Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, May 19 – Friday, May 23

Human Interest:
How a brain treatment for OCD turned a man into a Johnny Cash fanatic (The Washington Post)
“A case of musical preference for Johnny Cash following deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens,” published in the May issue of Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience, describes the unusual effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in a male patient treated for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Within six weeks following implantation of electrodes in his brain targeting the nucleus accumbens, which plays a role in pleasure as well as fear, the patient reported feeling confident, calm, and assertive. He also developed an exclusive preference for the music of Country and Western singer Johnny Cash, after first hearing “Ring of Fire” played on the radio. But when the implanted electrical stimulators run down, so does the patient’s interest in Johnny Cash, and he reverts to his former musical preferences, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Policy:
Autism law in peril in Congress (The Hill)
Advocates for people with autism are divided over whether Congress should make major changes to the Combating Autism Act, which is set to expire at the end of September. Autism Speaks, the largest autism advocacy group in the country, is backing legislation from House Republicans that would reauthorize the program and provide about $230 million in funding. However, a group known as the Autism Policy Reform Coalition (APRC) is against the bill, arguing a drastic overhaul is needed in order for the money to be used effectively. The APRC wants to centralize federal autism research within a new office at the NIH modeled on the Office of AIDS Research.

Rehabilitation:
Food truck serves up jobs for those with special needs (Disability Scoop)
The Center for Head Injury Services in St. Louis, Mo. uses a food truck in a job training program for people with head injuries and disabilities such as autism. Destination Desserts, housed in a second-hand box truck retrofitted with a galley kitchen, employs 15 people with disabilities who work alongside other staffers, making and selling desserts such as cupcakes during four-hour shifts that pay minimum wage. Accommodations for these workers include color-coded measuring cups, pictures of each menu item displayed on the wall, and recipes broken down into small steps. The goal of the program is to train people with disabilities so that they may graduate to jobs in the private sector.

Research:
Inactive adults with disabilities may face chronic disease risk: Report (Rehab Management)
A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that working-age, inactive adults with disabilities are 50 percent more likely to face chronic diseases, including stroke, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The report suggests that 47 percent of adults with disabilities who are able to engage in aerobic physical activity do not get any. Additionally, only 44 percent of adults with disabilities who met with a doctor in the past year received a recommendation for physical activity. The CDC analyzed data from the 2009 to 2012 National Health Review Survey for the report. The Center has created a resource page for doctors and other health professionals to assist in the recommendation of physical activity for this population. For additional resources, visit the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD).

Sleep apnea tied to hearing loss in large study (Science Daily)
In a study of nearly 14,000 individuals presented at the 2014 American Thoracic Society International Conference, sleep apnea was independently associated with hearing impairment at both high and low frequencies. Sleep apnea was independently associated with a 31-percent increase in high-frequency hearing impairment, a 90-percent increase in low-frequency impairment, and a 38 percent increase in combined high- and low-frequency hearing impairment in analyses adjusting for age, sex, background, history of hearing impairment, external noise exposure, and other factors. According to the researchers, potential pathways linking sleep apnea and hearing impairment may include adverse effects of sleep apnea on vascular supply to the cochlea via inflammation and vascular remodeling or noise trauma from snoring.

Technology:
GaitTrack smartphone app, a medical device for automatic gait assessment (Medgadget)
Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a smartphone app for automatic gait assessment. The GaitTrack app takes advantage of accelerometers built into modern smartphones. Coupled with a pulse oximeter, the app can record the gait along with the person’s heart rate and blood oxygenation for a more complete picture of health. The researchers tested the app on 30 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and found it to be more accurate than equipment used in specialized clinics to perform the “six minute walk test.”

New app to assist people with hearing loss launched by Tecnalia (Hearing Review)
MyEardroid is a mobile phone app designed to pick up and identify sounds that are produced in the home environment, such as a doorbell or fire alarm, in order to help people who have hearing loss. Developed at the Tecnalia Centre for Applied Research in Spain, the first version of the app is available free of charge at Google Play. According to Tecnalia, the app can be personalized, and each user can select the sounds that are relevant to him or her. The alert is made by means of vibration, text, or image. The article includes a short video describing the technology.

Increasingly, 911 available by text (Disability Scoop)
The nation’s four main wireless networks now have the capability to support text messages sent to 911. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile pledged to accommodate text-to-911 on their networks by May 15th. The FCC wants all text providers to offer the capability by the end of the year, and the agency is encouraging 911 call centers to adopt the technology. Text-to-911 is expected to be particularly meaningful to individuals with disabilities who may have difficulty hearing or speaking.

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