DARPA sees brain-prosthetic interface as next frontier | Vanderbilt University tests prosthetic devices for market | Study suggests vibrations may help heal diabetic foot wounds
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April 3, 2014
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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DARPA sees brain-prosthetic interface as next frontier
A new division at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will bring together biology, engineering and computer science. Among the projects of the Biological Technologies Office is hand proprioception and touch interfaces, which will explore new ways of connecting prosthetic limbs directly to the brain to transmit sensations and permit much more sophisticated control. “I think there is going to be a future where we start learning radically new ways to interact between the complexity of the human brain and the complexity of the world around us,” said DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar. American Public Media/Marketplace (3/31), InformationWeek (4/2)
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Vanderbilt University tests prosthetic devices for market
The Vanderbilt Center for Intelligent Mechatronics is cooperating with several commercial partners to prepare three prosthetic devices for the marketplace. Vanderbilt has developed a prosthetic hand controlled by nerve impulses with Orthocare Innovations and an advanced prosthetic leg with Freedom Innovations. Vanderbilt's exoskeleton, developed with Parker Hannifin, is being shipped to several spinal cord rehabilitation centers for testing and may be sold in Europe next year and in the U.S. by 2016. The Tennessean (Nashville) (tiered subscription model) (4/3)
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Medical News
Study suggests vibrations may help heal diabetic foot wounds
A study using mice found that wounds treated with low-intensity vibrations healed more quickly than a control group, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and New York’s Stony Brook University. The treatment may potentially aid patients with chronic diabetic foot wounds. Vibrations seemed to help in several ways: formation of more granulation tissue, improved formation of new blood vessels and stimulation of signaling molecules known as chemokines. The study appeared in the journal PLOS One. NewKerala.com (India) (4/1)
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Researcher developing skin grafts with 3D printer
Biomedical research scientist Maria Yanez, who works at the Printed Biomaterial Laboratory at the University of Texas at El Paso, uses 3D printing technology to create tissue for improved skin grafts that could help patients with chronic wounds such as diabetic ulcers. Her printed materials, comprising layers of collagen with a layer of protein and micro-vessels in between, has shown promise in testing with mice. Fox News Latino (4/2)
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Inhaled insulin treatment backed by FDA panel
An FDA advisory panel on Tuesday voted 13-1 and 14-0 to approve MannKind's drug Afrezza for the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, respectively. Afrezza is an inhaled insulin therapy. Bloomberg (4/2)
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Mammography for breast cancer screening should depend on individualized risk
Routine mammography screening was associated with a 19% decline in the overall number of breast cancer deaths, but the benefits and harms of mammograms varied by age, family history and other factors, according to a review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "It would be easier for everyone if there was a clear, pre-specified pathway with a given risk profile, but we don't have that because our data is not perfect and everyone is different," lead researcher Dr. Lydia Pace. USA Today (4/1), Reuters (4/1), HealthDay News (4/1)
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In Focus with MedCity News
Boy makes $10 prosthetic hand
Med City
A 12-year-old and his father created an inexpensive prosthetic hand. And, when the hand is outgrown, they can easily make another one that doesn't have to cost $20,000 to $30,000. Read the story.
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Legislative and Regulatory
Obama enacts bill for ICD-10 delay, SGR patch
The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, which pushes back the start date of the ICD-10 transition to Oct. 1 of next year, has been signed into law by President Barack Obama. The new law also delays for another year a 24% cut in Medicare physician reimbursement rates under the sustainable growth rate formula. Healthcare Informatics online (4/2)
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Trend Watch
Athletic group donates $3.1M to fund adaptive sports
The Challenged Athletes Foundation announced donations of $3.1 million to fund adaptive sporting equipment, coaching and competition expenses for 1,469 people in 29 countries. The San Diego-based foundation received 17% more applications this year than last and approved 88% of the requests. "CAF exists to help bridge the barrier between what medical insurance companies don't cover, and the adaptive sporting equipment challenged athletes' need to get active and be healthy," said Executive Director Virginia Tinley. Patch.com/La Jolla, Calif. (4/2)
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NGO provides prosthetic limbs to wounded Syrians
Handicap International is providing prostheses and counseling to refugees from Syria who have lost legs and are now living in a refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. One challenge is that most emergency amputations are not performed by orthopedic surgeons, and patients often need additional procedures before being fitted with a prosthesis, said Henri Bonnin, a field director for Handicap International. The Washington Times/The Associated Press (4/2)
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Breaking news from AOPA
AOPA's Annual Policy Forum is happening right now. We are taking a stand for O&P, making a difference for the industry, and giving Congress a piece of our mind! Today, you or your colleagues who came to Washington are O&P's "boots on the ground" carrying our message: "Mobility Saves!" Interested in reaching out to attendees, highlighting issues for the congressional visits or sharing your Policy Forum experience with AOPA and the O&P Almanac? Tweet, Direct Message or Retweet to us with the hashtag: #AOPA2014Forum
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April 9:  How to Use Advanced Beneficiary Notices (ABNs) Effectively (Telephone audio conference) Learn more or register online.
May 14:
  Modifiers: How & When to Use Them (Telephone audio conference) Learn more or register online.
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