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Georgia researchers explore voting aids for disabled vets

Although the hotly contested presidential election is now over, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology still have it on their mind. They, along with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the Operation BRAVO Foundation, are researching ways to provide a more accessible voting system for disabled veterans.

Some characterize traumatic brain injury as the signature injury of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, there is no cure for permanently damaged brain cells. However, doctors may have treatments available to reduce some of the symptoms of TBI, which may include problems with cognitive ability, independence, memory, and attention span.

In the study, researchers found that even simple steps, such as simplifying the ballot design and removing distractions during the voting process, can ease the process for veterans with TBI.

In a recent post, we discussed a theory linking TBI to the development of neurodegenerative problems, such as Parkinson's. Today's story provides a personalized example of the potentially disabling effects of TBI.

The story also comes at a time when a growing body of research is suggesting a link between head trauma and long-term, degenerative disease or cognitive impairment. Yet although researchers believe that head trauma may trigger subsequent disabling conditions, the onset of the condition may not be until years or even decades after the traumatic event (or the end of a person's participation in sports). For that reason, the disease may only gradually interfere with a person's ability to work. A combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors may also explain why, for some, head trauma may result in different or additional neurodegenerative diseases.

Although doctors may classify the symptoms of brain injury as severe, the Social Security Administration often requires more than a mere diagnosis. Evidence of the functional limitations imposed by a disease will often be required in an application for SSDI benefits. Not surprisingly, many applicants find the assistance of a Social Security lawyer to be invaluable throughout the application process.

Source: Futurity.org, "To vote, injured vets need better access," Nov. 21, 2012

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