The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University
 

CPD seeks study participants

October 30, 2012 by Sue Reeves

A new study to find out more about the evacuation behaviors of people with mobility-related disabilities is seeking research subjects. Individuals who have a physical or sensory impairment that affects their mobility are encouraged to participate.

The results of the study, which is being conducted by Dr. Keith Christensen at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, will be used to create buildings that better support individuals with disabilities during emergency evacuations.

Individuals accepted into the study will be asked to come to the USU campus for about two hours on either Nov. 9, 15 or 17. Participants will complete a short survey and walk around a circular track containing items typically found in a building such as doorways, corners and other people. Participants may be asked to walk up and down a typical length of stairs, if appropriate. Movement will be measured using a video tracking system, and there will be frequent opportunities to rest. Participants will be compensated with a $100 Visa gift card.

E-mail Christensen at evacstudy@cpdusu.org for more information or to apply for the study. Applicants will be contacted for additional information, and if accepted, will be scheduled for the study.

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New collaborative on multiple sclerosis aims to slow progression of disease

October 29, 2012 by Storee

Despite significant progress in the development of treatments for people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), there are few treatment options for people with progressive forms of MS. The newly formed International Collaborative on Progressive MS has published an opinion paper outlining challenges in developing therapies for progressive MS and identifying key research priorities to propel efforts to stop MS progression. National MS society

The Collaborative is the greatest effort to date aiming at speeding research on progressive MS, and is formed of the MS Societies of Canada, Italy, Netherlands, the UK and the US, and the MS International Federation. The paper, by lead author Robert J. Fox, MD (Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis, Neurological Institute, and Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic) and colleagues, identifies five key priority areas for research, and was published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal (Online First, August 23, 2012).

“Overcoming the challenges of progressive MS is a key objective of the Society’s Strategic Response to MS,” says Timothy Coetzee, PhD, Chief Research Officer of the National MS Society and member of the Collaborative. “This is just one of the ways we’re collaborating worldwide to speed clinical trials in progressive MS.”

The hopes of most people who have MS today rest on finding a way to stop disease worsening and reverse the damage to restore lost functions. MS progression can be slow or it can be fast, but most agree that it occurs in the majority of those who have the disease, even those successfully treated for relapses.

There’s been a great deal of progress in treating relapsing forms of MS, with many FDA-approved therapies. But for every new therapy approved for relapsing forms of MS, people with progressive MS, for whom there are few significant treatment options, feel left behind. Virtually every therapy approved for relapsing MS has been tested, or is now in testing, in people with progressive forms of the disease. Up to now, clinical trials involving people with relapsing MS often rely on counting relapses or doing MRI scans to detect immune activity. The fact that there is no easy way to detect progression quickly is one reason why drug development for progressive MS is behind.

The mission of the International Collaborative on Progressive MS is to expedite the development of effective disease modifying and symptom management therapies for progressive forms of MS. To do so, research efforts are needed on several fronts to lay the groundwork needed to identify possible therapeutic targets and conduct clinical trials aimed at stopping progression of the disease.

For Utahns with MS looking for help, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Utah-Southern Idaho Chapter has a new local representative, Chelsey Banks. Contact her at 801-424-0113 or by email at Banks@NMSS.org. Learn more about the organization at www.cureMSutah.org and www.cureMSidaho.org.

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CPD Faculty Fellow Damon Cann is a USU Researcher of the Year

August 14, 2012 by JoLynne Lyon

photo of Dr. Damon Cann

Dr. Damon Cann

We’ve known Dr. Damon Cann was a great researcher for a long time–and we’re glad to say Utah State University agrees.

He was named a Center for Persons with Disabilities Faculty Fellow earlier this year, and now he is the Faculty Researcher of the Year for the college of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The CPD came to know him when he brought his expertise in statistics and research design to the CPD’s Start Smart project.

The research provides a cost-effectiveness analysis of an extended school year in New Mexico. It will measure the gains in literacy, numeracy and social skills against the costs of the program.

The research has broader implications, as policymakers across the country are looking for ways to keep the United States competitive in the global marketplace. They may consider summer school as an option, and good data could help them make an informed decision.

