Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, June 20 to Friday, June 24

Advocacy:
Briana Scurry embraces new role as women’s brain health advocate (The Washington Post)
In April 2010, Washington Freedom goalkeeper Briana Scurry sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during a Women’s Professional Soccer match. Three and a half years later, she had bilateral occipital nerve surgery to alleviate persistent symptoms from the injury. Recently, Scurry went to Congress. She spoke before the congressional brain injury task force, sharing her story from pre-concussion to present day. Almost three years after her surgery and two years after she finished therapy, Scurry sees herself as an advocate for women’s health, especially in relation to concussions and TBI.

Education:
To manage the stress of trauma, schools are teaching students how to relax (The Washington Post)
One morning before math, the fourth-graders at Houston Elementary in Northeast Washington took a little vacation. To soft music, they walked through woods, climbed a mountain, and lifted off with imaginary wings, flying over an ocean, a gentle breeze on their faces. Then, with the sound of a chime, they were back in a classroom overlooking a blighted neighborhood that has been beset by violence this spring, including two separate slayings of teenage boys at a nearby Metro station. Like a growing number of schools nationwide, Houston Elementary is using mindfulness and other therapies to help children manage the stress they encounter in their daily lives.

Employment:
Cerebral palsy no barrier for ESPN sportscaster (Disability Scoop)
Jason Benetti, who was born with cerebral palsy, called a nationally televised Major League Baseball game pitting the Washington Nationals against the Los Angeles Dodgers this week. Benetti was hired earlier this year by the Chicago White Sox as a television play-by-play commentator for Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN Sports. Since 2011, the sportscaster has also done play-by-play for ESPN calling basketball, football, baseball, and lacrosse.

Public Health:
Food banks take on a contributor to diabetes: themselves (The New York Times)
Not long ago, the mission of food banks was to relieve hunger with whatever was at hand, including salty canned goods or even potato chips. Many who depend on food pantries are, however, obese and diabetic rather than underfed. In 2014, one third of the 15.5 million households served by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, reported that a household member had diabetes. Now researchers have begun pursuing innovative methods to address Type 2 diabetes among people who rely on food banks.

Research:
New study helps determine which older adults might need help taking medications (Science Daily)
As age increases, older adults can develop problems taking their medications. In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers investigated this issue using data from the 10-year Duke University Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (EPESE) study. They examined data from 4,106 African American and Caucasian older adults living in five counties in North Carolina. The study found that people aged 80 and older were 1.5 to 3 times as likely to need help with their medications as were people aged 65 to 69. Men were 1.5 to 2 times as likely as women to need help. The odds of needing help were 3 to 5 times greater among people with memory challenges.

Technology:
Novel controller allows video gamer who lacks hands to compete with his feet (Science Daily)
Engineering graduate students at Johns Hopkins University, one of whom lost his hands to meningitis, have designed and built a foot-activated video game controller. The sandal-like controller allows a player to control on-screen action with his or her feet. Beneath each shoe’s padding are three sensors that can pick up various foot movements, such as tilting or raising the front or heel of each foot. In its most basic setup, two of the high-tech shoes can control eight different game buttons. However, the inventors say that with practice, this number could increase to as many as 20 buttons.

Hug machine puts the squeeze on autism (Gizmag)
Professor Mary Temple Grandin, who has autism and is an outspoken advocate for people with autism spectrum disorders, invented what is known as a “hug machine” designed to calm hypersensitive people by gently exerting even pressure along their bodies. Denmark’s Gloria Mundi Care is now offering a commercial version, called the OrbisBox. The idea behind the device is simple: Users start by lying down on their back or on either side. Fabric-covered polyurethane foam side panels then slowly move in and press against them from the sides. The amount of pressure can be adjusted in 5-kilogram increments from levels of 20 to 30 kilograms (22 to 66 lbs), with users able to get out at any point they want. Users can also activate colored LED lighting and soothing music played through Bose speakers. The article includes a video demonstrating the technology.

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