Disability News Weekly Roundup – Tuesday, September 2 – Friday, September 5

Human Interest:
Monument seeks to end silence on killings of the disabled by the Nazis (The New York Times)
The first to be singled out for systematic murder by the Nazis were the mentally ill and intellectually disabled. By the end of World War II, an estimated 300,000 had been gassed or starved, their fates hidden by phony death certificates. Now, they are among the last to have their suffering publicly acknowledged. The victims of the direct medical killings have been given their own memorial in the heart of Berlin.

Research:
Video game console’s balance board system may help reduce fall risk in MS patients (Rehab Management)
According to a recent study, the use of the Nintendo Wii Balance Board system can assist patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) in reducing their risk of accidental falls. Users stand on the board and shift their weight as they follow the action on a television screen during games. A news release issued by the Radiological Society of North America notes that MRI scans indicated that the use of the system may induce favorable changes in brain connections linked to balance and movement. According to the release, the brain changes noted in the patients are likely a manifestation of neural plasticity. However, the exact mechanisms that drive the phenomenon are still unknown.

Journal retracts autism study citing ‘serious concerns’ (Disability Scoop)
A new study suggesting that decade-old data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides evidence of a link between autism and vaccines has been retracted amid concerns about its validity. The paper, published last month in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration, concluded that African-American boys have a higher risk of autism if they receive the measles mumps and rubella vaccine before age 2. The findings were based on a reanalysis of data from a 2004 CDC study. According to the journal, the article was removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions.

New research offers help for spinal cord patients (Science Daily)
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered the cause of the involuntary muscle contractions which patients with severe spinal cord injuries frequently experience. The contractions are due to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which normally plays a crucial role in the voluntary control of movements. The research showed that a group of cells in the spinal cord start supplying serotonin in an uncontrolled way following an injury, thus knocking the motor system out of control. A special serotonin-producing enzyme involved in the overproduction can be targeted in new methods of treatment for spinal cord patients as well as patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Technology:
Kids with autism see big gains with tablets (Disability Scoop)
In a study of 61 children with autism ages 5 to 8, researchers at the University of California found that those given access to a tablet with a speech-generating app during therapy were able to make “significant and rapid gains” in their use of language, far exceeding the progress of children participating in treatment sessions alone. Ultimately, children using the tablets were more likely to begin using language on their own.

S’up rethinks the spoon for shaky hands (gizmag)
Designed for a computer scientist with cerebral palsy, the S’up Spoon features a cavity deeper than that of a regular spoon that partially extends into the handle. This allows the spoon’s bowl to hold loose foods and liquids more securely, thereby reducing spillage. The utensil also has a high arch in the handle to make it easier to pick up from flat surfaces and a concave dip in the top to provide a better grip. The article includes a video showing the S’up Spoon in use.

Abbott FreeStyle Libre Flash Continuous Glucose Monitoring System (Medgadget)
The FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System consists of a water-resistant sensor that is attached to the back of the upper arm and a device that copies and displays the readings from the sensor. The sensor records blood glucose levels every minute, sampling the interstitial fluid using a filament that penetrates the skin. The system does not require any finger-prick calibration. The display device takes only a second to copy the readings from the sensor and shows up to 90 days of historical trends.

Antler-inspired prosthetic merges with your bone to feel like a real limb (Engadget)
ITAP, which stands for intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthesis, is a type of prosthetic that plugs directly into an amputee’s bone. This allows the wearer to actually feel the artificial limb. For ITAP to organically merge with one’s bone, the prosthesis’ creators drew inspiration from deer antlers. Like antlers, the metal part sticking into the bone is porous, inviting soft tissue to invade it and seal any surface or opening that could be infected by bacteria. The article includes a short video demonstrating the ITAP.

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