Hagel gets preview of advanced DARPA prosthetic devices | New O&P plastic shares university's top entrepreneurial award | Allograft-based wound care device debuting at conference
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April 24, 2014
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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Hagel gets preview of advanced DARPA prosthetic devices
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency demonstrated some of its latest prosthetic technology for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday, including an artificial arm that can be controlled by various foot movements through accelerometers strapped to the feet. Hagel also saw how a patient with a brain-embedded sensor could manipulate a prosthesis with thoughts alone. DARPA's Justin Sanchez said, "People said it would be 50 years before we saw this technology in humans. We did it in a few years." DefenseLINK (U.S. Department of Defense)/American Forces Press Service (4/23)
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Science and Technology
New O&P plastic shares university's top entrepreneurial award
Malleable Medical Tech, which has developed a plastic for O&P devices, won $10,000 and shared top honors at the University of Colorado at Boulder's New Venture Challenge. The material is stronger than conventional plastics but molded at half the temperature, according to Malleable Medical Tech founder Philip Taynton. He estimates that practitioners will be able to make orthoses in as little as 10 minutes at a cost of 25% less than current methods, this article says. The material could be used "anywhere where you want to mold something hard and tough to fit your body," he said. Xconomy (4/23)
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Medical News
Allograft-based wound care device debuting at conference
Alliqua is introducing its human amniotic membrane allograft at a wound care conference this week in Orlando, Fla. Called Biovance, the device is designed to treat patients with chronic, acute, recalcitrant or other types of wounds. BeckersSpine.com (4/23)
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Electrical stimulation allows paralyzed patients to move limbs
Four paralyzed men have been able to move their legs and even stand after receiving epidural implants that transmit electrical signals similar to those received from the brain. The process is similar to that of myoelectric prostheses that are connected to nerves in the muscles. Results of the breakthrough treatments at the University of Louisville's Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center appeared in the journal Brain. Care2.com/Wired.co.uk (U.K.) (4/22)
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Amputation decision transforms Canadian athlete's life
After a serious leg injury and years of struggling with constant pain, Paul Pisko of Lethbridge, Alberta, chose to have an above-knee amputation. Pisko, freed from pain, completed a triathlon less than a year after surgery and has now tried out for the Canadian standing amputee national hockey team. "I feel reborn, I can do anything now," he said. Global News Online (Toronto) (4/24)
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Legislative and Regulatory
Medicare not covering certain advanced prosthetic devices
Medicare has so far decided not to cover the BIOM T2 bionic ankle and similar cutting-edge but expensive prostheses, even though they are covered by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and by some private insurance companies. BIOM CEO Tim McCarthy hopes to change that by demonstrating that patients with the device are healthier, more productive and save money over time. MassDevice.com (Boston) (4/23)
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Many clinicians seek to replace existing EHR systems
A report by Software Advice showed about 40% of prospective EHR system buyers in early 2014 were looking to replace their current systems. Outdated tools, regulatory issues and systems integration were among the top reasons providers were shopping for a replacement system. BeckersHospitalReview.com (4/22)
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Hospital group urges CMS to adopt changes to boost ACO participation
The American Hospital Association is asking the CMS to make participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program and Pioneer Accountable Care Organization initiatives easier, as the burden the programs put on providers is not sufficiently offset by the shared savings opportunity offered, the group said. Several changes have been recommended by the AHA to enhance participation, including creating a standard minimum savings rate of 2% at most and establishing more achievable early goals. Healthcare Informatics online (4/21)
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Trend Watch
Guardian mindset may make animal prosthetics more popular
Martin Kaufmann, co-founder of OrthoPets, a Colorado-based company that makes animal prostheses, thinks animal prostheses are becoming more common because people view themselves more as animal guardians than as owners. Most prostheses for animals are socket devices that strap into place, although some pets are receiving bone implants that attach to a removable artificial limb. ABC News (4/22)
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Former conjoined twins visit dolphin with artificial tail
Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf, separated in a complex surgical operation in London at 4 months of age and who are now 4 years old, visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida to meet Winter, the dolphin with the artificial tail and star of the movie "Dolphin Tale." Both the children, who each have a single leg, and Winter receive care from Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, which sponsored their trip. Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.) (4/23)
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Breaking news from AOPA
AOPA's next Coding & Billing Seminar is in Boston, Mass. -- get your lineup of practitioners and office staff ready to hit the proverbial home run with advanced coding and billing techniques -- it's out of the park! Get the latest quick figures and information from CMS regarding Recovery Auditing in fiscal year 2012. Deadline for the Opportunities in Clinical O&P Research Support and Grants is coming up on April 30 -- be sure to get your proposal in ASAP! The Amputee Coalition has elected Miles O'Brien to the Board of Directors and BOC announced executive management changes -- all of this and more in today's AOPA Breaking News.
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Upcoming events
May 14:  Modifiers: How & When to Use Them (Telephone audio conference) Learn more or register online.
June 12-13: Mastering Medicare: Coding & Billing Seminar, Boston, Mass. Learn more or register online.
Sept. 4-7: AOPA 2014 National Assembly, Las Vegas, Nev. Learn more.
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Nothing is work unless you'd rather be doing something else."
-- George Halas,
American football player, coach and team owner
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