we are MOVING FORWARD to ONE WORLD ONE GOVERNANCE FAR-RIGHT, MILITARISTIC, AUTHORITARIAN LIBERTARIAN MARXISM.
A Breakthrough in the Checkered History Of Brain Hacking
A recent military-funded program could up-end the way brain research is conducted. By Patrick Tucker
Our servicemen are experiencing PTSS in huge numbers because of BUSH/CHENEY and their changing of military windows of service for both US military personnel and our state national guards forcing many to serve a decade or more in active combat----never done before in modern history. Who controls our almost privatized to global military corporations? People like Bush/Cheney/Blackwater/Ze----all known for crimes against humanity.
We can bet a global Wall Street military which created these PTSS disease vectors are not doing all this brain research to help our US VETS----they are the ones dismantling and defunding our once strong Veterans Administration hospitals.
Military Funds Brain-Computer Interfaces to Control Feelings
A $70 million program will try to develop brain implants able to regulate emotions in the mentally ill.
- by Antonio Regalado
- May 29, 2014
Researcher Jose Carmena has worked for years training macaque monkeys to move computer cursors and robotic limbs with their minds. He does so by implanting electrodes into their brains to monitor neural activity. Now, as part of a sweeping $70 million program funded by the U.S. military, Carmena has a new goal: to use brain implants to read, and then control, the emotions of mentally ill people.
Brain reader: An array of micro-electrodes printed on plastic can record from the brain’s surface. It is 6.5 millimeters on a side.
This week the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, awarded two large contracts to Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, to create electrical brain implants capable of treating seven psychiatric conditions, including addiction, depression, and borderline personality disorder.
The project builds on expanding knowledge about how the brain works; the development of microlectronic systems that can fit in the body; and substantial evidence that thoughts and actions can be altered with well-placed electrical impulses to the brain.
“Imagine if I have an addiction to alcohol and I have a craving,” says Carmena, who is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and involved in the UCSF-led project. “We could detect that feeling and then stimulate inside the brain to stop it from happening.”
The U.S. faces an epidemic of mental illness among veterans, including suicide rates three or four times that of the general public. But drugs and talk therapy are of limited use, which is why the military is turning to neurological devices, says Justin Sanchez, manager of the DARPA program, known as Subnets, for Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies.
“We want to understand the brain networks [in] neuropsychiatric illness, develop technology to measure them, and then do precision signaling to the brain,” says Sanchez. “It’s something completely different and new. These devices don’t yet exist.”
Under the contracts, which are the largest awards so far supporting President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, the brain-mapping program launched by the White House last year, UCSF will receive as much as $26 million and Mass General up to $30 million. Companies including the medical device giant Medtronic and startup Cortera Neurotechnologies, a spin-out from UC Berkeley’s wireless laboratory, will supply technology for the effort. Initial research will be in animals, but DARPA hopes to reach human tests within two or three years.
The research builds on a small but quickly growing market for devices that work by stimulating nerves, both inside the brain and outside it. More than 110,000 Parkinson’s patients have received deep-brain stimulators built by Medtronic that control body tremors by sending electric pulses into the brain. More recently, doctors have used such stimulators to treat severe cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder (see “Brain Implants Can Reset Misfiring Circuits”). Last November, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved NeuroPace, the first implant that both records from the brain and stimulates it (see “Zapping Seizures Away”). It is used to watch for epileptic seizures and then stop them with electrical pulses. Altogether, U.S. doctors bill for about $2.6 billion worth of neural stimulation devices a year, according to industry estimates.
Researchers say they are making rapid improvements in electronics, including small, implantable computers. Under its program, Mass General will work with Draper Laboratories in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to develop new types of stimulators. The UCSF team is being supported by microelectronics and wireless researchers at UC Berkeley, who have created several prototypes of miniaturized brain implants. Michel Maharbiz, a professor in Berkeley’s electrical engineering department, says the Obama brain initiative, and now the DARPA money, has created a “feeding frenzy” around new technology. “It’s a great time to do tech for the brain,” he says.
The new line of research has been dubbed “affective brain-computer interfaces” by some, meaning electronic devices that alter feelings, perhaps under direct control of a patient’s thoughts and wishes. “Basically, we’re trying to build the next generation of psychiatric brain stimulators,” says Alik Widge, a researcher on the Mass General team.
Darin Dougherty, a psychiatrist who directs Mass General’s division of neurotherapeutics, says one aim could be to extinguish fear in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Fear is generated in the amygdala—a part of the brain involved in emotional memories. But it can be repressed by signals in another region, the ventromedial pre-frontal cortex. “The idea would be to decode a signal in the amygdala showing overactivity, then stimulate elsewhere to [suppress] that fear,” says Dougherty.
