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Reversing The Effects Of A Stroke

February 4, 2011

It is clear that we are living in an age when technology is being applied to better the lives of millions of people. GizMag is an amazing online source for so many tech innovations and a source I use to find great stories like this one.

Penumbra System

Twenty-seven stroke victims are alive and well today because of a new tool that vacuums clots out of blood vessels in the brain. Known as the Penumbra System of Continuous Aspiration Thrombectomy, the technology has been assessed at the Seaman MR Research Centre at Canada’s University of Calgary. If used within a few hours of a stroke, it can restore blood flow to the brain, thus reversing the effects of the stroke and preventing any permanent brain damage.

Medical technology firm Penumbra designed the tool. The process involves going in through the patient’s groin, and threading a tiny catheter into a blood vessel. That catheter goes up to the neck, at which point an even smaller catheter emerges from it and goes into the brain, whereupon it vacuums out the blood clot. “It requires years of training to be able to do this,” said Dr. Mayank Goyal, director of the Seaman Centre. “It places enormous demands on the interventionalist, on the imaging specialists, and on the emergency team that gets the patient to a designated stroke care facility. Teamwork is key for success.”

Dr. Goyal added that the procedure will only work on massive strokes, so it is vital that patients are assessed via a CT scan as soon as possible. As revolutionary as the tool itself may be, it is of the utmost importance that medical staff are able to quickly determine which patients are candidates. To that end, Goyal is now working on a website that will help other physicians interpret CT scans accordingly.

The Penumbra System is intended for use on ischemic strokes, which involve blood clots in the brain, and constitute 80% of all strokes. Currently, such clots are treated with the drug t-PA, which has to be administered within three hours of the event. The new system involves less of a risk of bleeding, and may still work after more than three hours.

“The bottom line is we have this new technology which is extremely effective,” said Goyal. “This study involved patients with large strokes associated with much higher levels of disability and death and we have the potential to be able to give them a good quality of life.”

Walkaide, Their ‘Miracle In A Box’

February 4, 2011

Here is a story we did in June of last year that we wanted every reader to the blog to see…these videos are going to amaze everyone that watches them. CBS did a story about the Walkaide device and how it helped a woman injured in a snowboarding accident. This is a clear demonstration of how technology is helping those who need it most.

The Walkaide device is strapped to the legs and sends electrical pulses to the nerves in the feet and legs that allow users more control of their limbs. Walkaide user, Tina Mann tells her story.

Here is a video from Innovative Neurotronics about a man with a lesser efliction called foot drop that uses Walkaide and it has changed his life.


Helping The Paralyzed To Walk Again

February 4, 2011

A technique helping stroke victims regain their mobility has won the 2010 Danish Research Result of the Year award and is now attracting attention from investors keen to see the research move from the lab and into rehabilitation centers. Professor Ole Kaeseler Andersen of the Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction at Aalborg University, Denmark, has developed method that uses the nervous system’s natural reflex reaction to pain to aid stroke patient rehabilitation.

Andersen’s research is based on the way a person pulls the foot back as a reflex to sudden pain – known as nociceptive withdrawal reflex. A better understanding of this reflex has lead to it being used as a tool in rehabilitation.

“We have developed a method of using electrical stimulation of the withdrawal reflex in a way that can help in patients’ rehabilitation,” says Andersen. “The electrical impulse triggers a natural reflex such that the leg is pulled up and the foot moves, so the patient is helped to move their leg even though he or she was partially paralyzed after a stroke.”

The treatment, called functional electrical therapy, has been tested with stroke patients at the Neuro-Rehabilitation Center at Vendsyssel Hospital in Bronderslev, Denmark.

Having won the Danish Research Result of the Year for 2010, the Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction research has now attracted investor attention. Negotiations are under way with an investor interested in providing venture capital for the project, a move that will see the new technology venture out of the research laboratory and into the commercial market, being sold to rehabilitation centers world-wide.


