Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, January 26 – Friday, January 30

Human Interest:
Disability-focused proms expected to draw 7,000 (Disability Scoop)
In time for Valentine’s Day, former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is organizing 45 proms around the world on one night just for people with special needs. Churches in 26 states and in Uganda and Kenya are scheduled to host the parties on February 13. The events will each come complete with a red-carpet entrance, paparazzi, limousine rides, hair and makeup stations, and shoe shines as well as a dance floor and food. The proms are open to individuals ages 16 and older.

Research:
Family voices, stories speed coma recovery (Science Daily)
A new Northwestern Medicine and Hines VA Hospital study shows the voices of loved ones telling familiar stories stored in their long-term memory to patients who are comatose following traumatic brain injury can help awaken the unconscious brain and speed recovery. Coma patients who heard familiar stories repeated by family members four times a day for six weeks, via recordings played over headphones, recovered consciousness significantly faster compared to patients who did not hear the stories, according to the study.

More differences than similarities are found in autistic siblings (The New York Times)
Most siblings with a diagnosis of autism do not share the same genetic risk factors for the disorder and are as distinct in their behaviors as any brothers and sisters, according to a recent study that came as a surprise to many physicians, if not to parents. The researchers analyzed genetic material from 85 families, using a technology called whole-genome sequencing. Each of the families had two children with the diagnosis of autism. About 30 percent of the 85 sibling pairs were found to share the same mutation, while about 70 percent did not. The finding drives home the exasperating diversity of autism, even in the most closely related individuals.

Beer compound could help fend off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases (Science Daily)
A paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that a compound from hops could protect brain cells from damage, and potentially slow the development of disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The compound, called zanthohumol, contains potential benefits including antioxidation, cardiovascular protection, and anticancer properties. In lab tests, researchers found that the compound could protect neuronal cells and potentially help slow the development of brain disorders.

Technology:
TouchéMedical’s cheap patch insulin pump (Medgadget)
Israeli firm TouchéMedical is developing a small, cheap, and accurate infusion pump that would be within the budgets of millions of patients with diabetes and other diseases treated by drug pumps. The device has a disposable cartridge and a reusable core that contains the actual pump and the electronics to drive it. It includes Bluetooth connectivity for interfacing with a smartphone and can even send out SMS messages to inform physicians and loved ones on how the drugs are being delivered. The article includes a video demonstration of the insulin pump.

Company creates drums for those with sensory issues (Disability Scoop)
At the 2015 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show, it sounded like heresy to hear a marketing rep for one of the world’s leading drum manufacturers say, “We’re not trying to turn everyone into a professional drummer.” But the thrust of the comment at the Remo drum booth referred to a new line of drums designed to be more user-friendly, and potentially healing, for people with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and other disabilities. Remo developed a drum head and frame that eliminate overtones common to conventional drums, sounds that can severely affect those susceptible to sensory overload.

ASL version of Disney’s “Let It Go” gets YouTube release (The Hearing Review)
Two graduates from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf (RIT/NTID) are featured in an American Sign Language (ASL) music video of the “Let It Go” song from the Disney movie Frozen. The video stars Amber Zion, an actress who signed the national anthem at last year’s Super Bowl, and Jason Listman, an assistant professor who teaches ASL to interpreting students at NTID. The video was released on January 25 via the YouTube page of the Deaf Professional Arts Network, or D-PAN.

eSight, digital eyewear to allow the legally blind to see (Medgadget)
The eSight is an electronic system that comprises a headset, custom-prescribed lenses, and a controller. An HD camera on the headset takes in live video from the environment and sends the data to the controller, which then processes the images and displays them on small organic-LED displays. The device also offers features including contrast adjustment, zooming, and reverse-color display, allowing users to have more control over what they are seeing. The article includes a video showing a legally blind mother seeing her newborn baby with the aid of the eyewear.

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