assistive technologies feb/march 2011

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Innovation for independance


  • By Dominic Musgrave

    AMERICAN researchers are helping thePentagon build reliable mind-controlledprosthetic devices for military and civilianamputees.Badrinat Roysam, chair of the University ofHoustons department of electrical andcomputer engineering, and Hugh and LillieCranz Cullen University professor, is leading amulti-institution team effort to identify thecombination of factors that cause neuralimplants to fail. He said prosthetic limbs thatcan be maneuvered by neural implants haveshown promise in the laboratory, but thereare challenges to making them work in thereal world. The tissue surrounding the deviceundergoes complex changes that in the endisolate it electrically, Badrinat added. Atthis point the implant stops functioning.We have pre-eminent leaders in implantdesign, 3D multispectral imaging,quantitative histology, and patternrecognition on our team. Ideally, the teamwill be able to make great strides in theunderstanding of neural implant failure,which can fail within six to eight weeks.DARPA has a vision of a future where asoldier who has lost a limb will regain full useof that limb again through advancedtechnology.Badrinat and his group have received a three-

    year, $5.4m grant from the DefenseAdvanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA),the military's high-tech research agency.Researchers from Seattle Children's ResearchInstitute, the University of Michigan,Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and twocompanies also are involved in the project.The grant is part of DARPA's Histology forInterface Stability Over Time program, whichis the next phase of its RevolutionizingProsthetics project that began in 2000. Thegrant money is allocated in two phases, with$3.2m being awarded immediately and theremaining $2.2m based on performance.The work will begin in Michigan, where ateam led by professor Daryl Kipke will buildspecialised neural implants for use inlaboratory testing. Researchers at the Seattle institute, under thedirection of William Shain, will take three-dimensional images of how different braincells are reacting to an implant.The images will be transmitted to Houston,where Badrinats team will run them througha sophisticated and powerful softwareplatform called FARSIGHT, which will analysethe histology, or cellular make up, of theimages. Developed by a collaborative teamled by Badrinat, FARSIGHT will translate theimages into data that quantifies the responseof each individual brain cell and cell type tothe implant.

    Team buildingmind-controlledprosthetic devices

    Television and radio presenter Toby Anstis will host the first UKWheelchair Challenge this summer.The event will form part of the annual South West Disability Showat the Westpoint, Exeter, which takes place on June 9 and 10.A 1km race is open to anybody in a wheelchair along with theircarers and parents, while the 3km event will be held for moreserious amateur sportsmen and women over a more challengingcourse. The Challenge, sponsored by GM Coachwork, will alsobenefit disabled charities.


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    ContactsEditorialAndrew Harrod Group

    Dominic Musgrave Healthcare EditorEmail: Tel: 01226 734407

    Louise Cordell ReporterEmail: Tel: 01226 734694

    Sales Christine Daly-Sadler Assistant Product ManagerEmail: Tel: 01226 734412 Fax: 01226 734478

    Tony Barry Sales and Marketing DirectorEmail: hour hotline: 01226 734695

    Design/Production Judith Halkerston Group Deputy EditorEmail: Stewart Holt Studio ManagerEmail:

    Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of all contents, the publishers do not accept liability for any error, printed

    or otherwise, that may occur.

    US claims that newjoints could be grownfrom own cellsBy Dominic Musgrave

    PATIENTS who need jointreplacement surgery could one day be given a new joint grown from their own cells instead of anartificial one, American scientistsclaim.Researchers at the University ofMissouri have found a way to createso-called biological joints in animals,and have succeeded in creating newcartilage in animals using a biologicalscaffold in their joints.The scaffolds were infused with agrowth factor to encourage theanimals own stem cells to becomecartilage and bone cells.They were then implanted in rabbits,whose ball part of their ball-and-socket shoulder joint had beenremoved to accommodate thescaffold.Dr James Cook, a researcher in theuniversitys College of VeterinaryMedicine and Department ofOrthopaedic Surgery, said: The

