Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, October 13 – Friday, October 17

Human Interest:
‘Argo’ hero Tony Mendez battling Parkinson’s (The Washington Post)
Tony Mendez, the real-life CIA agent portrayed in the movie “Argo,” is using his fame to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease, a disability for which he is in treatment. He spoke publicly about it for the first time at an international symposium for the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, an organization helping develop a new treatment for the disease. He recently underwent Deep Brain Stimulation: an electrode was implanted in his brain to block electronic signals, preventing tremors and other symptoms. The results, so far, have been encouraging.

How one musician helped a teen with hearing impairment enjoy her first live concert (Huffington Post)
Dutch teenager Vera, who wears a cochlear implant as she was born with a severe hearing impairment, was recently able to experience her first live music concert. The event was part of mobile company Vodafone’s “Firsts” series, which celebrates the many ways technology can help people enjoy new experiences. Netherlands musician Kyteman was asked to compose music specifically tailored to Vera’s limited hearing range. The girl tested the music in studio to ensure that she could hear all the notes. Then, the music was performed with an 18-piece orchestra for a crowd of 400 people, including Vera.

Employment:
White House to spotlight disability employment (Disability Scoop)
Ten people from across the country were honored at the White House this week for their efforts to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. These “Champions of Change” included a veteran with a disability who runs his own organic egg business, company managers who have taken steps to boost disability employment within their ranks, and the founder of a company that helps ensure that the digital systems businesses use are accessible.

Research:
Autism symptoms eased by broccoli extract, study finds (Disability Scoop)
A chemical that is found in broccoli and other vegetables may be able to improve behavior and social skills dramatically in people with autism. According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in as little as four weeks of taking daily doses of the broccoli sprout extract sulforaphane, many teens and adults with autism saw significant gains in behavior, socialization, and communication. The study involved 40 males ages 13 to 27 with moderate to severe autism, 26 of whom received daily doses of sulforaphane while the rest were given a placebo.

Cause of ALS found, Northwestern team says (Chicago Tribune)
Researchers at Northwestern University say they have discovered a common cause behind amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that could open the door to an effective treatment. The discovery could also show the way to treatments for other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. The researchers identified the breakdown of cellular recycling systems in the neurons of the spinal cord and brain of ALS patients that results in the nervous system slowly losing its ability to carry brain signals to the body’s muscular system.

Technology:
Sandia dynamic leg prosthesis technology auto-adjusts for all day fit (Medgadget)
Custom sockets for prosthetic legs do not conform to the changing shape of an amputee’s stump. To improve fit and provide all-day comfort, Sandia National Labs have developed a special sensor and shape-changing socket. The sensor detects pressure within the socket being applied to it in multiple directions: perpendicular to and along the length of the leg. The socket has built-in pockets that can be filled with a fluid to change its shape based on the sensor readings. The article includes a video presenting the technology.

Cane offers shock-absorbing technology, design features intended to mimic natural hip movement (Rehab Management)
The design of the Ergoactives Tucane Ergonomic Cane incorporates features built to mimic the hip’s natural movement while providing stability at virtually any angle. The cane is equipped with shock-absorbing technology and is designed to improve spinal injuries and pain by providing the user proper posture just by walking with it. A spring mechanism located on its handle also allows users to feel as through the cane is “walking with them.” The system is propelled as the user lifts the cane and the Tucane’s grip is engineered to absorb vibration from the cane’s impact on the ground.

New OtoSense mobile app identifies sounds for users – and learns new sounds (The Hearing Review)
The OtoSense is a new mobile app that identifies and distinguishes the source of incoming audio alerts such as alarms, sirens, timers, and bells, turning smartphones and tablets into assistive alerting devices for deaf and hard-of-hearing users. The app, which is downloadable from the Google Play store, comes with a built-in library of standard fire and smoke alarm sounds. Additionally, OtoSense can be personalized by users, recording and storing the most significant sounds of their environment. Users are notified of their sounds via flash and vibration.

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