Such research isn’t without ominous overtones. In the 1970s, Yale University neuroscientist Jose Delgado showed he could cause people to feel emotions, like relaxation or anxiety, using implants he called “stimoceivers.” But Delgado, also funded by the military, left the U.S. after Congressional hearings in which he was accused of developing “totalitarian” mind-control devices. According to scientists funded by DARPA, the agency has been anxious about how the Subnets program could be perceived, and it has appointed an ethics panel to oversee the research.
Psychiatric implants would in fact control how mentally ill people act, although in many cases indirectly, by changing how they feel. For instance, a stimulator that stops a craving for cocaine would alter an addict’s behavior. “It’s to change what people feel and to change what they do. Those are intimately tied,” says Dougherty.
Dougherty says a brain implant would only be considered for patients truly debilitated by mental illness, and who can’t be helped with drugs and psychotherapy. “This is never going to be a first-line option: ‘Oh, you have PTSD, let’s do surgery,’ ” says Dougherty. “It’s going to be for people who don’t respond to the other treatments.”
Do WE THE PEOPLE hear this open public debate and discussion on ethics and morals of Federal funding going to anything other than a public university working to find cures for many neurological disease vectors?
The military has done a good job with prosthetics but it drives the TRANSHUMAN robotics of a super-military agent.
'The neuroengineering community serves the best interests of society quite well and we encourage a thorough and open debate of the applications built upon neuroengineering research'.
Here we see all that DECADE OF BRAIN research dealing with robotic neurological prosthetics is now being determines to be too expensive for 99% of citizens wanting that technology with a prosthetic. Even our VETS are being tossed aside because of expense. Wha we are seeing is the general public being used for military medical research with goals that are different than stated------our defense budget is already taking over half of national spending and now a sizable portion of our once public health national science funding is earmarked to these military medical goals with BRAIN RESEARCH.
FAR-RIGHT WING GLOBAL WALL STREET CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA KNOW THESE GOALS OF BRAIN RESEARCH AND WERE THE ONES DEREGULATING AND DISMANTLING ALL OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT AND FUNDING SOURCES.
This is where DESIGNER MEDICINE comes in -----global market rate for these medical products will serve only the global 1% and their 2% while all Federal funding comes from 99% of US taxpayers............
'Simple prosthetic limbs range in cost from about $3,000 to $15,000. Those that are more mechanically advanced, or come with embedded computer chips, can cost up to $40,000'.
Amputees fight for insurers to cover prostheses
Many policies have cap on artificial limbs, leaving patients to pay on own
Toby Talbot / AP
Eileen Casey puts on her artificial leg in Burlington, Vt., Wednesday, May 14, 2008. After bone cancer forced the amputation of her right leg below the knee, she had to take out a loan to pay for an artificial limb after her insurer told her she'd already spent her $10,000 lifetime coverage limit.
updated 6/9/2008 2:42:21 PM ET
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. — After bone cancer forced the amputation of her right leg below the knee, Eileen Casey got even more bad news: Her insurer told her that she had spent her $10,000 lifetime coverage limit on her temporary limb and that the company wouldn't pay for a permanent one.
"It was shocking to find out I was going to have to take out a loan to buy myself a leg so I could keep working and living independently," Casey said. At the bank, she said, she burst into tears when they asked what the loan was for.
Since then, Casey has joined a nationwide fight by amputees and the prosthetics industry to get the states and Congress to require fuller coverage for artificial limbs. The insurance industry is fighting the effort, saying such mandates drive up costs and reduce the flexibility customers want.
"The cumulative effect of several mandates can price employers out of the market altogether," said Mobit Ghose, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry lobbying group.
Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas recently signed into law a bill making Vermont the 10th state to require insurance companies to cover prosthetics as fully as they do other medical procedures. A similar measure is pending in Congress.
These laws say that if an insurance policy covers, say, 80 percent of the cost of any other medical procedure — whether a doctor's office visit or open-heart surgery — it must do the same for prosthetic limbs.
Just under 2 million Americans have lost a limb, with the largest number of amputations due to diabetes, said Paddy Rossbach, president and chief executive of the Amputee Coalition of America.
Simple prosthetic limbs range in cost from about $3,000 to $15,000. Those that are more mechanically advanced, or come with embedded computer chips, can cost up to $40,000. Expenses can grow further because many patients need new artificial limbs or sockets when the stump to which the prosthetic arm or leg is attached shrinks or otherwise changes shape. This is especially a problem in children.
While many private insurers have strict limits on the devices, government programs tend to be more generous. Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly, covers 80 percent of prosthetic costs and, unlike many private insurers, does not consider the more expensive mechanical or computerized limbs to be experimental.
The Veterans Affairs Department, which is seeing a growing number of amputees returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, provides prosthetic care without limits, said VA spokesman Terry Jemison. Anyone eligible for VA benefits — from a young soldier wounded in combat to an older veteran who has developed diabetes late in life — "will receive the latest in technology without limits on cost," Jemison said.
Rossbach argues that the health insurance industry's talk of mandates driving up costs is overblown. She said studies in six states that have passed these laws showed that increased coverage for prosthetics had added 12 to 25 cents a month to the average insurance premium.
