hearing disability

Israeli Innovation Will Help People With a Hearing Disability


hearing disabilityAn air-raid siren awakened Erez Lugashi one night in 2014. As he ran for shelter, he questioned: What would a deaf person doin this circumstance?

That question led the skilled Tel Aviv entrepreneur to begin Abilisense. The concept was to establish software for IoT devices, such as smart watches, that sends vibrating or visual alerts to hearing-impaired individuals about anything from an air-raid siren to a crying child.

Abilisense was incubated at the A3i Israeli accelerator for assistive technologies. The start-up won Israeli government and Microsoft grants for establishing products for deaf individuals.

And while Herzliya-based Abilisense is broadening into general security and security applications as it gets closer to commercialization, the initial objective of helping the deaf stays essential to Lugashi.

Hearing loss is estimated to impact more than 400 million individuals around the globe.

Availability has actually extended beyond the physical to how to provide services to persons with disabilities. For somebody hearing impaired, a larger entrance that fits a wheelchair is irrelevant. What’s essential is making communication available,” says Yuval Wagner, creator and president of the nonprofit organization Gain access to Israel.

The future is all about making sure that all technology is totally accessible so that individuals with vision or hearing impairments can achieve day-to-day jobs individually,”  he states

. Wagner likewise keeps in mind that technologies originally established for individuals with specials needs typically find their way into the basic market –– as taken place with Abilisense.

Let’ s take a look at several other Israeli solutions for people with hearing problems.

Tomer Shor and Yoav Blau, veterans of the well known 8200 IDF signal intelligence and code decryption system, established Tunefork two years ago. There’ s a personal connection: Shor’s dad and Blau’s better half both have extreme hearing loss

. Tunefork  individualized audio profiles can be integrated into clever devices to enhance each user’s digital audio experience –– call, music, films, audio books, GPS directions and more. The technology can be utilized with or without hearing help.

Each individual has a distinct earprint,  like a fingerprint,”  describes Shor,  so assistive technology needs to be individualized.”

Tunefork users create their audio profile by means of a fast smartphone-based hearing test. The profile can then be matched precisely to technical information held on any signed up sound devices, headphones, earbuds and mobile devices to finest make up for the user’ s hearing

“loss.  Our demonstration application has 10,000 users so far in Israel and the United States, mostly music apps,”state Shor.  We; re beginning evidence of concept with big makers all over the world.”

Tunefork has actually won dozens of rewards in global and local start-up competitors and drew in investors in Israel, Europe and the United States. The start-up has seven employees at workplaces in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The GalaPro app for iOS and Android makes live home entertainment accessible and inclusive by delivering automated multilingual subtitles, closed captioning, calling, amplification and audio description (for individuals with visual impairments) to the user’s own mobile gadget.

Founded in 2015 with offices in Tel Aviv and New York, GalaPro has partnered with Broadway theaters, show halls, opera houses, movie celebrations, exhibits, museums and more. The app likewise provides material as needed.

The app works in real time for every efficiency at every partner place, in any seat, and doesn’t interrupt surrounding audience members.

Many individuals without hearing or vision disabilities utilize GalaPro as a synchronised translation service (think Kabuki theater in Japan or opera in Italy) or to better follow discussion via closed captions.

deaf disability
Boy Having a Hearing Exam in the Audiologist’s Office

Hearing within your reaches

Sensory substitution devices (SSDs) are the specialized of Hebrew University medical neurobiologist Amir Amedi.

His world-renowned Lab for Brain and Multisensory Research study primarily concentrates on making it possible for individuals with vision problems to “see  their environment through sound and touch

. Just recently, Amedi’s laboratory teamed up with the World Hearing Center in Warsaw on a novel affordable and noninvasive speech-to-touch SSD that could enhance hearing comprehension for individuals with cochlear implants.

Their proof-of-concept study, published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, explains that people with cochlear implants “ still experience significant useful and social obstacles,”  particularly understanding speech in noisy environments.

Amedi and colleagues designed a minimalistic SSD that transforms low-frequency speech signals into tactile vibrations provided on 2 fingertips. The vibration communicates a set of “ basic frequencies”  that characterize speech signals.

In the study, individuals as a group demonstrated a significant 6-decibel enhancement and did not require unique training to use the SSD.

The ability to “ hear  through one s fingers has  crucial implications for further research study, in addition to possible scientific and practical services,”  stated co-author Tomasz Wolak, head of the Bio imaging Proving ground at the World Hearing Center.

The group intends to more improve the device to reach the objective of 10-decibel improvement. They likewise plan to study human brain mechanisms utilizing an MRI-compatible version of the gadget in both hearing and hearing-impaired topics.

Map of the inner ear



A just recently released paper from the laboratory of Prof. Karen Avraham at Tel Aviv University’ s medical school says that more than 100 genes have actually been found to be connected to genetic deafness.

This new understanding, based upon the Human Genome Job, might assist scientists discover biological treatments for hereditary hearing loss.

“ Current treatments depend on amplification or prosthetics,” according to Avraham.“Gene therapy would intuitively be perfect for these conditions because it is directed at the extremely source of the issue.”

In 2015, Avraham led an Israeli, American and Italian study that mapped, for the first time, genetic signals in the mammalian inner ear (cochlea).

Inside the inner ear, tiny hair cells turn soundwaves into electrical pulses that are sent via the auditory nerve to the brain. Nonworking hair cells can’t be switched on. ; Nevertheless, other cells in the inner ear maybe could be coaxed into becoming practical hair cells.

The map of genetic signals in the inner ear is essential to such a technique.

Among these signals is methylation, a chemical procedure that gives genes “; orders for separating cell types. Discovered by Hebrew University researchers Howard (Chaim) Cedar and Aharon Razin, methylation discusses why, for example, one cell turns into an afferent neuron and another turns into a skin cell.

Manipulating methylation and other signals “ would permit us to change cells in the inner ear to end up being or develop brand-new ones to permit proper hearing,” said Avraham.

