Friday, January 28, 2011

Cancer leads to spinal cord injury cure

In a study published today in Science, a global research team reports that the cancer drug Taxol® (Paclitaxel) promotes the regeneration of injured nerve cells in the central nervous system (CNS) after spinal cord injury. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Germany and the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injury in Maryland, together with colleagues at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and University of Miami in Florida, found that the drug reduces the major obstacles to neural cell repair in the spinal cord of injured rats.

After a spinal cord injury a number of factors are known to halt the regeneration of nerve cells, including a poor capacity of neurons to grow and the development of scar tissue. Microtubules, small protein tubes which compose the cells' cytoskeleton, are jumbled in an injured CNS nerve cell, preventing the regrowth of cells. Concurrently, neural tissue is lost and a strong scar tissue develops, which creates a barrier for regeneration of the severed nerve cells.

Scientists found that Taxol® (Paclitaxel) has a dual role in spinal cord repair. It stabilizes the microtubule so that the injured nerve cells regain their ability to grow. Interestingly, the same drug prevents the production of inhibitory substances in the scar tissue. The scar tissue, though reduced, will still develop at the site of injury and carrying out its protective function; yet growing nerve cells are now better able to cross this barrier.

In this study, scientists supplied Taxol® (Paclitaxel) to the rats via a miniature pump at the injury site immediately after a partial spinal cord lesion. Within a few weeks the animals showed significant improvement in their movements. ]]


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Woman paralyzed by lover's hickey

A 44 year old woman in New Zealand presented with partial paralysis at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital emergency department; after examination, the doctors concluded that she'd suffered a mild stroke caused by a hickey near a major artery in her neck. She recovered after being treated with anti-coagulant.

"Because of the physical trauma it had made a bit of bruising inside the vessel. There was a clot in the artery underneath where the hickey was."

Wu said the clot dislodged and traveled to the woman's heart, where it caused a minor stroke that led to the loss of movement.

"We looked around the medical literature and that example of having a love bite causing something like that hasn't been described before," he said.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wheelchair Users Get to See Fat Lady Sing

NEW YORK — New York City's Metropolitan Opera has agreed to improve wheelchair access at its home at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

The improvements are part of a settlement announced Thursday by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

The prosecutors had sued the Met, saying it had failed to meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The deal requires the Met to put in more wheelchair seating. The Met will renovate bathrooms and elevators to make them more accessible. It also must install Braille signs.

Met officials say they're "pleased that this has been resolved."

Each season the Met stages more than 200 opera performances in the city. More than 800,000 people attend.

Federal authorities have sued venues including Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden to bring them into compliance since the disabilities law was enacted in 1990.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Electric 3-Wheel Motorcycle with Wheelchair Dock

A new electric three wheel motorcycle that allows easy access and driving from a wheelchair comes on to the market in March, 2011 . The bike is called the YDS 3-wheel EV with Wheelchair Mount.

YDS, a Japan-based automobile design firm, developed the wheelchair accessible electric drive vehicle.

The vehicle, known as the “Wheel Chair Vehicle (WCV), is wheelchair accessible from the rear and driven by operating a handle directly connected to the front wheel for steering and an accelerator located to the right of the handle with two brake levers located right and left to the handle. It sounds like you may need a good set of paws to handle the action.

The WCV measures 1,860 (L) x 1,000 (W) x 990mm (H) and weighs 68kg (including a battery). A DC brushless motor with a rated output of 0.58kW is embedded in the front wheel. The battery is an iron phosphate lithium-ion battery whose voltage, capacity and charging time are 48V, 10Ah and about four hours, respectively. The vehicle can be equipped with up to two batteries, and, in that case, it can travel about 50km (at a speed of 30km/h on a flat paved road).

A lever is used to lower and raise the rear end of the vehicle to allow wheelchair access and egress. Froward and reverse are controlled by a button on the right side of the handlebars while headlights and indicators are on the left side.

YDS plans to release the WCV in the spring of 2011 at a price of ¥500,000-600,000 (approx US$ 5,987-7,185).

NY Wheelchair Users Sue City Over Lack of Cabs

A group of disability rights advocates today filed a federal class action lawsuit against the Taxi and Limousine Commission, asserting that the lack of wheelchair accessible taxicabs in New York City violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit says that the commission's failure to require that taxis be accessible to the disabled is a violation of multiple civil rights laws. With only 231 of more than 13,000 New York City taxicabs accessible to people with disabilities, the complaint argues that the TLC ignores the needs of the disabled.

"Before I became disabled I was able to use taxis all the time, now I can't even get one to stop me for me," said plaintiff Chris Noel, who serves as co-chair of the Taxis for All Campaign. Noel works in marketing and says that using taxis is an essential aspect of what he does. "In marketing you need to be on time no matter what -- you need to be early, so cabs are the best way to get around. I still pay taxes, but now can't get a taxi."

The TLC says that while they consider accessibility a priority, the lawsuit is baseless.

"We have made tremendous strides over the years in improving transportation options for persons with disabilities, which we continue to prioritize," said TLC spokesman Allan J. Fromberg. "At the same time, no federal or local law requires that taxicabs be accessible to people with wheelchairs, and in fact, the ADA specifically exempts taxicabs from the requirement."

But attorneys with the group Disability Rights Advocates, who represent the plaintiffs say the commission is mistaken.

