Mom in wheelchair can take baby for walks with specially designed stroller

Sep. 29, 2015 at 11:24 PM

Terri Peters

Since being shot by another child when she was 5 years old, Sharina Jones has been a paraplegic, using a wheelchair to go about her daily activities. The now-35-year-old has made helping other wheelchair users a life mission — delivering wheelchairs to children in Third World countries through her non-profit organization, Think Beyond the Chair, and motivating others through her blog, Push Goddess.

But when the Detroit, Michigan, resident learned that she and her husband, Grover Jones III, were expecting their first child last fall, she found herself in the position of needing someone else’s help to make her dream of a wheelchair-friendly baby stroller come true.

Jones on a walk with son, Grover, using the wheelchair stroller attachment designed by Alden Kane.

Jones on a walk with son, Grover, using the wheelchair stroller attachment designed by Alden Kane. Courtesy of Sharina Jones

Jones on a walk with son, Grover, using the wheelchair stroller attachment designed by Alden Kane.
“I was thinking ahead, because you always have to think ahead. After that first doctor’s appointment, we started asking, ‘How are we going to do this? And this? And this?'” said Jones, adding that she wanted the freedom to take her baby on walks, or detach her stroller from her wheelchair and pull up to a restaurant table.

When a friend told Jones about a unique partnership between University of Detroit Mercy and University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy — the university works with high school students to give them college-level STEM research projects, some of which are designed to meet the needs of disabled individuals through engineering — she decided to give the program head, Dr. Darrell Kleinke, a call.

Alden Kane, a 16-year-old high school senior enrolled in the program, was assigned to Jones’ project. Kane was tasked with the job of creating a wheelchair stroller and baby carrier that the expectant mother could use when her baby arrived that summer.

Photos taken of the stroller wheelchair attachment when Kane presented it to Jones.

Photos taken of the stroller wheelchair attachment when Kane presented it to Jones. Courtesy of Alden Kane

What began as 15 potential designs were slowly whittled down to just one through Alden Kane’s trial and error. Here, the end result.

Kane said he worked for several hours after school every day for six months to come up with the device — drawing plans, making prototypes and testing out different materials. What began as 15 potential designs were slowly whittled down to just one through Kane’s trial and error, and with feedback from Kleinke and Jones.

The final result, made from stainless steel piping with connectors (donated by material company Creform), was ready at the perfect time — when Jones son, Grover IV, was around 2 weeks old.

“It’s not so much a stroller where you’d want to use it independently,” Kane said of his invention. “It’s designed specifically to attach to a wheelchair. In a sense, it is a stroller, but instead of a person pushing it, a wheelchair pushes it.”

Jones and Kane at a school ceremony acknowledging Kane's achievement.

Jones and Kane at a school ceremony acknowledging Kane’s achievement.

University of Detroit Jesuit High School
Sharina Jones and Alden Kane at a school ceremony acknowledging Kane’s achievement.

Jones’ son is now 10 weeks old, and the new mom says Kane’s stroller has given her a great deal of freedom, allowing her to shop at the mall, use public restrooms and go for walks with her son, all while knowing he is safe and secure.

“I love it. It makes everything so much easier,” Jones told TODAY Parents.

And, she said she can’t thank Kane enough for his hard work.

“I just love him,” Jones said. “He’s a great kid. He is going to be an amazing engineer.”

“It was extremely exciting and rewarding to see Sharina using it,” Kane said. “Throughout the project, being the only person working on this, I was always wondering if I was going to have it done by the time her child came along … but meeting the due date and having a great working design was just an extremely rewarding sight.”

Photos taken of the stroller wheelchair attachment when Kane presented it to Jones.

“I love it,” Jones said of her stroller wheelchair attachment. “It makes everything so much easier.” Courtesy of Alden Kane

Dominic Coccitti-Smith, the instructor for Kane’s high school STEM research course, said the partnership with University of Detroit Mercy has been a wonderful opportunity for his students to grow and learn.

“Alden’s passion for his quest for innovation and improving the lives of our community members came together through this project,” Coccitti-Smith said. “As the instructor for this course, I have great confidence in the future through seeing these wonderful projects that high school students are completing.”