From this story I found a company called Berkeley Bionics that has developed an exoskeleton device they call eLegs. Launched in October of 2010 it was named one of the top 50 innovations of the year by Time Magazine, #3 of the top 10 inventions from CNN and #2 in the same category with Wired Magazine.

Their official press release:

Berkeley Bionics™, developer and maker of bionic exoskeletons that augment human strength, endurance and mobility, today unveiled eLEGS, a wearable, artificially intelligent, bionic device that powers paraplegics up to get them standing and walking.

eLEGS was unveiled at a press conference today in San Francisco by Berkeley Bionics’ CEO, Eythor Bender, who explained that the company’s mission is to provide people with unprecedented mobility options. “Many of the 6 million Americans who live with some form of paralysis today were highly active and at the top of their game when they sustained their injury. As they research their options for increased mobility, they discover that wheelchairs are pretty much it. This has been the only alternative – their only hope – for nearly 500 years,” he said. “We want to enhance their independence and freedom of movement,” he added, “and with eLEGS, they can stand up and walk for the first time since their injury.”

“As a wheelchair user, I experience the multiple health and fitness benefits of mobility from the standing position. I can’t wait to share this alternative with other individuals,” shared eLEGS tester and a partial quadriplegic herself, Dr. Suzy Kim, an assistant clinical professor at the Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, UCI Medical Center, as well as director, Clinical Spinal Cord Injury Program & Scientific Liaison for Reeve-Irvine Research Center. “The application of eLEGS will revolutionize the field of neurologic rehabilitation from the hospital to the home setting.”

Initially, the device will be offered to rehabilitation centers for use under medical supervision, and can be adjusted to fit most people between 5’2 and 6’4” and weighing 220 lbs or less, in a matter of minutes. Users must be able to self-transfer from their wheelchair. Simple Velcro straps, backpack-style clips, and shoulder straps secure eLEGS to the user, over their clothing and shoes, and with a little practice, users can put eLEGS on and take it off in a minute or two.

eLEGS provides unprecedented knee flexion, which translates into the most natural human gait available in any exoskeleton today, making it better equipped to handle mixed terrains. It is also relatively quiet while in operation. Walking speeds depend on each patient’s aptitude and condition, but speeds in excess of 2MPH can be attained, and speeds can be varied. The device is battery-powered and employs a gesture-based human-machine interface which — utilizing sensors — observes the gestures the user makes to determine their intentions and then acts accordingly. A real-time computer draws on sensors and input devices to orchestrate every aspect of a single stride.

Clinical trials will commence early next year at select rehabilitation clinics in the United States. A limited release of eLEGS is scheduled during the second half of 2011 at several of the most respected rehabilitation facilities around the country. At that time, eligible patients will have the opportunity to enroll in a medically-supervised eLEGS gait training program, working with their physical therapist. Therapists will undergo training in order to become eLEGS-certified prior to assisting patients.

Berkeley Bionics developed the first practical exoskeleton and the first untethered exoskeleton in the world. Lockheed Martin Corporation entered into a licensed agreement with Berkeley Bionics in January, 2009 and is currently productizing the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC™). HULC’s users can carry up to 200 lbs for hours and over all terrains.

VA Caregiver Support Line

February 3, 2011

On February 1, 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) opened a toll-free National Caregiver Support Line.  The support line serves as a primary resource/referral center to assist caregivers, Veterans and others seeking caregiver information to help in the care of our Nation’s Veterans.  

Calls to The National Caregiver Support Line will be answered by VA employees who are licensed clinical social workers.

The Support Line provides information on VA/ community caregiver support resources and “warm” referral to dedicated Caregiver Support Coordinators located in every VA Medical Center; emotional support for the caregiver is an integral component of this service. The National Caregiver Support Line is also available to respond to inquiries about the caregiver benefits associated with Public Law 111-163, Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. 

The National Caregiver Support Line will be open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the Toll-Free number is 1-855-260-3274.