Patients' immobility causes other problems
She added that insurance companies' slowness to cover prosthetics can increase other health care costs in the long run, because patients' immobility often leads to other ills.
"If people have a very sedentary life, then they are going to be at risk for secondary conditions — diabetes, obesity, depression, some forms of cancer," Rossbach said.
Still, mandates are not the answer, America's Health Insurance Plans argues.
"Mandates misallocate resources by requiring consumers — or their employers — to spend available funds on benefits that they would otherwise not purchase," it says on its Web site. "They also limit consumer choice by not allowing health insurance plans to make innovative and efficient products available to employers and individuals, including mandate-free policies."
Many health insurers lump prosthetics under the category of durable medical equipment, which includes less-expensive items such as crutches and back braces. Many people do not realize until it is too late that they have signed up for coverage limits that won't come close to paying for prosthetics, Rossbach said.
To Casey, who sells advertising for a Burlington-area TV station, the result seems arbitrary and unfair.
"If I had breast cancer and had a double mastectomy, they would cover breast reconstruction, yet I can't have a leg? This makes absolutely no sense," she said.
This report is long and boring and I could only post a small bit but please Google if you want to understand the problems we are having from lack of access for 99% of people from these DECADE OF THE BRAIN neurological research projects and products.
I like how this article identifies LACK OF COMPETITION in keeping prices down----that is what our Federal Public Medicare and Medicaid did but Affordable Care Act privatized and eliminated those Federal programs by folding them into bulk payments to state health systems. So, no there are already GLOBAL MONOPOLIES in health systems and patenting of these medical devices/PHARMA tied to BRAIN RESEARCH.
Affordable Care Act was written by Clinton/Obama global Wall Street neo-liberals just to do this.
An Interactive Qualifying Project Report:
Submitted to the Faculty of the
WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE
In recent years, news and media outlets have applauded the advancements in robotic prosthetics, with special attention being paid to Dean Kamen’s DEKA arm and Hugh Herr’s PowerFoot BiOM.
Robotic prosthetics have been getting extra attention in the past decade due to the large number of amputees returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Congressional Research Service, the number of returning soldiers with full limb and/or partial amputation has climbed to over 1,600 as of 2010.
This is only a small fraction of the U.S. population of amputees, however, which includes approximately 1.9
Despite the growing need for prosthetics that suit the active user's lifestyle, these devices still remain out of the financial reach of the average user. Many never look at the fine print of their private health insurance to see how much of the price of a prosthetic will be covered in case of an accident. Private insurers typically cover anywhere from 50-80% of the cost of a prosthetic, but some health insurance plans limit the
insured member with payment caps that barely cover the cost or only allow the insured 1 prosthetic for a lifetime. The price of these prosthetics is also variable, depending on what the
insurance contract between the in surer and the prosthetist office stipulates. After interviewing prosthetists we found that microprocessor knees can cost anywhere from $33,000-$80,000 and robotic upper limb prosthetics can cost anywhere from $20,000-$120,000.
As a result of these high prices and poor insurance coverage, stories where amputees are denied robotic prosthetics are all too common. For example, Robert Riiber, a bilateral transfemoral amputee (both legs amputated above the knee) was unable to purchase two C-Legs with the insurance he had. He reported falling a total of 25 times with his traditional prosthetics, once while he was crossing the street.
He was forced to quit his job so he could become eligible for Medicare, since Medicare covers 80% of the cost of the device. To further add insult to injury, Medicare and other insurers require that the patient meet physical fitness requirements before receiving a lower limb robotic prosthetic. The patient is asked to perform a serious of ta sks, as shown in Table 10 of the Appendix, and is diagnosed a functional level, or “K Level.” Only the highest two K Levels, K3 and K4, are eligible to receive a robotic lower limb prosthetic, which excludes a large portion of elderly or diabetic patients, who make up the majority of lower limb amputations. These physical restrictions keep K2 Level patients from receiving microprocessor knees, despite the fact that a report from the Veteran’s Affairs showed that K2 Level amputees were capable of increasing their activity level to K3 with the use of
a robotic prosthetic. The interview results from the prosthetist interviews supported this claim, since 4/5 prosthetists answered that some of their patients who don’t use a robotic
prosthetic would benefit from one.
Of the four that said their patients would benefit from a
robotic prosthetic, two said that K2 Levels should be granted access to robotic prosthetics.
Hugh Herr was interviewed in order to gain an insight from a prosthetic designer’s point of view. Herr, who wears two powered ankle prosthetics himself, acknowledged that health
insurance companies are reluctant to pay for devices that they deem not “medically necessary.”
Herr claimed that health insurance companies would be more willing to pay for robotic prosthetics if they understood that they would actually be saving money because microprocessor controlled prosthetics prevent the patient from suffering from repeated falls and long-term related injuries. For example, the development of knee or hip problems from walking incorrectly
could cost $80,000-$150,000 to fix with surgery (Analysis of Assembly Bill in the Appendix).
