VA not expected to meet Nov. 5 deadline for Choice Cards rollout | Designer creates Iron Man prosthetic hand using 3D printer | 3D-printed replacement heel bone may help patient avoid amputation
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October 21, 2014
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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VA not expected to meet Nov. 5 deadline for Choice Cards rollout
Veterans groups say the Department of Veterans Affairs will not meet a Nov. 5 deadline to provide Choice Cards that would offer access to private care for veterans. Veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA center or face untenable waits would be eligible for the card, and estimates are that between 700,000 and 800,000 would qualify right away. Joseph Violante, legislative director for the Disabled American Veterans, said, "I have heard nothing to lead me to believe they will get any [cards] out by November 5th," although the VA said in a statement that its goal is to meet the deadline. Stars and Stripes (10/16)
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Designer creates Iron Man prosthetic hand using 3D printer
Mechanical designer and animator Pat Starace has created a prosthetic hand using 3D printing that resembles the suit worn by superhero Iron Man. His design includes an LED light display that activates in the palm when the wearer tilts the hand back, replicating the "thruster" feature in the Ironman suit. Starace wants to collaborate with E-nable to give the tool to needy kids and says he wants the device to boost self-esteem among children to "superhero levels." Mashable (10/16)
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3D-printed replacement heel bone may help patient avoid amputation
Doctors in Australia implanted a titanium heel bone into a 71-year-old man’s foot, saving him from amputation after a cancerous tumor was found. Doctors scanned the healthy bone in his left foot and sent the scans to Melbourne-based Anatomics, which created the plans for the replacement. Australia's scientific research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, created the titanium implant using a 3D printer. (10/20)
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Cells from a paralyzed man's nose help repair spinal injury
Surgeons at Wroclaw University in Poland transplanted specialist olfactory ensheathing cells from a patient's nose to his spine to repair damaged spinal cord fibers. The patient, a Bulgarian man whose spinal cord was severed four years ago, is now able to walk while holding on to parallel bars or a frame, according to research published in the journal Cell Transplantation. Funding came from the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation and the UK Stem Cell Foundation, whose ongoing work includes finding sources for olfactory ensheathing cells and creating biomaterials out of nanofiber that can serve as a growing medium for transplanted cells. Business Insider/Agence France-Presse (10/21)
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Poll shows mixed opinions on diabetes among age groups
A Sanofi survey showed 74% of 18- to 34-year-olds consider diabetes a serious health problem, compared with 84% of older adults. Young respondents had greater knowledge about the disease, but were more likely to be afraid of getting pricked by a needle to monitor levels of blood glucose, compared with older adults. Healio (free registration)/Endocrine Today (10/19)
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Legislative and Regulatory
O&P facilities are subject to FDA inspections
Even though the FDA considers most O&P devices to be Class I devices and most have been exempted from some general controls, O&P facilities can still face inspections from the FDA about complaint records and other required records and reports. Attorney Larry R. Pilot details how an FDA inspection might occur and what penalties and other consequences could result. O&P Almanac (Adobe Flash required) (10/2014)
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Survey finds high potential for churn during ACA open enrollment
Only 20% of people who purchased a health insurance plan through an Affordable Care Act exchange said they are not satisfied with their plan, but two-thirds of enrollees said they plan to get a different plan for 2015, a study by Radius Global Market Research found. Enrollees who believed they were well-informed about their plans were more likely to be satisfied, the survey found. Central Penn Business Journal (Harrisburg, Pa.) (10/16)
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Trend Watch
Quadriplegic groom walks down the aisle in Ekso suit
Mike Ficarra, paralyzed from the chest down after a 2011 boating accident, was able to walk down the aisle at his wedding using the Ekso robotic exoskeleton. Although the device is currently only available for clinical use, Ficarra is trying to raise money to purchase a version for everyday use at home when it becomes available next summer. E! Online (10/20)
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Business and Finance
Prosthetics and orthopedics market poised for growth
A ReportsNReports study forecasts that the prosthetic and orthopedic device market will see a compound annual growth rate of 3.9% through 2018. Increased availability of biologic and extremity products is helping fuel market growth in emerging economies, while the uptake of advanced technologies is driving growth in developed markets. (10/20)
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Breaking news from AOPA
Are ADR limits fair to your business? Read here why they may not be. PDAC announces the reclassification of some knee orthoses -- will this affect your business? The Amputee Coalition announces OPIE Integration. Sign up for the 2015 AOPA Business Essential Webinars -- registration for the whole series includes 2 free webinars! OPAF has a new Gold-Level Sponsor. All of this and more in today's AOPA Breaking News!
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