Our analysis of the DNA methylation characteristics revealed a big number of brand-new genes that are important for the advancement of the inner ear and the onset of hearing itself,”  she stated. We hope that our epigenetic maps of the inner ear will provide entry points into the development of therapies for hearing loss.”

Lipifai Speech-to-text innovation is not an ideal option, specifically when there’s ambient sound.

Julie Dai of Haifa and Waseem Ghrayeb of Nazareth plan their Lipifai synthetically intelligent online lip-reading innovation to overcome that issue.

Not yet commercialized, Lipifai not only listens  to the speaker by means of the phone  s” microphone. It also watches  the speaker’s lips by means of the phone.

cam. In low-noise environments, both inputs feed the resulting text showed on the screen.

If there’ s a great deal of sound– like in a restaurant– the app switches only to the lip-reading part. And whereas human lip-readers balance up to 40% accuracy, Lipifai enhances accuracy to more than 85%, Ghrayeb tells ISRAEL21c.

Julie Dai and Waseem Ghrayeb, developers of online lip-reading technology LipifAI.

Dai and Ghrayeb both worked for 9 years in the high-tech industry; Dai has a master’ s degree in computer technology and Ghrayeb has a master’ s in artificial intelligence.

They began establishing their option as fellows in the 2019 associate of Our Generation Speaks, a program at Brandeis University in Massachusetts that sets budding entrepreneurs from Israel’ s Jewish and Arab sectors. OGS also bought Lipifai.

Last summertime, Dai and Ghrayeb took Lipifai to the Massachusetts Institute of Innovation for further advancement at entrepreneurship accelerator MIT: designX and MISTI, MIT’ s worldwide education program. Several MIT interns will pertain to Haifa in January to continue working with them on advancement.

Based on an article published here.

What You Need to Know About Muscular Dystrophy.

muscular dystrophy is common on disabilitymatch.co.uk

Muscles are protected by proteins. These proteins protect your muscles from damage. The genes in your body are bundled DNA used to make proteins that help keep your muscles from damage. More than thirty genetic diseases have been identified to impact the genes and cause damage to muscles.

The genes that make up the DNA are crucial to the entire body and specifically to the muscles. Those who suffer from Muscular Dystrophy (MD) have one or more of these genes that are faulty. Due to these damaged genes, the proteins that would normally create protective fibers malfunction and may even be missing. When this crucial protection is missing from the body, muscles get weaker and will have an impending impact on those who suffer from MD.

There are many types of Muscular Dystrophy and the particular type one has determines much of the factors the person will deal with as they battle this disease. The particular group of muscles in the body that are affected and when the problem is detected is really determined by the type of MD the person suffers from. Many of these factors differ from person to person and it’s not easy to categorize the responses.

One example is a condition termed autosomal recessive titan myopathy, which is an uncommon form of muscular dystrophy. This particular condition is the cause of progressive degeneration of muscles and causes lots of pain in the joints and muscles, atrophy, hyper mobile joints, and even heart problems.

Because titan myopathy is mostly misunderstood, it will take quite a long time for people to research and study how it impacts people. Dealing with a rare disease is quite a challenge, but there are ways to offset the pain and discomfort when people are sad or down. It is beneficial for people to raise pets, enjoy music, and engage in various hobbies that will lift up the person’s spirit.

Although there is much research going on dealing with the treatment of Muscular Dystrophy, more is needed and more awareness is crucial. This is one area where we all can get involved. Increasing the awareness and learning more about the disease goes a long way. Here are a few important factors you need to know about Muscular Dystrophy.

1. Understanding the symptoms

doctor explains muscular dystrophy symptoms

To get a clear grasp of the symptoms, we’ll look at the common indications for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is the most common form of this illness. For those who suffer from Becker muscular dystrophy, the symptoms are similar and may start in their twenties or later.


Here are some of the earlier symptoms:

  • Wading gait
  • Muscle stiffness and pain
  • Running and jumping with difficulty
  • Walking on toes
  • Problem standing or sitting
  • Late speech development coupled with learning disabilities
  • Falling frequently

As the conditions worsen:

  • Unable to walk
  • Shrinking of muscles and tendons
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Spine curvature
  • Cardiac problems due to weakened heart muscles
  • Eating and swallowing becomes difficult

These are the most common symptoms that need to be followed up with a doctor’s care. Proper testing and diagnosis will assist health professionals to begin treatment and help the person live a better life and a long life.

2. This disease gets passed down through the generations, but not always.

genetics for muscular dystrophy

Alterations in the genes which cause muscular dystrophy are commonly passed down through the family. So when someone is suspected to have MD, doctors will closely examine the family medical history of the patient to see if this condition can be traced. But some people get MD even without any family history, thus being the first in their family line to have this disease.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is undoubtedly the most common form of the disease. It mostly affects young boys. But there are many forms of MD and it affects males and females. Here are some of the more common types:

Becker MD

Congenital MD

Distal MD

Emery-Dreifuss MD

Oculopharyngeal MD

Facioscapulohumeral MD

Limb-girdle MD

3. Some with muscular dystrophy never see their first birthday, but others live long lives.

wheelchair woman

Of course, the type of muscular dystrophy one has determines the symptoms. Whichever type of the disease a person has, there will be weakness and deterioration of the muscles and this continues to get worse as time goes on. Other symptoms are difficulty walking, respiratory problems, and curvature of the spine. There are even more symptoms such as heart problems, behavioral issues, swallowing difficulty, differences in the foot and contractors which are the shortening of muscles or tendons surrounding the joints. Some even suffer hearing loss and changes in facial appearance.

There is no type of muscular dystrophy that can be considered as common or classic. Some people begin to experience the symptoms as late as their middle age, and some suffer from it from birth. There are some who continue to walk throughout their lives, but most are not able to continue walking. Then there are those who are able to live a long life as well. Children often begin to suffer during their teen years and some babies cannot survive their first year.

