Monday, October 18, 2010

A Freak Accident?

Rutgers tackle Eric LeGrand suffers spinal cord injury, has no movement below neck

Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand has no movement below the neck after suffering a spinal-cord injury during the Scarlet Knights' overtime victory over Army on Saturday at New Meadowlands Stadium.

LeGrand, who was hurt on a kickoff, was injured at the C3-C4 level of his spine and underwent surgery to stabilize the area. He is hospitalized in the intensive-care unit of Hackensack University Medical Center and is expected to remain there for a while, according to a statement released by the school's athletic department.

"We want to say thank you to everyone for all of your prayers, kind words, and well wishes," LeGrand's family said in a statement. "We appreciate every single thought. Eric is in good spirits and we are praying for a full recovery."

Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand carted off on backboard with neck injury

Rutgers players react to Eric Legrand's spinal injury

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Human SCI Stem Cell Trials Set To Begin

U.S. doctors have begun treating the first patient to receive human embryonic stem cells, but details of the landmark clinical trial are being kept confidential, Geron Corp said on Monday.

Geron has the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration license to use the controversial cells to treat people, in this case patients with new spinal cord injuries. It is the first publicly known use of human embryonic stem cells in people.

"The patient was enrolled at Shepherd Center, a 132-bed spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation hospital and clinical research center in Atlanta, Georgia," Geron said in a statement.

"Shepherd Center is one of seven potential sites in the United States that may enroll patients in the clinical trial."

Northwestern University in Chicago is also ready to enroll patients.

Geron's stem cells come from human embryos left over from fertility treatments. They have been manipulated so that they have become precursors to certain types of nerve cells.

The hope is that they will travel to the site of a recent spinal cord injury and release compounds that will help the damaged nerves in the cord regenerate.

The Phase I trial will not be aiming to cure patients but to establish that the cells are safe to use. Under the guidelines of the trial, the patients must have very recent injuries.

Geron said the Shepherd Center would keep details of the patient confidential.

"When we started working with human embryonic stem cells in 1999, many predicted that it would be a number of decades before a cell therapy would be approved for human clinical trials," Geron President and CEO Dr. Thomas Okarma said in a statement.

Geron is not subject to limitations on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, as it has done all its work with its own funding.

The government is embroiled in a legal battle over the cells. Just weeks after he took office in 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that eased limitations on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dad/Coach Not Allowed to Coach from Wheelchair

It didn’t take high-dollar lawyers — though they offered — to resolve a dispute between a youth football club and a coach with a disability.

Ultimately it boiled down to an apology and an agreement forged during a face-to-face meeting on Friday.

The Football and Cheerleading Club of Johnson County apologized to assistant coach Merrill Staton, who was told that his motorized wheelchair posed a safety hazard for players. The club agreed to drop a rule that required the coach to have an adult work alongside him at all times during games.

“The remainder of the coaching staff will increase their already heightened awareness of players on the field that may need additional protection due to a play extending out of bounds and possibly coming in contact with Mr. Staton’s wheelchair,” the club said in a statement.

Club leaders said that the heightened awareness will address their safety concerns.

“The club has apologized to Mr. Staton and recognizes that poor communications from members of the club with him were the source of a misunderstanding of the issues,” the club said.

Staton learned about the rule on Sunday just as his second-grade son was set to hit the field. He had planned to appeal the decision.

As word of the story traveled, parents, members of the disability community and others offered to join him at his appeal. The story gained national attention and caused disability advocates to take note.

“I have had at least 20 attorneys offer me pro bono services,” Staton said.

But the Overland Park man has stressed from the beginning that he didn’t want a monetary windfall. Staton, who has a progressive neurological disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, simply wanted the chance to coach his boys, ages 7 and 5, while he’s healthy enough to do it.

On Friday, Staton said he’s satisfied with the agreement and can’t wait for the weekend games.

“It’s going to be a big deal,” he said. “I left last week because of the whole ordeal. We lost the game, and from my understanding it was a pretty somber game.”