Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, March 31 – Friday, April 4

Human Interest:
Snowboarder’s traumatic brain injury inspires awareness for other survivors  (Fox News)
A snowboarder, whose chance to participate in the 2010 Winter Olympics ended when he sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) shortly before the games, has launched a TBI awareness campaign following his recovery. Called “Love Your Brain,” it focuses on pseudobulbar affect (PBA ), a common neurological condition resulting from TBI. The condition is marked by sudden, uncontrollable episodes of crying and laughter. The snowboarder has partnered with Avanir Pharmaceuticals to raise awareness about the condition and treatments that are available.

Caregiving:
More than 1 million Americans caring for injured veterans: report (MedlinePlus)
According to a study conducted by the non-profit RAND Corp., more than 1.1 million Americans are caring for veterans injured or disabled since Sept. 11, 2001. Those caregivers include spouses, parents, and friends, many of whom provide care without a formal support network and are putting their own health at risk. The RAND researchers identified over 100 programs that claim to offer services to military caregivers but, rather than offering direct support, most of them focus on the veteran, with family caregivers invited to participate.

Education:
Peer 2 Peer: Gwinn program brings students together (The Mining Journal, Marquette, Mich.)
A middle-school program in Gwinn, Mich., pairs general-education students with students with special needs in an effort to bring the entire student population together. Called “Peer 2 Peer,” the program is run as an elective class for the general-education students (the peers), who learn about disabilities such as autism and cognitive impairment by working with the special-needs students in their regular classrooms during the day and learning how best to communicate with them. In turn, the special-needs students learn it is safe to be social. A proven success, the program will also be implemented at high-school level.

Sports:
Horizon adaptive, all-terrain e-trike speeds over pavement and dirt (gizmag)
The Outrider Horizon is a modular adaptive tricycle designed to get paraplegics, quadriplegics, and others with disabilities wheeling over pavement and dirt. Outrider’s goal is to develop a trike that can be pedaled with the legs or hands or powered entirely with an electric hub motor. With Kickstarter help, the company hopes to finish development and start production of the Horizon in September.

Technology:
How to build a human voice (Smithsonian Magazine)
Scientists at the Center for Speech Science and Technology at Northeastern University have developed a way of constructing custom-made voices for use in speech-generating devices (SGDs). Used by individuals with speech disabilities, typical SGDs utter messages in a robotic monotone. In the Human Voicebank Initiative, the custom-made voices use as their essence whatever sounds a person can make, focusing on pitch, volume, and the pronunciation of certain letters. Then, sounds are harvested from a donor of a similar gender, age, size, and geographical background. The voice donor is recorded reading a selection of short sentences that cumulatively cover every combination of sounds in a language. A video presentation of the Human Voicebank Initiative is included.

SensiMAT for wheelchairs to prevent pressure ulcers (Medgadget)
Researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada have developed the SensiMAT, a smart cushion that can help prevent pressure sores for wheelchair users. Embedded with multiple pressure sensors, the cushion can be placed onto any wheelchair and actively records the forces on it as the user sits on it throughout the day. It sends the data to a smartphone to alert a companion app of pressure distributions and relief patterns. The data are also sent wirelessly to the user’s health care provider, who can monitor the patient’s relief regimen. A short video demonstrating the SensiMAT is included.

A bandage that senses tremors, delivers drugs, and keeps a record (MIT Technology Review)
Researchers in Korea have invented a skin patch, thinner than a sheet of paper, that can detect subtle tremors, release drugs stored inside nanoparticles, and record all of this activity for later review. Still under development, the technology is intended for the future benefit of individuals with Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders.

Deafalarm keeps Deaf folks on notice whenever an audio alarm rings (Medgadget)
A new iPhone app called Deafalarm is designed to notify Deaf users whenever an audio alarm is being sounded in their vicinity. The app is intended to be running continuously in the background, constantly listening for the repetitive signature sounds of alarms. As soon as it identifies an alarm going off, the app triggers the phone to vibrate and displays a message on the screen, notifying the user of a potentially dangerous situation.

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One Response to Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, March 31 – Friday, April 4

  1. Pingback: Blogs and Social Media | The Lead On Update

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