Kane’s plans for the future include studying biomedical engineering or aerospace in college next year. And the teen hopes to patent his design and pursue having it mass-produced by a major stroller or wheelchair company.

“That’s really the end goal here,” he said. “It’s great to have served Mrs. Jones — as one person, it’s had a great impact on her life. But imagine the impact that it could have on hundreds or thousands of lives.”

Jones said she and her husband are enjoying their first weeks as parents, adding that she, too, hopes to see the stroller design become available for more wheelchair-using mothers.

“I’m very thankful for everything that I have, and getting the opportunity to have something like this new stroller,” Jones said. “I’m just very excited about it.”

http://www.today.com/parents/mom-takes-baby-walks-special-wheelchair-stroller-t47011 04032016

Company creates clothes designed for wheelchair users

A. Pawlowski

Clothes can present some special challenges when you’re a wheelchair user. Not everything that’s in vogue will be a good, comfortable fit on a seated frame.

One of the offerings from IZ Collection

To address those unique needs, a Toronto-based company is offering fashions made specifically for men and women who use wheelchairs to get around.

Canadian designer Izzy Camilleri creates pants, tops, suits, dresses and coats for IZ Collection with a key distinction in mind: “We’re dealing with a seated body as opposed to a standing body.”

Wheelchair users model the company’s fashions. Courtesy IZ Collection

That means taking into account that your waist is generally wider when sitting; pants slide down and can expose you in the back; and fabric bunches in the front or behind you, said Belle Owen, a spokeswoman for the company who is also a wheelchair user.

The fashions are designed with a seated frame in mind. Jonathan Bielaski Environmental Portraiture

There are medical aspects to consider, such as skin integrity. The company keeps seams minimal and as flat as possible. The pants don’t have back pockets, rivets or anything that could cause someone injury.

For clients who need to dress with assistance, the company offers an “Easy Zip Back” option, which splits coats into two halves to help people with limited arm mobility. The arch-cut back means you don’t need to lean forward as much while dressing.

Some of the company’s offerings make it easier to dress with assistance.
Clients who use a manual wheelchair need extra room in the shoulders. The clothes also can’t interfere with wheelchair mechanics.

wheelchair-friendly-clothes-split-inline-today-160301

wheelchair-friendly-clothes-split-inline-today-160301 Courtesy IZ Collection

All those considerations must come together when it comes to designing garments for this unique market.

“For me, as a part of the disability community, this is something extremely important,” Owen told TODAY. “People often look at our garments on a model and say ‘It’s exactly the same (as other clothes)’ when it’s absolutely not, and in some ways that’s a compliment.”

The company offers pants, tops, suits, dresses, coats and other fashions.

Courtesy IZ Collection

The company, which has customers all over the world, donates 10 percent of its sales towards building ramps that make communities more accessible for wheelchair users.

Follow A. Pawlowski on Instagram and Twitter.

http://www.today.com/health/company-creates-clothes-designed-wheelchair-users-t77221 04032016

18-year-old creates first sign language messaging app

Mateusz Mach is set to transform online communication for the hearing impaired by creating the world’s first sign language messenger app.

Mateusz Mach, a high school student together with a small group of developers initially launched the app in 2015 as a fun means to communicate custom, hip hop-style hand gestures with friends, Business Insider reports.

When deaf users started contacting Mach to thank him for creating an app that allows people with hearing loss to communicate over an app, he realised he could transform his app to serve a far more useful purpose.

The app allows users to either choose an existing sign or create their own using the app’s sign maker which allows you to have “thousands of different options and combinations”. You can even name your sign if you’d like to.

You can then select a friend to send the sign to. The app is integrated with Facebook Messenger to allow you to send signs to friends that aren’t yet using the Five app.