4. Reaching a diagnosis requires several tests.

This rare condition shares its presentation with a host of other diseases. If a doctor begins to suspect that a patient has MD, a certain number of tests are required to rule out other factors. This doctor will also investigate your medical history and inquire about your family history as well.

Young patient is getting a diagnose from doctor

The doctor will search for markers of the disease in the bloodstream through blood and urine tests. A more thorough screening may be conducted through genetic testing to reveal any gene changes that might have caused the condition. Exercise tests will help to assess the patient’s muscular strength. Using a thin needle, muscle biopsies will help the doctor assess how the condition is progressing. Heart tests will measure the strength and the condition of the heart. There are even neurological tests that look for contractions and test reflexes. Along with this, an MRI can reveal additional information that helps the doctor to come to a better conclusion.

5. The treatment is to slow down MD, as it cannot be cured.

Health professionals work hard to help sufferers of Muscular Dystrophy to live comfortably and slow its growth. Unfortunately, there is no cure for muscular dystrophy and the attempt is to maintain a comfortable and functional life.

child rehab

A regular regimen of physical therapy helps to maintain muscles lissome and healthy. Those who have weakened face and throat muscles are helped through speech therapy. Some even opt for alternatives such as voice synthesizers to help them to speak clearly. Therapy on the respiratory system helps those with breathing trouble caused by MD. But if the person has late stage muscular dystrophy, they will need assisted ventilation.

Some patients require the help of a pacemaker for weakening heart muscles, and others require corrective surgery to repair contracture. Scoliosis sufferers can opt for the attachment of a metal rod to their spine when the pain from their curving spine becomes unbearable. Some drugs have been identified to help slow the progress of several types of muscular dystrophy and some amount of occupational therapy will help patients to move around their home and workplaces.

To make their condition more manageable and bearable, there are several additional things that can be done. Investing in a good bed or additional padding helps patients who are unable to find a good comfortable position to sleep. This improved comfort will help them to get better sleep. For those who can, swimming and some low intensity exercises will help with muscle strength.

6. Continuing research must be encouraged.

Genetic engineering

Muscular Dystrophy has been a daunting condition for many. It has caused disability, making it difficult to perform even their daily tasks. And for some, it has been fatal. There is a positive outlook due to the development of new therapies. These approaches help people to improve their lives as they live with MD.

A cutting edge therapy called Gene Replacement Therapy has the possibility of helping doctors to give new genetic materials to the cells. This would allow for the replacement of missing proteins that protect the muscle cells. This will result in restoring muscles that have been damaged as a result of MD.

There are two types of gene modification therapy that are being explored. One would help the defective gene to produce the protein that it previously could not produce. The other attempts to alter the production process of protein and change the patient’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy to Becker muscular dystrophy, which is easier to manage. Up to 80% of those who suffer from this condition could benefit from these new therapies.

Such cell-based therapy could be the answer to treat all the different types of muscular dystrophy. The result of this shows up as new healthy muscle stem cells allowing the person’s body to produce healthy muscle for better living.

Although muscular dystrophy is a very difficult disability many sufferers lad full and vibrant lives and use our site to find love and fulfilment.




Why You Should Consider Medical Tourism for Reconstructive Cosmetic Surgery

cosmetic surgeon in india

In this global world we have seen a huge development in what is known as ‘medical tourism.  This mean that instead of having plastic surgery or reconstructive surgery done in the UK with its long NHS waiting lists and endless bureaucracy you could travel to another country and get the procedure done privately at a reasonable price.  Moreover you can enjoy the tourism involved when you head to somewhere exotic like Indonesia or Turkey for surgery.  I was recently skimming through some wonderful sites on google that list and review cosmetic surgery  clinics all over the developing world that might be able to treat you for such things as breast malformation or cleft lip.  Or, if you are perhaps a veteran who has suffered severe burning trauma you could investigate cutting edge treatment in a surprising range of destinations from Istanbul to Singapore and even India.  You would be amazed just how well equipped these clinics are since many developing countries are encouraging their medical centres to promote treatment for overseas patients.  The American Aesthetic Clinic in istanbul is a good example of this type of facility with a specialist dept for scar related issues.

indian doctor with cosmetic surgery clinic

You should not let the prospect of cost deter you since you might well be surprised at just how reasonable prices are in countries like Turkey or India and how fabulous the facilities can be.  Many hospitals in the 3rd world put regional British hospitals to shame in terms of comfort and patient support.  Indeed, many staff at these clinics have been trained in the UK or in the USA so they are all highly qualified but do not expect fees paid in London or other UK regions.

Interestingly an important study into the cost-effectiveness of reconstructive surgery in Low to Middle Income Countries (LMIC)  concluded that the results show that reconstructive surgeries performed during short-term surgical trips are economically sustainable.  This study was, of course, conducted at World Health Authority level but does reinforce my point that UK patients seeking reconstructive surgery should consider going overseas for low-cost high quality medical work.

3 Dating Tips When You Have Multiple Sclerosis

Three Tips for Dating with Multiple Sclerosis

Receiving a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can feel overwhelming, and you may assume that dating will no longer possible. However, new treatments have enabled people living with MS to forestall disabling symptoms for a far longer time period than in the past. The typical onset of MS symptoms is between 20-50 years of age (per the National Multiple Sclerosis Society [NMSS]). Tingling and numbness in legs and feet are often the first symptoms experienced by a person afflicted with MS, but these symptoms may be caused by many other disorders.

Regardless of the initial symptoms that resulted in a doctor’s visit leading to an MS diagnosis, you do not have to resign yourself to remaining alone if you really want intimacy and/or marriage in your future.  The following describes the most common forms of MS and their symptoms, as well as three tips for dating with specific MS symptoms.

What is Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis?

Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common of the three forms of MS, and also the most treatable form. Unlike Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) or Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS), symptoms can spontaneously appear and disappear in people afflicted with RRMS. Weakness in the feet and hands (and blindness) can occur, but can also spontaneously resolve. Emerging treatments are enabling people with RRMS to avoid developing most of the symptoms leading to an inability to perform in a workplace role.

