research in focus

For People with Traumatic Brain Injury, Early Depression and Behavior Problems May Be Connected

Over 2 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A TBI is lasting brain damage from a blow to the head such as from a fall or car accident. TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe. Some people with TBI may develop mental or emotional challenges after their injury. Two of the most common challenges are depression (including feeling chronically sad or down, and losing interest or pleasure in doing things), and behavior issues, such as becoming more impulsive or having trouble making decisions.

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The Internet and Social Media May Offer Valuable Support and Information for People with TBI

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is damage to the brain resulting from an external force, such as a fall or car accident. TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe. People with TBI, like people without disabilities, may benefit from online resources such as support groups, discussion boards, or social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, to expand their support networks and feel more connected. However, past studies have found that people with TBI may be less likely to use the Internet than people without disabilities.

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Along with Their Care Teams, People with Psychiatric Conditions Can Make Their Treatment Needs Known Before a Crisis Hits

People with serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other psychotic disorders may periodically experience mental health crises or emergencies. During these crises, they may be unable to make treatment decisions or express their treatment wishes. A psychiatric advance directive (PAD) is a legal document that details a person’s preferences for medical treatment during a mental health crisis.

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A New Program May Help People Build Self-Management Skills and Confidence After a Stroke

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States, according to the National Stroke Association. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain either bursts or becomes blocked. Stroke can be mild, moderate, or severe. Stroke can cause problems with movement, speech, or mental functions due to lasting brain damage. People who have had a stroke may face challenges with returning to work, independent living, or social activities after a stroke.

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Mobile Health Systems May Benefit People with Physical Disabilities, But Some People May Have Challenges Using Them

People with physical disabilities may need to engage in ongoing self-care in order to stay healthy. For example, people with physical disabilities may need to take medications to improve symptoms and stabilize their health. People with spina bifida (SB) or spinal cord injury (SCI) may need to check their skin regularly to detect wounds or sores before they get worse. Mobile health (mHealth) applications are smartphone apps that can help people with physical disabilities keep track of and manage their health.

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Rehabilitation Staff Have a Good General Understanding of Concussion, but Could Benefit from Learning More

A concussion is a mild brain injury that may occur after a fall or sudden impact to the head, such as during contact sports. It can cause symptoms such as headaches, confusion, or trouble concentrating, which can last for up to three months after injury. It is important for rehabilitation staff, from physicians and therapists to athletic trainers, to know how to accurately diagnose a concussion, how long it typically lasts, and what advice or therapy is appropriate to help individuals manage their symptoms and recovery.

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A Comprehensive Job Development Program May Help Youth with ASD Make the Successful Transition from School to Work

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects how people communicate and process information. People with ASD may have trouble expressing themselves verbally, responding to social cues, or adapting to changing situations. These challenges may make it difficult for youth with ASD to find and keep jobs in the community. Many youth with ASD may benefit from training in job-related social skills, as well as individualized on-the-job support from a job coach to help with behavioral or social challenges.

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People Caring for Injury Survivors May Benefit From User-Friendly Information and Support Groups

Over 65 million American adults act as caregivers to a person with a medical condition, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregivers are often spouses, parents, children, or friends of a person with a health condition or disability, and they may provide a great deal of unpaid assistance with activities of daily living, housing, transportation, or medical needs. People with burn injuries, spinal cord injuries (SCI), and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) may experience long-term disabilities and may require caregiving assistance.

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A Guided Career Planning Program May Help Young Adults with Mental Health Challenges Achieve Their Goals

People with mental health challenges have conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Adults with mental health challenges face a variety of barriers, and are less likely to find and keep jobs, or complete college degrees, when compared to adults without disabilities. Young adults in their 20s who have mental health challenges may have difficulty meeting important milestones on the path to adulthood such as identifying their career goals or enrolling in college classes.

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Many Fitness Facilities May Not Be Fully Accessible to People with Disabilities

Being physically active is an important part of staying healthy. Running and walking outdoors are popular options, but people with disabilities, especially mobility disabilities, may not have full access to traditional parks and trails. Fitness facilities, such as gyms and health clubs, can offer alternative ways for people to be physically active, but those facilities may still present barriers to getting a workout since many fitness facilities may lack critical features that would enable people with disabilities to fully use the facilities and equipment to exercise.

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