November 2011

Paraplegic Regains Voluntary Movement, Stands and Takes Steps

Paraplegic Rob Summers Regains Voluntary Movement

A paraplegic man can stand up to four minutes at a time or longer with assistance, walk on treadmill with assistance, and move his hips, knees, ankles and toes on command thanks to a remarkable breakthrough by researchers from the California Institute of Technology and the University of Louisville, UCLA. The unprecedented results were achieved by continual direct epidural electrical stimulation of his spinal cord, a treatment that follows 30 years of studies on clinical therapies for paralysis. The study was recently published in The Lancet.

Rob Summers, 25, was the volunteer for this experiment. Summers was left paralyzed from the chest down after a hit-and-run accident in 2006. He underwent the experiment at the Frazier Rehab Institute.

Paraplegic Rob Summers Regains Voluntary Movement

The 11-member research team was led by two prominent neuroscientists: Susan Harkema, Ph.D. of the University of Louisville’s Department of Neurosurgery, Kentucky Spinal Cord Research Center, and Frazier Rehab Institute, and V. Reggie Edgerton, Ph.D. of the Division of Life Sciences and David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Also part of the research team was Joel W. Burdick, Ph.D., Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering at Caltech. Burdick developed new computer algorithms and electromechanical technologies that promote locomotive recovery in patients with spinal cord injuries.

The procedure involved applying direct epidural electrical stimulation to the lower spinal cord and mimicking brain signals normally transmitted to induce movement. Once the signal is transmitted, the spinal cord’s neural network, combined with the sensory input from the legs to the spinal cord, can direct muscle and joint movements required to stand and takes steps on a treadmill with assistance.

Epidural stimulation is the application of continuous electrical current, at varying intensities and frequencies to specific locations on the lumbosacral (lower) spinal cord corresponding to the dense neural bundles that largely control movement of the hips, knees, ankles and toes. The electrodes required for this stimulation were implanted at the University of Louisville Hospital by Dr. Jonathan Hodes, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Louisville.

The other component of the experiment involved extensive Locomotor Training during electrical stimulation while the subject was suspended over the treadmill. With assistance from rehabilitation specialists, the neural networks of the spinal cord were retrained to produce muscle movements necessary to stand and take assisted steps.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Dr. Edgerton is on the Reeve Foundation’s Science Advisory Council and its International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury. Dr. Harkema is Director of the Reeve Foundation’s NeuroRecovery Network.

Drs. Harkema and Edgerton have worked closely together since Harkema began her career as a post-grad student in Dr. Edgerton’s UCLA laboratory, where he pioneered the field of locomotion with extensive animal studies. Dr. Harkema is now the Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Louisville and oversees its human research program. Both doctors envision a day when individuals with complete lower-body paralysis will be able to use portable stimulation units or use walkers to stand, maintain balance and take steps. The treatment could also result in more significant relief from complications related to complete spinal injury-related paralysis, such as loss of sexual response or loss of sphincter and bladder control.

“The spinal cord is smart,” notes Dr. Edgerton. “The neural networks in the lumbosacral spinal cord are capable of initiating full weight bearing and relatively coordinated stepping without any input from the brain. This is possible, in part, due to information that is sent back from the legs directly to the spinal cord.”

“This is a breakthrough. It opens up a huge opportunity to improve the daily functioning of these individuals,” concludes Dr. Harkema, lead author of today’s Lancet article. “But we have a long road ahead.”

“While these results are obviously encouraging,” concurs Dr. Edgerton, “we need to be cautious. There is much work to be done.”

The reason for Edgerton’s and Harkema’s cautiousness is the fact that the experiment was conducted on only one human subject to date–Summers. Furthermore, Summers was in exceptional physical condition prior to his injury. In addition, the subject in this case retained some feeling. It is not known how well the experiment will work on patients with entirely no sensation. Another consideration is that earlier experiments on animals involved the use of drug compounds that increased sensitivity and function of the spinal cord’s neural network–drugs not approved for humans. Five new human subjects have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to be enrolled in the study.

“Today’s announcement clearly demonstrates proof of concept,” said Susan Howley, Executive Vice President for Research at the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “It’s an exciting development. Where it leads to from here is fundamentally a matter of time and money.”

