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Thumbs-Up For Mind-Controlled Robotic Arm

A paralysed woman who controlled a robotic arm using just her thoughts has taken another step towards restoring her natural movements by controlling the arm with a range of complex hand movements.

Thanks to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Jan Scheuermann, who has longstanding quadriplegia and has been taking part in the study for over two years, has gone from giving “high fives” to the “thumbs-up” after increasing the manoeuvrability of the robotic arm from seven dimensions (7D) to 10 dimensions (10D).

The extra dimensions come from four hand movements–finger abduction, a scoop, thumb extension and a pinch–and have enabled Jan to pick up, grasp and move a range of objects much more precisely than with the previous 7D control.

Disaster Readiness For Children

Jeffrey S. Upperman, MD, director of the Trauma Program and Pediatric Disaster Resource and Training Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, is guest editor of the issue of Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine. This issue focuses on Disaster Readiness for Children and covers a range of topics including:

Researchers Identify A Therapeutic Strategy That May Treat A Childhood Neurological Disorder

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified a possible therapy to treat neurofibromatosis type 1 or NF1, a childhood neurological disease characterized by learning deficits and autism that is caused by inherited mutations in the gene encoding a protein called neurofibromin.

Researchers initially determined that loss of neurofibromin in mice affects the development of the part of the brain called the cerebellum, which is responsible for balance, speech, memory, and learning.

The research team, led by Dr. Luis F. Parada, Chairman of Developmental Biology, next discovered that the anatomical defects in the cerebellum that arise in their mouse model of NF1 could be reversed by treating the animals with a molecule that counteracts the loss of neurofibromin.

Rate Of Prescribing Psychotropic Drugs To Kentucky Kids Studied At UofL

Researchers with the Child and Adolescent Health Research Design and Support Unit (CAHRDS Unit) at the University of Louisville have begun a study to examine one of Kentucky’s most vexing children’s health issues: the higher-than-average rate of psychotropic medication being prescribed to children in the Bluegrass State.

Psychotropic medications (PMs) alter chemical levels in the brain that impact mood and behavior. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, drugs for attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers are some of the more commonly used psychotropic drugs. While they produce good results among most patients, they also can cause worrisome side effects in others, and their interactions with each other can create problems as well.

Of the almost 600,000 children receiving Medicaid in Kentucky, one in seven – 14%– has been prescribed at least one of these powerful psychiatric drugs. Equally troublesome, almost half – 42%– of the children in Kentucky’s foster care system have been prescribed at least one.

Research Raises Consciousness For Dehydration Concerns In Diabetic Patients

Some drugs used to treat diabetes mimic the behavior of a hormone that a University at Buffalo psychologist has learned controls fluid intake in subjects. The finding creates new awareness for diabetics who, by the nature of their disease, are already at risk for dehydration.

Derek Daniels’ paper “Endogenous Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Reduces Drinking Behavior and Is Differentially Engaged by Water and Food Intakes in Rats,” co-authored with UB psychology graduate students Naomi J. McKay and Daniela L. Galante, appears in this month’s edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.

The hormone, GLP-1, works in the body to increase the release of insulin, functioning the same way as many common injectable treatments for diabetes. Extensive research has already established GLP-1’s role in the control of food intake, but the new study’s authors say there was a profound absence of literature on its role in fluid intake.

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