Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, April 25 to Friday, April 29

Mental Health:
For police, a playbook for conflicts involving mental illness (The New York Times)
People with mental illnesses are overrepresented among civilians involved in police shootings: Twenty-five percent or more of people fatally shot by the police have had a mental disorder, according to various analyses. The Police Bureau in Portland, Oregon, prodded in part by the 2012 findings of a Justice Department investigation, has spent years putting in place an intensive training program and protocols for how officers deal with people with mental illness. At a time when police behavior is under intense scrutiny, Portland’s approach has served as a model for other law enforcement agencies around the country.

Research:
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy linked to reduced depressive relapse risk (Science Daily)
The largest meta-analysis so far of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for recurrent depression has found that MBCT is an effective treatment option that can help prevent the recurrence of major depression. This meta-analysis included data from trials that compared MBCT to usual care as well as to other active treatments, such as maintenance antidepressants, the current mainstay approach to prevention of depressive relapse. Across the nine trials, 38 percent of those who received MBCT had a depressive relapse within 60 weeks’ follow-up, in contrast to 49 percent of those who did not receive MBCT. Taking the time to relapse into account, people who received MBCT were 31 percent less likely to relapse during the 60-week follow-up compared with those who did not receive MBCT.

New evidence confirms diabetes can damage hearing (The Hearing Review)
A review of studies by researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center into possible links between type 2 diabetes and hearing loss concludes there is compelling evidence that diabetes can damage the auditory system, and that clinicians should include hearing testing in managing type 2 diabetes. The association between diabetes and hearing loss tends to be stronger in studies that included younger participants, possibly because in older samples, other causes of age-related hearing loss may mask the contribution of diabetes to the loss.

Arthritis patients should be screened for hearing loss, study says (The Hearing Review)
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of related health issue in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. According to a recent article published in The Open Rheumatology Journal, results of pure tone audiometry revealed that RA patients have a high prevalence of sensorineural hearing loss for all frequencies. The treatment of hearing loss associated with RA may include the use of oral steroids and, possibly, intensifying disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Anti-oxidants such as vitamin E may also be helpful as they can play a protective role for the inner ear.

Technology:
Disability advocates see opportunity in self-driving cars (Disability Scoop)
As self-driving cars move toward becoming a reality for the general public, many aging people and those with disabilities see a new opportunity for mobility approaching. Advocates are pushing manufacturers and regulators to ensure that people with disabilities are included in the planning and development of automated technology and regulation. Varying degrees of automated technology already exist in cars for sale to the public, from automatic braking to lane correction, but fully automated vehicles still are operated only by test drivers. According to testimony before the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Google has a fleet of 33 prototypes that require no human intervention and 23 modified SUVs. Each of the prototypes has a removable steering wheel and pedals. For more information about self-driving cars, see a recent Gizmag article featuring Drive Me London, a driving trial using autonomous Volvo cars.

BMW rolls on with new carbon fiber-infused racing wheelchair (Gizmag)
BMW has introduced its all-new racing wheelchair, which will find use in the 2016 Paralympic Games in September. BMW has worked closely with the American team to create a chair that capitalizes on aerodynamics design and carbon fiber construction. BMW of North America has been working on the wheelchair with US Paralympics Track and Field Team athletes and coaches. It plans to continue refining the design alongside athletes until making final delivery of the racing fleet this summer. The Rio Paralympic Games follow the Olympic Games and commence on September 7th.

Robots for better health and quality of life (NIH Medline Plus)
This year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded three innovative robots, of which two are to improve the health and quality of life for people with disabilities. A four-legged robot is being developed to help the elderly remain active and independent without relying on caregivers or home renovations. The new robot has two modes: power-assisted walker and smart “mule.” In the first, the user selects the level of power to maintain a stable, steady pace. As the smart mule, the robot walks beside the user while carrying “saddlebags” of items such as groceries. It uses a 3D computer vision-based system to detect the user’s motion and surroundings. The second robot in development is a pair of “seeing-eye” gloves for blind users that combines a small 3D camera and computerized sensors to help them detect obstacles and grasp objects.

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