Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, September 29 – Friday, October 3

Human Interest:
Brothers take American road trip before going blind (CNN)
Six years ago, two brothers who had been diagnosed with choroideremia, a genetic disorder that progressively leads to blindness, went on a road trip across the United States. A documentary about their journey, Driving Blind, was released this year after winning awards at independent film festivals. The most beautiful place visited, according to the brothers, was Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, followed by Glacier Park in Montana. Driving Blind’s main message, they say, is: “No matter what your situation, live your life to the fullest.” The documentary can be watched online.

Entertainment:
TV networks featuring more characters with disabilities (Disability Scoop)
The number of characters with disabilities appearing on broadcast television is on the rise, according to a new analysis conducted by media advocacy organization GLAAD. The report looks at the number of characters representing various minority groups during the 2014-2015 television season. Eleven characters with disabilities are expected to be featured regularly on scripted primetime programs on ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC. Nonetheless, disability representation remains relatively small, accounting for just 1.4 percent of the 813 regular characters appearing on network primetime programs.

Policy:
What happens when sheltered workshops close? (Disability Scoop)
The sheltered workshops that are still prevalent across much of the country were shut down in Vermont more than a decade ago. And now, the employment rate of people with developmental disabilities in the New England state is twice the national average. Vermont has a supported employment program in each of its 14 counties to help people with disabilities find and apply for jobs as well as to learn them. Unlike many states, the support of a job coach does not fade over time, which helps to improve retention. The state and employment programs say businesses have been receptive to hiring people with disabilities.

Rehabilitation:
Paint on ‘smart’ bandage emits phosphorescent glow for healing below (Science Daily)
Inspired by a desire to help wounded soldiers, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have created a paint-on, see-through “smart” bandage that glows to indicate a wound tissue oxygenation concentration. Because oxygen plays a critical role in healing, mapping these levels in severe wounds and burns can help significantly improve the success of surgeries to restore limbs and physical functions. The bandage’s key ingredient is phosphors – molecules that absorb light and then emit it via a process known as phosphorescence. A camera-based readout device is used to provide a burst of excitation light that triggers the emission of the phosphors inside the bandage, after which it records the phosphors’ emission.

Research:
Memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s reversed: Small trial succeeds using systems approach to memory disorders (Science Daily)
In a small study of a novel, personalized, and comprehensive program to reverse memory loss, nine of 10 participants displayed subjective or objective improvement in their memories beginning within three to six months after the start of the program. The study, which comes jointly from the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, is the first to suggest that memory loss in patients may be reversed, and improvement sustained, using a complex therapeutic program. The regimen involves comprehensive dietary changes, brain stimulation, exercise, optimization of sleep, specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins, and other steps that affect brain chemistry.

Technology:
Bionic Vision Australia’s bionic eye gives new sight to people blinded by Retinitis Pigmentosa (Medgadget)
Bionic Vision Australia’s prototype implant has completed a two-year trial in three patients with advanced retinitis pigmentosa. The 24-channel suprachoroidal electrode implants caused no noticeable serious side effects. Moreover, the patients were able to see more light and able to distinguish shapes that were invisible to them prior to implantation. The article includes a video of the prototype being tested with a patient.

Sound system in a lightbulb socket offered by Sound of Light (Hearing Review)
The Sound of Light is a wireless speaker system powered from the socket of a floor or table lamp. Among other features, the system enables treble adjustment for people with loss of high-frequency hearing and offers 360-degree around sound. To install it, the user simply unscrews the existing light bulb and replaces it with the Sound of Light speaker system. The light bulb can then be screwed into the new socket, an audio source such as a television or stereo is chosen, and the devices are paired. According to Sound of Light’s marketer, the result is clear sound with no wires required to run, headphones to wear, or speakers to place. The article includes a short video showing installment of the system in a table lamp.

PrintAlive 3D bioprinter creates on-demand skin grafts for burn victims (gizmag)
Engineering students at the University of Toronto have created a 3D printer, called PrintAlive, that produces skin grafts for people with burn injuries. Having been under development since 2008, a second-generation, pre-commercial prototype was recently completed that the researchers say is smaller than an average microwave oven. This makes it portable enough to transport, giving it the potential one day to revolutionize burn care in rural and developing areas around the world. The article includes a video demonstrating the technology.

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