You can also visit the VA’s updated VA Caregiver Support: Caring for those Who Care Website 

Women and Stress

February 3, 2011

It’s no secret that multitasking women experience extremely high levels of stress, and women with disabilities are no exception. But it’s time to take those stress management strategies seriously. Why? Excessive stress can take a very high toll on your overall health, an especially important issue when a disability may already present health and wellness challenges for your body.

How Stress Damages Your Health

Long-term stress can increase your risk for major health problems, like depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. It can damage your immune system, up your chance for becoming obese, and makes existing conditions worse. In addition, stress can lead to a higher risk of asthma as well as arthritis flare-ups.

And its toll on your stomach can be equally severe, resulting in such symptoms as cramping or bloating, constipation or diarrhea, and even irritable bowel syndrome.

In addition, according to the National Women’s Health Center (an agency of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services), ongoing, long-term stress can also play a part in:

  • sleep difficulties
  • headaches
  • eating disorders
  • emotion and mood issues, such as irritability, anger, sadness, and anxiety
  • a lack of energy
  • decreased ability to concentrate
  • lowered interest in sex
  • difficulty in getting pregnant

Recognizing and Responding to Stress in Your Life

People with disabilities have so many additional stressors in their lives, that it’s the rare woman who doesn’t experience at least occasional levels of severe stress. The key is to avoid chronic, or unremitting stress (which, we’ll all admit, is easier said than done).

To start getting your stress levels under control, however, you’ll first need to recognize that stress is the factor driving your symptoms. The psychology profession, through the Holmes and Rahe Scale of Life Events (1967), identifies some of life’s most stressful events as:

  • the death of a spouse or a close family member
  • divorce
  • marital separation
  • marriage
  • pregnancy
  • retirement

The Holmes and Rahe Scale also includes “personal illness or injury” among its life stressors, which, for most people with disabilities, isn’t an event so much as a lifelong circumstance. This, of course, makes managing stress not an event-driven, time-delimited challenge, but rather a critically-important, day-in-and-day-out one.

Where to Start: Learning How to Manage Stress

Fortunately, there are a number of tactics you can use to manage your stress. Some of these include the basics: get enough sleep for your body to have a chance to recover from the day’s traumas; eat healthy foods that not only sustain your body but can also influence your moods; talk to friends, whether face-to-face, by phone, or online.

We’ve got additional articles that go into more specifics to help you deal with stress, but the important takeaway here is this: women are “stress magnets” because of the multiple roles we play in life, and women with disabilities simply have even more stressors that can damage your health. So choose your stress solutions, and start working on them today!

23 Winter Survival Tips

February 3, 2011

We’re all hoping that in the Quad Cities area we’ve seen our last big snow of the winter, but the Reeve Foundation had some good tips for people living with paralysis and Jean Lasher thought it would be a good idea to pass them along…so here we go.

Cotton kills!

  • Invest in good quality outer wear. Stick to name brands like The North Face, Patagonia, Hot Chillys, and Obermeyer.
  • Dress in layers. Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator and layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. (Remember, layers can always be taken off.)
  • Avoid cotton, when it gets wet, it stays wet. Search and rescue teams stress that cotton once wet stays wet allowing hyperthermia to set in quickly. Instead, try clothing made from moisture-wicking fabric like Under Armour, polypropylene or any man- made fibers. Better yet, wool will still keep the body temperature up, even when wet.

Keeping your hands warm

  • Mittens for hands if opening fingers is challenging.
  • Carry two pairs of gloves with you at all times in the likelihood that one pair gets wet. Make sure the gloves are lined for the best protection.
  • Wet, cold hands cause a chill to set in quicker. If hands become cold put them under arms in arm pit or crotch area to warm rapidly. These areas are the warmest parts of body.

Stay frostbite free

  • Head, feet and hands lose heat the quickest. Always wear a hat or cap on your head since half of your body heat could be lost through an uncovered head.
  • If participating in outdoor sports, wear a full head mask, helmet, and neck warmer.
  • It’s very 1980s, yes, but both men and women can keep calves warm with leggings.
  • Use something like Grabber warmers that can be put in pockets and gloves to keep hands warm. These are not good for feet because you can’t regulate the heat.
  • Boot warmers can be very helpful keeping feet warm and dry. Remember to check skin when first using boot warmers. Hotronic is a good product.