Mach plans to relaunch Five in this summer in the USA (winter in South Africa). The current version is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

http://www.health24.com/Medical/Hearing-management/News/18-year-old-creates-first-sign-language-messaging-app-20160202

Read more:

Deaf-blind lawyer uses tech to communicate with Obama

New technology helps diagnose hearing disability

1.1 billions youths at risk of hearing loss due to loud music

Sources:

Business Insider, Teenage Polish CEO Messenger App Deaf People,http://www.businessinsider.com/teenager-polish-ceo-messenger-app-deaf-people-2016-1

Five website, http://fiveapp.mobi/

Twitter, https://twitter.com/mandmach

Current disability barriers in the workplace

artice image

While attitudes towards disabled people are steadily changing, many disabled employees still face attitudinal barriers from managers and colleagues who usually feel uncomfortable or awkward talking to them because of their disability. A fear of saying something wrong or coming across as patronising, are often the cause for people avoiding those with a disability.

In our second article in our series about disability in the workplace, Progression – Transformation Enablers give us more insight into the main barriers faced by disabled employees in the workplace. Below, we’ve highlighted these barriers and highlighted how employers and co-workers should handle these barriers to make the office environment an accommodating and friendlier place for everyone.

Barrier #1: Believing someone with a disability is given an unfair advantage because of his or her disability

Managers have a duty to ensure that they hold people with disabilities to the same standards as their co-workers, even though the means of accomplishing the tasks may vary from person to person.

Barrier #2: Avoiding someone with a disability because of a belief that you may say something wrong

Think of how you interact with the rest of your co-workers who are from different cultural or religious backgrounds. Just as frequent encounters with these co-workers make it easy for you to chat to them, taking the time to get to know someone living with a disability will lessen the “How do I talk to her without saying something wrong” awkward vibe.

Barrier #3: Thinking that a disabled colleague is exceptionally courageous for pursuing a career with their disability

People living with a disability are not looking for recognition or accolades for having the ability to perform their day-to-day duties. They have simply learnt to live with their disability and adapt to their work environment by using their skills and knowledge, just like how you’ve adapted to being short, tall, strong, brunette and so on.

Barrier #4: Thinking that you need to help a disabled person with their task because of a belief that they are incapable of accomplishing them on their own.

The fact is people living with disabilities are as capable of completing their tasks as those living without any disabilities. We see it every day. A quadriplegic who can drive a car, a blind man who can tell the time, a deaf person you can play soccer, you name it.

Barrier #5: Feeling sorry for someone with a disability which often leads to patronising attitudes.

People with a disability generally don’t want pity or charity, but instead, prefer to be treated and given equal opportunities to earn their own way and live independently.

Negative attitudes towards the disabled are not the only barriers disabled people usually deal with. On the other side of the spectrum are positive attitudes. For instance, you may believe that because someone is blind he or she must have a greater sense of smell and hearing, or that someone in a wheelchair must be a great Paralympic. Not only does this attitude belittle someone’s abilities, but it often sets standards that are either too high or low for the individual who in essence, is human like you.

Breaking down attitudinal barriers

Unlike physical and systematic barriers, attitudinal barriers usually lead to illegal discrimination which cannot be easily overcome through the law. To eradicate these barriers, the best remedy is to familiarize yourself with people living with disabilities. Over time, mingling with a disabled co-worker, say at the end-year function or during coffee breaks, will allow you to build a comfortable and respectful friendship with him or her.

Physical barriers in the workplace

Section “S” of the National Buildings Regulations and Buildings Act Act sets minimum requirements that every building, including the office space, should meet. Once you’ve hired a disabled employee, every effort should be taken to ensure that the disabled person is reasonably accommodated.

If you cannot provide a work environment that caters for those living with a disability, you need to prove to the person living with the disability and those without, that the facility cannot accommodate them.

However, if a building or work station is designed correctly, it is very possible to make the office a safe, comfortable and a convenient work environment for all people.

http://www.careers24.com/career-advice/management-advice/disability-barriers-in-the-workplace-20151207

Unintentional Injuries

Injuries are not accidents – they can be prevented.  Injuries are not random, uncontrollable events, but rather predictable and preventable incidences with identifiable causes. Unintentional injuries are events that happen which are not deliberate or done with purpose. Of the 3,178 injury deaths in Alabama in 2001, 70% were due to “unintentional” injury and 30% were due to violence, or “intentional” injury. Injuries affect everyone.