Paraplegic Rob Summers Regains Voluntary Movement

Adds research volunteer Rob Summers, “This procedure has completely changed my life. For someone who for four years was unable to even move a toe, to have the freedom and ability to stand on my own is the most amazing feeling. To be able to pick up my foot and step down again was unbelievable, but beyond all of that my sense of well-being has changed. My physique and muscle tone has improved greatly, so much that most people don’t even believe I am paralyzed. I believe that epidural stimulation will get me out of this chair.”

Sources:
neurosciencenews.com/paraplegic-man-stands-steps-assistance-moves-legs-voluntarily-spinal-cord/

Video sources:
abcnews.go.com/Health/paralyzed-man-rob-summers-moves-legs-voluntarily-implanted/story?id=13641521
cbsnews.com/stories/2011/05/19/eveningnews/main20064470.shtml
youtube.com/user/ReeveFoundation

Image sources:
cbsnews.com
gizmodo.com
biomechanism.com

Study Finds Link Between Stress and Neurodegenerative Disease

Stress and Brain Aging

A team of researchers from the Hull York Medical School, the University of York, and the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry have discovered a link between the growth rate of neuronal connections and stressful conditions as the human brain ages. These findings may provide a better understanding of the development of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers detailed their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.

The researchers studied stress responses in synapses in fruit flies. Synapses are structures that allow neurons to transmit signals to other cells in the brain. The researchers found that stressful conditions such as neurodegeneration resulted in a high-energy form of damaging oxygen that caused an excessive growth of synapses, which potentially contributed to dysfunction. These stresses typically occur during diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, according to the researchers.

The Drosophila fruit fly was used as a model for the study, however, the researchers stated that similar pathways exist in humans. The researchers also used a model of lysosomal storage disease, a hereditary incurable neurodegenerative disease in which enlarged synapses were observed, but how that growth affects disease progression and brain function remains unclear.

“The findings have strong implications for neuronal function as brains age, and will add significantly to our understanding of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,” said study co-author Dr. Sean Sweeney of the Department of Biology at the University of York.

“Our work sheds light on how our brain becomes less able to make these changes in neuronal contacts as we age and helps explain the loss of neuronal contacts seen in several neurodegenerative diseases,” said co-researcher Dr. Iain Robinson of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Robinson also stated that neuronal contacts in the brain constantly change, which enables us to form short- or long-term memories.

Previously, researchers have conducted similar studies on stress and aging of the brain in mice, as seen in the video below.

Sources:
thehindu.com/health/medicine-and-research/article2528342.ece
privatehealth.co.uk/news/october-2011/care-for-patients-with-memory-problems-36037/

Image source:
thehindu.com

Toyota to Offer Health-aid Robots for Paralysis Patients by 2013

Toyota Independent Walk Assist Robot

Toyota Motor Corp. has brought healthcare to high tech, and the result is a new line of assistive robots designed to help people with physical disabilities. The auto giant recently announced plans to offer the Toyota Partner Robot series, a line of health-aid robots designed to lift and carry patients and help injured or paralyzed persons walk.

One of the robotic devices is the Independent Walk Assist, a mechanical exoskeleton for a person’s legs. The device enables a person with paralysis or other ailment to walk by utilizing computer sensors. The robots are expected to be available for purchase by 2013.

Toyota Patient Transfer Assist Robot

[Toyota] endeavors to provide the freedom of mobility to all people, and understands from its tie-ups with the Toyota Memorial Hospital and other medical facilities that there is a strong need for robots in the field of nursing and healthcare,” the company said. “We aim to support independent living for people incapacitated through sickness or injury, while also assisting in their return to health and reducing the physical burden on caregivers.”

Toyota Patient Transfer Assist Robot

Researchers at the University of California developed a robotic exoskeleton similar to the Walk Assist, which enabled a student with paralysis to walk across the stage like his classmates and receive his diploma in the spring of 2010. In 2000, after receiving backing from the US military, university researchers designed wearable robots to assist soldiers in carrying heavy loads. Toyota plans to make its version–called the Independent Walk Assist–available to Japanese paralysis patients by 2013.

