MS Handicapped Parking Permits in Missouri

by Marianne Richmond on October 13, 2005

An article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch regarding compliance with a January 2005 revision to the requirements for doctors to issue handicapped parking permits. Apparently, the new requirements are having an "unintended consequence" for MS (multiple sclerosis) patients which essentially means that only if  "a person cannot walk 50 feet without stopping to rest" they can have a sticker….otherwise start hiking. Doctors are interpreting the new law in its strictest sense and not issuing permits. Because MS is an "intermittent" illness,  which means sometimes they can walk the walk, 50 feet, and sometimes they can’t. What is going on here???? Watching Politics asks, "Can blind people walk 50 fifty feet without resting?" Well, probably it would be a good idea if blind people didn’t have drivers licenses but probably the point is, blindness is a physical disability as is MS. Why the "intermittent" concern?

My 93 year old mother has suffered from MS for over 50 years and I think this is outrageous!  Although she no longer drives a car, when she did, she used a handicapped permit and that permit made it possible for her to extend maintaining her independence….and maintaining her independence is  directly related, in my opinion, to her longevity.  MS is a devastating illness that can blur vision, weaken
muscles, impair cognition, decrease sexual performance, cause tremors, incontinence, and fatigue….and that is in the milder states. MS limits ones ability to participate in many of life’s activities that we take for granted….it seems to me that as long as an MS patient can drive a car and park it, giving them a handicapped permit to make access to their destination a little easier or in some cases possible  should be a given. If they are having a good day and can walk, great. For the days that they are not, they need a permit.

The doctors that are not issuing handicapped permits to MS patients because of the 50 feet requirement  fear that they will be "prosecuted"  Dr. Beck Parks of the John L. Trotter Multiple Sclerosis Center at Washington University School of Medicine is quoted in this article saying, "A patient’s neurological ability can decline significantly during the
course of a day, or from one day to the next, especially in the heat. The law makes no allowances
for a person with a condition such as multiple sclerosis." Does the new law make allowance for common sense?

I have to say that if my mother could have walked the length of a parking lot, she would have gladly done so…and if she could have walked it in the morning and not in the afternoon she would have walked it in the morning and used her handicapped permit in the afternoon.

I know there are a number of MS bloggers and podcasters out there…I hope they will post their opinions of this refusal by some doctors to issue handicapped permits in Missouri to MS patients.  I know I am going to write a letter to the editor of the PD and an email to the Trotter Center.


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