October 2013 Update:
RIC in the Headlines
Remarkable recovery and inspiring friendship of RIC stroke survivors makes national headlines
“Dear Senator, I had a Stroke Too” was the headline in People magazine’s September 30th issue. The story featured heartfelt transcriptions of a series of letters between Illinois Senator Mark Kirk and Jackson Cunningham, each of whom had suffered similar strokes resulting in left-side paralysis.
Both were born in Champaign, Illinois—though separated by 45 years, and each has inspired the other throughout their struggles toward full recovery. NBC News also picked up the story on September 23rd, with anchorman Brian Williams’ introduction of reporter John Yang’s story, “Our final story tonight is about the friendship between US Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois – recovering from a debilitating stroke, and the boy who knows something about what he’s going through. The Senator’s left side was paralyzed. He can now stand and walk with the help of a cane. It turns out he’s done it all with the help of an unlikely inspiration.”
See the full video of the NBC News story here.
NEJM publication of thought-controlled prosthesis research draws world headlines
The science of bionics helped the more than 1 million Americans with leg amputations take a giant step forward, as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) revealed clinical applications for the world’s first thought-controlled bionic leg in the September 26, 2013 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. This innovative technology represents a significant milestone in the rapidly growing field of bionics. Until now, only thought-controlled bionic arms were available to amputees.
Levi Hargrove, PhD, of RIC’s Center for Bionic Medicine, developed a system to use neural signals to safely improve limb control of a bionic leg.
“This new bionic leg features incredibly intelligent engineering,” said Hargrove. “It learns and performs activities unprecedented for any leg amputee, including seamless transitions between sitting, walking, ascending and descending stairs and ramps and repositioning the leg while seated.”
This method improves upon prosthetic legs that only use robotic sensors and remote controls and do not allow for intuitive thought control of the prosthetic.
The case study focuses on RIC research subject Zac Vawter, a lower-limb amputee who underwent targeted muscle reinnervation surgery – a procedure developed at RIC and Northwestern University – in 2009 to redirect nerves from damaged muscle in his amputated limb to healthy hamstring muscle above his knee. When the redirected nerves instruct the muscles to contract, sensors on the patient’s leg detect tiny electrical signals from the muscles. A specially-designed computer program analyzes these signals and data from sensors in the robotic leg. It instantaneously decodes the type of movement the patient is trying to perform and then sends those commands to the robotic leg. Using muscle signals, instead of robotic sensors, makes the system safer and more intuitive.
“The bionic leg is a big improvement compared to my regular prosthetic leg,” stated Vawter. “The bionic leg responds quickly and more appropriately, allowing me to interact with my environment in a way that is similar to how I moved before my amputation. For the first time since my injury, the bionic leg allows me to seamlessly walk up and down stairs and even reposition the prosthetic by thinking about the movement I want to perform. This is a huge milestone for me and for all leg amputees.”
Pediatric neurorehabilitation symposium features presentations by clinicians and researchers from around the world
Presenters from Chile, Switzerland, and the US will speak of new technologies in neurorehabilitation, motivating children with virtual environments, surgical and pharmacological interventions, and research in pediatric neurological pathologies. The Pediatric Neurorehabilitation Symposium 2013 is the official pre-conference to the annual meeting of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine.
This event is organized by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the International Telethons Organization, and the company Hocoma and will be held from October 15 – 16, at the RIC in Chicago.
Attendees of the symposium will be clinicians and therapists with interest in modern neurorehabilitation, and other participants with scientific interest in innovative rehabilitation technology. This pre-conference will bring together scientists from highly recognized institutions worldwide and clinical users of innovative therapeutic methods and technologies. The event will offer clinicians and scientists a platform to discuss trends, share expertise, exchange ideas and gain knowledge to assess and use new technologies and therapy concepts in their daily practice.
Pediatric Gait Analysis: A Segmental Kinematic Approach to Orthotic Management, Dec. 12-14
This course explores a fresh approach to the observation and analysis of normal standing, stepping and gait and the management of gait disorders. The biomechanics of normal gait and the pathological gaits of disabling conditions will be reviewed, with particular reference to orthotic management. Go to www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1256072&trackingcode=ricwebsite
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