Exoskeleton that allows the paralyzed to walk is cleared for use | "Bio-bot" technology could translate into prosthetic advances | Double arm transplants are becoming less rare
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July 1, 2014
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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Exoskeleton that allows the paralyzed to walk is cleared for use
An exoskeleton that enables paraplegics to walk again has won approval of the Food and Drug Administration. The ReWalk device responds to subtle movements of the upper body, allowing users to ambulate with balance and some assistance from crutches. Another version of the device had been approved for use in hospitals, but the FDA move means the ReWalk can now be sold for personal use to individuals experiencing lower-body paralysis because of spinal cord injuries. CBS News/The Associated Press (6/27), MarketWatch (6/27)
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"Bio-bot" technology could translate into prosthetic advances
A "bio-bot" created by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign uses engineered skeletal muscle tissue to power its movements and react to its environment. "[C]ell-based soft robotic devices could transform our ability to design machines ... that can dynamically sense and respond to a range of complex environmental signals," wrote the researchers. Such integration of human tissue with robotics may one day help improve prosthetics, but much work remains to be done, said Carnegie Mellon robotics professor Carmel Majidi, who was not involved in the study. LiveScience.com (6/30)
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Medical News
Double arm transplants are becoming less rare
Former Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco was the first veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan to lose all four limbs, and the first to receive a double arm transplant -- one below the elbow, the other above. Feeling is slowly returning to both arms as he undergoes intensive rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. At Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, surgeons are planning a double arm transplant for another quadruple amputee, Will Lautzenheiser, who lost his limbs to severe infection. MedicalXpress.com (6/30), The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (6/30)
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Scientists "teach" gut cells to produce insulin
By deactivating a single gene, scientists were able to modify gut cells to produce insulin, suggesting that one day a drug could retrain diabetic patients' existing cells to replace missing insulin-making pancreatic beta cells. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications. Bloomberg (6/30)
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FDA approves MannKind's inhaled insulin for diabetes
MannKind has obtained the FDA's approval to market its fast-acting, inhaled insulin Afrezza as a treatment for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The drug comes in powder form and is delivered using a cartridge. Bloomberg Businessweek (6/28)
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Other News
Legislative and Regulatory
CMS claims progress in fighting Medicare fraud
Medicare fraud-fighting measures yielded $210 million in savings by preventing or recovering improper payments, according to data released this week. However, critics said much waste remains. "Last year, CMS estimated that improper payments were almost $50 billion...This is a shocking amount of taxpayer money to lose every year," said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa. The Hill (6/25)
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New rule auto-enrolls ACA coverage renewal
Proposed federal rules would allow automatic re-enrollment in health insurance plans purchased via Affordable Care Act exchanges. The development is expected to ensure more continuity of coverage for enrollees, as occurs with employer-sponsored insurance. Bloomberg (6/27)
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Breaking news from AOPA
Noridian Healthcare Solutions released the results of its first quarter 2014 pre-payment review for HCPCS code L5980 -- an overall error rate of 84%. Read more here! Energy levels are rising -- ABC has approved 36 CE credits for the AOPA 2014 National Assembly in Las Vegas -- register today and get your CEs! AOPA is hosting two FREE Prior Authorization Webinars this month -- get the latest information on the pros and cons under the pending CMS proposed rule and see what AOPA has to say about! It's not too late to exhibit in Las Vegas at the place to be, the 2014 National Assembly -- sign up to exhibit today! All of this and more in today's AOPA Breaking News.
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Upcoming events
July 8 and 22: AOPA Prior Authorization Webinar, Webinar conference  Learn more or register online.
July 9:
The OIG: Who Are They and Why Are They Important?  Webinar conference  Learn more or register online.
Sept. 4-7: AOPA 2014 National Assembly, Las Vegas, Nev. Learn more.
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-- Madeleine L'Engle,
American writer
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