Robotic technology improves prosthetic leg control | Paraplegic tests FDA-cleared ReWalk exoskeleton | Toronto scientists design 3D-printed artificial legs for developing countries
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December 9, 2014
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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Robotic technology improves prosthetic leg control
Scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas are applying robot-controlling techniques to prosthetic legs. The researchers focused on the foot's center of pressure as it moves through the walking motion and developed controlling software that takes into account the patient's height, weight and residual limb size. Three above-knee amputees who tested the software reported feeling less exertion than with traditional control software and were able to walk nearly as fast as able-bodied people. (12/8)
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Paraplegic tests FDA-cleared ReWalk exoskeleton
A clinical trial in the Bronx, N.Y., has enabled Gene Laureano to test the ReWalk, the first exoskeleton cleared by the FDA for personal use. The 51-year-old paraplegic, formerly restricted to a wheelchair, is now able to stand and walk using the 46-pound unit. Another exoskeleton developer, Ekso Bionics, is seeking FDA clearance to expand the use of its device from rehabilitation facilities to individual owners. CNNMoney (12/8)
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Toronto scientists design 3D-printed artificial legs for developing countries
The Critical Making Lab at the University of Toronto is developing 3D-printed lower-limb prostheses that can be fabricated and used in developing countries. Associate Professor Matt Ratto and his team are aiming for a solid prosthetic design that is affordable, adaptable and can be self-taught in developing countries. Ratto's current version of the device will be tested at a Ugandan hospital next month. (12/6)
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Chocolate consumption may reduce risk of diabetes
Men who ate chocolate had a 7% to 17% reduced chance of diabetes than those who did not eat any chocolate, according to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The results back previous studies linking chocolate consumption to lower diabetes risk, researchers noted. (12/6)
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Legislative and Regulatory
CMS implements changes to curb Medicare fraud
The CMS on Wednesday released new rules that aim to deter Medicare fraud and abuse. The agency will remove providers or suppliers if any of their managers are convicted of a felony considered harmful to beneficiaries of Medicare and will not allow providers affiliated with entities with unpaid Medicare debt to enroll. The CMS could also revoke the enrollment of providers and suppliers who have a history of billing Medicare for services the program does not cover. The Hill (12/3)
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ACOs are integral to quality, high-value care, HHS secretary says
Data-driven accountable care and better patient safety protocols have saved some 50,000 lives and saved the U.S. health care system $12 billion since 2010, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said at the recent CMS Quality Conference. Continuing the shift toward patient-centered, value-based accountable care will further rein in spending and improve quality, Burwell said. EHR Intelligence (12/3)
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Trend Watch
Study: Factors can predict if amputees will stop using prostheses
An Australian study that looked at 135 amputees retrospectively and 66 prospectively identified factors that would increase the probability of amputees abandoning the use of lower-limb prostheses. Patients who had above- or through-the-knee amputations and used a mobility aid when they were discharged were more likely than below-knee amputees to stop using their prostheses, the study found. Other predictors, particularly at the four-month mark, included the inability to walk independently outdoors on concrete, a delay in gait retraining and the presence of a number of medical comorbidities. ScienceNetwork WA (Australia) (12/9)
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Amputee sets example as volunteer and athlete
Ryan Shupe, a digital modification trainer at Washington state-based Cascade DAFO, lost his foot to cancer as a child. Today, he volunteers each year at an Idaho summer camp for children with cancer. Shupe also recently completed the five-mile running portion of a Bellingham relay, as well as the kayak part of the local Ski to Sea race, both with the DAFO team. (Bellingham, Wash.) (12/7)
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Business and Finance
Robotic exoskeleton developer obtains nearly $23M in funding
Ekso Bionics, a firm developing an FDA-approved wearable robotic exoskeleton to help paralyzed or movement-impaired patients walk, has secured $22.8 million in financing, according to a regulatory filing. The company plans to use the funds to further develop and market the product. (12/5)
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Breaking news from AOPA
AOPA submits comments on the ALJ backlog and increased hearing requests. Read what suggestions we had to offer. New study shows that 19% of patients with a Medicare-reimbursed off-the-shelf device later receive a custom device. National disability leaders outraged over Senate inaction on disability treaty. Now available: AOPA's Coding and Billing Seminar manuals! Last chance to register for tomorrow's webinar: New Codes and Changes for 2015. All this and more in today's AOPA Breaking News!
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