Monthly Archives: April 2016

SCI Superstar: Dr. Reggie Edgerton


As a young boy, Dr. Reggie Edgerton was touched by disability. He himself had polio when he was a child, and till this day his left hand is slightly smaller. Going through this experience had a profound effect on Dr. Edgerton, and no doubt is one of the reasons he’s been obsessed with understanding how neural networks work in the spinal cord control movement for nearly 40 years.

And the best part, he has more hope for SCI research than ever before. With his research program funded by both the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation and the NIH (the National Institutes of Health) his research team has made groundbreaking discoveries in the realm of electrical stimulation of the spinal cord.

To learn how this North Carolina boy ended up making miracles come true in a research facility in California, read on for the passionate story of this talented spinal cord injury researcher.

Why he’s fearless

At almost 75 years old, Dr. Edgerton has been in the game for a long time. He first got his BS degree from East Carolina University, and next headed to Michigan State University to receive his PhD in Exercise Physiology. A former swim coach, researching how the spinal cord works and getting muscles to move again was never his original goal.

After graduation he became a professor of kinesiology at UCLA, a job he thoroughly enjoyed but while on sabbatical one summer in Sweden, where he met famed neurophysicist Sten Grillner (who was studying the locomotion of cats who had their spinal cord severed at birth) he was enthralled. Meeting Grillner had a profound effect on Edgerton. He saw that the cats, when placed on a moving treadmill and given a dose of medicine called L-Dopa, could walk.

Even though Grillner was never able to replicate these results in humans, Edgerton was so inspired that he went back to UCLA to study the very same thing.  It may have taken decades, but Dr. Edgerton is finally seeing results in humans from his many years of dedication. Amassing research money has not been easy over the years for Edgerton since many believed his theory of retraining the spinal cord was hogwash, but he never let that stop him.

In 2011, along with other noted SCI researcher (and one of our previous SCI Superstars) Dr. Susan Harkema, he finally saw some of the first a real evidence that they were on the right track – they were able to get Rob Summers, a man who had been paralyzed for six years prior, to stand on his own again.

He and his team implanted a device inside of Summers that reads his brain signals, and then send them to his muscles using simulators. For anyone who’s been paralyzed from several years, just the possibility of being able to do this again is huge, and they are helping several young men with paraplegia stand, and feel more all over the bodies, including getting some sexual function back as well.

What’s next?

Dr. Edgerton’s research is more active than ever before. He now has his own research facility at UCLA called the Edgerton Neuromuscular Research Laboratory where he has nine other researchers working alongside him, and he is on the official board for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.  34 more people are slated to undergo the same procedure as Summers in the next 2 years.

Edgerton also hopes to add their first female patient to the study, which many have been wanting to see. One of the biggest breakthroughs in SCI research yet, this “Big Idea” as dubbed by the Reeve Foundation certainly is that, and we can thank Reggie Edgerton for bringing it to the States.

Do you think Edgerton’s SCI treatment will prove the best one yet?

Edgerton Neuromuscular Recovery Laboratory

Watch the videos!

Unbreakable: Meet Dr. Reggie Edgerton PhD

V. Reggie Edgerton, Ph.D.

Dr. V. Reggie Edgerton – J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine Symposium 2012

Disability Tax Deductions 2016

Every year we like to help our readers with their taxes and hopefully save them a few bucks by sharing the latest disability tax deduction information for those living in the United States. Since we’re getting close to the due date for your 2016 taxes (due April 18, 2016 — we have 4 more days than usual thanks to an overlap of Federal holidays), we wanted to share the latest disability tax deduction information before you file your taxes.

If you haven’t filed yet, please check out the disability tax credits below for 2016. And remember, if you have a spinal cord injury you’re approved for most of the disability tax deductions you’ll see below.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC):  If you made less than $14,880 in 2015, you’re eligible for this tax credit. Many people with SCI use this credit if they’re only working part-time. If you are single with no kids, this credit is $507 for 2016. Even if you didn’t make enough money last year to file, you should still file since you could still be eligible for this tax credit. And if you have kids, this credit increases up to $6269.

– Credit for the Elderly or Disabled: If you are under 65 and on permanent total disability, which applies to many people with SCI, or if you are retired, you can apply for this tax credit. You must however receive taxable disability income during the year to receive this credit, and meet the income limit requirements. To see if you’re, eligible go here

Child or Dependent Care Credit: And lastly, if your spouse helped pay for your care last year, they are eligible for this tax credit. The maximum credit you can claim for this expense for 2015 is $3,000.

Medical Costs Deduction: If your medical costs exceeded 7.5% of your adjusted gross income in 2015, you can deduct medical costs if they’re itemized. Deductible expenses include everything from medical and dental costs to travel expenses for treatments and medical insurance premiums. Even the gas it takes to drive to the pharmacy can be included.

Home modifications can also be included in this deduction category if they were done to make your home more accessible. This can include a wheelchair ramp, chair lift or grab bars, modifying hardware, electrical fixtures or railings or the widening of doorways or aisles.

Lawyer Expenses Deduction: If you hired a legal professional last year to fight on your behalf to help you get the SSDI benefits, you can deduct the finder’s fee from your tax return.

Impairment-Related Work Expenses Deduction: If you have a job that was affected by your SCI, there are various deductions you are eligible for found under the moniker “Miscellaneous Donations” on your tax return. You can include anything that forces you to spend extra money to keep your job. These expenses can include:

– Attendant care to get you ready for work

– Attendant care at work

– Van upkeep

– Transportation costs

– Technology needed to do your job (tablet, headset, microphone, phone, etc)

– Furniture needed for you to do your job (an accessible desk or chair)

– Service dog expenses

Whatever you do – don’t let the fear of filing overwhelm you. With helpful online sites like Turbotax, H&R Block and free filing locations all around the country (go here to find a location near you), you should be able to file seamlessly and ensure you get every single disability tax-related deduction you can.

Is there anything we missed? Please add your disability tax tips in the comments below

Additional Information

– Living and Working with Disabilities (great tips for businesses seeking to accommodate the disabled and parents of kids with SCI https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3966.pdf

– Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p907.pdf

– Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled, https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p524.pdf

– Watch this great video from TurboTax for an overview of many of the deductions we discussed above: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Tax-Deductions-and-Credits/Video–How-to-Get-IRS-Tax-Relief-for-the-Disabled/INF14694.html

Sources

– Disability and Earned Income Tax Credit, IRS, https://www.irs.gov/Credits-&-Deductions/Individuals/Earned-Income-Tax-Credit

– Guide to Schedule R: Tax Credit for Elderly or Disabled, https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Retirement/Guide-to-Schedule-R–Tax-Credit-for-Elderly-or-Disabled/INF19377.html

– Child and Dependent Care Credit at a Glance, IRS, https://www.irs.gov/Credits-&-Deductions/Individuals/Child-and-Dependent-Care-Credit

– Claiming a Tax Deduction for Medical and Dental Expenses, IRS, https://www.irs.gov/uac/Claiming-a-Tax-Deduction-for-Medical-and-Dental-Expenses

– “Are Disability Lawyer Fees Tax Deductible?”, Geeks of Finance, http://www.geeksonfinance.com/info_8031598_disability-lawyer-fees-tax-deductible.html

– Tax Deductions for Impairment-Related Work Expenses http://finance.zacks.com/tax-deductions-impairmentrelated-work-expenses-9274.html

– Tax Tips for the Legally Disabled, Turbotax, https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/General-Tax-Tips/Tax-Tips-for-the-Legally-Disabled/INF22825.html