Notably, an article in 2018 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry reported that early treatment can halt neurological damage from MS from worsening, so beginning a medication regimen as soon as possible after an MS diagnosis is crucial.

Two Types of Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

In contrast to RRMS, the neurological damage associated with Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) or Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS) is typically not reversible. However, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) notes that only 15 percent of all people with MS are diagnosed with PPMS. Meanwhile, SPMS usually occurs in people diagnosed with RRMS who do not receive early treatment.

Since the neurological damage that occurs with these two above-described MS forms is irreversible, people diagnosed with either PPMS or SPMS are more likely to have more obvious symptoms (e.g., an inability to pick up a fork). The NMSS notes that 50 percent of people with RRMS who do not take medication develop SPMS within 10 years.

Once damage to the myelin sheath occurs (due to the immune system attack on the central nervous system), it is more likely to become even more damaged. This is why medication plays such an important role in preventing the neurological damage leading to paralysis.

Dating Tip Number One – Recognise and Respect Your Own Limitations

You may not be able to walk without a cane to meet your date, so it makes sense to use it when needed. While your mobility may not be affected to the point of needing a wheelchair, your date will not appreciate it if you try to hide (or minimize) a real disability.

There is nothing shameful about needing a cane (or a wheelchair), or being unable to pour yourself a glass of water from a pitcher in a pub. Most people like to help strangers who need assistance, and you probably do not want to begin an intimate relationship with someone who displays no compassion for disabled people. Therefore, hiding your disability from your date will not enable you to know whether you have really met a man or woman you might want to eventually marry.

Dating Tip Number Two – Coping with Fatigue

People living with MS often experience periods of fatigue (and hot weather is more likely to produce a feeling of tremendous fatigue). If you are dining in a pub or restaurant in summer that does not have air conditioning, you may feel fatigued more quickly than usual. For this reason, choosing a comfortable place for a date (that is not over-heated due to lack of air conditioning) is advisable.

Dating Tip Three – Coping with Cognitive Impairments

Many adults who have lived with MS for a long time experience some short-term memory loss. This is one of the most embarrassing symptoms of MS, and one that you may need to explain to someone you are dating. Otherwise, your memory impairment (or pseudobulbar affect – resulting in inappropriate laughing or crying) may be misunderstood by that person.

One way to cope with short-term memory loss is to keep a journal to jot down important things you learned about the other person on each date that you want to remember. Meanwhile – if you know that you have pseudobulbar affect – it is best to tell the man or woman you are dating as soon as possible about this affliction.

Utilizing an online disabled dating platform  to meet compatible people to date is as much an option for adults with disabilities as anyone else. You may even meet someone with a hidden disability that shares the same hopes and fears as you. There is someone who understands the issues faced by people with MS that will be interested in dating you, so go ahead and take a chance!

Does ‘Brain Training’ Work For Children With Autism or ADHD? We look at the Evidence.

I was recently chatting to an expert in the field of autism and ADHD in children and the topic of ‘brain training’ came up.  This is a very ‘hot’ topic in the USA right now because its results are unclear and the costs for parents can be high.  Often, what catches on in the USA makes its way to our shores too.  So I was looking at some informed discussion that I found in NBC News and I am presenting it here for your consideration.

NBC News noticed that families have reorganized their lives and spent thousands of dollars to enroll in intensive after-school “brain training” programs that offer the promise of permanent changes to the human mind.

The programs are part of a fast-growing industry that’s based on the premise that targeted games and exercises can rewire the brain to boost memory, sharpen thinking or decrease the challenges associated with anxiety, autism, ADHD and other disorders. Brick-and-mortar training centers like Brain Balance Achievement Centers, which Izak attends, and LearningRx, Kyle’s program, are just one piece of a $2 billion global brain technology market that is increasingly going around the medical industry and marketing directly to consumers.

But the premise behind the programs has faced significant criticism from doctors and scientists who warn that some are making dubious claims. These personalized programs can cost $12,000 or more for six months of training, three days a week. Families have gone into debt or turned to crowdfunding sites to pay for them.

“They’re selling hope,” said Eric Rossen, the director of professional development and standards for the National Association of School Psychologists. “These organizations are not necessarily predatory, but they are definitely there and almost chasing the parents who are desperate, who are overwhelmed and who feel that they have no recourse.”

As the number of children diagnosed with ADHD and autism surges in the U.S., according to federal data, and as parents become exasperated with treatments that don’t work or involve medications that carry the risk of side effects, neurotechnology industry analysts predict the demand for programs like these will only grow.

NBC News spoke with more than a dozen scientists and experts who said that while there’s promise in some forms of brain training, the field is so new that many companies are making claims that go far beyond what they can prove.

That hasn’t stopped families from enrolling. NBCNews spoke to 22 parents of children who enrolled in Brain Balance or LearningRx, two of the largest one-on-one training programs, and many described positive results.

“LearningRx makes you use your brain in a different way than you do in school,” said Kyle’s mother, Alana Gregory, who says her son is focusing better and is less likely to hit other children than he was before he started the program in August. “It’s giving him skills to help when he is frustrated. And when he’s not as frustrated, we don’t have behavior issues.”

But other parents say they’ve seen only minor improvements — if any — despite months of hard work and high bills.

“The whole thing is a hoax,” said Atheer Sabti, who took out a $12,500 loan in 2017 to pay for a six-month Brain Balance program in Plano, Texas, to help his then 12-year-old son, who was getting into trouble and struggling to focus in school.

“They took my money,” Sabti said, “and my son was the same.”

Much of the growth in brain training is in apps and games that people use at home or in school, said Alvaro Fernandez, CEO of SharpBrains, a research firm that tracks the neurotechnology industry. The global market for direct-to-consumer technology grew from $475 million in 2012 to $1.9 billion last year, Fernandez said.