However, since robotic prosthetics are still relatively new, there are no long term studies available to assert this claim to health insurance companies. After interviewing Bob Dzuranda, president of the prosthetic-fitting company Biometrics,
it was discovered that most private insurers do not reimburse prosthetist offices as much for prosthetics as Medicare does, and that these reimbursement rates are decreasing. Private insurers also typically set their reimbursement rates as percentages of what Medicare pays. This makes it difficult for prosthetists to sell expensive microprocessor controlled prosthetics and in some cases prosthetist offices cannot accept a patient’s health insurance if the insurance company’s reimbursement rates are too low. Proposed prosthetic parity laws could fix this, however, by ensuring that private insurers reimburse prosthetist offices the same amount that Medicare does.
In addition to fitness restrictions and low reimbursement rates, the prosthetics industry suffers from a lack of competition. Ottobock and Ossur are the manufacturers of the two most
popular microprocessor controlled knees, the C-Leg and the Rheo Knee. Since these companies have very little competition, it is possible for them to sell the devices at higher prices without worrying about losing their customer base.
Finally, the system that is in place to create new billing codes for prosthetics is slow. This discourages prosthetists from
selling newer prosthetics, since offices that use
the improper billing code are subject to Medicare audits
One of the major flaws in the billing process, is that
new devices must complete three months of marketing before they can receive a new billing code. A need for a new billing code must also be recognized by Medicare, Medicaid, or a
national private insurance company. If a device does not receive a billing code of its own, it is usually billed using a combination of older codes. In Medicare Region A, prosthetists must use the same billing codes for a C-Leg Genium as a C-Leg, even though a Genium is twice the cost of a C-Leg.
Since the billing codes are the same, the prosthetist office gets reimbursed the same amount of money by the patient’s insurance, which discourages prosthetists from offering the
newer device. Reduced physical restrictions for lower limb amputees, parity laws, and billing code application reform
have the potential to increase the number of robotic prosthetic users and grant amputees a healthier, more active lifestyle.
As with privatization of our NASA space program handing several decades of space travel and research to a few global Wall Street 1%----we see now the same being done in DECADE OF BRAIN research going to global corporations and not to our PUBLIC HEALTH STRUCTURES for all to access. This article was written in 2010 making it seem these medical advances were going to help 99% of patient needs----they knew in 2010 the Affordable Care Act would take care of that making this only about maximized profit pricing.
OH, LOOK-----ONE GLOBAL CORPORATION IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY MD.
Global Wall Street hype breaking down our public regulated health to create FREE MARKET when everyone knows there has been no FREE MARKET in US since CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA.
'The $2.8 billion orthotics and prosthetics business revolves around a few major players: the German manufacturing company Otto Bock HealthCare; Iceland-based össur; Fillauer in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Ohio Willow Wood in Mount Sterling, Ohio; and patient-services provider Hanger Orthopedic in Bethesda, Maryland. There are also smaller manufacturers that supply components such as motors and microchips'.
For the 99% wanting to have small businesses don't worry there will be the non-economy startups that go nowhere thrown a few million while these global medical corporations cater to world's rich.
OH, REALLY?????.....MORE MENTAL HEALTH PHARMA PLEASE!...........'Young, of Otto Bock HealthCare, says Bailey is far from alone. Amputees are now regularly removing healthy tissue to make room for more powerful technology. “I see it every day,” he says. “People will get a second amputation — move their amputation up their leg — to get the prosthetic equivalent of a hotter car.”'
Bionic Legs, i-Limbs, and Other Super Human Prostheses You’ll Envy
Save your tears for Tiny Tim. A boom in sophisticated prostheses has created a most unlikely by-product: envy.
By Paul Hochman02.01.10 | 5:00 am
There are many advantages to having your leg amputated.
Pedicure costs drop 50% overnight. A pair of socks lasts twice as long. But Hugh Herr, the director of the Biomechatronics Group at the MIT Media Lab, goes a step further. “It’s actually unfair,” Herr says about amputees’ advantages over the able-bodied. “As tech advancements in prosthetics come along, amputees can exploit those improvements. They can get upgrades. A person with a natural body can’t.” Herr lost both his legs below the knee in a Mount Washington climbing accident when he was 17, but says that shouldn’t inspire pity. Instead, by donning whirring, whispering, shiny supermachines — the robotic ankles that can propel him across the room in 400-watt bursts — Herr has been given: Power. Allure. The strange animal magnetism of the very bad boy.
“When the prosthetic technology doesn’t work,” Herr says, “and the [amputee] is limping and he can’t run and he’s hurting, then nobody feels threatened, because that person is labeled as ‘cute’ and ‘courageous.’ ” He leans forward in his office and crosses his aluminum shins with an audible clink. “But when the technology works, when it can make you stronger or faster than you were, it overnight becomes sexy and powerful and threatening. Overnight.”
