Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, November 10 –Friday, November 14

No longer ‘falling off the cliff’ (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Cutting Edge is a program that aims to provide a college experience to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Every year, Edgewood admits a small cohort of students to take courses both with their own group and within the broader Edgewood curriculum. Programs like Cutting Edge provide a way for colleges to respond to what disability advocates call “falling off the cliff”: reaching the end of government-support structures that include the provision of education as the individual with a disability reaches the age of 22 or, in some states, 19.

Ortho implants break down once injured tissue healed (MedGadget)
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials in Germany have been working on durable orthopedic implants that degrade and slowly dissolve into the body for further secretion once the injured tissue is healed. The implants are made from a mix of an iron alloy and beta-tricalcium phosphate (TCP), a ceramic material. The iron degrades slowly, but provides the necessary strength to maintain the structural integrity, while the ceramic breaks down faster and promotes new tissue generation and ingrowth into the implant.

Computer game improves functional vision for disabled children (Rehab Management)
Eyelander, a new computer game developed at the United Kingdom’s University of Lincoln, aims to improve the functional vision of children affected by sight injuries as the result of brain injury. Such injuries can result in reduction of the visual field. The game is designed so that in early levels, players must find a shape on-screen that is surrounded by a group of similar “distracting” shapes. Once identified, the player must then track the movement of that shape. More distracting shapes and multiple colors are introduced as the game progresses. Clinical trials scheduled to begin in summer 2015 will evaluate the value of Eyelander in treating vision disabilities among children and young adults.

Virtual reality speeds up rehabilitation: Integrating force feedback into therapies for impaired hands (Science Daily)
A computerized training therapy for impaired hands has been developed at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Patients being trained exercise their hands through playing a series of computer games that simulate everyday tasks, such as pouring water from a bottle. While playing, hand movements are monitored and recorded by a haptic device, which feeds the data into a connected computer, resulting in the instant reflection of the patient’s actions on the computer screen. Feedback is provided through the force created by the control unit to players, who can literally feel the weight of the simulated bottle diminishing as the water is poured out.

Walking path of least resistance less beneficial for older adult cognition (Rehab Management)
A study conducted by University of Kansas researchers shows that easy-to-walk communities boost physical health among older adults, yet walking more intricate paths in a community does a better job of keeping cognition high. The study also found that the level of safety associated with a walking area is a primary concern to older adults walking there.

Device changes your mood with a zap to the head (MIT Technology Review)
Next year, a small device will be available that uses electricity to change users’ mood at the press of a button on their smartphones. The device, from a company called Thync, currently consists of a set of electrodes connected to a phone and can be used to produce a calming effect allegedly more potent than taking Benadryl. The technology uses a form of transcranial direct current stimulation. A prototype of the device was used in a 100-person study at City College of New York, showing its calming effects.

Artificial retina could some day help restore vision (Science Daily)
A team of researchers from Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Centers for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and the United Kingdom’s Newcastle University have developed a prosthetic retina that could benefit individuals with age-related macular degeneration. The researchers combined semiconductor nanorods and carbon nanotubes to create a wireless, light-sensitive, flexible film that could act in the place of a damaged retina. When tested with a chick retina that normally does not respond to light, the film absorbed light and, in response, sparked neuronal activity.

Sesame lets seriously paralyzed folks use smartphones (Medgadget)
Using a smartphone requires the basic ability to tap a finger on the phone’s screen. Yet, the very people who would benefit the most from smartphone capabilities are the least able to use them. Now a project called Sesame is aiming to empower standard smartphones to be used by people who only have movement left above the neck. The Sesame uses the phone’s built-in camera to track the person’s face motion, essentially coupling the person’s nose to the cursor on the screen. The article includes a video demonstrating the technology.

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