What is Diabetes?

According to the National Institute on Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, is too high. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps glucose from the food you eat get into your cells to be used for energy. In people with diabetes, their body does not make enough or any insulin or does not use insulin well. Then, the glucose stays in their blood and does not reach their cells. As time passes, health problems can be caused by having too much sugar in your blood. Diabetes has no cure. However, steps can be taken to manage it and stay healthy.

The NIDILRR community has been hard at work researching different aspects of diabetes and has been developing tools and resources for people with disabilities. Check out these NIDILRR-funded projects:

  • The Disability, Rehabilitation, Engineering Access for Minorities (DREAM) project is focused on reducing the risk for cardiometabolic diseases for people with spinal cord injury (LME). The researchers at DREAM are testing the efficiency of exercise to improve fitness and reduce the risk of disease by using new and gold standard biomarkers; are innovating a DREAM app that tracks muscle activity and produces feedback to encourage the completion of goals outside of a rehabilitation setting; and are assessing the impact of exercise interventions on the social participation and quality of life for people with SCI.
  • The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Developmental Disabilities and Health works to enhance the health, function and community participation of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) throughout their lives by boosting the capacity of family caregivers through research, technical assistance, training in evidence-based practices, and dissemination activities. As part of their work, researchers at this RRTC studied the efficacy of the HealthMatters Program, which is a health promotion intervention for improving the health of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As part of the program, a workshop helps to train staff from community-based organizations.
  • The Center on Psychiatric Disability and Co-Occurring Medical Conditions has created the Diabetes Education Toolkit. This toolkit has information to help people with psychiatric disabilities better understand their diabetes or prediabetes; has easy to download educational materials for care providers, family members, and other supporters; and has podcasts that help people with psychiatric disabilities to manage their diabetes.
  • AbleData has a lot of great assistive technology (AT) information for people with disabilities who also have diabetes. We conducted a few searches on their website: AT for people with diabetes in general, diabetes related AT for people with visual disabilities, and diabetes related AT for the Deaf. If you would like to learn more about AT for people with diabetes, do not hesitate to contact the information specialists at AbleData by calling 800/227-0216 (English/Spanish) or by emailing them at abledata@neweditions.net.

If you would like to learn more about diabetes, please check out these web pages from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Diabetes Association, which also provides community resources, food and fitness resourcesresources for living with diabetes, advocacy resources, and information on research and practice. Don’t forget to check out Diabetes Alert Day on March 28th from the American Diabetes Association and use #DiabetesAlertDay to see what is going on throughout the day. If you would like more information on diabetes or are looking for diabetes resources in your area, contact NARIC’s information specialists by calling 800/346-2742, by email, or through our chat.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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