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A System That Reverses Paralysis

A System That  Reverses Paralysis | healthcare technology | Scoop.it

On December 5, 2011, Andrew Meas wiggled his toes for the first time since a motorcycle accident four years earlier paralyzed him from the chest down. Within a week, he was beginning to stand. Meas’s remarkable (albeit partial) recovery comes courtesy of a groundbreaking use of an electrode array implanted over his spinal cord. 


For decades, researchers have been seeking ways to help the millions of people with spinal cord injuries regain control of their limbs, with frustratingly little success. The new device provides a rare glimmer of hope. Scientists at the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, where Meas and three other patients received their im­plants, speculate that the stimu­lation may be reawakening connections between the brain and the body. “There’s residual circuitry that we can recover that no one realized was possible to do,” says Reggie Edgerton, director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We were shocked.” 


Some of the benefits, such as better bowel and bladder control and improved blood pressure, remain even when the device is switched off. Electrical stimulation isn’t a cure, of course. The patients still can’t walk. And the stimulation must be customized for each individual, a time-consuming process. But it’s an enormous advance nonetheless. Says Edgerton, “It opens up a whole new mechanism of recovery.” 


more at http://www.popsci.com/article/science/how-it-works-system-reverses-paralysis



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Biomarkers could tell doctors when concussed athletes are safe to compete

Biomarkers could tell doctors when concussed athletes are safe to compete | healthcare technology | Scoop.it

A protein in the central nervous system could provide a useful tool for diagnosing concussions and allow doctors to assess when it is safe for athletes to return to competition.


Swedish researchers have found, through examining studies in sporting injuries, that a protein in the central nervous system could provide a tool for diagnosing concussions. They published their results in JAMA Neurology.


Previous studies have measured changes in the levels of protein biomarkers present in cerebrospinal fluid or blood in athletes who participate in contact sports.


Certain biomarkers - neuron-specific enolase, S-100 calcium-binding protein B, neurofilament light and total tau (T-tau) - have been shown to increase in boxers, correlating with the number and severity of head blows received. After a rest from boxing, these biomarkers return to normal levels.

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Emma Pettengale's curator insight, September 9, 2014 10:15 AM

A protein in the central nervous system could provide a useful tool for diagnosing concussions and allow doctors to assess when it is safe for athletes to return to competition.

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US Military developing brain implants to restore memory

US Military developing brain implants to restore memory | healthcare technology | Scoop.it

The U.S. military has chosen two universities to lead a program to develop brain implants to restore memory to veterans who have suffered brain injuries, officials said at a news conference Tuesday.


The Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program is a project of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the branch of the U.S. Department of Defense charged with developing next-generation technologies for the military. The initiative aims to develop wireless, fully implantable "neuroprosthetics" for service members suffering from traumatic brain injury or illness, DARPA Program Manager Justin Sanchez said at the news conference.


DARPA has selected two teams of researchers to develop the implants: The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

Currently, few treatments for TBI-related memory loss exist, but DARPA is trying to change that, Sanchez said. Deep brain stimulation, the use of implanted electrodes to deliver electrical signals to specific parts of the brain, has already demonstrated success in treating Parkinson's disease and other chronic brain conditions. Building on these advances, "we're developing new neuroprosthetics to bridge the gap in an injured brain to restore memory function," Sanchez said.


The UCLA team will focus on studying memory processes in the entorhinal cortex, an area of the brain known as the gateway of memory formation. Researchers will stimulate and record from neurons in patients with epilepsy who already have brain implants as part of their monitoring and treatment. The researchers will also develop computer models of how to stimulate the brain to re-establish memory function.



The University of Pennsylvania team will focus more on modeling how brain circuits work together more broadly, especially those in the brain's frontal cortex, an area involved in the formation of long-term memories. The university is collaborating with Minneapolis-based biomedical device company Medtronic to develop a memory prosthesis system.


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