with Disabilities

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2 - 3 p.m. EST

Presenter: Candice Lee, Michigan Department of Community Health 


Smoking is bad for your health.  It's a fact we have all known for a long time, so why are so many of us still doing it?  In this webinar, Candice Lee from the Michigan Department of Community Health will reveal the prevalence and patterns of tobacco use in individuals with I/DD. She will show the impact that tobacco use can have on your health, finances and other implications it can lead to.  Tobacco cessation resources for individuals with I/DD and ways to effectively communicate the important message for the need to quit smoking will be given.


Register here.

Webinar: Sexual & Social Development of People with ID

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
2 p.m. EST

Presenter: Marklyn P. Champagne, RN, MSW


Sexual development is a natural part of the life course of any individual.  It can cause particular fear and misunderstanding among parents and staff of people with intellectual disability who often feel responsible for the development of knowledge and healthy attitudes in this area, but do not always feel equipped with the proper tools to support meaningful education. 


This webinar is intended to provide useful information and tips for parents, caregivers, and staff on engaging people with intellectual disability around their social and sexual development.  Marklyn P. Champagne, RN, MSW, will unravel some commonly held misconceptions, discuss best practices and engage listeners in thinking about people with intellectual disability and conversations around sex and sexuality. 


Click here to register.

New Affordable Care Act Resource Available

From the Capitol Insider

The National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative has released the first of several fact sheets entitled "Comparing Health Plans' Benefits and Coverage Summaries."  This fact sheet is intended to inform navigators and other enrollment specialists about what people with disabilities need to look for in the Summary of Benefits and Coverage.  The entire list of upcoming fact sheets is also available on the website.  


This information complements the earlier publication by the collaborative, "Guide to Disability for Healthcare Insurance Marketplace Navigators", designed to inform navigators and other enrollment specialists about special considerations people with disabilities may face as they shop for healthcare coverage.  The Collaboration is a project of the American Association on Health and Disability and is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  The Arc is one of the seven national organizations participating in the collaboration.  


Jump-Start Your Exercise Routine

From Disability Connection


One of the most important ways to stay healthy is through exercise.  According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can help you control your weight, combat disease, improve your mood and boost your energy.  It doesn't take much to fit some activity into your day for at least 30 minutes - consider running, walking, hiking, cycling, yoga, tai chi or Zumba, to name a few. 


The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition's I Can Do It, You Can Do It! program is a national initiative that encourages all Americans of any age or ability to lead a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition.  You can also visit the National Institute on Aging's Go4Life website for exercise suggestions, as well as advice on how to choose a fitness trainer and track your activities. 


Don't Become a Heart Disease Statistic!

From Team


Did you know that 1 in 4 deaths in the United States each year is a result of heart disease?  Don't become a statistic!  Take charge of your heart health this February by learning how to tackle high blood pressure and cholesterol - two factors that contribute to heart disease.


With this free packet of publications you'll get tips and advice on healthy ways to manage your blood pressure and cholesterol and learn about medicines that can help as well.


Click here to order a packet for yourself and your friends and family today.


Find an Accessible Fitness Center

From Disability Connection


Everyone reaps health benefits from regular exercise and those with disabilities are no exception. Some Independent Living Centers (ILCs) have accessible fitness centers on their premises or offer other wellness programs.  To find an ILC near you, use the ILRU State Directory.  Each center provides a customized exercise program to help people with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities increase their strength and flexibility. 


Start Eating Healthy

From Disability Connection


The old saying goes, "You are what you eat," but what exactly does that mean?Visit to learn about the five food groups (i.e., dairy, fruits, grains, proteins and vegetables) and how to eat healthy on a budget. Your family and you can also access tools for managing your food intake, meal portions and physical activity. 


Plus, you can hang this print-ready poster on your fridge as a daily reminder to eat a healthy and balanced diet.  Want to learn about the nutrients in different foods? Check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database. You can also visit to get free recipes, which are submitted and rated by other site members.



Letter of Medical Necessity

From the Pennsylvania Health Law Project


A good letter of medical necessity is of great importance when appealing services that are denied by your Medicaid insurance provider.  Often this letter needs to be prepared by your physician. Here are some tips to help your doctor write a clear, factual letter to state your case.

  • Say who you are, how long you have known the patient and the service which you are requesting.
  • Using the language in the law, explain why the service is medically necessary.  Example: Jane Doe needs ongoing physical therapy because I expect it to assist her in achieving maximum functional capacity.
  • Use all relevant parts of the legal definition when are relevant to your case.  The physician's judgment alone does not constitute medical necessity. 
  • Expand on each statement and give supporting medical evidence.  The physician may have to supply this part from your medical chart, your letters from consultant visits or from conversations with family members involved in your care.
  • Give specifics which are helpful such as
    • How it will prevent an illness or disability
    • How it will ameliorate (improve) the physical, mental or developmental effects of the patient's illness
    • Explain how it will assist the patient to maintain functional capacity

Helpful data may include previous treatments you have tried and what results they produced. Address any alternatives insurer has suggested. Document success with the treatment you are advocating for.  Explain any special circumstances. Make sure you have reviewed criteria for durable medical equipment. 


For more details, click here. 

Website Helps Doctors Communicate With and Treat Patients

From The Tennessean


Many doctors have little or no experience treating patients who have intellectual disabilities - people who may not be able to articulate how they feel or to fully understand a doctor's questions. 

A new website aims to provide primary-care physicians with tools for communicating with and treating patients with intellectual disabilities.


Read more. 

Dating & Disabilities

From Digital Journal


To celebrate Valentine's Day, Easter Seals wanted to raise awareness around the dating, intimacy, marriage and friendship scene for people living-and loving-with disabilities or challenges, like long-distance romance.  The non-profit's new love and relationships series explores love in many forms, through stories of people who have lived and learned.

Read more.

Health Literacy Fact Sheets

From Pennsylvania Health Law Project


Nearly 36 percent of adults in the U.S. have low health literacy, with disproportionate rates found among lower-income Americans eligible for Medicaid.  Individuals with low health literacy experience greater health care use and costs compared to those with proficient health literacy. Through all its impacts - medical errors, increased illness and disability, loss of wages, and compromised public health - low health literacy is estimated to cost the U.S. economy up to $236 billion every year.


Click here to read the article. 

            HealthMeetCalendar of Events

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Nancy Murray
President, The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh
serving Allegheny, Beaver and Westmoreland Counties
(412) 995-5000 x424