Key brain-computer linkages will drive future prosthetics | Johns Hopkins tests thought-controlled prosthetic arms | Sidestepping brain implants may offer better control of prostheses
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December 5, 2013
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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Key brain-computer linkages will drive future prosthetics
The prosthetic limbs and other enabling devices of the future will depend on the crucial juncture between the human brain and computers to achieve near-natural results. This article looks at a few of the technologies in the neuroprosthetic field that were written about in a special issue of Science Translational Medicine. Medscape (free registration) (12/3)
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Johns Hopkins tests thought-controlled prosthetic arms
With funding form DARPA, Texas-based Advanced Arm Dynamics and Baltimore's Infinite Biomedical Technologies have joined Johns Hopkins University to test thought-controlled prosthetic arms that rely on sophisticated algorithms to interpret electrical signals and allow patients to move and manipulate objects. Both the patient and the software must undergo repeated rounds of training to learn how different thought commands translate into the arm’s physical activity. "We're almost inventing a new field of medicine," said Dr. Albert Chi, a Johns Hopkins trauma surgeon. The Baltimore Sun (12/4)
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Sidestepping brain implants may offer better control of prostheses
Direct connections between the brain and a prosthetic device are still largely experimental and tend to be unreliable, according to this article. To overcome some of the problems inherent in brain-controlled prostheses, researchers are connecting nerve endings in the residual limb to the prosthesis. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, for example, has fitted electrodes in an artificial leg to pick up signals from peripheral nerve endings, and Case Western Reserve University uses sensors in a bionic hand to transmit tactile information through electrodes placed in the upper arm. (12/4)
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Vitamin D may help women manage diabetes symptoms
Research from Loyola University Chicago suggests that vitamin D may help women with type 2 diabetes cope with the discomfort and depression associated with their ailment. After a few months of receiving supplements, women in the study experienced a significant reduction in pain, the researchers found. (12/3)
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Legislative and Regulatory
1 million consumers hit after fix is announced
One million people visited the federal health insurance exchange Monday after officials announced capacity had been upgraded and errors had been fixed, according to CMS data. Engineers say they repaired a software error that omitted Social Security numbers from data transmitted to insurers and prevented complete enrollment, and engineers deployed a queue system to hold new visitors on a waiting page until others are through the process. Some visitors still had problems, but others easily applied for an insurance plan. Bloomberg (12/3), Yahoo/The Associated Press (12/3)
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FDA issues update on submission of device data under UDI system
The FDA has issued an update on its final rule to set up a Unique Device Identification system for medical devices. Companies with U.S. marketing approval must use a global UDI database administered by the FDA when submitting device identification data, and they have two options for doing so, as discussed in draft technical details released by the agency. Companies may work with a Web interface or submit electronically using an HL7 SPL file. (Boston)/Emergo Group blog (12/3)
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Business and Finance
Upgrading IT to fit your facility
Even though Medicare’s electronic health record requirements do not currently apply to O&P facilities, savvy facility owners are converting to electronic processes to improve compliance, security and patient satisfaction. Before investing in IT, facilities should map out their processes to find a system that fits, recommends Andrew Ullman, owner of UCO International. Of critical importance is clinical documentation software, particularly in light of RAC audits, said Mitchell Dobson, compliance vice president for the Hanger Clinic. Ullman recommends seeing how other facilities use IT: “Go to facilities that are not your competition to see how their technology works,” he said. O&P Almanac (Adobe Flash required) (12/2013)
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Survey: Many self-employed people aren't preparing for retirement
Four in 10 self-employed Americans aren't regularly putting money aside for retirement, and another 28% aren't doing so at all, according to research from TD Ameritrade. "For entrepreneurs there needs to be a balance between investing in the business today and investing in their future financial well-being," TD Ameritrade's Lule Demmissie said. (12/2)
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Breaking news from AOPA
Welcome Bob Heiman and RH Media LLC to the O&P Almanac! AOPA's government affairs representatives are available to speak at your meetings--if you have a state or regional meeting coming up soon, schedule now! Become a presenter at the Las Vegas 2014 AOPA National Assembly--the place to be! Mark your calendars--get the latest 2014 coding updates and policies in the popular AOPAversity December Audio Conference--register now! Ability P&O teams up with Physicians for Peace in response to Typhoon Haiyan--all of this and more in today’s AOPA Breaking News.
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