Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, March 17 – Friday, March 21

Disability Awareness:
Friday marks World Down Syndrome Day (9News, Denver, CO)
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder in which someone has three copies of chromosome 21 instead of two. As a play on numbers, March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day, a day to raise awareness of the strengths and accomplishments of people with the condition, estimated to include 400,000 Americans and 6 million individuals worldwide. Aside from celebrating those with the syndrome, 3-21 Day also aims to raise awareness of the need for more research.

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month: March 2014 (PRWeb)
While the 112th United States Congress designated March 25th as National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, the entire month of March has now been designated as National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. About one in every 300 children is affected by cerebral palsy. Most cerebral palsy cases happen due to medical malpractice during pregnancy or childbirth and, as such, could be preventable. Raising overall awareness of cerebral palsy can bring about an increase in social understanding, better funding, and further research.

Human Interest:
My dementia: telling who I am before I forget (Slate)
Following her diagnosis of microvascular disease, the second leading cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s, the author soon found herself unable to carry out her work as an academic. The article outlines the progression of her dementia, described by her physician as “dementing,” while referring to her “dementia field notes” written in a diary she was given as a retirement gift. In addition, she compares her decline to that of her mother a couple of decades ago, when she was diagnosed with the condition. A cure for dementia has evaded scientists, as have efforts to slow its progression.

Policy:
D.C. Council member Catania proposes sweeping special-education legislation (The Washington Post)
A District of Columbia Council member has introduced a package of legislation meant to overhaul special education services by speeding up their delivery to students and strengthening parents’ rights in disputes with schools. Proposed measures include cutting in half the time schools have to evaluate a child referred for special-education services, and further expanding the number of children younger than three who are eligible for special services.

Bill would help train teachers, staff to improve school culture, avert suspensions (MinnPost)
A Minneapolis intermediate school district operates programs for children with mental-health issues and unique disabilities, including autism. The district is seeking funding that could train school administrators and educators to replace punitive measures such as suspension with positive discipline and behavioral approaches that these specialized programs have proven work. The passing in the Minnesota House of Representatives of House File 2707 would provide intermediate school district grants for professional development activities to eradicate exclusionary practices.

Research:
Stroke survivors may lose month of healthy life for 15-minute delay in treatment (American Heart Association Newsroom)
Every 15-minute delay in delivering a clot-busting drug after stroke robs survivors of about a month of disability-free life, according to a new study involving about 2,500 stroke patients from Australia and Finland. However, the study showed that for every minute the treatment could be delivered faster, patients gained an average 1.8 days of extra healthy life. According to the researchers, clot-busting treatment works well, irrespective of race, ethnicity, or gender.

Precise reason for health benefits of dark chocolate: thank hungry gut microbes (ScienceDaily)
Researchers at Louisiana State University have reported on the health benefits of eating dark chocolate. According to their research findings, certain bacteria in the stomach ingest the chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds. When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, thus reducing the long-term risk of stroke.

Sports:
Blood test determines severity of concussions (Gizmag)
Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden have developed a blood test that reveals the severity of a concussion and when it is safe for a player of a contact sport to return to the game. A study including 35 players in the Swedish Hockey League who had sustained a concussion revealed elevated levels of the nerve protein tau in the players’ blood. By measuring the levels of tau in a standard blood test, the researchers say it is possible to determine the severity of a concussion one hour following injury. Additionally, the test purportedly can predict which players would experience long-term symptoms and therefore need to rest longer.

Technology:
Craig among 4 leading rehab centers to participate in exoskeleton clinical trial (Rehab Management)
Craig Hospital in Colorado is one of four leading rehabilitation centers to participate in a clinical trial of the Indego exoskeleton this coming July. The remaining participants are Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Kessler Foundation/Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey, and Rusk Rehabilitation at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. The trials are designed to support submission of FDA approval of the device. The Indego is a robotic exoskeleton, or powered orthotic device, designed to allow users to stand and walk. The participating institutions will coordinate with the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, the lead rehabilitation center for the Indego’s clinical testing. Craig, Shepherd, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Kessler are all homes to NIDRR-funded Model SCI System Centers. These centers may or may not participate in these trials.

Samsung releasing Smartphone-paired technologies for blind people (Medgadget)
Samsung will release new assistive devices for blind users that work with the Galaxy Core Advance phones. The Ultrasonic Cover works like a virtual white cane to spot objects ahead of the user, vibrating or using text-to-speech to alert him or her to an object within a couple of meters. The Optical Scan Stand allows blind users to read anything that is put on the surface of the device. Finally, smart Voice Labels with built-in field communication (NFC) technology allows placing labels with recorded notes on objects around the house.

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