Five Leading Causes of Unintentional Injury in Alabama

1. Motor Vehicle Crashes
2. Falls
3. Suffocation
4. Fire/Burn
5. Poisoning

http://www.adph.org/injuryprevention/Default.asp?id=1053

Intentional Injuries

Injuries are not accidents – they can be prevented. Injuries are not random, uncontrollable events, but rather predictable and preventable incidences with identifiable causes. Of the 3,178 injury deaths in Alabama in 2001, 70% were due to “unintentional” injury and 30% were due to violence, or “intentional” injury. Injuries affect everyone.

Intentional injuries are something you do with the purpose of hurting yourself or others. These are planned actions. Homicides and suicides are the top two intentional injuries in Alabama.

Examples of intentional injuries include the following:

http://www.adph.org/injuryprevention/Default.asp?id=1054

Disability grant

About a disability grant

If you have a physical or mental disability which makes you unfit to work for a period of longer than six months, you can apply for a disability grant.

You get a permanent disability grant if your disability will continue for more than a year and a temporary disability grant if your disability will last for a continuous period of not less than six months and not more than 12 months. A permanent disability grant does not mean you will receive the grant for life, but that it will continue for longer than 12 months.

How do you know if you qualify?

To qualify, you must:

  • be a South African citizen or permanent resident or refugee and living in South Africa at the time of application
  • be between 18 and 59 years old.
  • not be cared for in a state institution
  • have a 13-digit, bar-coded identity document (ID)
  • not earn more than R64 680 (R5 390 per month) if you are single or R 129 360 (R10 780 per month) if married.
  • not have assets worth more than R930 600 if you are single or R1 861 200 if you are married
  • undergo a medical examination where a doctor appointed by the state will assess the degree of your disability
  • bring along any previous medical records and reports when you make the application and when the assessment is done.

The doctor will complete a medical report and will forward the report to South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).

The report is valid for three months from the date you are assessed.

Note: If you are under 18 and need permanent care due to your disability, your primary caregiver can apply for a Care Dependency Grant. If you don’t have an ID, you will be required to complete an affidavit and provide proof of having applied for the document from the Department of Home Affairs. If you have not applied for an ID, you must do so within three months of applying for the grant.

How much will you get?

The maximum is R1 420 per month.

How will you be paid?

A grant will be paid to you through one of the following methods:

  • cash at a specific pay point on a particular day
  • electronic deposit into your bank account, including Postbank (the bank may charge you for the service)
  • an institution not funded by the State – e.g. home for people with disabilities.

When may your grant be suspended?

The following may result in the suspension of your grant:

  • when your circumstances change
  • the outcome of a review
  • if you fail to co-operate when your grant is reviewed
  • when you commit fraud or misrepresent yourself
  • if there was a mistake when your grant was approved.

When may your grant lapse?

The grant will lapse when you:

  • pass away
  • are admitted to a state institution
  • do not claim for three consecutive months
  • are absent from the country.

Please note: If you are admitted to an institution that has a contract with the state to care for you, the grant is reduced to 25% of the maximum amount of the  grant. That will be done with effect from the 4th month following your admission to that institution. The reduced grant is re-instated immediately from the date you are discharged from the institution.

What you should do

  1. Complete a disability grant application form at your nearest South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office in the presence of a SASSA officer.
  2. Submit the following:
    • Your 13-digit bar-coded identity document (ID). If you don’t have an ID:
      • You must complete an affidavit on a standard SASSA format in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths who is not a SASSA official.
      • You must bring a sworn statement signed by a reputable person (like a councillor, traditional leader, social worker, minister of religion or school principal) who can verify your name and age.
      • The SASSA official will take your fingerprints.
      • You will be referred to the Department of Home Affairs to apply for the ID while your application is processed. If you don’t get an ID, your grant will be suspended.
    • A medical report and functional assessment report confirming your disability.
    • Proof of marital status (if applicable).
    • Proof of residence.
    • Proof of income or dividends (if any).
    • Proof of assets, including the municipal value of your property.
    • Proof of private pension (if any).
    • Your bank statements for the past three months.
    • Refugee status permit and 13-digit refugee ID.
    • Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) document (‘blue book’) or discharge certificate from your previous employer if you were employed.
    • A copy of the will and the first and final liquidation and distribution accounts, if your spouse died within the last five years.
  3. After submitting your application you will be given a receipt to keep as proof of application.

