Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, September 15 – Friday, September 19

Human Interest:
Overcoming disabilities, pilot impresses his peers (MSN)
A corporate pilot in Missouri is proving that with perseverance, anyone can fly – even without hands or feet. The pilot operates a Cessna 421 using a few thick rubber bands around his wrist and the yoke. He uses his prosthetic legs and feet on the rudder pedals and brakes. In addition, he has invented a device to pick up items off the floor if they drop and uses a special set of pliers to pull and reset circuit breakers. He has earned ratings for private, instrument, commercial single and commercial multiengine, flight instructor, instrument flight instructor, and multiengine flight instructor. He has also passed the written test for the airline transport pilot rating, the pinnacle of pilot ratings.

Policy:
States move forward with expanded ABA coverage (Disability Scoop)
Months after federal officials ordered them to do so, states are starting to include coverage of treatments such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) for children with autism within their Medicaid programs. California is believed to be the first state to roll out the new coverage of ABA therapy and other evidence-based behavioral intervention service for children on the spectrum up to age 21. Officials in Nevada and Connecticut are also taking steps to expand Medicaid coverage in accordance with federal guidance.

Research:
First blood test to diagnose depression in adults (Science Daily)
The first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults has been developed by Northwestern Medicine scientists. The test identifies depression by measuring the levels of nine RNA blood markers. The blood test also predicts who will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy based on the behavior of some of the markers. In addition, the test shows the biological effects of cognitive behavioral therapy: the levels of markers changed in patients who had the therapy for 18 weeks and were no longer depressed.

Benefits, risks of yoga found for bipolar disorder (Science Daily)
Results of a survey published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice suggest that the practice of yoga can be beneficial for individuals with bipolar disorder, while sometimes carrying some risks. The majority of respondents to the survey were positive, with about one in five characterizing yoga as “life changing,” promoting calm and clarity of thought. Negative impacts mentioned, although fewer, included agitation resulting from rapid breathing or becoming too relaxed after slow, meditative practice.

Rehabilitation:
Ask Well: Plantar fasciitis relief (The New York Times)
If you have stairs or a sturdy box in your home and a backpack, timely relief may be possible for plantar fasciitis, the heel pain caused by irritation of the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot that often takes months to heal. A recently published study showed the effectiveness of a single-exercise treatment requiring standing barefoot on the affected leg on a stair or box, with the heel extending over the edge. The affected heel is then slowly lowered and raised while a backpack stuffed with books is worn to add weight. After three months, study participants who had performed the exercise every other day reported their pain and disability having declined significantly.

Technology:
Users can download and create own 3D-printed assistive hand devices (Rehab Management)
A worldwide network of volunteers has come together to help create 3D-printed assistive hand devices for individuals in need. This network, known as the e-NABLE Group, includes prosthetists, occupational therapists, engineers, students, parents, and many more. The group devotes its “free time” to creating open-source designs for mechanical devices that can be downloaded and 3D-printed for less and $50 in materials. According to the group’s website, the hands work best for individuals who still have a palm and at least a 30-degree motion in the wrist.

Parkinson’s KinetiGraph wrist-worn datalogger of motion receives FDA clearance (Medgadget)
Global Kinetics Corporation has received FDA clearance for its Parkinson’s KinetiGraph (PKG) technology for monitoring movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and other neuromuscular disorders. The PKG Data Logger is a watch-like, wrist-worn device that automatically records movement data over a period of up to ten days. A proprietary mathematical algorithm converts the data to meaningful measures. The PKG also sends a vibrating alert to the wearer when it is time to take medication, and allows physicians to track when medication is taken.

Motorized pants to help soldiers and stroke victims (MIT Technology Review)
A soft exoskeleton being developed by Harvard University researchers could help stroke patients work more steadily. The device, which helps propel the wearer’s legs forward, is extremely lightweight and efficient and much sleeker than most exoskeletons. It looks like a climbing safety harness made of nylon mesh and spandex, combined with cables that snake down the wearer’s legs. Sensors monitor the wearer’s motion, and battery-powered motors move the cables to pull up on the heel or part of the leg near the hip, adding a propelling tug at the moment the wearer steps forward.

Transportation:
Uber accused of disability discrimination (Disability Scoop)
Advocates for blind consumers are accusing the rent-a-ride service Uber of discriminating against passengers with guide dogs, saying many Uber drivers refuse to take passengers with dogs, with one even locking a customer’s service dog in the trunk. Federal law requires taxis and other private transportation services to carry service animals. But the National Federation of the Blind said it has learned of more than 30 instances in which Uber drivers across the US have refused to transport blind passengers after discovering at pickup-time that they had guide dogs.

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