Toyota Patient Transfer Assist Robot

The Independent Walk Assist is only one of several health-aid robots that Toyota recently revealed. Another model is the Patient Transfer Assist, a machine designed for use by patients and caregivers. The machine uses weight-bearing arms, a mobile platform, and robotic controls to move and carry patients.

Toyota Independent Walk Assist Robot

Each robot incorporates the latest in advanced technologies developed by [Toyota], including high-speed, high-precision motor control technology, highly stable walking-control technology advanced through development of two-legged robots, and sensor technology that detects the user’s posture as well as their grasping and holding strength,” Toyota reported.

According to MIT economists who recently spoke at a robotic symposium in Massachusetts, computers and robots will increasingly become more commonplace in the workplace in the years to come. Robots may even replace human workers in positions such such as call-center and clerical jobs. As a result, the economy will change and workers will have to be retrained.

The use of robotic exoskeletons has been extensively researched during the last decade. Two years ago, Japan-based Cyberdyne, Inc. designed a robotic exoskeleton named Robot Suit HAL. The device is worn like a suit and helps persons who suffered a stroke or debilitating accident regain their mobility.

Kudos to Toyota for considering assistive technology and accessibility in the design and implementation of new products for all people to use, regardless of ability.

Source:
computerworld.com/s/article/9221408/Toyota_expects_to_offer_healthcare_robots_in_2013

Video source:
english.ntdtv.com

Image sources:
computerworld.com
worldnewsphotos.net

Studies Cite Inadequate Physical Education for Kids with Disabilities

Adapted Physical Education

There has been a disturbing finding from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports research. According to the Council, only 29 percent of students with disabilities take physical education classes at least five days a week, compared to 34 percent of students without disabilities. Children with disabilities get four-and-half times less physical activity than children without disabilities. A Department of Health and Human Services study found that less than 25 percent of children get at least an hour of exercise every day; children with disabilities get even less. Physical education (P.E.) is generally the only class special-needs students regularly take, yet it remains too low of priority on many school curricula.

The Department of Education provides “little information or guidance on P.E. or extracurricular athletics for students with disabilities, and some states and districts GAO interviewed said more would be useful,” according to a 2010 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The report stated that the Education Department’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) failed to provide detailed information on the types of special accommodations children with disabilities may require. The GAO’s report also found that lack of trained staff contributed to the problem of inadequate physical education for students with disabilities. Teachers in some states must be licensed to teach adapted physical education (A.P.E.), while teachers in other states are not required to be specially licensed.

Adapted Physical Education

The Department of Education recently issued these guidelines in response to the GAO’s findings:

    • Improve accessibility by considering special accommodations in the physical environment as well as its security and safety.
    • Modify existing equipment or provide access to specialized equipment; use equipment such as a treadmill, Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii.
    • Train staff by teaching them about disabilities and educating students with special needs.
    • Manage behavior by training staff about positive behavior reinforcement and methods to address behavioral issues and why such issues may arise (i.e., not due to a student being “bad” but may have difficulty communicating).

The Education Department, in keeping with the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states that students with disabilities should be allowed to participate in P.E. activities along with students without disabilities to the “maximum extent possible.” The department’s guidelines also recommend that P.E. curricula for special-needs students focus on socialization as well as fitness.

“Athletics in the school setting involve complex interactions in settings less controlled than the typical academic classroom,” the guidelines say. “Team play and sportsmanship cannot be taught except through participation.”

Adapted Physical Education

The Education Department also recommends more accessible physical education spaces like mats and other soft surfaces in place of concrete, but not wood chips or sand, which wheelchairs can’t maneuver. All of these guidelines require participation, however. School administrators must realize the importance of well-rounded physical education programs and physical activity in educating special-needs students. Educators must make physical education just as essential as other scholastic skills and acknowledge that it enhances learning.

Does your child get enough physical education? And is the school’s program adapted and accessible?