The project’s strength is in its structure, Dr. Cann said. Not everyone who applies for the summer school services will receive them, but those who applied but were not randomly selected for participation will be used as a control group for the study.

You can read more about him and other top researchers on USU’s Research Peaks webpage. Dr. Cann also discusses his research experience in this short video.

Congratulations, Dr. Cann!

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Pioneering work and pioneers: two excellent reasons to spend some time in SLC

June 6, 2012 by JoLynne Lyon

Two CPD researchers will discuss their work in Salt Lake City this month. It’s a perfect excuse to take a closer look at what they do. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Dr. Vonda Jump

Dr. Vonda Jump

Research Scientist Vonda Jump is featured as one of Utah State University’s Sunrise Session speakers. On June 8 she will outline her work in orphanages around the world at the Little America Hotel. “Optimal Child Development” begins at 7:30 a.m.

 

Here’s what she says about her research:

There are many babies who are languishing in orphanages around the world: children are developing now and can’t wait for adoption to have a better life.  There is no reason, in my opinion, for babies and young children to be developmentally behind their home-reared peers.  There are no cost interventions and new strategies that can be implemented with orphanage caregivers to greatly improve children’s immediate and long-term outcomes. 

In my experience, caregivers are eager to get this information so they can improve on the heroic work they are already doing with children who are often forgotten.  As caregivers have learned and brainstormed new strategies, the children have responded by literally having their brains come to life.

 

CPD Director Bryce Fifield

CPD Director Bryce Fifield

CPD Director Bryce Fifield will present “The Untold Story of Mormon Pioneers with Disabilities” during the LDS Church History Library’s Men and Women of Faith lecture.  He speaks Thursday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the Church Office Building main auditorium.

Here’s some background from Bryce:

I got interested in the experiences of pioneers with disabilities while on a youth trek with kids from our Stake several years ago.  We had people with us who happened to have some health issues and it was amazing to see how they responded to the challenges of the three day hike.  It started me wondering how many of the 70,000 Mormon Pioneer Emigrants had disabilities, and what their experiences on the trail were like.

Several colleagues and I have been working on this line of research now for about three years.  It is a complex story.  Many with disabilities did not make the trip. Only a small fraction of the pioneer emigrants had disabilities.  Of those that came, most made it all the way across the plains, some died along the way.  A few were abandoned.

There are some heroes and some who should be ashamed of themselves.  There are stories that are tragic and some that are inspiring. Some of them continue to play out today with a different cast.


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Sharing research on optimal child development techniques

May 4, 2012 by cpehrson

At Utah State University’s Sunrise Sessions, faculty and students share their research with USU alumni, community and business leaders and the public from the Salt Lake area. Held quarterly in downtown Salt Lake City, these early-morning presentations  inform listeners about world-leading research n diverse fields.

On June 8th, at the Little America Hotel, 500 South Main Street Salt Lake City, the CPD’s own Vonda Jump will be presenting her research on “Optimal Child Development.” Her presentation begins at 7:30 a.m.

A woman sitting on the ground in front of a camel

Dr. Jump has spent years investigating how critical early positive interactions with infants and young children is in creating optimal brain development, particularly in alternative caregiving environments, such as foster care or orphanages.  She has traveled extensively in Ecuador, Haiti, India, and Russia, training orphanage caregivers about the importantance of providing  positive early interactions with the young children there.

Their stories break your heart. Babies abandoned because they are the wrong gender. Toddlers given away when another new mouth comes into the family. Infants struggling to survive after they’ve lost both parents. “We can’t change their stories, but we can give them hope and a fighting chance,” says Vonda Jump, senior research associate at the Center for Persons with Disabilities’ Research and Evaluation Division. It is her belief in that notion that has led her to create and teach relationship-based intervention programs, including infant massage, in orphanages in some of the world’s neediest countries.

At the Sunrise Session, Jump will be talking about specific types of interactions that promote brain development in infants, such as talking, touching, showing them toys/objects. According to her research, it takes only simple interactions to make a positive difference in the brain development of infants and young children.

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