Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, August 18 – Friday, August 22

“Ice Bucket Challenge” has raised millions for ALS Association (The New York Times)
The “Ice Bucket Challenge” has lit social media on fire, raising both money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). About 30,000 Americans have the disease, which attacks nerve cells and ultimately leads to total paralysis. The challenge goes like this: People make a video of themselves dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads, post it on social media sites such as Facebook, and then challenge friends to do the same within 24 hours or donate 100 dollars to ALS. Many do both. As of Friday, August 22nd, the ALS Association said it has received over 53.3 million dollars in donations between July 29th and August 21st, compared with 2.2 million dollars during the same period last year.

A Medicare scam that just kept rolling (The Washington Post)
In the mid-1990s, a wheelchair scam was designed to exploit blind spots in Medicare, which often pays insurance claims without checking them first. Criminals disguised themselves as medical-supply companies. They submitted bogus bills, saying they had provided expensive wheelchairs to Medicare patients who, in reality, didn’t need wheelchairs at all. When reimbursed, the scammers could pocket the huge markup that the government paid on each chair. Now, the golden age of the wheelchair scam is probably over but, while it lasted, the scam illuminated a critical failure point in the federal bureaucracy: Medicare’s weak defenses against fraud.

Where are the nurses? (The New York Times)
A 1987 federal law intended to reform the country’s nursing homes required a registered nurse on-site only eight hours a day, regardless of the size of the facility. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) was “completely shocked” to learn this. She responded by introducing on July 31st the bluntly titled Put a Registered Nurse in the Nursing Home Act, or House Vote 5373. It would require that a direct-care registered nurse be present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in all nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement.

Pa. law mandates information with Down syndrome diagnosis (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Pennsylvania has joined a growing number of states requiring that a Down syndrome diagnosis be accompanied by useful, accurate information about the genetic disorder. The Down Syndrome Prenatal and Postnatal Education Act, effective October 1st, mandates that medical practitioners give expectant or new parents “informational publications,” to be provided online by the state health department. The Down syndrome advocates behind such state laws promote them as a way to give unbiased information to pregnant women at a momentous, stressful juncture.

Parent-reported cases of disability in children rise (USA Today)
More parents, especially upper-income ones, are reporting that their children have a physical, developmental, or mental-health disability, according to a study based on National Health Interview Survey data collected between 2001 and 2011 for nearly 200,000 children. During the decade, the number of non-institutionalized children age 17 and younger with disabilities rose 16 percent, with nearly 6 million children reported as having a disability. While disability due to any physical condition declined by 12 percent, cases related to any neurodevelopmental or mental-health condition increased by 21 percent. Shifts in the type of conditions diagnosed and financial ability to access diagnosis may account for the increase.

Support growing for autism behavior therapy (Disability Scoop)
In a recent report, Vanderbilt University researchers assessed what is known about the effectiveness of behavioral interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) through age 12. The literature review, produced for the federal government’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, is an update to a 2011 report. The review found a significant increase in quality studies looking at the impact of various behavioral interventions. In particular, early intervention that is intensive and based on the principles of applied behavior analysis “can significantly affect the development of some children with ASD,” the report found.

Difficulty assessing effort drives motivation deficits in schizophrenia, study finds (Science Daily)
Individuals with schizophrenia often have trouble engaging in daily tasks or setting goals for themselves, and a new study from San Francisco State University suggests the reason might be their difficulty in assessing the amount of effort required to complete tasks. The study findings can assist health professionals in countering motivation deficits among patients with schizophrenia and help those patients function normally by breaking up larger, complex tasks into smaller ones that are easier to grasp.

Evermind uses household appliances to monitor the elderly or infirm (gizmag)
For those with elderly or special-needs relatives or friends living by themselves, it is not always practical to check on their well-being all the time. Evermind assists in this task by sending an alert when electrical appliances are switched on and off by the person being looked after, indicating he or she is active and everything is normal. Depending on how the system is enabled, users can receive a text message on their smartphone, such as “Coffee maker on at 7 am.” Evermind will also send a notification when an appliance is switched on for too long or not used within a specified time period. The article includes a video showing Evermind in use.

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