research in focus

For People with Severe Burn Injuries, Cognitive and Communication Problems May Be Common

About half a million Americans are treated for burn-related injuries each year. A burn can result from exposure to a fire or contact with hot liquids, chemicals, or electricity. Although the burn injury itself is often treatable, burn injury survivors may have lasting functional challenges. These can include problems with cognition—thinking, remembering, or solving problems— due to the effects of inhaling smoke or toxic fumes, loss of oxygen, anesthetic use, or other medical complications. These cognitive problems can make communication difficult for a person with burn injury.

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Can Social Media Help People with Serious Mental Illness Feel More Connected to Their Community?

People with serious mental illness (SMI) have conditions like depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder that can affect their ability to participate in their communities and build social relationships. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, allows people with and without disabilities to connect with friends and family, both locally and far away. Many people with SMI use social media to communicate with friends, find peer support from others with similar conditions, or receive health-related information.

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A New Physical Therapy Program Improves Sitting and Play Skills for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of movement disability in children. CP can result from brain damage before, during, or soon after birth, and it can be mild, moderate or severe. Children with CP often have trouble coordinating their body movements. As a result, they may be delayed in learning to sit without support. Independent sitting is an important milestone that can help children explore and play with objects more effectively and if not achieved, can delay development in other areas.

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Getting out and getting active may be key to breathing easier after spinal cord injury

A spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when the spinal cord is damaged, often from an accident or trauma. SCI can lead to a number of health challenges. Dyspnea, or frequent shortness of breath, is one challenge that can lower quality of life. According to some past studies, being physically active after a SCI may help prevent dyspnea and improve quality of life. In a recent NIDILRR-funded study, researchers looked at the connections between physical activity, dyspnea, and quality of life in people with SCI.

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Community Conversations Can Bring Diverse Stakeholders Together to Build Consensus

People with disabilities and the professionals who support them have knowledge and experience that could be valuable to communities in addressing disability-related issues. However, when communities come together to work on these issues, some stakeholders may be left out of the discussion. A recent NIDILRR-funded study used a well-established community conversation format (World Café) as a way to bring more underrepresented voices into the discussion.

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¿Cómo funciona el impacto de la capacidad de memoria operativa en la mejora de la memoria después de una lesión cerebral traumática?

Cada año, alrededor de 1.6 millones de estadounidenses experimentan una lesión cerebral traumática (LCT). Una LCT ocurre cuando alguien experimenta daño cerebral después de un trauma a la cabeza, como por una caída o un accidente de coche. Los problemas de memoria son comunes, afectando a más de la mitad de personas con LCT. Las personas con LCT pueden tener problemas en aprender y recordar nueva información, que pueden causar problemas en la escuela, el trabajo, y otros entornos. Los ejercicios de formación de la memoria pueden ayudar a las personas con LCT a mejorar la memoria.

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How Does Working Memory Capacity Impact Memory Improvement After Traumatic Brain Injury?

Each year, about 1.6 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI occurs when someone experiences brain damage after a head trauma, such as from a fall or a car accident. Memory problems are common, affecting more than half of people with TBI. People with TBI may have trouble learning and remembering new information, which can cause challenges in school, work, and other settings. Memory training exercises can help people with TBI improve memory. However, it would be helpful to know whether these interventions help some people with TBI more than others.

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Telemedicine can help care teams focus on recovery after burn injury

Each year, about 486,000 Americans receive treatment for serious burn-related injuries. A burn injury may result from exposure to a fire or skin contact with hot liquids, electricity, or chemicals. People with burn injuries may undergo surgery to repair the skin or address scarring in the burned area, and then spend some time recovering at a rehabilitation hospital. During this time, they may continue to receive follow-up care from their burn surgeon.

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“Even people who cannot speak should be able to make their voices heard”: Soliciting user feedback from people with severe speech and physical impairments

People with severe speech and physical impairments (SSPI) often have trouble communicating due to disabilities that affect their muscle control, such as cerebral palsy (CP), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or stroke. These individuals can benefit greatly from augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices and programs that can translate typed text to speech, like the computer system used by astrophysicist Stephen Hawking who has ALS.

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Independent Transportation Can Lead to More Opportunity for People with Disabilities

For people with disabilities, transportation can be a major challenge. People may be unable to drive a car, ride a bike, or travel on foot due to a disability. If transportation is not available, accessible, and affordable, people with disabilities may not be able to fully participate in daily activities. For example, people may have trouble getting to work, running errands, going to the doctor, or socializing without adequate transportation.

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