    device was designed with bothbiological and mechanical factors inmind. It is unique in design andcomposition and in how it stimulatesthe body's own cells. This is the firsttime we have seen cartilage regener-ation using this type of scaffold.The researchers found that rabbitswhich were given the new infusedscaffolds were able to use their limbsmore quickly and consistently thanthose which were not.After four months, cartilage wasfound to have formed in thescaffolds and there were nocomplications or side-effects as aresult of the surgery.James said the team now plan tocontinue their research in largeranimals, taking them a step closer toclinical trials in humans.He added: The ultimate goal is todo away with metal and plastic jointsand instead regenerate a fully funct-ional biologic joint for everyone whoneeds one. We think this is the fut-ure of orthopaedics and we hope

    that future is starting here and now.A spokeswoman for ArthritisResearch UK, whose scientists areabout to embark on their first clinicaltrial using stem cells for osteoarthritisof the knee, said: There are hugechallenges in this area of researchand there is still a lot we need tounderstand about these newtechniques. But with extensive work tounderstand stem cell behaviour andusing this knowledge to developmethods to engineer new cartilage,researchers have already made greatprogress towards developing thesolutions we need for the future.Up to 70 people with establishedknee osteoarthritis will take part inthe charity-funded trial which willtest and compare the effectiveness oftwo types of stem cells. The aim is to repair damage to thejoint, stopping osteoarthritis fromgetting worse and delaying oravoiding the need for kneereplacement surgery.

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    Brave physio studenthelped casualtiesof roadside accidentBy Louise Cordell

    A FOURTH year physiotherapy student hasbeen recognised for her bravery at a roadsideaccident.

    Aine Scott, a senior under officer atAberdeen Universities Officers' TrainingCorp), was awarded a certificate ofcommendation from the General OfficerCommanding 2nd Division for highlymeritorious service to the Army in Scotland,North of England and Northern Ireland at aspecial ceremony at Aberdeen University.

    Last June she was part of a battlefield studyparty travelling via coach to Northern Francethat had stopped for lunch on the M6.

    Shortly afterwards, a minibus carrying 12passengers travelling at approximately 70miles per hour passed the coach and flippedon to its roof, crashing into the central barrier before coming to a rest in thecarriageway.

    As minor casualties were being removedthrough the windscreen, Aine arrived at thescene and started prioritising casualties,

    taking control of the medical treatment.

    Aine, who has since completed a module inmilitary leadership in practice, said: I neverexpected to be recognised for what I did, itwas a lovely surprise.

    I reacted to what happened in the way Ihave been trained to and was just doingwhat was expected of me. I am just so gladthat I was able to help and make a differenceto the victims of the road accident.

    She stayed in the minibus with a trappedelderly Asian woman who could not speakEnglish, with severe cuts to her head and abadly broken wrist.

    Aine positioned herself so that the casualty'shead was resting on her lap, and providedher with constant reassurance while tendingto her wounds.

    Fifteen minutes after the initial crash, theemergency services arrived and Aine'sprofessionalism was so marked that, despitethe presence of paramedics, police and fireservices personnel, she was designated tostay with the main casualty while theemergency services cut the minibus open.Aine with her mother Catherine at the ceremony

    A PROSTHETIC technician iscelebrating his 50th year in theindustry.

    David Buckland joined Ortho Europeas a school leaver in 1960, beginninghis career training as a technician inthe leather workshop.

    Alongside others in the team, henow produces and repairs a widevariety of conventional prostheticleather components includingsockets, liners and straps.

    The companys managing directorJohn OByrne said: Despite the

    advances in limb technology in thelast five decades, David andcolleagues still provide a vital servicefor those patients who continue touse more conventional limbs.

    Our team of conventionaltechnicians is vital to provide choiceto patients, and Davids vastknowledge and expertise inproducing leather components willhave benefitted thousands of peopleover the years.

    David was recently recognised by theBritish Healthcare Trades Associationat their annual awards ceremony.

    Half-century celebration forprosthetic technician David

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