Breakthrough is achieved with first mind-controlled prosthetic leg | Colo. woman walks again with upgraded exoskeleton | Gene-correction therapy for Duchenne MD suffers setback but is still seen as promising
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September 26, 2013
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News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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Breakthrough is achieved with first mind-controlled prosthetic leg
Credit: NBC News
Scientists at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago have achieved a major milestone with their demonstration of a prosthetic knee and ankle that are controlled by nerves in the upper leg of the wearer, allowing the amputee "to seamlessly transition between walking along level ground and going up and down stairs and slopes," according to biomedical engineer Levi Hargrove at the institute. Robotic legs currently available combine computers with mechanical sensors that allow for improved gait, but don't do well in situations such as stair-climbing. The new mind-controlled leg prosthesis has software and electrodes that translate small electrical signals in the leg muscles into more intuitive natural movements. NBC News (9/25), Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (9/25)
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Colo. woman walks again with upgraded exoskeleton
Amanda Boxtel of Aspen, Colo., paralyzed in a skiing accident, is now walking daily, albeit slowly, with the latest version of the Ekso Bionics exoskeleton, which permits her to employ a more natural gait and bear much of her own weight for the first time in more than 20 years. The exoskeleton, which employs a computer, battery packs, motors and motion sensors, also lowers her edema and neuropathic pain. of Consciousness blog (9/24)
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Gene-correction therapy for Duchenne MD suffers setback but is still seen as promising
Anecdotal reports from patients and data from small clinical trials have raised hopes that experimental drugs for Duchenne muscular dystrophy based on a new genetic technique called exon skipping could ultimately lead to a treatment. Drisapersen, an exon-skipping drug being developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Prosensa, failed to beat a placebo in preserving muscle function in boys with the disease in a large trial, but the idea of correcting faulty genes remains promising. "We are fully confident in the exon-skipping technology as a viable platform to develop a treatment for Duchenne," said Debra Miller, president of the advocacy group CureDuchenne. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (9/23)
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Researchers identify link between antidepressants and risk of type 2 diabetes
A review of 25 previous studies by British researchers found that people who take antidepressants may be at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Scientists have not yet identified a specific link or cause, although they note that some medications cause patients to gain weight, which can increase risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers said the topic calls for further study. (Lubbock, Texas) (9/26)
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Experts tie calcium concentrations to diabetes risk
Data on 863 participants indicated that those with the highest serum calcium concentrations had higher odds of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that only those with the highest concentrations showed a significant increase in incident diabetes after adjusting for factors including family history, insulin sensitivity and plasma glucose levels. The results were presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting. Medscape (free registration) (9/24)
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Legislative and Regulatory
House bill would require licensure, certification to provide Medicare O&P services
The Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act of 2013, which was introduced in the House last week by Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Mike Thompson, D-Calif., would allow only those practitioners who have been accredited or licensed in O&P to be reimbursed for O&P services under Medicare. The bill is expected to save money, reduce Medicare fraud and provide better O&P care for Medicare beneficiaries. Healio (free registration) (9/25)
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  • See Rep. Tammy Duckworth's speech about O&P advocacy and innovation from the O&P World Congress.
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HHS: Average monthly premium under ACA is $328
On the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges set to open in October, the average premium for an individual, middle-tier policy will be $328 a month before tax credits are included for low- and middle-income citizens, according to a report from HHS. "For millions of Americans, these new options will finally make health insurance work within their budgets," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. The cheapest plans for younger adults with low incomes could cost from $48 per month in Arkansas to $120 in Arizona. Politico (Washington, D.C.) (9/25), The Washington Post (tiered subscription model)/Wonkblog (9/25), Reuters (9/25)
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Paralympian completes 40 marathons in 40 days
Despite pain and exhaustion, Paralympian Richard Whitehead, a bilateral above-knee amputee, reached his goal of completing 40 marathons in 40 days as part of a charity challenge. He started in Scotland on Aug. 13 and arrived in England on Monday. The Independent (London) (tiered subscription model) (9/23)
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Business and Finance
Japanese robotics firm invests in ARGO Medical
ARGO Medical Technologies, maker of the ReWalk system designed to allow patients with lower-limb disabilities to walk, has received an investment from Japanese robotics firm Yaskawa Electric. Yaskawa also agreed to distribute ReWalk in Asia. The device is available in two configurations -- one tailored for personal use by patients and the other for rehabilitation facilities. (9/25)
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Breaking news from AOPA
The 2013 O&P World Congress was an overwhelming success. Check out the video presentation on Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth's story of recovery and political advocacy. Along with more World Congress highlights, we congratulate the Fabrication Contest winners! Strike while the iron is hot and take action on the Medicare O&P Improvements Act -- send a letter to your representatives today! The FDA releases a final rule regarding unique device identifiers and the DME MAC announces a pre-payment review for L5981. AOPA's final Coding & Billing Seminar of 2013 is coming up in Vegas -- stay on top of the game and don't miss it! All of this in today's AOPA Breaking News.
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Oct. 22-23: Mastering Medicare: Advanced Coding and Billing Techniques, Las Vegas
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