Plus, wearable patches packed with tech; Vermont experiments with app to track patients.

April 20, 2016
 
Matt O'Connor

Using the Mind to Move Again

Six years ago, 24-year old Ian Burkhart was paralyzed in a driving accident, but now a device named NeuroLife is helping him swipe a credit card and play Guitar Hero, according to an Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center press release.

Battelle, a nonprofit research and development company, partnered with physicians and neuroscientists at Wexner Medical Center to invent the computer chip that was implanted in Burkhart’s brain. NeuroLife reconnects the brain directly to muscles — allowing control of a paralyzed limb using thoughts.

The device is obviously complex, but it essentially interprets thoughts and brain signals using a direct connection to a sleeve that stimulates muscles controlling his arm and hand, according to Wexner.

“We’re showing for the first time that a quadriplegic patient is able to improve his level of motor function and hand movements,” said Ali Rezai, M.D. and a co-author of the study, in the release.

Wearable Tattoo for A Better You

If you see someone walking around with what looks like a cushy white Band-Aid on, it might be monitoring their health rather than repairing a wound. 

BioStamp Research Connect, pictured right, developed by MC10 is a flexiblewearable sensor that sticks to a person's body and can monitor electrical activity from skeletal muscles and produce a real-time ECG, according to an article in Tech Times. And the patch packs a big punch — it houses an accelerometer and gyroscope inside that is aimed toward researchers concerned with problems relating to motor skills, movement and neurodegenerative disorders.

A similar, consumer-focused patch — My UV Patch — tells users how long they’ve been in the sun using dye that changes based on sun exposure and offers advice about tanning healthily, according to the same report.

Maybe patches will be the new cool thing — if they can keep us healthy, why not?

The Future of Rx Bottles; End of Opioid Crisis?

What if a patient could only access their pills during the time their doctor directed, and received only the exact dosage? The device, TAD, “take as directed” is looking to put a tighter cap on prescription abuse.

The pill bottle of the future, developed by Intent Solutions, pictured left, houses a portable dispenser that contains a disposable vial attached to a pre-programmed reusable electronic device, according to a Palm Beach Post report.

It's programmed to the patient's prescribed regimen and biometric. TAD notifies the patient when to take the pill, scans their fingerprint, dispenses the pill and sends the data to an accompanying app and the company’s cloud database for analysis.

You might ask, why not just break the device and grab the medication? TAD will report attempted access outside the programmed regimen and if the device is tampered with, according to the Post.

Maybe we’ve realized childproof caps aren’t getting the job done anymore.

Docs Track Patients With New App

Patients in Vermont should know that big doctor may be watching them. Thanks to a federally backed pilot using the online app PatientPing, health care providers can know if a patient has entered an emergency room or if they’ve been admitted to a hospital or nursing home, according to a News & Observer report.

Most of the time docs find out about this sort of thing through phone calls or faxes, which may never reach the doctor directly, leaving discharged patients vulnerable to getting lost in the system.

Manager of the care coordination program for Community Health Accountable Care, Debra Gaylord says she can now get medical visit information in real-time and provide the proper support for discharged patients so they don’t return to the hospital if it’s not needed.

The app is part of a pilot program supported by a $45 million federal grant to the state. It is used in six states so far, but Vermont is the first to test it statewide, according to News & Observer.

Link to original article: http://www.hhnmag.com/articles/7178-medical-marvels-paralyzed-limbs-mind-control-brain-computer-chip

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