Sniffing Can Help Communications and Steer Wheelchairs

A new health gadget will allow disabled persons steer their wheelchairs or communicate with loved ones through sniffing-inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

Professor Noam Sobel, engineers Dr. Anton Plotkin and Aharon Weissbrod, along with research student Lee Sela of Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department of Neurobiology created the new system which identifies changes in air pressure inside the nose’s nostrils. The gadget then translates these changes into electrical signals. The device was tested on healthy individuals as well as quadriplegics and the data showed that the device is easily learned.

Patients who have “locked-in syndromes” (unimpaired cognitive abilities while being completely paralyzed) have the ability to finally communicate with others and to even initiate communication. Caretakers the world over will rejoice once this technology spreads to common use. Many parents of paralyzed children have longed for the day to hear their child speak… and with the new sniffing technology, they may get that chance.

Even those patients on respirators can control the muscles involved in the soft palate to sniff. Researchers were able to devise a device that bypasses the airflow into the nostrils. About 75% of these patients were able to use the device. For the healthy patients, the device was favorable such as a mouse or joystick used to play video games.

One woman who had been locked-in for 18 years after a traffic accident says the device is easier to use than a blink-based device. About 13 patients were able to use sniffing to operate a computer and write messages. For most, it only took days to learn the device and how to sniff to operate.

Further fascinating results included the case of steering wheelchairs. After 15 minutes of practice time, a patient was able to navigate a route with sharp turns as well as a non-disabled volunteer. This could also lead to other uses such as for pilots or even surgeons. Because the device can detect in or out directions of sniffing, and long or short sniffs, there exists the possibility of creating a “language” with multiple signals.

The best news is that it’s relatively inexpensive to produce these devices. This means more people who need this device and are on disability income are more likely to afford them on their own. Insurance companies are also more likely to cover the device if it is cost-efficient.

Paralyzed Patient Gets Stem Cells to Walk Again

LONDON – A paralyzed patient has become the first person to receive a shot of human embryonic stem cells to help him walk again.

Doctors believe stem cells will help nerves in a newly-damaged spinal cord regenerate before the disability becomes permanent.

The patient has had millions of stem cells injected into the site of his injury in an effort to find a revolutionary cure, according to the US firm carrying out the hugely controversial experiment.

The study has been described by University College London professor Chris Mason as “the dawn of the Stem Cell Age”.

It is likely to reignite a fiery debate over the ethics of the treatment, which uses cells derived from three-to-five-day old fertilized embryos discarded by in vitro fertilization (IVF) doctors, the Daily Mail reported.

It offers hope to patients suffering from devastating spinal injuries and blindness – the two specific areas being targeted by the US tests.

Researchers are also looking to unlock the potential of stem cells for new ways to treat cancer, Parkinson’s disease and a host of other illnesses.

In animal experiments, paralyzed rats were able to walk again after being injected with the cells, but the effect on humans is still unknown.

The landmark test at a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, by US biotech giant Geron comes after America’s Food and Drug Administration eased restrictions on stem cell research.

Geron president Thomas Okarma said it will take some time to get the results.

The technology was championed by Superman star Christopher Reeve, who received the treatment for his spinal injury after a fall.

Natural and Herbal Remedies for Chemotherapy Side Effects

BEVERLY HILLS- Looking for herbal remedies to combat chemotherapy side effects? Confused about which natural remedies work best? Worried about the safety of natural herbal remedies for treating chemotherapy side effects? Here are some safe natural alternatives for treating the side effects of

Ginger (for Nausea)

According to MSNBC News, a new study has accredited ginger capsules with providing significant nausea relief to chemotherapy patients. Patients in the study took ginger capsules for several days prior to therapy. Ginger is a common herbal remedy for stomach pain.

Ginseng (for Energy)

Side effects of chemotherapy treatments can leave the patient depleted. Toxins in chemotherapy medication take a heavy toll on the body. Ginseng as an herbal remedy can bring back vitality. In addition to providing energy, ginseng is felt to reduce stress and anxiety.

Peppermint (for Nausea)

Peppermint is a natural stomach soothing herbal remedy. Try a couple drops of peppermint extract in a glass of water to ease stomach discomfort after chemotherapy. This herbal remedy is easier than most for children undergoing chemotherapy.

Burdock (Blood Purifier)

This herbal remedy drives chemotherapy toxins from the body. Chemotherapy fills the body with toxins to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately these toxins have a negative effect on the rest of the human body as well. Burdock causes profuse sweating to drive toxins out of the body.

Sweating (to Release Toxins)

Many toxins are only released from the body through sweat glands. Exercise is essential for this natural remedy. Another good way to induce sweating is with a sauna. If a sauna is not available, try eating hot peppers or running a hot shower while behind closed bathroom doors.

Aloe (Soothe Stomach and Intestines)

Aloe Vera is a natural remedy for sunburns, cuts and scrapes. One of the side effects of chemotherapy is damage to the stomach and intestines. Aloe Vera juice can be purchased from the health food store as a natural drink. This home remedy heals the stomach and intestines of chemotherapy patients.

Omega 3 (Strengthen Immune System)

No natural remedy article is complete without the mention of Omega 3. This amino acid supplement comes in convenient capsule form. It will strengthen an immune system weakened by the side effects of chemotherapy.

Antioxidants (Strengthen Immune System)

Chemotherapy kills cancer cells. Unfortunately it also kills everything else. This is why Omega 3 and antioxidants are so important as natural remedies for chemotherapy side effects. Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables fight free radicals and strengthen the immune system.

Novel Treatment Helps Paralyzed Rats Walk Again After Spinal-Cord Injury

LOS ANGELES – Experimenting on rats, a team of researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) have found that a combination of drugs, electrical stimulation and regular exercise can enable paralyzed animals to walk, and even run again while supporting their full weight on a treadmill.

The researchers say that their findings suggest that the regeneration of severed nerve fibres is not required for paraplegic rats to learn to walk again.

According to them, their findings may hold implications for human rehabilitation after spinal cord injuries.

“The spinal cord contains nerve circuits that can generate rhythmic activity without input from the brain to drive the hind leg muscles in a way that resembles walking called ’stepping,’” Nature magazine quoted principal investigator Reggie Edgerton, a professor of neurobiology and physiological sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, as saying.

“Previous studies have tried to tap into this circuitry to help victims of spinal cord injury. While other researchers have elicited similar leg movements in people with complete spinal injuries, they have not achieved full weight-bearing and sustained stepping as we have in our study,” he added.

During the study, the researchers tested rats with complete spinal injuries that left no voluntary movement in their hind legs.

They set the paralyzed rats on a moving treadmill belt, then administered drugs that act on the neurotransmitter serotonin, and applied low levels of electrical currents to the spinal cord below the point of injury.

They observed that the combination of stimulation and sensation derived from the rats’ limbs moving on a treadmill belt triggered the spinal rhythm-generating circuitry, and prompted walking motion in the rats’ paralyzed hind legs.

The team says that daily treadmill training over several weeks eventually enabled the rats to regain full weight-bearing walking, including backwards, sideways and at running speed.

However, the injury still interrupted the brain’s connection to the spinal cord-based rhythmic walking circuitry, leaving the rats unable to walk of their own accord.

Neuro-prosthetic devices may bridge human spinal cord injuries to some extent, but so activating the spinal cord rhythmic circuitry as the UCLA team did may help in rehabilitation after spinal cord injuries.

A research article describing the study has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.