U.S. Navy Developing High-Tech Prosthetic Limbs

Human or animal, prosthetics are making their way into the lives of the disabled. In Colorado, OrthoPets has manufactured devices for over 13,000 animals. A new medical algorithm is helping paralyzed patients to “relearn” muscle movements. But it seems the most advanced therapy of all is in the hands of the U.S. Navy. The Office of Naval Research is developing smart prosthetics that can also monitor health.

[The] prosthetic limb [has] built-in sensors that can track changes in movement, various health issues, and early signs of infection.

The device detects pH levels, body temperature, strain levels, and whether the prosthetic needs to be replaced.

“One game-changing application of this technology would be as a tool to inform doctors when prostheses can be safely loaded after surgery, leading to more accurate determination of when patients are ready for physical therapy after receiving a new prosthetic.”

In other words, the prosthetic is a glorified Fitbit with far more physical benefits. While I’m assuming it’s possible the prosthetics will be pricey, at least they’re available for veterans who need them.

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Paralyzed Woman Writes Book Using Only Her Eyes

Locked-in syndrome is a condition where the person loses all muscle control or becomes entirely paralyzed, while maintaining most cognitive functions. In simple terms, this means they can still think and feel, but cannot move or speak. Some people, however, have found technological leads on how to help locked-in patients communicate, such as this nanoscience professor who created a computer interface that helps them identify letters and words using only their eyes.

Using a similar device, a woman diagnosed with the syndrome wrote an entire book about her experience. Mia Austin was only 21 years old when she suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed, but now at 29, she finished her book In the Blink of an Eye using only eye movement, a spelling chart at first, and eventually the specialized computer.

Her mother Carole, 62, recalls: “She [Austin] was in the hospital for around 14 months and writing poems and stories kept her alert and occupied. I think the idea [for the book] stemmed from there really.”

According to her father Rick, the book took about a year to write. Meanwhile, Mia’s siblings also helped in her process, especially with the spelling chart, which took a lot of energy and made Mia exhausted. Despite this, Mia just doesn’t seem to run out of achievements.

The book is by no means Austin’s only incredible feat of determination. She completed a criminology course at Wirral Metropolitan College in 2017 before signing up for a forensics course with the Open University. And this year she will begin another course in criminal justice.

Aside from academics, Mia is also incredibly engaged in charity work. She launched a campaign for disabled travellers. She participated in awareness projects for homelessness. She has been on aid missions to orphanages even outside the country.

In an interview with The Mirror, Austin explained her desire to give back to the charities that have supported her. She said: “I love to take part in new challenges to prove I can succeed despite my condition. I also want to support various charities because I have received help myself in the past.”

Mia’s story sort of robs us of any excuse to waste our energy today, doesn’t it? It could just as well inspire us to push our minds and bodies to the limit from here on out.

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Paralyzed Dog Recovers To Compete In Race

I am all about good news, especially when it comes to dogs. We often associate them with intelligence and loyalty, forgetting that they are also patient. Some that are lost will find their way home, even if it take 9 months. Others that are deaf will learn sign language to better understand humans. This paralyzed dog did not only recover in just a year — she also competed in the 22nd Wiener Nationals Race.

When Lady Bug… was dumped at a shelter in Riverside, California on New Year’s Eve in 2014, she could not walk, and as a result of her paralysis, she was scheduled to be put down. Fortunately, the staff at Dachshund Rescue of Los Angeles decided to save her life.

Even more inspiring was Lady Bug’s adoption by none other than her veterinarian Dr. O’Neil. Since finding her forever home, Lady Bug transitioned from physical therapy to full-on training.

Although a dachshund named Baby Bo was the ultimate champion… there were plenty of people cheering for Lady Bug who successfully crossed the finish line after 45 seconds.

If there is one lesson anyone can learn from Lady Bug’s recovery, it’s that there is always hope, even in the darkest of circumstances. PAW-some job, Lady Bug!

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Medical Algorithm Helps Patients Walk Again

Throughout the years, patients with neurological disorders have relied on prosthetics and animal testing in the hopes of regaining the ability to walk. In the U.S. alone, nearly 5.4 million people suffer from a type of paralysis. Expensive and often difficult to obtain, treatments are hard to come by. But this new medical algorithm can help the nervous system ‘relearn’ movements.

The smart walk assist is an innovative body-weight support system because it manages to resist the force of gravity and push the patient back and forth, to the left and to the right, or in more of these directions at once, which recreates a natural gait and movement that the patients need in their day to day lives.

After just a single hour on the harness and algorithm, all 30 tested patients saw an improvement. The procedure has overcome the obstacle of losing muscle mass and neurological wiring.

This is a smart, discreet, and efficient assistance that will aid rehabilitation of many persons with neurological disorders.”

While patients are literally taking it a step at a time, this is definitely a huge leap for the medical field.

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Gene Editing In Mice May Have Led To Paralysis Cure

Alongside scientists, mice have played a huge role in health-related breakthroughs. Since previously advancing diabetes research, mice have now led us to a potential cure for paralysis. In particular, gene editing has eliminated muscular dystrophy in mice.

The mice in the study have a rare and severe form of congenital muscular dystrophy known as MDC1A.

The illness is caused by a splice site mutation: a genetic error makes cellular messengers misread a critical section of DNA, like the scratch that makes a record skip.

Researchers in Cohn’s lab used CRISPR to cut out the scratch. Natural cell repair mechanisms stitched the remaining strands of DNA back together, allowing the whole genetic sequence to be read normally.

Follow ups proved that the participating mice were healed completely. The method is also simple, unlike other processes that require the engineering of an entirely new genome. However, as with all animal testing, researchers must carefully consider human trials.

For the first time it’s possible to think about — and this is still at the thinking stage, let’s be clear — the possibilities of gene correction in humans with these diseases,”

Considering that patients with muscular dystrophy rarely make it through their twenties, this could be the change they need. It may be a while, but gene editing holds much promise for the future.

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