Sources:
care2.com/causes/kids-with-disabilities-need-p-e-too.html
blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2011/10/phys_edkids_wdisabilities.html
gao.gov/new.items/d10519.pdf
www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/equal-pe.pdf

Image sources:
pps.k12.or.us
carrollk12.org
uwosh.edu

‘GIMP’ Dancers with Disabilities Dare You to Stare

GIMP Dancers with Disabilities

The term “gimp” sometimes refers to someone who limps or walks with an uneven gait. A gimp can be a ribbon-like, braided fabric. It can be someone with vigor or spunk. It can mean turning, vacillating or trembling ecstatically. “GIMP,” a dance performance produced by renowned choreographer Heidi Latsky, encompasses all that the word “gimp” means. Latsky formerly worked with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company before moving on to form the New York-based Heidi Latsky Dance Company, where she found inspiration from the “fierce yet vulnerable aura” of dancers with disabilities.

GIMP Dancers with Disabilities

“GIMP” features a talented mix of dancers with and without disabilities who move rhythmically across the stage and in the air. Latsky holds nothing back in “GIMP”. Her vision was bold, daring, and frank. The six-dancer cast (three with disabilities and three without) explore and challenge the various definitions of the word “gimp” along with the stereotypes that can accompany those connotations.

GIMP Dancers with Disabilities

Able-bodied people often find themselves staring at a person who is missing a limp, or walks or talks “funny.” “GIMP” gives audiences permission to stare at that which separates and unites us–and to be amazed and inspired instead of uncomfortable. Don’t be surprised, however, if the performers of “GIMP” boldly stare right back at you, because the license to stare to your heart’s content doesn’t mean you may not find yourself squirming in your seat.

GIMP Dancers with Disabilities

“‘GIMP’ is all about giving the audience permission to really look,” Latsky explained. “It’s an opportunity for them to really look so they can see what they’re afraid to look at in real life and the beauty of what’s there.” The only requirement she has for her dancers is that they don’t hold back who they are.

GIMP Dancers with Disabilities

Latsky shatters more barriers by including a aerial duet between dancers Jennifer Strickland, who was born without legs, and able-bodied Danilo Lambo. Two long strips of bright red cloth facilitated their connection and made them equals as they rhythmically moved in the air and on the floor. Their choreography highlights sex, violence, and attraction. At the end, Strickland’s slow coiling ascent toward Lambo ends with a kiss on his lips. A perfect finish to a uniquely captivating performance.

GIMP Dancers with Disabilities

Most recently, “GIMP” was performed at Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Center for African American Culture to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the FISA Foundation: Women Making a Difference, and was sort of a birthday gift FISA gave itself for a century of giving respect, dignity, and support to children, women, and individuals with disabilities. The production was a collaborative effort between the Center and the Pittsburgh Dance Council.

To learn more about the “GIMP” dance project, view the videos below or visit their website at www.thegimpproject.com.

Sources:
thegimpproject.com/gimp
post-gazette.com/pg/11290/1182674-325.stm
post-gazette.com/pg/11282/1180300-325.stm

Video sources:
thegimpproject.com
vimeo.com

Image sources:
thegimpproject.com
newsroom.unl.edu
7dvt.com
today.msnbc.msn.com
liverpoolmag.co.uk

GPS Shoes Now Available for Alzheimer’s Patients

Dementia Patient Wanders

GTX Corp, developer of miniaturized Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) tracking and location-transmitting technology, recently joined forces with the footwear firm Aetrex Worldwide to create the first walking shoes equipped with built-in GPS devices. These specially-equipped shoes were designed to help family and caretakers locate Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients who may wander off and get lost.

GPS Shoe by GTX Corp

GTX and Aetrex received certification from the Federal Communications Commission this year for their GPS system. The system is implanted in the heel of what appears to be a normal walking shoe. It then allows caretakers or family members to monitor the wearer and set up a “geofence” that triggers an alert, if the wearer travels beyond a certain area. These shoes are ideal for dementia or Alzheimers suffers who refuse to wear medical pendants or bracelets designed to provide similar protection.

GPS Shoe by GTX Corp

“The primary reason is that paranoia is a manifestation of the disease,” said Professor Andrew Carle of the George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services, who was also an adviser on this project. “If you put something on someone with Alzeheimer’s that they don’t recognize, they remove it. If it’s a wristwatch and it’s not their wristwatch, they will take it off. So you have to hide it.”

GTX Corp's GPS Shoe Test

Studies indicate that over five million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s, according to Carle. That figure will likely quadruple in the next few years. Sixty percent of suffers wander off and get lost, and nearly half of those who are not found within 24 hours may die from injury, dehydration, or exposure.