What if your application is not approved?

  • The social security office will inform you in writing whether or not your application was successful.
  • If your grant is not approved, the social security office will state the reasons why your application was unsuccessful. You can then appeal to the Minister of Social Development in writing, explaining why you disagree.
  • Appeal within 90 days of receiving notification about the outcome of your application.

How long does it take

  • It may take up to three months to process your application.
  • If your grant is approved, you will be paid from the day you applied.

How much does it cost

The service is free.

Forms to complete

Application forms are not available online, but you can get them from your nearest (SASSA) office.

Who to contact

South African Social Security Agency (SASSA)

http://www.gov.za/services/social-benefits/disability-grant

Disability Rights Awareness Month 2015

3 November to 3 December

South Africa commemorates National Disability Rights Awareness Month annually between 3 November and 3 December. 3 December is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and is also commemorated as National Disability Rights Awareness Day.

Disability is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these. A disability may be present from birth, or occur during a person’s lifetime.

Activities during the Month will

  • Provide a platform for government, civil society, business, labour and the media to celebrate, showcase and dialogue on progress made over the past 20 years in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities
  • Isolate remaining challenges that hinder the building of inclusive caring societies where the contributions of persons with disabilities are valued and ensured
  • Foster consensus on priorities to be addressed in the next five years, including re-positioning and packaging messages that promote disability as a primarily human rights issue.

The Department  of Social Development is responsible for driving the government’s equity, equality and empowerment agenda in terms of those living with disabilities.

http://www.gov.za/disability-rights-awareness-month-2015

Down’s syndrome

Introduction

Down’s syndrome, also known as Down syndrome, is a genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and characteristic physical features.

Around 775 babies are born with the condition each year in England and Wales.

Many babies born with Down’s syndrome are diagnosed with the condition after birth and are likely to have:

  • reduced muscle tone leading to floppiness (hypotonia)
  • eyes that slant upwards and outwards
  • a small mouth with a protruding tongue
  • a flat back of the head
  • a below average weight and length at birth

Although children with Down’s syndrome share some common physical characteristics, they do not all look the same. A child with Down’s syndrome will look more like their mother, father or other family members than other children with the syndrome.

People with Down’s syndrome also vary in personality and ability. Everyone born with Down’s syndrome will have a degree of learning disability, but the level of disability will be different for each individual.

Screening for Down’s syndrome

In some cases, babies with the condition are identified before birth as a result of screening for Down’s syndrome.

Screening tests can’t tell you for definite if your baby has Down’s syndrome, but they can tell you how likely it is. If screening suggests there is a chance your baby does have Down’s syndrome, further tests can be carried out during pregnancy to confirm it.

If testing indicates your child will be born with Down’s syndrome, you should be offered genetic counselling to allow you and your partner to discuss the impact of the diagnosis.

You may also be offered an appointment to meet a doctor or other health professional who works with children with Down’s syndrome, who can also tell you more about the condition and answer any questions you may have.

What causes Down’s syndrome?

Down’s syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21 in a baby’s cells.

In the vast majority of cases, this isn’t inherited, and is simply the result of a one-off genetic mistake in the sperm or egg.

There is a small chance of having a child with Down’s syndrome with every pregnancy, but the risk increases with the age of the mother. For example, a woman who is 20 has about a one in 1,500 chance of having a baby with the condition, while a woman who is 40 has a one in 100 chance.

There is no evidence that anything done before or during pregnancy increases or decreases the risk of having a child with Down’s syndrome.