Those numbers don’t include franchises like Brain Balance or LearningRX, which Fernandez says are more difficult to track financially. But these centers are now in most major U.S. cities. Brain Balance has 108 locations and said it brought in $51.3 million last year. LearningRx has 70 centers in the U.S. as well as 85 centers called BrainRx around the globe. The company declined to provide revenue numbers but says it hopes to add eight U.S. centers and 20 international centers next year.

Other companies include Neurocore Brain Performance Centers, which made headlines in 2017 when U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos disclosed that she and her husband are major shareholders.

Groups that advocate for people with autism and ADHD, including Autism Speaks and Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or CHADD, warn parents to be wary of companies like these that claim to address a long list of disorders without much scientific proof.

“We want science to drive treatment and intervention, not just anecdotes,” said Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist in Cleveland and the co-chair of CHADD’s professional advisory board.

Brain training companies are careful to comply with federal advertising laws, avoiding phrases like “treat” or “cure.” But some companies have run into trouble. LearningRx paid $200,000 in 2016 to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission about deceptive claims.

LearningRx maintained that the FTC had unfairly applied medical standards to an educational company, but decided that fighting in court would have been too expensive.

Neurocore, a program that blends diet, exercise, clinical talk therapy and an intervention called neurofeedback that involves attaching electrodes to people’s heads, last year agreed to alter its marketing when an advertising review board objected to ads promoting cures for a host of disorders. But just last month, Neurocore was the subject of a complaintfiled with the FTC by the ad watchdog Truth in Advertising.

“They’ve continued to market in a really inappropriate way,” said Bonnie Patten, Truth in Advertising’s executive director. “They’re marketing unapproved medical devices as being able to treat ailments such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, migraines and memory loss when there’s no reliable scientific evidence.”

Neurocore CEO Mark Murrison points to research showing that neurofeedback works, though scientists say it has not been fully proven. He says Patten’s organization has never reached out to him and he doesn’t believe she understands his program.

His company has encountered skeptics, but “that’s to be expected when you offer an alternative to the status quo,” he said.

The FTC declined to comment.

Brain Balance centers are colorful, cheerfully decorated places, often located in shopping centers in affluent neighborhoods. They each have a cognitive room where students play video games that target memory or brain function and a sensory motor room filled with mats, balance beams and monkey bars.

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On a recent afternoon at the Brain Balance in Oxford, about 40 miles north of Detroit, classical music played softly as coaches guided students through exercises designed to stimulate the left or the right side of their brains.

The Brain Balance program is demanding, calling on families to reduce children’s screen time and to cut most sugar, gluten and dairy from their diets. But what has raised eyebrows among mainstream scientists are some unproven theories that drive the one-on-one training.

One of those theories is the popular notion that the right and left side of the brain have different influences on personality. Brain Balance claims that a right brain weakness can cause impulsivity and anxiety, while a left brain weakness can lead to poor math or reading skills. That’s why kids remove just one sock: Brain Balance believes that as a bare foot makes contact with the floor, the opposite side of the brain will get more stimulation. Metronomes and shakers are placed on the same side as the bare foot.

Another Brain Balance theory has to do with primitive infant reflexes, which are the instincts babies are born with to help them survive. The rooting reflex, for example, supports nursing by leading babies to turn toward objects that touch their cheeks. The moro reflex, which likely evolved to help infants cling to their mothers, causes babies to extend their arms and legs when startled.

Doctors say that most people outgrow these reflexes by the time they start preschool. Robert Melillo, a chiropractor and author who founded Brain Balance in 2006, asserted that children who retain reflexes face academic and behavioral struggles. Brain Balance tests children for eight primitive reflexes and has exercises that target each one. The one that targets the moro reflex has children stretch their arms and legs, then curl into a ball.

Other exercises, such as standing on one foot, target balance and coordination to promote “connectivity” in the brain, said Rebecca Jackson, Brain Balance’s vice president of programs and outreach. “I always like to tell the kids that it’s kind of like a workout for your brain,” she said. “We all have strong muscles and weak muscles, and it’s the same thing with the brain.”

George Anderson, a senior research scientist in the Child Study Center at Yale University, is doubtful of this approach. He is among several university-affiliated experts and medical professionals who reviewed the research on the company’s website and saw little proof to support the program’s theories.

There is evidence that people with neurological issues like ADHD and autism are, in fact, more likely to retain primitive reflexes than their peers, Anderson said. But that doesn’t mean that the Brain Balance exercises can eliminate retained reflexes, or that eliminating those reflexes would permanently reduce challenging behaviors.

“There’s just a lack of foundation for what they’re doing,” he said. “There are things that they really need to show, and I’m surprised they’re in business and have 100 centers if they haven’t shown that. Actually, I’m not surprised they’re in business if they can get $12,000 for doing this. It’s a way to make money. I’m surprised they don’t view this as unethical.”

Daniel Simons, a University of Illinois psychology professor who has scrutinized 130 papers cited by brain training programs, said there is “zero evidence” to support the Brain Balance theory about problems being caused by a weakness on one side of the brain. “This is pseudoscience at best,” he said.

Brain Balance CEO Dominick Fedele says science supports the program’s components, including the benefits of exercise for the brain. But he acknowledged that the company had not, until recently, attempted a comprehensive study comparing lasting outcomes for children who came through the program to a control group that did not. The company is now helping to fund such a study by a Harvard researcher.

“We know there are skeptics out there and we suspect there will continue to be, but we want to be able to show that this is a program that truly makes a difference,” Fedele said.

The company rejected the notion that selling an intervention that hasn’t been fully proven is unethical. Many families report positive results and the activities aren’t harmful, said Jackson, the Brain Balance vice president.

Asked about downsides, Jackson replied, “the downside is there is cost … or time and money involved.”

Melillo, who sold most of his stake in the company to a private equity firm several years ago, told NBC News that he honed the program over 10 years of working with children before he started charging for it.

“The idea that we always have to wait to make sure we have absolute proof makes no sense,” he said. “The only way you know it works is by using it.”

