Paralympic Winter Games conclude in Sochi, Russia | Unconscious brain reactions have implications for prosthetic use | Exoskeleton evolving for medical and industrial uses
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March 18, 2014
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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Paralympic Winter Games conclude in Sochi, Russia
A Russian Paralympic athlete who is a bilateral leg amputee climbed a 50-foot rope to change large Tetris-style letters from "Impossible" to "I'm Possible" at the closing ceremonies for the Sochi Paralympic Games, where 547 athletes from 45 countries competed in more than 70 events. Russia won the gold and overall medal counts. Germany was a distant second in gold medals, and Ukraine second in overall medals. The U.S. won 18 medals, including a sweep in adaptive snowboardcross and a gold in men's sledge hockey. (3/17)
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Science and Technology
Unconscious brain reactions have implications for prosthetic use
Specialized parts of the brain are hard-wired to absorb visual information about the body and trigger immediate unconscious responses, according to research conducted at University College London and Cambridge University. This mechanism, which is independent of normal conscious processing of visual stimuli, could be a factor in why individuals can have difficulty using even advanced prosthetic limbs. The Times of India (3/17)
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Exoskeleton evolving for medical and industrial uses
The Ekso Bionics exoskeleton has undergone frequent changes since its first version, the Defense Department-funded HULC, or human load universal carrier. Ekso's bionic suit, which includes a new 3D printed version for custom fit, can now assist anyone with lower-extremity mobility issues stemming from spinal cord injuries or strokes. The device is built primarily from aluminum, but when volumes increase, economies of scale may make injection plastic molding a cost-effective alternative, according to Russ Angold, Ekso co-founder. (3/15)
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Medical News
Study: Foot ulcer care raises diabetes costs significantly
During a one-year study period, the cost of treating Medicare diabetes patients with foot ulcers was $11,700 more per patient than those without foot ulcers. For patients with private insurance, the cost difference was $16,883. Overall, treatment of foot ulcers increased national diabetes care by up to $13 billion. The study, conducted by the consulting firm Analysis Group, appeared in the journal Diabetes Care. McKnight's Long-Term Care News (3/17)
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Tequila plant sugars may help protect against type 2 diabetes
Scientists in Mexico found that adding agavins to the diets of mice resulted in weight loss and a decrease in blood glucose levels. Agavins, natural sugars from the agave plant used to make tequila, may have potential as a light sweetener, according to researcher Mercedes López. "They are sugars, highly soluble, with a low glycemic index....This puts agavins in a tremendous position for their consumption by obese and diabetic people," she wrote. MedPage Today (free registration) (3/16), FoodNavigator (3/20)
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Legislative and Regulatory
Obama administration issues broad ACA mandate exemptions
Potentially millions of people may qualify for an exemption to the Affordable Care Act's tax penalty for not having health insurance, including people whose homes have been foreclosed on or who are homeless, victims of domestic violence, people whose utilities have been turned off, and people who have had a family member die recently. The rules for an exemption are ambiguous, Avalere Health President Dan Mendelson said, and critics say the exemption rules gut the individual mandate. Bloomberg (3/14)
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Trend Watch
Ore. instructor offers "Yoga for Amputees" class
Portland, Ore., yoga instructor Kate Dessommes has begun classes for amputees as well as "Yoga Warriors" for military veterans. One client is quadruple amputee Jim Tucker, who loved bikram, or "hot," yoga before losing parts of his arms and legs to infection. With Dessommes' help, Tucker was able to execute all of the basic poses with simple adjustments, such as using a block, blanket and pillow. The Oregonian (Portland) (3/17)
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Athlete displays striking prosthesis at fashion event
Amy Winters, an ultramarathon runner with a below-knee amputation, modeled an eye-catching prosthesis on the runway at Toronto's VAWK show at World MasterCard Fashion Week. The prosthetic leg was designed by Alleles Design Studio in Alberta, working with VAWK fashion designer Sunny Fong. Winters, director of Long Island, N.Y.-based A Step Ahead Prosthetics, recently completed a three-day marathon. The Brandon Sun (Manitoba) (3/18)
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Breaking news from AOPA
The CMS expands contractor authority to deny "related" claims -- here's what you need to know. Make sure you are using the latest CMS 1500 form -- get the latest copy. Participate in the Annual Policy Forum, April 2-3 at the Renaissance Washington D.C. Hotel, with extended educational programs being offered April 3-4! Calling all students and residents: Gain national recognition and advance your career at the 2014 National Assembly with the Student-Resident Poster Award Honors! All of this and more in today's AOPA Breaking News.
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Upcoming events
April 2 - 4:  2014 AOPA Policy Forum, Renaissance Hotel, Washington, D.C. Learn more or register online.
April 7 - 8:  Mastering Medicare: Essential Coding and Billing Seminar, Las Vegas Learn more or register online.
April 9:  How to Use Advanced Beneficiary Notices (ABNs) Effectively (Telephone audio conference) Learn more or register online.

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