Brain-controlled exoskeleton can help spinal cord patients walk again | Stroke victim uses advanced technology to help recover from paralysis | Technique to treat PAD could prevent amputations
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December 4, 2014
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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Brain-controlled exoskeleton can help spinal cord patients walk again
Research presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience focused on a brain-machine interface that can help paralyzed patients walk. A wearable "whole-body exoskeleton" powered by hydraulics supports the weight of the patient and is controlled by signals derived from the brain through an electroencephalography cap. A flexible circuit board, or "artificial skin," in key locations can provide feedback from the device to the body. "We ... fool the brain of the subjects to a point in which they feel that it's not a machine that is carrying them, but [that] they are actually walking by themselves," said Dr. Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University. Bioscience Technology online (12/2)
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Stroke victim uses advanced technology to help recover from paralysis
Marathon runner Brad Berman suffered a stroke just over a year ago, leaving him paralyzed on his left side. He has been using the Ekso exoskeleton at Burke Rehabilitation Center in New York to recover a normal gait pattern. He also trained with the MIT-designed Anklebot, which strengthens muscles around the ankle and helps the brain gain better control of movements through an attached computer. CBS News (12/4)
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Technique to treat PAD could prevent amputations
A procedure developed in Minnesota uses a drug-coated balloon to open narrow arteries in patients with peripheral artery disease, which could help prevent amputations. The Lutonix procedure is similar to traditional balloon angioplasty but delivers a chemotherapy drug directly to the wall of the blood vessel to prevent scar tissue from building up. The procedure can be repeated as needed. KARE-TV (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) (12/2)
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Scientists study light as means of relaxing blood vessels to treat vascular disorders
Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers have found a receptor on blood vessels that relaxes the vessels when they are exposed to light and have determined the exact wavelength that provides maximum relaxation. The research could be used to develop treatments for vascular disorders, such as socks for diabetic patients equipped with high-intensity, light-emitting diodes to improve blood flow and heal chronic ulcers. (India) (12/3)
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Study: Exercise after weight-loss surgery lowers risks for diabetes, other illnesses
Bariatric surgery patients who exercised 120 minutes per week for 24 weeks showed improvements in insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism and other health measures compared with those who participated in an education program, according to a study from the Florida Hospital Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes. The report was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. (12/1)
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Legislative and Regulatory
ACA enrollment topped 300K in 2nd week
Federal officials announced Wednesday that Affordable Care Act enrollment was 303,010 in the week that included the Thanksgiving holiday, and 49% of enrollees were new customers. Data show 462,125 people enrolled the first week, 48% of whom were new customers. Reuters (12/3)
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ACA's fate again rests with the Supreme Court
A Supreme Court ruling that tax credits for health insurance are available only through state-run exchanges would mean more than 4 million people would lose financial assistance, and many would become exempt from the Affordable Care Act's mandate to have health insurance. Those who would keep their insurance under such a scenario are more likely to be sick, and premiums would consequently rise, according to an industry legal brief. Kaiser Health News (12/2)
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Business and Finance
Ottobock, Indian prosthetics company sign agreement
German prosthetics company Ottobock signed a memorandum of understanding with the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corp. of India to produce affordable lower-limb prostheses in that country. The agreement also will allow Ottobock to transfer technology for advanced prosthetic systems to Artificial Limbs Manufacturing. The Hindu Business Line (India) (12/3)
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Breaking news from AOPA
AOPA welcomes new leadership to the board of directors -- meet our new president! The deadline is tomorrow for submitting input to HHS on the growing ALJ hearing requests and backlog. Ossur launches its Women's Leadership Initiative. OPAF welcomes new officers and board members. The CMS finalizes new safeguards to reduce Medicare fraud -- read about it here. Now available: AOPA's Coding and Billing Seminar manuals! All this and more in today's AOPA Breaking News!
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Upcoming events
Dec. 10: New Codes & Changes for 2015, webinar conference Learn more and register online.
Jan. 14: Fill In the Blanks: VA Contracting and the New Template, webinar conference Learn more or register online.
Feb. 9-10: Mastering Medicare: Essential Coding & Billing Seminar, Savannah, Ga. Learn more and register online.
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Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers."
-- M. Scott Peck,
American psychiatrist
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