Anybody who hears “prosthetic” and thinks “peg leg” might wonder about Herr’s sunny hubris. The thought that an artificial limb could make anybody stronger or faster, or confer social advantage, is an opinion ripe for skepticism. Wearing one is inconvenient at best. It often hurts. It can break. It is obvious proof of loss. It seems by its very nature to announce a lack of health or vitality.
Yet much of the dissonance in Herr’s “prosthetics as progress” thesis stems from the undeniable fact that for years, prostheses were irredeemably ugly, off-putting, scary. Who would call a disembodied limb a “design object” to be lusted after, like an Audi or an iPhone? Who would consider herself better, or more beautiful, than a person without one?
“When I first got this job,” says Stuart Mead, CEO of Touch Bionics, a prosthetics and robotics firm based in Scotland, “it struck me how depressing it all was. Prosthetics were at the back of the hospital, the downstairs office, the back room. The look of most of these devices was horrible — half-human, half-plastic. This frightening pink color.”
Just wearing one could induce shame: The Barbie doll cosmesis (a cosmetic cover), tipped with a hook, acted like social repellent, pushing the user and the observer apart. “It was like having a scarlet letter,” says Marshall Young, an industrial designer for Otto Bock HealthCare, of the old-style prosthetic limbs. “It was, ‘I’ve got this damn thing and now my life sucks.’ “
All that is about to change — not only because prostheses are being built with materials found in sports cars and jet airplanes; or because designers are giving their creations an exuberant, unapologetic carbon-fiber sparkle; or even because nerve reintegration and myoelectrics are offering some amputees the joy of normal function. The biggest reason for amputees’ unlikely rise into a new, socially advantaged class comes from something much more mundane: profit. The prosthetics business is set to explode, and its products will make amputees stronger, faster, and, to some, more desirable than the rest of us.
In the meantime, Herr says, you can dispense with the Tiny Tim pity and the warm fuzzy feeling you get when a little girl struggles to her feet on poorly designed stilts. Because the new machines — and they are machines — are becoming so lustrous and so efficient that some people are already willing to chop off a perfectly good limb to get one.
The $2.8 billion orthotics and prosthetics business revolves around a few major players: the German manufacturing company Otto Bock HealthCare; Iceland-based össur; Fillauer in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Ohio Willow Wood in Mount Sterling, Ohio; and patient-services provider Hanger Orthopedic in Bethesda, Maryland. There are also smaller manufacturers that supply components such as motors and microchips.
The industry receives regular media attention for its work with returning American soldiers, but those soldiers represent less than 0.1% of the 1.7 million amputees in the United States. Unfortunately, that customer base is about to get much larger. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted that 29 million Americans will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050 — increasing their chances of having a lower extremity amputated by a factor of 28. Hanger Orthopedic’s CEO, Tom Kirk, points to diabetes and vascular disorders, largely driven by a 37% increase in obesity between 1998 and 2006, as the reason for most amputations. According to the CDC, diabetes-related amputations have risen to as many as 84,000 in a single 12-month period.
Not surprisingly, the money is following the market. MIT’s Herr cofounded a company called iWalk, which has received $10 million in venture financing to develop the PowerFoot One — what the company calls the “world’s first actively powered prosthetic ankle and foot.” Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs recently gave Brown University’s Center for Restorative and Regenerative Medicine a $7 million round of funding, on top of the $7.2 million it provided in 2004. And the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA) has funded Manchester, New Hampshire-based DEKA Research, which is developing the Luke, a powered prosthetic arm (named after Luke Skywalker, whose hand is hacked off by his father, Darth Vader).
This influx of R&D cash, combined with breakthroughs in materials science and processor speed, has had a striking visual and social result: an emblem of hurt and loss has become a paradigm of the sleek, modern, and powerful. Which is why Michael Bailey, a 24-year-old student in Duluth, Georgia, is looking forward to the day when he can amputate the last two fingers on his left hand.
“I don’t think I would have said this if it had never happened,” says Bailey, referring to the accident that tore off his pinkie, ring, and middle fingers. “But I told Touch Bionics I’d cut the rest of my hand off if I could make all five of my fingers robotic.”
On March 5, 2008, Bailey was doing maintenance on a baling machine at a Conyers, Georgia-based paper-and-packaging company called Pratt Industries. The baler is designed to swing metal hooks across coils of galvanized steel ribbons and yank the strands tight around 2,100-pound bales of cardboard boxes.
“An inserter normally grabs the wires, breaks them, and then a hook twists them together,” says Bailey. “The machine did its job — only it did it to my hand. It happened so quickly, all I could do was watch.”
After nine hours of surgery, Bailey was left with two working fingers, his thumb and pointer. About a year and a half later, he was fitted with a prototype of Touch Bionics’ new ProDigits, the world’s first powered bionic-finger prosthesis.
