research in focus

For People with ALS, Social Media Can Be a Key Communication Tool to Maintain Relationships and Expand Networks

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nervous system disorder that interferes with how the brain and spine transmit signals to muscles and causes loss of motor function including mobility and speech. People with ALS (pALS) may experience such significant speech impairments that they cannot rely on their natural speech to meet their communication needs in face-to-face interactions.

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SCI Advocates and SCI Practitioners Share Their Strategies for Successfully Navigating the Complex Healthcare System

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord or the spinal nerve roots within the spinal canal and resulting in temporary or permanent loss of movement and/or feeling. Individuals with SCI often experience complex health issues making them high users of primary care. At the same time, they face many barriers to receiving quality healthcare such as inaccessible medical offices or equipment, problems with transportation, lack of SCI knowledge among primary healthcare providers, issues with insurance and benefits, and difficulties coordinating services among multiple providers.

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What Can the Fields of Aging and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Learn from Each Other to Support Family Caregivers?

More than 65 million people in the US serve as caregivers to family members who have a disability or are seniors in need of assistance, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, and the number of caregivers is expected to grow in the coming years. These caregivers include families of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), many of whom are also experiencing age-related disabilities. For adults with IDD, families are the single largest provider of care with more than half of adults with IDD living at home with family.

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The Right Supports Can Improve Opportunities for Job Seekers with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person's life. ASD can affect how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. For example: A person with ASD may express ideas and emotions differently, may exhibit repetitive behaviors, or may have difficulty adapting to new or changing situations.

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A New Program Shows Promise in Helping People with Serious Mental Illness Fight Obesity and Embrace Wellness

Obesity is a major public health concern and studies have shown that people with serious mental illness (SMI) may be at higher risk of being overweight or obese than people without SMI. Being overweight or obese can put people at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other conditions. Wellness programs that promote healthy eating and exercise can help reduce these risks for people with SMI.

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For Young African American Men with Substance Use Disorders, VR May Be a Promising Path to Employment

The unemployment rate for young African American men was as high as 33 percent in 2013 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The problem of unemployment is even more profound for young African American men with substance use disorders who face additional stressors that may worsen symptoms of substance abuse and interfere with opportunities for employment.

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Does College Training Have a Role to Play in VR?

People with disabilities in the United States face daunting prospects when it comes to employment. Unemployment rates are significantly higher for people with disabilities than those of the general public and, when employed, people with disabilities are likely to earn less than people without disabilities. To help lessen this disparity, vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs are designed to assist job seekers with disabilities by offering training and support as they enter in or return to the workforce.

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Could a Phone-Delivered Program Teach People with MS What They Need to Know to Manage Their Symptoms?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system. According to the National MS Society, some of the most common and debilitating symptoms people with MS may experience are fatigue, chronic pain, and depression. Living well with these symptoms can be a daily challenge.

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What are Key Factors in Successfully Integrating Service Dogs in the Workplace?

Many people with disabilities use service dogs or assistance dogs to maintain independence at home, at work, and in the community. Service dogs are trained to perform specific functions such as guiding a person with visual impairments safely from place to place, alerting a person who is Deaf or hard of hearing to sounds in the environment, or providing other assistance such as pulling a wheelchair or retrieving dropped items. Some dogs can also be trained to alert a person of an oncoming seizure or a drop in blood sugar or insulin.

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Serious Games Can Be Fun and Educational. Make Sure Everyone Can Play!

“Serious games” are computer or video games that use entertainment to train or educate the players. The games are developed and used to encourage skill development, improve health or cognitive function, or communicate messages of public safety or policy. These types of games could also help older adults to improve memory and cognition, or provide specific therapy following stroke or other health conditions. However, age-related changes like vision or hearing loss can make these games harder to play.

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