U.K. soldier masters mind-controlled prosthetic arm | College students design low-cost prosthetic arm | Smartphone apps monitor glucose levels for diabetes patients
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December 12, 2013
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U.K. soldier masters mind-controlled prosthetic arm
British army veteran Andrew Garthwaite, who lost his arm in Afghanistan, has mastered after two years of rehabilitation a thought-controlled artificial arm that uses targeted muscle reinnervation. A complex surgery involved rewiring nerves that control Garthwaite's arm and hand into his chest muscles, where scientists placed electrodes to direct the prosthesis. It can take up to three years for the nerves to grow into the chest muscle, say doctors. The Guardian (London) (12/11)
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Science and Technology
College students design low-cost prosthetic arm
Students at Sweet Briar College in Virginia and St. Ambrose University in Iowa are designing a low-cost prosthetic arm that can be adapted for a variety of patients in developing countries. The project, called "Sweet Prosthetics," began when students visited a clinic in Brazil, where they met a quadruple amputee they hope to help with the new device. The News & Advance (Lynchburg, Va.) (12/12)
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Smartphone apps monitor glucose levels for diabetes patients
Two companies, iHealth Lab and LifeScan, have developed wireless Bluetooth devices that connect to smartphone applications for monitoring blood glucose levels. The apps, which are FDA-approved, allow the user to monitor glucose levels over time, helping them make decisions about diet, exercise and medication. Results can be transmitted directly to a physician's office as well. United Press International (12/11), The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (12/10)
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Medical News
Study compares bandages against stockings for leg ulcers
Leg ulcers dressed with compression bandages heal in roughly the same amount of time as those dressed with compression stockings, but compression stockings might reduce the risk for recurrence, according to a study published in The Lancet. However, patient adherence may be lower with compression stockings than with bandages, the researchers found. Nursing Times (U.K.) (free registration) (12/6), McKnight's Long-Term Care News (12/10)
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Legislative and Regulatory
CMS to develop guidance for copying and pasting between EHRs
CMS officials announced plans to develop guidelines for copying and pasting information within and between patient EHRs in response to a report from the Office of Inspector General saying the practice might invite fraud. The OIG acknowledged that cloning information from patient records can enhance efficiency but said the practice can also perpetuate errors. Some health insurers have said they would reject claims based on cloned information. Medscape (free registration) (12/10)
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HealthCare.gov improves as agents, insurers prepare for wave of applicants
More users are getting further faster when enrolling for a health insurance plan on the federal exchange, though the process is not yet glitch-free for everyone. Experts predict a flood of applicants between now and the Dec. 23 deadline for enrolling in coverage to begin Jan. 1. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (12/9)
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Trend Watch
Double-leg amputee aids motorists in snowstorm
When Marine veteran Larry Draughn, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, saw motorists sliding into a ditch during an Ohio snow and ice storm, he took out his pickup, hooked up their cars and hauled them to safety. "I've got metal knees. They don't get wet," he joked. "[T]here that boy is with no legs, and he's out there helping people still yet," said one elderly woman who received assistance from Draughn, "after he's done everything a man can do in a lifetime for his country.” Akron Beacon Journal (Ohio)/The Associated Press/Dayton Daily News (Ohio) (12/11)
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Volunteers build prosthetic hands for overseas land-mine victims
Volunteers at a San Diego tech company used their work break to assemble prosthetic hands to donate to land-mine victims in developing countries, spending about two hours to create each hand. The effort was part of the "Gift a Hand" program, which has sent thousands of the prostheses to Colombia, Afghanistan and other areas. KSDK-TV (St. Louis)/CNN (12/11)
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Business and Finance
Health care tax break for small businesses will grow in 2014
The maximum tax credit that small businesses can claim for health care premiums will increase to 50% in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. But it's difficult to qualify for the tax break, according to some business owners. John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority, said many simply aren't aware they are eligible. USA Today (12/9)
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IRS trims standard mileage rate for 2014
The Internal Revenue Service has set the standard mileage rate at 56 cents for businesses in 2014, representing a small decline from 2013. Companies can use this rate to calculate deductions for vehicle use, or they can monitor their actual expenses. Small Business Trends (12/9)
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Breaking news from AOPA
The newest AOPAversity Audio Conference Series is launching in 2014--sign up for the entire series and get two free! AOPA's government affairs representatives are available to speak at your meetings--if you have a state or regional meeting coming up soon, schedule now! Become a presenter at the Las Vegas 2014 AOPA National Assembly--the place to be! OPAF's Adaptive Tennis Program is honored by the United States Tennis Association--all of this and more in today's AOPA Breaking News.
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