He loves the thing. He shows it off. He likes to turn his head in unison with the flexing of his mechanical fingers, to make it seem like his entire body, not just his arm, is motorized. Like the Terminator.
“It’s pretty surprising,” Bailey says. “I find there are a lot of envious people. They say, ‘Hey! I want a robot hand.’ “
But Bailey is most surprised by his own reaction. “When I’m wearing it, I do feel different: I feel stronger. As weird as that sounds, having a piece of machinery incorporated into your body, as a part of you, well, it makes you feel above human. It’s a very powerful thing.”
Young, of Otto Bock HealthCare, says Bailey is far from alone. Amputees are now regularly removing healthy tissue to make room for more powerful technology. “I see it every day,” he says. “People will get a second amputation — move their amputation up their leg — to get the prosthetic equivalent of a hotter car.”
Orthopedic surgeons often consider amputation the equivalent of failure, Young says, and reflexively save as much of a damaged, injured, or diseased limb as possible. But in leaving lots of human being, they create a bigger problem: There is little room left for high-performance machinery. Now, the allure of that machinery has become so powerful that amputees are routinely taking the extreme step of paying out-of-pocket for what the industry calls “revisions.”
“It’s very simple,” Young says. “Prosthetic feet act like leaf springs on a truck — the bigger they are, the longer the lever arms, the more energy storage and return you get. With enough clearance, you can go from a walking foot to a higher-performance running foot. So people with too much residual limb are in a position of saying, If I want to go to a knee that will let me play basketball, I will have to downgrade my foot. They’ll say, Take four more inches, because I want that cool Corvette.”
According to Young, whose firm supplies Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., some returning soldiers undergo the same trade-up/trade-down decision, but with a twist: Double amputees are in the strangely fortunate position of being able to grow from 5-feet-8 to 6 feet tall — by choice.
Not surprisingly, all of this high-tech gear is expensive. One Otto Bock C-Leg, for example, connected to a custom socket (where the device is fit to the user’s residual limb), plus a high-tech foot, can cost more than $50,000. Upper-extremity prostheses can be just as pricey. That leaves some amputees walking around with what Carrie Davis, who was born with one arm, calls a “bag of hands that’s worth more than my house.”
Davis is a 38-year-old mother of two and Hanger Orthopedic’s national coordinator for Amputee Empowerment Partners, which provides mentors for new amputees. She’s also a two-time national champion in the “female upper-limb amputee division” of the Olympic distance triathlon.
And because her arm is made of black carbon fiber and titanium and makes cool whirring sounds when she picks up a wineglass, conversations tend to follow her.
“Well, I’m instantly intriguing,” she says. “There’s this black arm sticking out of my shirt sleeve. And when I’m wearing what I call my ‘pretty hand’ [with a natural-colored cosmesis], and somebody asks if I hurt my elbow, I say, ‘No, but check this out! Ever see one of these?’ “
Hugh Herr got his master’s in mechanical engineering at MIT and his PhD in biophysics at Harvard, but if his bold pronouncements about the advantages of prostheses still sound merely futuristic (and self-serving), consider: In 2008, a South African sprinter named Oscar Pistorius wanted to compete for a spot on his country’s Olympic team. Pistorius’s personal best for the 400 meters was within a few tenths of a second of the Olympic qualifying time, and he wanted a shot at the Games. But track and field’s international governing body, the IAAF, instead banned Pistorius from competition, citing the undeniable fact that Pistorius has no legs. Or, rather, he has residual limbs and runs on carbon-fiber Cheetah legs made by össur. The IAAF alleged that Cheetahs gave Pistorius an advantage over elite athletes who run on two natural limbs.
The turnabout — to say nothing of the irony — was dramatic. Where once we pitied the amputee and cheered him as he struggled to his feet for the first time, now we wanted him banned for being too … strong.
Another way to look at it: Someday soon, the Paralympics, which are essentially the second-tier Olympics — held after the “real” Games, in front of sparse crowds — will be the place for sports fans to go to watch people really going faster, higher, and stronger.
Herr was an expert witness in the case that caused the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the IAAF ruling; his testimony included statistics that showed Pistorius’s prostheses to be mixed blessings at best. Among those: His foot is in contact with the ground 14% longer on each sprinting step than an able-bodied sprinter’s (a disadvantage), but he spends 34% less time in the air between steps and takes 21% less time to swing his legs between steps, and has a “metabolic cost of running” that is 17% lower (all factors in his favor). The upshot: Pistorius is approximately equal to his able-bodied competition for the moment — but could be only a couple of upgrades away from being able to leave the Usain Bolts and Tyson Gays of the world in the dust.
The problem for Herr, though, was that the IAAF was not going to ban the gear Pistorius was using; they were going to ban Pistorius himself. They weren’t barring a piece of technology, as FINA (swimming’s governing body) did with Speedo’s original LZR Racer swimsuit; they were going to toss an entire person. One top IAAF official claimed the reason was simple: Pistorius was “affecting the purity of the sport.” That’s the same language used for decades to keep blacks out of pro basketball and girls out of Little League.