Parents who say the program doesn’t work resent the thousands of dollars they spent to test it out.

Srikanth Mamidi was so angry about not seeing lasting benefits for his autistic son after six months in a Brain Balance program in Cary, North Carolina, that he tracked Melillo down at a ribbon cutting for another center and confronted him.

“It was a time waster, an energy waster and a money waster,” Mamidi said.

The program had seemed “wacky” to him, but he and his wife were determined to avoid giving medication to their son, who was 11 at the time and was struggling to make friends and pay attention in class, he said. They were hopeful when they paid $10,000 for the program and committed to driving 40 minutes each way for the training sessions.

But Mamidi said the small changes they saw in the beginning, such as a slight improvement in their son’s ability to communicate, faded quickly.

When Mamidi confronted Melillo in 2016, the company founder just walked away, Mamidi said. “They are interested in making money rather than improving people’s lives,” he said.

Melillo said he did not recall the confrontation but notes that Mamidi is just one disgruntled parent among thousands who swear by the results.

Most Brain Balance reviews posted on Google and Yelp are glowing. Many franchise owners, including the couple who own the Oxford center, are former clients who tell moving stories about the relief they felt when they walked through the door after an overwhelming quest to help their children.

Izak’s mom, Patty Lopez, says her son is a different child than he was when he started Brain Balance last spring. Back then, he was prone to daily tantrums that would last for an hour or more. When he was briefly in kindergarten last year, he trashed the classroom so many times that a teacher described him as the “worst student that she had ever had in 18 years,” Lopez said.

The family has made sacrifices to adopt the program’s strict dietary and screen-time guidelines and make the hourlong drive to trainings. But it’s all been worth it, she said.

After seven months of Brain Balance, Lopez said Izak is doing well in school and now rarely has meltdowns, and she and her husband have been able to avoid giving him the medication that doctors wanted to prescribe. “It’s a huge change,” she said. “It’s more relaxed. We can play. We can have conversations with him now.”

Why do some families see benefits from brain training programs while others don’t?

Experts say there could be lots of reasons — all interventions, including medicine, affect children differently. Also, parents spending large sums of money can fuel the placebo effect, the belief that a treatment is working even if it’s not.

Children in the Brain Balance program are doing regular exercise and eating better than they may have been before, which can lead to better sleep. Many spend less time watching TV or staring at a phone. They’re getting lots of personal attention from Brain Balance’s coaches. And they’re developing and maturing.

“At the end of the year, they’re better and many times they would have gotten better on their own,” said Rossen, of the National Association of School Psychologists.

Many variables affect children’s lives — new teachers, new schools, new milestones. It can be difficult to know what accounts for behavioral changes.

Ben Forbush, 19, a freshman at Michigan State University, said Brain Balance helped him with depression and anxiety when he enrolled as a high school senior.

He started eating breakfast and getting more exercise. He significantly curtailed the time he spent on his phone, and slept much better.

“It might have been that the program enabled me to take care of myself a lot more than I had before,” he said. “I’ll never know which aspect it was. There’s a chance it could have been any of them. If it works, it works. It definitely helped me a lot.”

Crystal Hoshaw, a California mother, believes Brain Balance helped her son Noah, 7, with reducing repetitive behaviors related to autism and anxiety, such as sucking on his hands, that had been exacerbated by his parents’ separation and a move to a new home.

She credits Brain Balance with Noah’s improvements because his tics were related to the nervous system, which the program targets. Noah also may have benefited from the extra time he and his mother spent together during the 45-minute drive to Brain Balance in San Francisco. The two stopped for burgers in what became “little special dates,” she said. To Hoshaw, the exact source of Noah’s progress matters less than the results.

“It doesn’t have to be a hard line — a good or a bad or a magic bullet or snake oil. It doesn’t have to be so polarized,” she said. “It can just be one part of a holistic, well-rounded approach to helping a kid.”

The LearningRX training center in Colorado Springs buzzed with activity on a recent afternoon as seven students and their trainers worked together at small tables. The noise level is intentionally loud to train clients to tune out distractions.

One child bounced on a mini-trampoline as she tried to recall all 45 U.S. presidents. Another child tossed a ball with his trainer as they took turns reciting the alphabet in time with a metronome, an exercise designed to help him multitask.

Many of LearningRx’s brain games are similar to exercises that psychologists use to conduct IQ tests, including recalling numbers or shapes. They’re given easy tasks to start and are rewarded with high fives from their coaches and points they can save up to buy prizes. When they can recite all of the presidents, their picture is posted on the wall.

LearningRX, which was founded in 2003 by an optometrist, initially as a vision therapy program, says it has always done research to show that the program can, for example, help the 29 percent of clients who have ADHD. The company has made a greater effort to publish that research since the FTC charges.

In the past three years, the company has published 11 peer-reviewed studies, said Amy Moore, an educational psychologist and research director of the LearningRx’s research arm, the Gibson Institute of Cognitive Research. Among them is a small clinical trial published in a neuropsychiatry journal that found statistically significant improvements in a group of seven clients who had ADHD compared to a control group of six people with ADHD who did not attend LearningRx.

“‘Prove’ is not in our language, but we have a convergence of evidence that shows that the program changes test results,” Moore said. “It changes connectivity in the brain and it changes real life.”

But questions persist.

“I would want a lot more evidence,” said Thomas Redick, a psychology professor at Purdue University who has reviewed hundreds of brain training studies. He was among several experts who spoke with NBC News who noted that the peer-reviewed controlled trials and other studies touted on LearningRx’s website were fairly small or lacked methodological rigor, such as measures to control for the placebo effect.

Redick added that he doesn’t doubt that LearningRx clients do better on IQ tests after months of training, but he questioned whether the benefits translate to other settings. He is skeptical of LearningRx’s claims that its clients have improved at school.

“You can learn mnemonic strategies that are effective but that only works for those materials,” he said. “It’s not changing whether or not you have ADHD.”

