Prototype microscope able to see deep into the brain | Minn. researchers working on sophisticated, less expensive prosthetic hand | Japanese firm uses 3D printing to build inexpensive robotic arm
May 14, 2015
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

Top Story
Prototype microscope able to see deep into the brain
A tiny fiber-optic microscope developed at the University of Colorado is capable of seeing deep into the living brain. The prototype microscope, which can stimulate and record firing neurons, may have wide application in treating brain diseases such as Parkinson's and in the control of prosthetic limbs. The Denver Post (5/13)
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Science and Technology
Minn. researchers working on sophisticated, less expensive prosthetic hand
A team of students and researchers at the University of Minnesota Duluth is developing a five-fingered prosthetic hand using 3D printing, advanced software programming and servos as tendons. Their goal is to create a hand that can perform a wide range of functions and be cost-effective and appealing to its users. The Bemidji Pioneer (Minn.)/Forum News Service (5/12)
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Japanese firm uses 3D printing to build inexpensive robotic arm
Japanese engineer Genta Kondo, co-founder of the small company exiii, is constructing inexpensive plastic robotic arms using 3D printing. One version of the handiii limb uses a smartphone to transmit brain signals, while another employs muscle sensors to control the fingers. The company is making its 3D information and limb-control software open source so others can create limbs. The Japan Times (5/10)
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Shoe insert helps clinicians evaluate how patients walk
Seattle startup Reflx Labs will use Artik, a miniature chip system developed by Samsung, in its Boogio bionic foot sensor. The Boogio shoe insert senses pressure and transmits data about how the user is walking to clinicians. GeekWire (5/12)
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Medical News
Firm commercializes human-skin-based wound dressing
Tissue Regenix is commercializing its DermaPure wound dressing in the U.S. The dressing is based on human donor skin from which DNA and cells have been removed. Medicare contractor Novitas recently approved the product for reimbursement in 11 states and Washington, D.C. The Press (York, England) (5/6)
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Legislative and Regulatory
Understand the rules when billing for refused devices
When a patient refuses an orthotic or prosthetic device, or it is no longer medically necessary, practitioners should ask themselves three questions when determining how to bill for the item, according to AOPA Assistant Director of Coding and Reimbursement Services, Education and Programming Devon Bernard. The questions include whether the device is off-the-shelf or custom made, when the practitioner learned that the device would be refused, and for custom devices, whether the fabrication was completed. Only components that cannot be reused are eligible, and practitioners may only bill for the work that has been completed at the time of refusal. O&P Almanac (Adobe Flash required) (5/2015)
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Supreme Court ACA decision looms
Low- and middle-income workers are vulnerable to a Supreme Court ruling invalidating tax credits for health plans sold through, said Urban Institute senior fellow Linda Blumberg. States that now use the federally run exchange can set up their own so that tax credits would be available to their residents, but doing so would be both time-consuming and financially challenging, Blumberg said. Kaiser Health News/National Public Radio (5/11)
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Trend Watch
Overweight children provide challenges to orthotists
Treating obese pediatric patients is a challenge for O&P practitioners, particularly when those children also have coordination disorders, Down syndrome, spina bifida or Prader-Willi syndrome. Spina bifida patients need frequent brace readjustments or replacements, and overweight scoliosis patients are difficult to fit. Many obese children have flat feet and benefit from weight-distributing foot orthoses. O&P Almanac (Adobe Flash required) (5/2015)
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Business and Finance
Commentary: Think twice before cutting benefits
It's tempting to keep health care costs as low as possible, but this approach may backfire and encourage employees to head elsewhere, writes Joseph Appelbaum, founder of Potomac Companies. "Offering a richer [benefits] program ... will set your company apart from the competition and enhance both employee recruitment and retention," he notes. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (5/11)
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Breaking news from AOPA
AOPA member Orthologix announces first-of-its-kind Patient Navigation program. Orthotic Solutions of Fairfax, Va., welcomes new orthotist to the team. Better business performance starts here -- complete the 2015 Operating Performance Survey and the 2015 Compensation Survey by June 19! AOPA Assembly registration is open -- register today. Don’t miss the latest in AOPA's Breaking News!
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Upcoming events
June 10: Stay Out of Trouble: Building a Medicare-Approved Compliance Plan. Learn more and register online.
July 8: Who’s on First? Medicare as a Secondary Payer. Learn more and register online.
July 13-14: Essential Coding & Billing Techniques Seminar, Philadelphia, Pa. Learn more and register online.
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-- Theodore Bikel,
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