GPS Shoe by GTX Corp

Carle said the shoes could save lives and prevent embarrassing incidents. “It’s especially important for people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s who are at the highest risk,” he told AFP. “They might be living in their home but they’re confused. They go for a walk, and they can get lost for days.”

GPS Shoe by GTX Corp

The increasing costs of Alzheimer’s may result in a rapidly growing market for these specialized walking shoes. GTX chief executive Patrick Bertagna stated, “This is a significant milestone for both companies and while the $604 billion worldwide cost of dementia has become and will continue to be a significant fiscal challenge, the under $300 GPS enabled shoes will ease the enormous physical and emotional burden borne by Alzheimer’s victims, caregivers and their geographically distant family members.”

GPS Shoe by GTX Corp

The shoes were originally going to be designed solely for long-distance runners and children, but Carle advised the makers that the shoes could benefit seniors as well, especially seniors who want to maintain an active lifestyle. “They feel a need to walk and it is good for them,” he said. “They should take a walk. It’s good for them.”

According to GTX, the first batch of the GPS-equipped shoes have been shipped to Aetrex. They will cost around $300, and buyers will be able to set up a service to monitor loved ones who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

To learn more about these GPS shoes, visit GTX Corp’s website at www.gpsshoe.com or watch the videos below:

Source:
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/articles/2011/10/24/gps_shoesforalzheimerspatients/

Video source:
http://www.gpsshoe.com/

Image sources:
gpsshoe.com
rawstory.com

Stephen Homsey’s Cross-Country Trek for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Stephen Homsey Steps4MS

Stephen Homsey began a cross-country walk for multiple sclerosis (MS) on May 10 in Winchester, Massachusetts just outside of Boston, and that walk is finally coming to an end six months later in San Diego, California. Homsey’s journey is his way of making the most of every day and giving back as much as he can, particularly to people with multiple sclerosis. It’s also part of Homsey’s non-profit organization, Steps for MS, which he founded to help people living with the autoimmune disease and their families. Steps for MS was incorporated in July 2010 with the organization’s goal to raise awareness and money for research and support for MS patients and their families.

“It’s a great cause,” Homsey said. “I’m doing this to raise awareness and funds for MS research and assistance. The people that I’ve come across that have MS are all very positive, very influencing on me and they’re great individuals.”

Stephen Homsey

Homsey’s cross-country trek began exactly two years before his walk began, when he experienced a life-altering accident on May 10, 2009. He fell more than 40 feet off a Boston apartment building and suffered serious injuries ankles and spine that left him immobile for months. His immobility made him realize how much he’d taken for granted and how fragile life is. He spent his downtime researching different things, one of which was multiple sclerosis.

Being physically disabled, albeit temporarily, gave Homsey a glimpse of what it’s like to suddenly lose your mobility and struggle with coping with it. He eventually recovered from his injuries, but he couldn’t forget about the people for whom physical disability is a way of life. As he learned more about the debilitating effects of MS, he became more determined to “make the most out of every day and give back as much as I could.”

Stephen Homsey Steps4MS

Since he was craving the open road, Homsey decided to embark upon a cross-country walk to take in the sights and sounds of cities all across the nation and meet everyone he could. This wouldn’t be just an ordinary walk. This walk would be an opportunity to help and better the lives of the approximately 400,000 MS sufferers in the U.S. The more people Homsey shared his idea with, the more folks wanted to get involved.

Homsey couldn’t get everything organized in time for his original May 2010 start date, so his cross-country trek got pushed back to May 2011. When he did an interview with 3TV in Arizona, he was already on his eighth pair of walking shoes. He said his toughest challenge was getting through the changing climates and elevations as he walked from state to state. It isn’t all toil and hardship, however, as he makes friends everywhere he goes and has been keeping in touch with his girlfriend every day via his cellphone.

Steps4MS Map

Today is his last leg of his long trek, finishing up in San Diego with a map on his website giving real-time tracking reports of his final steps even as this story is being published. On his blog the night before his last day, Homsey wrote: “Pretty excited for tomorrow. It is kind of similar to being on a plane. You are in the final approach awaiting the final 20 minutes than landing (tomorrow).”

Visit his website at steps4ms.org to learn more or donate, and join us in cheering him on for this great journey for a great cause!

