Bionic advances raise ethical, political challenges | Advances in exoskeletons aid paraplegics | Molecule identified that may speed wound healing
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October 1, 2013
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Bionic advances raise ethical, political challenges
Bertolt Meyer, featured in the British documentary "How to Build a Bionic Man," warned in a talk at London's FutureFest that rapid advances in artificial prostheses and bionic technology raise serious ethical questions for society that should be decided in public debate and by the government, rather than through the laws of supply and demand. Meyer asked what happens when the rich can afford to be artificially enhanced and augmented in ways that give them advantages over the general population and said that some technological advances should not be released to the public without prior ethical review. The Guardian (London) (9/28)
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Science and Technology
Advances in exoskeletons aid paraplegics
Rapid advances in the technology of exoskeletons, such as a model developed through a European Union research project, are enabling more paraplegics to stand and walk. Researchers would like to develop systems to control the devices with brain waves, possibly using signals sent to the eyes. (France) (9/30)
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Medical News
Molecule identified that may speed wound healing
Researchers have identified a special molecule produced by dendritic epidermal T cells -- interleukin-17A-- which increased the rate of wound healing when applied to mice that were lacking the molecule. IL-17A appears to boost activity by other types of cells to kill bacteria and help regrow skin. Results were published in the online edition of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. McKnight's Long-Term Care News (9/27)
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Medtronic gains FDA nod for artificial pancreas device
The FDA has granted Medtronic approval for what the company says is the first artificial pancreas device that stops insulin delivery automatically when the patient's blood sugar falls to preset levels. The MiniMed 530G with Enlite system, designed for diabetes patients 16 years or older, will be available commercially in the next few weeks. Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) (9/27)
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Polio cases in Pakistan spur renewed vaccination effort
Following the discovery of the second polio victim in Peshawar this year, the Pakistani government has decided to launch a new vaccination campaign. Health teams will be accompanied by police and other security forces to prevent attacks by militant groups. Thirty-one children have contracted polio in Pakistan’s tribal areas and other regions. The Express Tribune (Pakistan) (9/30)
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Legislative and Regulatory
Government shutdown will not affect Medicare, Medicaid
Medicaid, Medicare and programs provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs will not be affected by the government shutdown, according to U.S. officials. The contingency plan states, "In the short term, the Medicare Program will continue largely without disruption during a lapse in appropriations." News (9/30)
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Business Tips and Advice
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Trend Watch
Insurance battles keep advanced prostheses from some amputees
Triple amputee Kent Carson of Illinois would like to replace his cable-and-hook arm with an i-limb advanced prosthetic hand. The neural-controlled prosthesis, made by Touch Bionics, is expensive, and Carson's insurance company has resisted paying for it, even though a number of insurance companies in other states have reimbursed patients for the i-limb. Levi Hargrove with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Center for Bionic Medicine said his organization will work to enumerate the benefits of advanced prostheses to help amputees get insurance coverage for them. Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.) (10/1)
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Bowling outing highlights abilities of amputees in S.C. support group
Amputees in a support group sponsored by the Prosthetic & Orthotic Institute of Rock Hill, S.C., and HealthSouth rehabilitation hospital spent their monthly meeting last week bowling. The group consisted of people of all ages and genders with single and multiple amputations. “We try to help people return, as much as possible, to their lives,” said HealthSouth physical therapist Amy Stefani. The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.) (9/27)
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Breaking news from AOPA
Government shutdown and default -- what does it mean for orthotics and prosthetics? Read all about it! Strike while the iron is hot and take action on the Medicare O&P Improvements Act -- send a letter to your representatives today! The FDA releases the final rule regarding unique device identifiers, and the DME MAC announces a pre-payment review for L5981. AOPA's final Coding & Billing Seminar of 2013 is coming up in Vegas -- stay on top of the game and don't miss it! All of this in today’s AOPA Breaking News.
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-- Aldous Huxley,
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