Skin protection especially when it’s cold

  • Wear sunscreen! Even in the winter, sunburn is possible. When the sun reflects off the snow, severe sunburn can occur, especially under your nose and the bottom of your ears.
  • Apply Vaseline to the areas of your face that are not going to be covered. It acts as a moisture insulator and helps prevent your face from getting dry or chapped in the cold air.
  • Frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch and skin may feel numb. If skin turns white or grayish-yellow, frostbite can be suspected. Move to a warm area and cover the affected area with something warm and dry. Never rub it!
  • Consistently check for any exposed skin. Shirts and jackets have a tendency to roll up on the back of wheelchairs.

Snow tires for your wheelchair?

  • You should invest in snow tires for both your wheelchair and car. Tires made from a soft rubber work best for gripping snow and ice.
  • For your wheelchair, mountain bike tires can be used as they have more traction.
  • For your car, snow tires are important because they have tread patterns that are designed to grab onto snow and ice. They also help to prevent from getting stuck.
  • Never use cruise control while driving in the winter. The time it takes to remove the cruise control is enough to send a vehicle spinning out of control.

Dealing with dehydration

  • Hydration is critical in winter weather. When the body gets dehydrated cold sets in more easily. Skin becomes dried out from heating and cold temps more so then in summer.
  • You can become dehydrated much more quickly in dry climates and high altitudes. Keep your body oxygenated by drinking lots of water.

What should be in your survival kit?

  • When traveling in winter weather, have a survival kit in your vehicle or backpack. The kit should include water, matches, food, shovel, flashlight, blankets, sleeping bag, and flares. Storms roll in quickly and getting stranded in a snow storm can be cold and dangerous. (Of course, make sure your cell phone is charged and you have a full tank of gas.)
  • Batteries lose 60% of their charge when the temperature reaches 0 degrees. Keep batteries warm with covers.


New Horizon’s February Event Listings

February 2, 2011

Save the date for our next NHILC Fabulous Friend-Raiser

NHILC’s “Complete The Dream” fundraising event will be held Saturday evening on April 9, 2011 at the historic Hotel St. Michael’s Crystal Ballroom. Dinner and dancing to the delightful sounds of wonderful jazz featuring the internationally renowned trumpeter Mike Vax with guest vocalist Terri New. Additional information about ordering tickets will be available soon. 

Free Tax Help

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) help will be offered at NHILC on Thursdays by appointment. This service is offered by trained volunteers and is provided by Catholic Charities. You may be eligible for a refund under the Earned Income Tax Credit. Call 928-778-2531 Ext. 54089 for information and to schedule your appointment and ask for the tax help location at NHILC. Please remember that this is a fragrance-free facility.

 Creative Writing Class at NHILC

Writers in the Community classes will be offered again at NHILC from March 2-April 15 on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:15-12:45. Prescott College students will share their passion for writing and only offer this service every three years to community groups. To sign up for this class at NHILC, call Deborah at 772-1266 Ext. 301. 

Open Waiting List for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program in Yavapai Co.

Qualifying families must be low income and will pay approximately 30% of their adjusted annual income for rent and utilities if the rental unit meets program requirements. Calls will be accepted 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon only on Tuesday, February 8 thru Thursday, February 10, 2011. The toll free number is 1-866-890-0177. Calls will not be accepted on any other number. Do not leave a message, as calls will not be returned. One application per phone call. An application will be mailed to you and must be returned by the due date. Website:

NHILC Transportation

Do you need a ride to go to the grocery or other shopping, to medical and therapy appointments, to the bank, to the mall or a movie? Vans include accessible and lift-equipped vans as well as mini-vans and trained drivers. NACOG transportation vouchers are accepted. Call 775-8870 for rates and to schedule a ride.

For More Local Events At New Horizons Click Here >>