“I’ve seen it,” says Matt Albuquerque, founder of Manchester, New Hampshire’s Next Step Orthotics and Prosthetics. “Able-bodied people do fear this advantage on the part of the amputee. They fear that you aren’t just ‘normal’ again, you’re better than human. And nobody wants the one-legged guy beating you. You’re not bragging about that at the dinner table, I guarantee you.”
Albuquerque says many patients come in to his practice with a “peg-leg mentality” — the assumption that they’ll be forever held back by substandard, unbeautiful technology — only to discover that some people are actually afraid of competitors connected to sleek, powerful devices. “One of my buddies was on the wrong side of a cable when an F-16 landed on a carrier in Vietnam,” Albuquerque says. “Amputated both his legs, right there on the deck. Turns out, he’s a great golfer. And I’m a fairly small guy, about 5-foot-4. We like to play together. But nobody wants to play us at the golf club, because nobody wants to get beat by the midget and the guy with no legs.”
As the rhetoric heats up — as robots perform surgery and build automobiles, and as the suspicion grows that our original equipment is somehow deficient — Herr offers some perspective. Poor eyesight, he says, is a medical condition. Eyeglasses are prosthetic. And while they were once purely medical devices, they’re now expensive fashion items.
“Let me make a point,” Herr says. “Eyeglasses — it’s a fucking sex apparatus. Often people can have contact lenses, but they choose in certain social environments to wear their glasses, because it looks hot. People put glasses on to make themselves look more intelligent. To augment their appearance, not just their performance.”
Herr’s suggestion, of course, is that the better prostheses make us perform, and the more glamorous they look, the more beautiful they will make amputees seem, too, even though their sheen, contour, texture, and color have ceased to look human.
“What is the obsession with looking human?” he says. “You think the only beauty is human? Bridges can be beautiful. Cars can be beautiful. Cell phones can be beautiful. They don’t look biological. So why do you anticipate 30 years from now that amputees will give a shit about human beauty? They won’t. Their limbs will be sculptures.”
Below we see for what the BRAIN RESEARCH tied to accessing the deepest regions of the brain have as a goal---the holy grail of NEURAL STEM CELLS. As we read in this article the presence of these vital stem cells in a human brain are very small-----not many to be found and hiding in difficult regions of the brain to access and harvest.
IF they can develop a procedure to reach and harvest neural brain stem cells there would be a need for SOURCES of more and more and more brain stem cells and know what? We already have a global human organ trafficing cartel taking organs right out of 99% of people to sell on these markets. The drive to get these stem cells would be enormous and the rich would pay huge market rates for these procedures.
THIS IS THE BAD AND UGLY OF BRAIN RESEARCH DURING AN AGE OF LYING, CHEATING, STEALING, NO MORALS OR ETHICS, NO US RULE OF LAW, NO GOD'S NATURAL LAW GLOBAL WALL STREET NAKED CAPITALISM
'For any brain regeneration strategy to fly, adult neural stem cells (or an equivalent substitute) would need to be obtained in large numbers, safely grafted into a given site of injury, and precisely coaxed to mimic the natural behavior of the adult neural stem cell. Only then could we rebuild damaged neural circuits'.
Medical ethics always weighed the cost benefit to social benefit of Federal funding for medical research AND it always made sure the 99% received value from their taxpayer funded successes in that research.
Medicare was gutted of funding several years ago of almost a trillion dollars while Federal funding for BRAIN RESEARCH and building biotechnology facilities as corporate R and D soared. We are moving towards PREVENTATIVE HEALTH CARE ONLY FOR A 99% while these designer medical products earn global health corporations billions of dollars each year. IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE ----LET'S GET RID OF GLOBAL WALL STREET POLS AND PLAYERS and bring public health back to the people.
Could Your Brain Regenerate Like Skin?
Brain regeneration used to be considered a medical fantasy. But research shows that fantasy could eventually become a reality.
Levi Gadye, Contributor |Sep 7, 2016
You might resent your skin for being the source of your acne or dandruff woes, but even the most finicky of skin tends to be resilient when you need it most. An effective miracle occurs nearly every time we suffer a cut or a scrape: Our skin rebuilds itself from scratch. When damage to the skin is too severe for self-repair—say after a serious burn—doctors can often just graft skin from an innocuous region like the inner thigh to replace it. The new skin takes hold and grows as if it had been there all along.
[T]he human brain remains one of the most difficult organs for doctors to rehabilitate, let alone rebuild.Our brains couldn’t be more different — the human brain remains one of the most difficult organs for doctors to rehabilitate, let alone rebuild. Following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or stroke, some patients are able to recover a portion of their lost abilities after months or years of committed therapy. But even in the best of cases, the brain doesn’t actually repair its damaged parts. Instead, it trains surviving brain circuits to take over for circuits that have been destroyed.
