Thursday, February 28, 2013

Man walks again after surgery to reverse muscle paralysis

After four years of confinement to a wheelchair, Rick Constantine, 58, is now walking again after undergoing an unconventional surgery at University of California, San Diego Heath System to restore the use of his leg. Neurosurgeon Justin Brown, MD, performed the novel 3-hour procedure.

"Following a car crash, Mr. Constantine had a brain stem stroke that caused paralysis on the right side of his body. His leg muscles became so severely spastic that he could not walk," said Brown, director of the Neurosurgery Peripheral Nerve Program at UC San Diego Health System. "Our team performed a delicate surgery to reduce input from the nerves that were causing the muscles to over contract to the point of disability."

"After my injury, I was told I would never walk again. All I could to was move from my wheelchair to my bed or a chair," said Constantine, a former NASCAR crew member. "After surgery with Dr. Brown, I could put my foot flat on the ground to walk. With physical therapy, everything just gets better and better. I'm a firm believer in never giving up."

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Animals boost socialization for kids with autism

Having a dog, cat or even a guinea pig nearby increases the chances that children with autism will engage socially with people around them, a new study suggests.
Kids with autism were more likely to talk, look at other people’s faces and make physical contact when in the presence of animals as compared to toys, researchers reported Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE. Moreover, the children laughed and smiled more and they were less likely to frown, cry or whine.
For the study, 90 kids ages 5 to 13 were divided into groups of three, each including one child with autism and two typically developing kids. Researchers observed the groups during several 10-minute play sessions where the children were either given toys or two guinea pigs to engage with.
In addition to seeing more socialization from the children with autism in the presence of the animals as compared to the toys, researchers found that the typically developing kids more frequently approached the children with autism when the guinea pigs were around.
It’s unclear exactly why kids with autism saw such benefits from the guinea pigs, but researchers suggested that it may be that the presence of the animals made the environment less stressful for them.

The Rare Disease Day

Today the sixth Rare Disease Day takes place.

This year's slogan "Rare Disorders without Borders" emphasizes the need for international cooperation.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

He said that disabled children "should be put down": the councillor has apologised but refused to resign

Collin Brewer, the councillor who said disabled children "should be put down", has apologised but refused to resign, claiming he "did nothing wrong".
Collin Brewer, an independent councillor in Cornwall, made the remarks to Theresa Court, advice services manager with Disability Cornwall, at an equalities event at County Hall in October 2011. Court made a formal complaint against him that has only recently been resolved.
Brewer has complied with standards board orders to apologise but said he had no intention of resigning. He told the BBC: "Clearly it has gone to the standards board to provide any penalty whatsoever and the penalty they imposed was to write a letter of apology.
"I have no intention of resigning. I don't think I have done anything wrong. I have apologised. I have been a councillor for nearly 26 years. I have always worked to the best of my ability."
Disability Cornwall called for Brewer's resignation. Court said: "I remember him [Brewer] coming over and asking what the stall was about. I was explaining to him about the parent partnership service when he said disabled children should be put down. He said they cost the council too much money.
"I felt physically sick. I was there with parents of disabled children at the time and I just had to turn my back on him. He is supposed to be an elected member representing public views and acting on behalf of the public. How anyone can come out with that is just shocking."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hiring Requirements Eased For Those With Disabilities

Traditionally, many people with disabilities have been required to prove their “job readiness” in order to be hired by the nation’s largest employer. Not anymore.
Under a new rule issued late last week, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management said that people with intellectual, psychiatric and severe physical disabilities will no longer be required to provide certification that they are ready to work when applying for jobs with the federal government.
Previously, applicants were asked to provide a letter from a medical professional, vocational rehabilitation specialist or disability benefit agency assessing their ability to perform the job.
The move is intended to make it simpler for people with disabilities to join the federal workforce by removing an “unnecessary burden,” officials said.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kelly Gallagher and her second medal of World Championships

Visually impaired skier Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans secured their second medal of the World Championships in Spain with silver in the Super-G.
Gallagher, who finished fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics, came third in the downhill event on Wednesday . "I'm delighted to take silver to add to yesterday's bronze," said Northern Ireland native Gallagher. "To take gold at some point would be a dream."
There was also a bronze medal at La Molina for team-mate Jade Etherington and her new guide John Clark. "I'm delighted for my team-mate Jade," added Gallagher. "She's had a difficult season and did really well today."
Etherington has an impressive record of 27 medals from 29 races, but had been struggling to find a guide in recent months. The 21-year-old had only managed two training runs with her new partner before the competition.
Clark is a former British international skier and world speed record holder. He has had stints coaching Olympian Alain Baxter, the GB snowboard team and, recently, the British Paralympic hopeful Heather Mills.
"[The race] was really exciting," said Etherington. "Me and my guide John Clark were kind of using this World Championships as a trial. We haven't been skiing that long together - it's only been two days. But it was the Super-G so we thought we'd try it out and we managed a bronze medal, so [I'm] happy about that."

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Disability studies gets boost in English department

The English department is looking to build a stronger cadre of professors in disability studies – a relatively new field that looks at how people with disabilities perceive and are perceived in society.
Ellie Challis
The English department will hire an associate or full-time professor in for the cross-disciplinary field that spans several departments, including education, law, literature and public policy. Disability studies has taken root in the English department over the last few years, though it is not yet offered as a major or minor.
That could change soon, department chair Robert McRuer said. He added that he hopes another speciality hire will build momentum for disability studies at GW and entice more graduate students to the program.
He said that while there are other professors who are interested in disability studies, he is targeting a top scholar to lift the department above its competitors.

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