Sources:
http://www.azfamily.com/news/health/Man-walking-across-the-country-for-MS-132543158.html
http://steps4ms.org/

Video sources:
http://www.youtube.com/user/stepsforms
http://www.azfamily.com/news/health/Man-walking-across-the-country-for-MS-132543158.html

Image sources:
swtimes.com
steps4ms.org
nctimes.com

The 25th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert

Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit for Children with Disabilities

On a late-October evening in Mountainview, California, entertainer Neil Young told concertgoers at the at San Francisco Bay area’s Shoreline Amphitheater why he was performing that night and every year since 1986: that was when he and his wife Pegi decided to found The Bridge School, located in Hillsborough, California.

Neil told the audience how 27 years ago he and Pegi got the idea during a conversation about their son, Ben, who has developmental disabilities. Pegi suggested starting a school for Ben and children like him, and she thought they should have a benefit concert to raise start-up capital. Neil got some of his rock star pals, which included Bruce Springsteen, to perform at that first concert. The Bridge School Benefit debuted two years later, as did The Bridge School itself, and the rest was history.

The 25th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert

The Bridge School is a non-profit organization who helps individuals with severe physical and speech disabilities achieve full participation in their communities. This year’s concert marked the 25th anniversary of the Bridge School Benefit and featured an impressive, multi-talented mix of Bridge School newbies and veterans that included Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire, Dave Matthews, Los Invisibles featuring Carlos Santana, the Foo Fighters, Beck, Mumford & Sons, Norah Jones with the Little Willies, Devendra Banhart, and Tony Bennett.

With his old battered acoustic guitar and a harmonica strapped around his neck, looking as if he was going gardening, Neil played a few of his favorites, including “Comes a Time,” “Sugar Mountain, and “Long May You Run.” He then turned to faced the families and students and families on the stage behind him, including Ben, and sand a rendition of “Heart of Gold” that made time stop. Young also joined some of his fellow performers onstage a few times during the day after his traditional afternoon serenade hours earlier.

The 25th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert

He joined Dave Matthews for a rendition of “Oh! Susanna,” sang along with Mumford & Sons on a cover of one of his own song, “Dance Dance Dance,” and surprised Beck by singing backup halfway through his band’s rendition of “Pocahontas.”

The 25th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert

“Wow,” said Beck, stunned. “That’s a nice surprise.” Beck also performed songs from his decade-old album Sea Change.

The 25th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert

Eddie Vedder sang a duet entitled, “Tonight You Belong to Me” with Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne and sang along with Beck for the Everly Brothers’ “Sleepless Nights.” Vedder is a Bridge School Benefit regular, as this was his 10th appearance. He dedicated a song from his recent solo album to Maricor Pagsanjan, a longtime friend from the Bridge School.

The 25th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert

“She’s my hero,” he said, giving her a sidelong glance.

In Sunday’s performance, Vedder shared the stage with Chassagne, Beck, Young and Jerry Hannan and later joked that “f—ed up” one of Young’s songs the previous night. He told Young after his set on Saturday, “You should have invited me out there to sing it with you. We could have f—ed it up together.”

Norah Jones, dressed in a black cocktail dress, played a country-style set with the Little Willies. “We started out as a Willie Nelson cover band,” she said before playing a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” on Young’s piano. “Now these guys have got to live with that name.”

Arcade Fire turned out to the biggest surprise of the night. The indie rock band rollicked through twangy versions of “Rebellion (Lies),” “The Suburbs,” and several others. Lead singer Win Butler was visibly moved and honored to be a part of the concert, getting visibly emotional.

“I can honestly say, I don’t think a lot of us would be in a band if it wasn’t for Neil Young,” singer-guitarist Butler said.

The 25th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert

His emotions didn’t stop him or the band of eight from bringing the crowd to their feet and moving to the beat as as it the evening got darker and cooler. One of their numbers was Young’s “Helpless,” played along side Young himself.

Los Invisibles featuring Carlos Santana treated the audience to a combination of jazz and salsa. Santana played a set that moved from Latin jazz to his popular tunes “Maria Maria” and “Smooth.” He paused in between songs to thank Pegi and Neil for having him and referred to them as “architects of compassion.” Dave Matthews joined Santana onstage to sing “Love of My Life” from his album Supernatural.