Life with Down’s syndrome

Although there is no “cure” for Down’s syndrome, there are ways to help children with the condition develop into healthy and fulfilled individuals who are able to achieve a level of independence right for them. This includes:

  • access to good healthcare, including a range of different specialists
  • early intervention programmes to provide support for children and parents
  • good parenting skills and an ordinary family life
  • education and support groups to provide information and help for parents, friends and families

Improved education and support has led to more opportunities for people with Down’s syndrome. These include being able to leave home, form new relationships, gain employment and lead largely independent lives.

However, it is important to remember that each child is different and it is not possible to predict how individuals will develop.

Associated health conditions

There are a number of disorders that are more common in people with the condition. These include:

Your child may be checked by a paediatrician more often than other children to pick up developing problems as early as possible. If you have any concerns about your child’s health, discuss them with your GP, health visitor or paediatrician.

Down’s Syndrome Association

If you would like more information about Down’s syndrome, you can visit the Down’s Syndrome Association or call their helpline on 0333 121 2300.

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Downs-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Polio and prevention

Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free.

The disease

Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours.

 

polio-prevention-01 15102015

An Indian boy’s legs are shrunken from paralysis caused by polio WHO/T. Moran

Who is at risk?

Polio can strike at any age, but it mainly affects children under five years old.

Transmission

Polio is spread through person-to-person contact. When a child is infected with wild poliovirus, the virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. It is then shed into the environment through the faeces where it can spread rapidly through a community, especially in situations of poor hygiene and sanitation. If a sufficient number of children are fully immunized against polio, the virus is unable to find susceptible children to infect, and dies out.

Young children who are not yet toilet-trained are a ready source of transmission, regardless of their environment. Polio can be spread when food or drink is contaminated by faeces. There is also evidence that flies can passively transfer poliovirus from faeces to food.

Most people infected with the poliovirus have no signs of illness and are never aware they have been infected. These symptomless people carry the virus in their intestines and can “silently” spread the infection to thousands of others before the first case of polio paralysis emerges.

For this reason, WHO considers a single confirmed case of polio paralysis to be evidence of an epidemic – particularly in countries where very few cases occur.

Symptoms

Most infected people (90%) have no symptoms or very mild symptoms and usually go unrecognized. In others, initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs.

Acute flaccid paralysis (AFP)

One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs. This is caused by the virus entering the blood stream and invading the central nervous system. As it multiplies, the virus destroys the nerve cells that activate muscles. The affected muscles are no longer functional and the limb becomes floppy and lifeless – a condition known as acute flaccid paralysis (AFP).

All cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) among children under fifteen years of age are reported and tested for poliovirus within 48 hours of onset.

Bulbar polio

More extensive paralysis, involving the trunk and muscles of the thorax and abdomen, can result in quadriplegia. In the most severe cases (bulbar polio), poliovirus attacks the nerve cells of the brain stem, reducing breathing capacity and causing difficulty in swallowing and speaking. Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

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In the 1940s and 1950s, people with bulbar polio were immobilized inside “iron lungs” – huge metal cylinders that operated like a pair of bellows to regulate their breathing and keep them alive. Today, the iron lung has largely been replaced by the positive pressure ventilator, but it is still in use in some countries.

Post-polio syndrome

Around 40% of people who survive paralytic polio may develop additional symptoms 15–40 years after the original illness. These symptoms – called post-polio syndrome – include new progressive muscle weakness, severe fatigue and pain in the muscles and joints.

Risk factors for paralysis

No one knows why only a small percentage of infections lead to paralysis. Several key risk factors have been identified as increasing the likelihood of paralysis in a person infected with polio. These include:

  • immune deficiency
  • pregnancy
  • removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy)
  • intramuscular injections, e.g. medications
  • strenuous exercise
  • injury.

Treatment and prevention

There is no cure for polio, only treatment to alleviate the symptoms.  Heat and physical therapy is used to stimulate the muscles and antispasmodic drugs are given to relax the muscles. While this can improve mobility, it cannot reverse permanent polio paralysis.

Polio can be prevented through immunization. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life.

– See more at: http://www.polioeradication.org/Polioandprevention.aspx#sthash.QxJcGYNx.dpuf

http://www.polioeradication.org/Polioandprevention.aspx