Such retraining of the damaged brain represents the best shot many brain damage victims have for recovery. Automated rehabilitation devices, like the robotic exoskeleton ReWalk, can help patients learn how to walk after suffering from brain damage, and neuroscientists are currently beta-testing brain implants that could allow paralyzed patients to control computer cursors or prosthetic limbs with their thoughts.
ReWalk is a robotic exoskeleton that can help people re-learn how to walk
Nevertheless, neither of these modern brain rehab strategies comes anywhere close to the skin-grafting therapies available to burn victims. Indeed, until recently, the mere thought of regenerating the brain seemed laughable to most scientists, because the brain was believed to lack a key ingredient for self-repair: stem cells.
Stem cells are the workhorses of tissue regeneration. The skin is a regenerative rockstar because it contains countless skin-specific stem cells, called keratinocytes, which constantly generate new skin cells both in healthy skin and after an injury occurs. For the majority of the history of neuroscience, conventional wisdom held that the brain must lack any so-called neural stem cells, because brain damage was usually permanent.
However, in 1998, a groundbreaking study led by neuroscientist Fred Gage turned this dogma upside-down by showing that areas of even the elderly human brain possessed what are called adult neural stem cells, which continuously produce newborn neurons.
Fred Gage / Salk Institute
Suddenly, the pipe dream of regenerating the brain seemed like a real possibility, but there was a major hitch. Unlike keratinocytes, which reside underneath every square inch of our skin, adult neural stem cells are few in number and live in only two hard-to-reach nooks of the human brain. No surgeon would dare dig into a patient’s brain to harvest these stem cells for a brain tissue graft. Doing so could cause even more damage, and there’d be no guarantee such a graft of adult neural stem cells would even work.
For any brain regeneration strategy to fly, adult neural stem cells (or an equivalent substitute) would need to be obtained in large numbers, safely grafted into a given site of injury, and precisely coaxed to mimic the natural behavior of the adult neural stem cell. Only then could we rebuild damaged neural circuits.
Back in 2000, there were few options for obtaining adequate numbers of human stem cells for any purported type of tissue graft, let alone a brain tissue graft. Unborn fetuses can provide stem cells for research purposes, but for grafting to work, it’s better to source stem cells from patients themselves. (Grafts between individuals often fail due to immune system rejection of foreign tissue, which is why burn victims usually receive skin grafts from their own bodies.)
In 2007, Japanese researchers led by Shinya Yamanaka overcame this problem by devising a method for converting an abundant type of skin cell, the fibroblast, into a stem cell, dubbed the induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC). The team found that activating four genes inside of skin fibroblasts “reprogrammed” them into iPSCs, which could then be spurred to mature into any type of cell, from muscle to blood to neuron. (This discovery earned Yamanaka a Nobel Prize in 2012).
Shinya Yamanaka / UCSF
With this technology, doctors could conceivably harvest skin fibroblasts from a patient, reprogram those cells into iPSCs, grow the iPSCs into the desired cell type, and then graft those mature cells back into the same patient to help rebuild a damaged part of the body. The only remaining question: Could this process work for brain damage?
Since Yamanaka’s discovery in 2007, researchers have been steadily working towards a regenerative brain therapy. Armed with a better understanding of how neural stem cells work, scientists can now easily convert skin fibroblasts into iPSCs, then into neural stem cells, and then into neurons. Some labs have succeeded with producing “cerebral organoids” out of iPSCs — artificial amalgamations of neurons that begin to resemble a miniature human cerebral cortex, suspended in a nutrient-rich solution. These organoids are perfect for studying how newborn neurons wire up, a prerequisite for grafting any iPSCs or neural stem cells into the human brain.
Others have taken inspiration from Yamanaka’s work to reprogram support cells, or glia, into neurons directly inside the mouse brain. This strategy that avoids moving cells from body to petri dish and back again. And just this year, scientists converted mouse fibroblasts directly into neural stem cells using a cocktail of nine drugs, drastically simplifying the reprogramming process by skipping the initial conversion to iPSC. Perhaps the best indication that therapies for brain regeneration might soon become reality is the fact that thousands of scientists worldwide are now actively studying it.
It’s no longer unreasonable to envision a future in which brain damage is countered not only by rehabilitation, but also by regeneration…It’s no longer unreasonable to envision a future in which brain damage is countered not only by rehabilitation, but also by regeneration. The details of such a hypothetical treatment, let alone its testing in clinical trials, remain at least a decade or two away. Right now, no one can say for sure whether such a therapy will involve the grafting of reprogrammed stem cells into the brain, or if we’ll be able to skip grafting altogether and directly reprogram support cells that are already in the brain into neural stem cells.
Or maybe, just maybe, the first regenerative brain therapy will be something different altogether. Scientific discoveries are easier to explain after the fact than they are to predict. But this much we can say for sure: the future looks bright for many brain injury patients who’ve long believed they’d never be able to fully recover what they lost.