Still, Alana Gregory, Kyle’s mom, said LearningRx has built confidence in her son, which has improved his behavior.

“There is no magic pill,” she said, “but you have to find out what works for your individual child and go with it.”

So, my question to you, the disabilitymatch community here in the UK is are these programmes a ‘hoax’ or do they offer the promise of a pre-emptive strike against childhood anxiety, autism and ADHD?    My own sympathies lie with Thomas Redick who feels there is still a very long way to go before professionals can whol-heartedly endorse the efficacy of these ‘brain-training’ therapies.

This content was originally published here.

Autistic adults thought they were ‘bad people’

Although we often think of Autism as being something spotted early on in childhood, many people on the spectrum as not disagnosed until much later in life.  Indees, many amongst us were just considered as ‘a bit odd’ during gtheir adolescence and working life and then one day they realise that they were, in fact, autistic.

Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University interviewed nine adults about their experiences of being diagnosed with autism in their 50s. The participants were aged between 52 and 54.

As children, some participants recounted having no friends and being isolated from others, and as adults they could not understand why people treated them differently. Several had been treated for anxiety and depression.

Participants also highlighted the lack of support available to adults with a new diagnosis.

It is thought to be the first study of its kind that examines the phenomenon of receiving a diagnosis exclusively in middle age.

It is thought to be the first study of its kind that examines the phenomenon of receiving a diagnosis exclusively in middle age. The image is in the public domain.

Dr Steven Stagg, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and lead author of the study, said: “One aspect of the research I found heart-wrenching was that the participants had grown up believing they were bad people. They referred to themselves as ‘alien’ and ‘non human’.

“The research also suggests that receiving a diagnosis in middle age can be positive. The participants often described it as a eureka moment that brought relief into their lives. It allowed them to understand why others had reacted negatively towards them.

“Clinicians and health workers need to be aware of the possible signs of autism. Often people are diagnosed with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions and the autism is missed. More work also needs to be done to support older people after they receive a diagnosis.”

Living with autism without knowing: receiving a diagnosis in later life

Increasingly adults over the age of 50 are receiving a diagnosis of autism spectrum condition. Growing up in a time when autism was poorly recognised, these adults have lived unknowingly with the condition and face readjustment. This paper reports the first study to investigate this population. Nine adults over the age of 50, who had recently been diagnosed with ASC, were interviewed, and thematic analysis was used to analyse the transcripts. Results showed that the participants had received treatment for anxiety and depression. They reported ASC behaviours in their childhood and growing up they felt isolated and alien. Receiving a diagnosis was seen as a positive step and allowed for a reconfiguration of self and an appreciation of individual needs. Given the positive aspects of receiving a late diagnosis, more work is needed to identify older adults with undiagnosed ASC.

This is obviously an impoertant research area that needs to be developed and could give much peace an reassurance to middle aged people who had never really understood fully why they saw the world differently
from their peers.

Important Advances in Genetic Defects Research

A NEW way of changing DNA sequences could correct nearly nine in ten genetic defects, US scientists say.

The technology — called prime editing — has been dubbed a “genetic word processor” that can accurately rewrite the genetic code.


Getty – Contributor

Nearly nine in ten genetic defects could be corrected with new technology[/caption]


Researchers have used the method to insert and delete sections and correct “typos” in the three billion DNA “base pairs” that make up the human genome — in other words our genetic code.

Dr David Liu, lead researcher at the Broad Institute in the US, said: “You can think of prime editors to be like word processors, capable of searching for target DNA sequences and precisely replacing them.

“Prime editors offer more flexibility and greater precision.”

There are around 75,000 different mutations that can cause disease in human beings. Dr Liu believes prime editing has the potential to fix 89 per cent of them.

The other 11 per cent are where people have too many copies of a gene or when the whole gene is missing.

Prime editing scans the DNA to find the part that needs to be altered, then uses an enzyme, called a reverse transcriptase, to copy over the correct ­version. In the lab this method has already been successfully used on human and mouse cells




Dr David Liu, lead researcher at the Broad Institute in the US, says the technology offers ‘flexibility and greater precision’[/caption]


This content was originally published here.

Autistic children disproportionately affected by chronic pain

Here at disabilitymatch we are always concerned about autism since many of our users are on ‘the spectrum’ . We are pleased to highlight recent studies that deal with the way autistic children exoperience pain differently to their peers.

Children with autism are about twice as likely as their typical peers to experience chronic or repeated pain, according to a large study. Those with co-occurring developmental conditions, such as or intellectual disability, are even more likely to have chronic pain1.

Several studies have suggested that people with autism may experience pain differently than neurotypical people do. Their pain may also be compounded by the sensory sensitivities and gastrointestinal problems frequently associated with autism. But the topic remains understudied, experts say.

The new study reveals that pain is “a really common experience for kids with autism,” says study investigator Danielle Shapiro, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “They’re experiencing physical pain, even though it’s not typically thought of as a core feature of [autism].”

Shapiro and a colleague used data from the 2016-2017 U.S. National Survey of Children’s Health, a questionnaire that asks parents about their children’s medical diagnoses and whether the children experienced chronic or repeated pain over the previous year. Their analysis included 50,063 children aged 6 to 17 years, including 1,472 with autism.

Detecting distress:

About 16 percent of children with autism experienced chronic or repeated pain in the previous year, the team found. For autistic children with co-occurring conditions, that figure is just under 20 percent. By comparison, only about 8 percent of typical children experienced frequent pain, according to their parents. (About 800 of the nearly 49,000 children in this control group have epilepsy, intellectual disability or cerebral palsy.) The findings appeared 28 October in JAMA Pediatrics.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all to see that the prevalence of general pain complaints is elevated [in this population],” says David Moore, senior lecturer in psychology at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the work. “This is an important public-health issue for this group that we need to do a better job of addressing.”

However, the analysis is based on parent reports, which don’t always tell the whole story, experts caution. This is especially true for autistic children, who may have difficulty communicating that they are in pain.

