"No hands" robotic device uses ball instead of fingers | Exoskeleton puts paraplegics back on their feet | Polyneuropathy patients may not benefit from tibial decompression
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January 14, 2014
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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"No hands" robotic device uses ball instead of fingers
The alternative to a prosthetic hand with fingers and an opposable thumb may be something as simple as a squishy ball, also known as jamming-based robot grippers, developed by Empire Robotics. Its Versaball system operates like a balloon filled with sand that can flow over and grip objects. In addition to industrial applications, Empire is working on a prosthetic device using the Versaball system. Gizmodo (1/13), Popular Science/Zero Moment blog (1/13)
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Science and Technology
Exoskeleton puts paraplegics back on their feet
The Ekso Bionics exoskeleton demonstrated the remarkable feat of allowing those paralyzed below the waist to actually walk at this year's Consumer Electronic Show. The device can also be used with software that provides gait training for people who can eventually regain lower-limb mobility. Forbes (1/12)
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Medical News
Polyneuropathy patients may not benefit from tibial decompression
Despite previous research indicating its potential in pain relief, tibial nerve decompression did not appear to offer improvements for patients with diabetes-related polyneuropathy, researchers found. The results were published in Diabetes Care. Healio (free registration)/Endocrine Today (1/10)
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Other News
Legislative and Regulatory
U.S. to tap new IT contractor for HealthCare.gov
The federal government is preparing to replace CGI Federal with Accenture as the main IT contractor for its online health insurance exchange over concerns about CGI's work repairing the website it helped build. CGI's contract runs through the end of February, and a yearlong $90 million contract with Accenture could be signed this week, according to a source. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (1/10)
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Health care industry still relies on paper documents, report finds
Despite the CMS doling out billions in EHR meaningful use incentives, an IDC Health Insights report showed 38% of health care documents today are still on paper. Researchers also found that 62% of health care providers said the number of paper documents at their groups either increased or remained unchanged over the past year. BeckersHospitalReview.com (1/13)
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Trend Watch
Jaipur Foot Foundation has given prostheses to 1.3 million people
The Jaipur Foot Foundation has provided free prosthetic limbs to approximately 1.3 million people in India and other countries since the organization's founding in 1975. The foundation can manufacture its inexpensive prosthetic legs in one to three days for patients in Jaipur, India, or at one of its 22 sites around the country. Patients are able to walk, run, squat, swim, climb trees and ride bicycles using the Jaipur foot, says the group's founder, Dr. Devendra Raj Mehta. Myanmar Times (1/13)
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Army helicopter pilot will fly again after leg amputation
Army Chief Warrant Officer Byron Meads, a below-knee amputee, has been cleared to resume flying helicopters after passing a medical evaluation flight that lasted two hours. Meads, who broke both of his legs and sustained other injuries in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2012, later had his left leg amputated using a method to create a bone bridge after serious infection set in. He received his prosthesis in April and is scheduled to begin training on dual-engine Army helicopters this summer. Stars and Stripes/The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle (1/11)
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Business and Finance
Ottobock to expand Utah operations
Ottobock HealthCare has received a state tax credit to help the company add more than 80 jobs and invest nearly $1 million to expand its manufacturing facility in Salt Lake City. Two divisions of the company will be moved from Minneapolis, Ottobock's main and oldest U.S. location, to the Utah site, where Ottobock has been since the mid-1990s. The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah) (1/13)
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Minn. company expands to connect with trauma centers
Tillges Certified Orthotic Prosthetic, of Maplewood, Minn., has purchased Metropolitan Orthotic Laboratory, a small Minneapolis prosthetics firm that derives much of its business from the city's trauma centers. Aaron Holm, Tillges chief operating officer, says the company intends to retain and increase the seven-person staff of its new acquisition. American City Business Journals/Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. (1/13)
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Breaking news from AOPA
Don't miss out on your opportunity to exhibit at "The Place to Be" -- the AOPA 2014 Las Vegas Assembly. PECOS enforcement is in effect -- read the announcement here! AOPA's first 2014 Coding & Billing Seminar is going to New Orleans this February. Get the latest information on medical policies, documentation and compliance -- register your staff today! Please take a moment to remember LeRoy Nattress, an immense contributor to the industry. All of this and more is in today's AOPA Breaking News.
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Upcoming events
Feb. 10-11:  Mastering Medicare: Essential Coding and Billing Techniques Seminar, New Orleans
Learn more or register online
Feb. 12:
Billing for Diabetic & Orthopedic Shoes, Mastectomy Services, and Surgical Dressings (Telephone audio conference) Learn more or register online.
March 12: The ABC's of Audits: What to Expect and How to Respond (Telephone audio conference)
Learn more or register online.
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Editor's Note
A summary in Thursday's AOPA in Advance SmartBrief misidentified the condition for which experts say more drugs are needed. The condition is diabetic peripheral neuropathy. SmartBrief regrets the error.
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Temptations, unlike opportunities, will always give you many second chances."
-- O.A. Battista,
Canadian-American chemist and author
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