The Foo Fighters performed later in the evening. Band member Dave Grohl took a moment to talk about being invited to the benefit early in his career. He said never could’ve imagined being a family man and a rock star. He didn’t think you could be both. After meeting Young and his family, he realized he was wrong. Today, Grohl is married with children–and still very much a rock star.

The incomparable, 85-year-old Tony Bennett took to the stage and belted out notes that pleasantly surprised the crowd, and by the end of his set the crowd was screaming for more. He sang an emotional “Maybe This Time,” a swinging “I Got Rhythm,” and a crowd-pleasing, “I left My Heart in San Francisco.”

The 25th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert

The Bridge School students and their families, as always, had the best seats in the house–on a raised platform at the back of the stage, with the performers regularly making a point to turn around and sing for them.

The 25th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert

For the finale, Young sang with Pegi and all of his fellow musicians, but not before expressing his love and gratitude for his son Ben.

The 25th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert

To see more of the Bridge School Benefit concert, watch videos below. The finale video in particular is is incredibly heartwarming — have tissues ready. Also, be sure to visit the school’s page at www.bridgeschool.org to learn more about the great things they do there.

Neil Young’s 25th Bridge School Benefit Finale

Sources:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/10/23/DD0G1LL9VF.DTL
http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/1000words/2011/10/the-bridge-school-benefit-25-years-of-goodness.html
http://www.npr.org/2011/10/13/141324943/first-listen-the-bridge-school-concerts?ps=mh_fl
http://www.bridgeschool.org/

Image sources:
sfgate.com
pastemagazine.com

Video sources:
bridgeschool.org
vimeo.com/31305401

MossRehab Becomes First to Use the ReWalk-I for Paraplegia Therapy

ReWalk-I

MossRehab, a leading rehabilitation center, is the first ever in the U.S. to offer the ReWalk™–I, an institutional version of the ReWalk device. ReWalk is the only FDA-approved motorized exoskeleton for use in a medically-supervised rehabilitative setting. The new version, the ReWalk–I, will allow patients with spinal cord injuries and lower-body paralysis to participate in gait training. The ReWalk–I may also be used in “rewalking” therapy, which involves training a patient on how to use the device.

The ReWalk–I is an ergonomic brace-support suit that a user wears around his back and legs and fits snugly on his body atop his clothes. It has motorized knee and hip joints, a patient-controlled computer-based control system, rechargeable batteries, and sensors. Use of the forearm crutches help stabilize the user while he is walking and standing, and he can use simple body movements to control and initiate movements for walking.

MossRehab was chosen for the US clinical trial site because of its worldwide reputation for research programs and clinical rehabilitation. Clinical trials to determine the efficacy, safety, and user satisfaction for the ReWalk–I concluded in August. The trials paved the way for the next stage in ReWalk’s evolution, much to the benefit of many patients.

ReWalk-I

“This is a historic moment,” says Amit Goffer, PhD, founder of the Isreali company Argo Medical Technologies Ltd., who developed of the ReWalk device. “For more than 2,000 years, the wheelchair has been the only mobility solution offered to patients with paralysis below the waist, and now at MossRehab, the dream of walking again is becoming a reality for them.”

Alberto Esquenazi, MD, Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at MossRehab, led the ReWalk–I clinical trials and was instrumental in its development. “Even though there isn’t scientific proof yet, research subjects in the trials have reported reduction in spasticity, reduction in pain, improved cardiopulmonary fitness, and improvement in bladder and bowel management,” he said. “We are thrilled to be the first institution in the country to offer this revolutionary therapy to help improve the health and well-being of people with paraplegia.”

ReWalk-I

MossRehab’s Outpatient Center in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania started offering ReWalking in August 2011. Interested patients can consult with the facility’s board-certified rehabilitation specialists in spinal cord injury to determine if they are viable candidates for the therapy. The facility also has physical therapists who are trained to supervise and work with ReWalk patients. ReWalking therapy is covered by most insurance plans as part of physical therapy. The duration and frequency of treatment is based on a patient’s tolerance level, his progress and his medical need.