“A parent’s report of pain is sort of a proxy,” says Micah Mazurek, associate professor of human services at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, who was not involved in the research. “Pain is an internal experience,” she says. “For very young children, and for those who don’t have language, it’s hard to assess that directly.”

The study’s findings should urge doctors to be especially vigilant about identifying pain in people with autism, Mazurek says.

Shapiro hopes the study will be a “springboard” for pain research, including work that looks at the sources of autistic children’s pain.

“That would serve as a pathway to help us think about how to address pain in kids with autism,” she says.

We welcome input here on the blog or on our Facebook page if you wish to give us feedback on this post and the whole subject area of autism.


This content was originally published here.

First evidence of immune response targeting brain cells in autism

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Autism spectrum disorders affect one in 59 American children by age eight. With no known quantitative biological features, autism diagnoses are currently based on expert assessments of behavioral symptoms, including impaired social skills and communication, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests.

In a paper published in Annals of Neurology, Matthew P. Anderson, MD, Ph.D., a physician-scientist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and colleagues report the presence of cellular features consistent with an targeting specialized in more than two thirds of autistic brains analyzed postmortem. These cellular characteristics—not previously observed in autism—lend critical new insight into autism’s origins and could pave the way to improved diagnosis and treatment for people with this disorder.

“While further research is needed, determining the neuropathology of autism is an important first step to understanding both its causes and potential treatment,” said Anderson, who is Chief of Neuropathology in the Department of Pathology at BIDMC and an Associate Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. “Investigators typically aim potential treatments at specific pathologies in , such as the tangles and plaques that characterize Alzheimer’s disease and the Lewy bodies seen in Parkinson’s. Until now, we have not had a promising target like that in autism.”

Anderson was examining brains donated to Autism BrainNet, a non-profit tissue bank, when he noticed the presence of perivascular lymphocyte cuffs—an accumulation of immune cells surrounding blood vessels in the . He also noted mysterious bubbles or blisters that scientists call blebs accumulating around these cuffed blood vessels. Anderson and colleagues subsequently found these blebs contained debris from a subset of brain cells called astrocytes.

Not previously linked to autism, perivascular lymphocyte cuffing is a well-known indicator of chronic inflammation in the brain. Lymphocyte cuffs in the brain are telltale signs of viral infections or autoimmune . But the pattern Anderson observed did not match any previously documented infection or autoimmune disorder of the brain. In the brains Anderson examined, the cuffs were subtle but distinct. “I’ve seen enough brains to know you shouldn’t see that,” he said.

To find out if the perivascular lymphocyte cuffs in this sample of autistic brains were linked to autism spectrum disorder, Anderson and colleagues compared 25 brains from donors diagnosed with the disorder to 30 brains from neurotypical brain donors. These neurotypical control cases were selected to approximate the age range and medical histories of the autism group. Present in more than two-thirds of the autistic brains, perivascular lymphocyte cuffing significantly surpassed that in the control cases.

In a second set of experiments, Anderson’s team determined that the perivascular cuffs were made up of killer T-cells, a subset of immune cells responsible for attacking and killing damaged, infected or cancerous cells or normal cells in autoimmune diseases. With no apparent evidence of viruses known to infect the brain, the presence of these tissue-attacking immune cells throughout the autistic brains suggested one of two scenarios, explained Anderson. Either the T-cells are reacting normally to a pathogen such as a virus, or they are reacting abnormally to normal tissue—the definition of an autoimmune disorder.

“With this new research, we haven’t proved causality, but this is one clue in support of the idea that autism might be an autoimmune disorder, just like multiple sclerosis is thought to be,” said Anderson.

In future research, Anderson and colleagues will work to develop a genetically-engineered animal model of this T-lymphocyte cuffing neuropathology in which to conduct studies to determine mechanism as well as cause and effect. The team also plans to search for biomarkers—a measurable diagnostic signature in patients’ urine or blood or other tissues—that may be used to identify these newly-documented cellular features in living patients. In turn, these biomarkers could one day assist clinicians in the diagnosis and long-term care of people with .

More information: Marcello M. DiStasio et al, T‐lymphocytes and Cytotoxic Astrocyte Blebs Correlate Across Autism Brains, Annals of Neurology (2019). DOI: 10.1002/ana.25610

Journal information: Annals of Neurology
Citation: First evidence of immune response targeting brain cells in autism (2019, October 18) retrieved 18 October 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-10-evidence-immune-response-brain-cells.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

This content was originally published here.

disabilitymatch.co.uk blogger

News About Disabilitymatch Media Activity

disabilitymatch.co.uk websiteWell we have been busy this last month.  I have always enjoyed blogging about disability issues and over the years many websites and magazines have featured my articles.  This Summer has been particularly exciting with guest appearances ion a whole batch of top websites.  I was especially excited to have my articles published in Able Magazine which is the largest site/magazine for disabled living.  I even managed to get a podcast interview with Claire Foxton who runs their social media operation.   They published 2 of my blog pieces recently:  One about Autistic singles and further post about dating with a colostomy bag which is a topic that doesn’t get anywhere near enough coverage.

I was also published by independentliving site where I discussed the problems of dating after a spinal injury.  Their website fascinates me, there is just so much good information about adaptive living and today I interviewed their founder Frances Leckie about the site and how it functions.  It has been around for more than 20 years so it is a pioneer in the disability market.  Another hugely influential American website goodmenproject.com published a version of my spinal injury article which brings disabilitymatch to an even larger audience.

So why do I spend so much time blogging for different website?  Well, in this crowded online world sites like disabilitymatch have to stand out from the crowd and develop a presence beyond their own 4 walls.  We are without doubt the largest of the uK disabilitydating sites and much of that comes from blogging and maintaining a strong social media presence.  We have always tweeted @disabilitymatch and now we are doing more on instagram @disabilitymatch and of course our facebook page facebook.com/disabilitymatch.   That way we can stay in contacted with our members and the wider uK disability community.

Do please visit us, follow us  and participate in our growing success.