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Lifesavers

Lifesavers

Rapid Testing for HIV Virus- A major practical problem in the fight against AIDS is that 30%of the individuals who test positive for the HIV virus never receive their test results. Blood samples are sent off to the lab for testing, but a stunning percentage of the population of AIDS victims in the U.S. don't return to the doctor or clinic to get the results. The elapsed time to process test results compounds an already serious public health problem by delaying treatment, counseling and, in fact, encouraging the spread of the disease. But now, new technology and a finger-stick whole blood test that recently gained a waiver for widespread

use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)are offering a solution to this problem. The OraQuick(R)Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Test from Orasure Technologies, Inc.(www.orasure.com)is the first FDA-approved, rapid point-of-care test that provides results with greater than 99%accuracy in as little as 20 minutes.

Help for Those with Movement Disorders- The uncontrollable and sometimes violent shaking that accompanies Parkinson 's and another movement disorder called "essential tremor" can rob its victims of the ability to do simple tasks. In 1997,new hope arrived when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Medronic's Activa system, a device that blocks the errant brain signals responsible for the symptoms. Since Design News first reported on Activa four years ago, the device has evolved, gained new FDA approvals for its use, and gathered momentum for use in treating other movement disorders, along with obsessive compulsive disorder and epilepsy. Today,10,000 people throughout Europe, Canada, and Australia have an Activa system implant. For the nearly 650,000 people in the U.S. who suffer from Parkinson's, the device brought a welcome option to drug treatments that lose their effectiveness over time and surgeries that permanently destroy brain tissue.

A Finger Grasp on the Electronic Hand- Six years ago, the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)Center brought hope to quadriplegics with its FDA-approved Freehand neural hand prosthesis. By using electrical impulses to move paralyzed muscles on command, the device restores some movement to the hand. In forging onward with its work, the Center is now testing a second generation electronic hand, with an implantable sensor, additional output channels, and a more naturally means of operation. Similar to the original Freehand, the new implant targets people with nerve damage at the 5th or 6th cervical root. Although these individuals can move their shoulders and upper arms, their hands remain paralyzed. With the ability to grasp objects, they gain the independence to do simple tasks like brush their teeth or pour themselves a cup of coffee. Called "the second generation neural hand prosthesis," the new device retains the basic components as the original. With Freehand, the user controls hand movement through voluntary shrugs of his opposite shoulder. Moving the shoulder forward and back, opens and closes the hand. An external joystick position sensor near the shoulder reads the movements and sends the data to a battery-powered controller on the wheelchair. The controller processes the information into RF signals in order to send power and control an implanted stelemeter/telemeter (IST)in the chest.(A coil taped to the chest transmits the signals through the skin.)

Medical Treatment of Animals Goes High-Tech- Not too long ago, the country and family veterinarian relied on his or her medical knowledge to form a diagnosis of the animal being treated. In urban areas, the veterinarian generally ran a small practice either as the principal of the animal hospital or, more rarely, in a group practice. In rural areas, the veterinarian treated large, farm animals with a combination of medical knowledge and good, old-fashioned diagnostic instinct. Today the veterinarian medical practice has changed with the advent of new technology, which takes the instinctual and guess-work out of the treatment process. Today 's diagnostic procedures rely on CT and MRI scanning technology to facilitate treatment. Large, group practices have replaced the lone veterinarian in a small, almost informal, practice. Conventional CT allows high-resolution axial images of the brain, spine, and abdomen.

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