The ReWalk–I will initially only be available to patients with spinal cord injuries below T6 level (below-the-waist) who do not have: back instability, severe spasticity, significant joint deformities, pressure sores or unhealed fractures. A patient must have a recent DEXA bone density measurement scan, a ReWalk therapy prescription, and a recent evaluation by a rehabilitation physician who can certify that the patient can safely stand.

Interested individuals can contact MossRehab’s Outpatient Center at 215-663-6354 or 1-800-CALL MOSS, or visit their site at www.mossrehab.com for more information.

See the original AMS Vans Blog story about the ReWalk device here: All You Need to Know About ReWalk, the Robotic Exoskeleton

Or watch the video below from MossRehab about their work with the ReWalk™–I:

Source:
http://newsroom.einstein.edu/index.php/2011-News-Releases/mossrehab-first-in-the-us-to-offer-therapeutic-use-of-rewalk-device.html
http://www.argomedtec.com/
http://physical-therapy.advanceweb.com/Multimedia/Videos/Standing-Tall.aspx
http://www.amsvans.com/blog/598-rewalk-the-robotic-exoskeleton/
http://www.mossrehab.com/

Video source:
physical-therapy.advanceweb.com

Image sources:
sleeparound.tv
rewalk.us
blog.ncpad.org

Man Carves Smartphone Dock into His Prosthetic Arm

Prosthetic Smartphone Arm

A British man recently became the first person in the world to have a cell phone embedded in his arm–his prosthetic arm, that is. Trevor Prideaux was born without his left arm and has worn a prosthetic since he was three. Whenever he wanted to use his cell phone, he had to balance it on his prosthetic arm or place it on a table. Now Prideaux can text and call family and friends from his Nokia C7 that is perfectly embedded into his prosthetic limb. “I think this is the first time this has ever been done in the world – and it is brilliant,” he said.

“I can now take calls and make texts just by using my one hand, while the phone sits inside my arm,” said Prideaux. “The phone slots smoothly and securely within my limb and is easily removable, when required. I think this would help a lot of people with prosthetic arms – especially those who were not born with the disability.

“People who have had motorbike crashes and soldiers who have lost limbs – they could all benefit from this.”

Prosthetic Smartphone Arm

The 50-year-old catering manager and father of one lives with his partner, Amanda, in Wedmore, Somerset. When mobile phones became the norm, Prideaux struggled with sending texts and making calls with one arm. “From owning a mobile phone and with the invention of the iPhone, it became clear that this piece of technology was not ideally suited to be used with only one hand,” he said.

He first got the idea to have his phone embedded into his arm when he was trying to test out an iPhone he was thinking of buying. “When testing an iPhone, with the thoughts of purchase, I had to balance it on my prosthetic limb to text,” he said. “I wondered whether it was possible to have a mobile phone built into my limb, to aid usage. I was born without my arm so I am used to adapting to things – but I thought that others must be struggling too.”

Prosthetic Smartphone Arm

Prideaux contacted communications giant Apple to see if he could get a blank iPhone casing to test, but he got nowhere. Prideaux shelved his idea until he made a trip to his local cell phone shop to have his Nokia upgraded. He again mentioned his idea to the staff, and they helped him bring it to fruition. Technicians at the Exeter Mobility Centre in Devon, where Prideaux always got his limbs made, created a laminated fiber-cast of his Nokia phone and built a new prosthetic limb according to the phone’s specifications. Then they carved a phone-shaped fiber-cast cradle for the Nokia C7 to sit inside.

“This phone is slightly narrower than an iPhone and has both a qwerty and alphanumeric board, which is easier for me to use,” said Prideaux. “My Nokia C7 sits within my forearm, between my stump socket and the single knob rotary that holds my limb attachments in place. Now when I get call I can either hold my arm up to my ear or put it on speaker phone. I can also take it out if I need to. Texting is also much easier and a lot safer. I am hugely grateful to the people EMC. This is a leap forward which has helped me out a lot and can also aid others.”

Sources:
http://gizmodo.com/5853288/genius-handicapped-man-carved-a-smartphone-dock-into-his-fake-arm
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/8848476/Man-gets-smartphone-dock-built-into-prosthetic-arm.html

Image sources:
gizmodo.com
gadgetwiki.com
eejournal.com