"The ADA exemption applies only to private entities not government entities like the TLC," said attorney Kara Werner. "The TLC regulates the vehicles and has a responsibility to ensure that all New Yorkers can use taxicabs."


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Bud for the Bro

Bro, this Bud’s for you
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 5:54PM EST

I’m not at all sure I could survive being a patient in an intensive care unit for nine months, with no end in sight. That’s how long my brother Levi has been hospitalized, and he has been desperately near death for much of that time. As I write this, he remains in an isolation room in an Intermediate ICU.

Levi and I, now both firmly entrenched in middle age, are only a year and a half apart, right in the middle of a family of nine children. But we’re very different from each other. He’s always been kind of rough and tumble; I’m more bookish and reticent. I’m an avowed pacifist; Levi collects guns. He left school in Grade 8; I didn’t stop until I owned a terminal degree.

We weren’t exactly bosom buddies growing up, and drifted further apart as adults. So, while we live not 10 minutes from each other, we don’t see each other often – not nearly as much as brothers should. It’s not Levi’s fault – it’s been primarily mine.

When he was still a young man in his early 20s, he found himself a quadriplegic after a horrific road accident, and so his mobility is obviously limited, although he is fiercely independent insofar as he can be. Nonetheless, the blame for the paucity of contact has to be shouldered primarily by me.

To understate more than a little, life for someone who is quadriplegic is complicated by many things, and in my brother’s case, he has struggled with respiratory problems and the constant fear of pressure sores. Last February, Levi was admitted to hospital to have a deep infection on his elbow looked after.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Party at the Nursing Home

Adam Martin doesn't fit in here. No one else in this nursing home wears Air Jordans. No one else has stacks of music videos by 2Pac and Jay-Z. No one else is just 26.

It's no longer unusual to find a nursing home resident who is decades younger than his neighbor: About one in seven people now living in such facilities in the U.S. is under 65. But the growing phenomenon presents a host of challenges for nursing homes, while patients like Martin face staggering isolation.

"It's just a depressing place to live," Martin says. "I'm stuck here. You don't have no privacy at all. People die around you all the time. It starts to really get depressing because all you're seeing is negative, negative, negative."

The number of under-65 nursing home residents has risen about 22 percent in the past eight years to about 203,000, according to an analysis of statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That number has climbed as mental health facilities close and medical advances keep people alive after they've suffered traumatic injuries. Still, the overall percentage of nursing home residents 30 and younger is less than 1 percent.

Martin was left a quadriplegic when he was accidentally shot in the neck last year by his stepbrother. He spent weeks hospitalized before being released to a different nursing home and eventually ended up in his current residence, the Sarasota Health and Rehabilitation Center. There are other residents who are well short of retirement age, but he is the youngest.

The yellow calendar on the wall of Martin's small end-of-the-hall room advertises activities such as arts and crafts. In the small common room down the hall, a worker draws a bingo ball and intones, "I-16. I-one-six." As Martin maneuvers his motorized wheelchair through the hallway, most of those he passes have white hair and wrinkled skin.

"It's lonely here," Martin says, as a single tear drips from his right eye.

Martin exchanges muted hellos with older residents as he travels down the hall to smoke outside. His entire daily routine, from showering to eating to enjoying a cigarette, is dictated by the schedules of those on whom he relies for help.

He usually wakes up late, then waits for an aide to shower him, dress him and return him to his wheelchair. He watches TV, goes to therapy five days a week and waits most days for his friend to bring him meals.

He mostly keeps to himself, engaging in infrequent and superficial conversations with his elders.

Martin's parents are unable to care for him at home. His father is a truck driver who is constantly on the road, and his stepmother is sick with lupus. Medicaid pays his bills; it could take a lawsuit for him to get care outside a nursing home.

Advocates who help young patients find alternatives to nursing homes say people are often surprised to learn there are so many in the facilities. About 15 percent of nursing home residents are under 65.

"When I tell people I try to get kids out of nursing homes, they have no idea," says Katie Chandler, a social worker for the nonprofit Georgia Advocacy Office.


Believe in Walking is Nice, but...

Eric LeGrand Rutgers Football Player - Spinal Cord Injury - 1st Interview

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shocking SCI News

Department of Urology, Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Tallaght, Ireland.

To examine the success rate of electroejaculatory stimulation in patients with acquired spinal injuries in a single Irish institution. The use of electroejaculatory stimulation is of benefit in patients with spinal cord injury who wish to have children.

A retrospective review of the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry scheme database and the patients' medical notes was performed. Any patient who had undergone electroejaculatory stimulation in the past 14 years was included. The quality of semen obtained and the pregnancy rate were assessed in relation to several variables, including patient age and level of spinal injury.

From 1994 to 2008, 31 patients (29 patients with acquired spinal injury and 2 patients with a congenital spinal abnormality) had undergone electroejaculatory stimulation as a method of providing semen for assisted conception. Of the 31 patients, 6 had requested cryopreservation of their semen for future use and were therefore excluded from the pregnancy rate analysis. Of the 25 patients who had used the semen, 9 (36%) were successful in achieving pregnancy that resulted in living offspring. The semen analysis results were available for 15 patients. Three patients (one each with contaminated semen, poor semen quality, and an abandoned procedure) required testicular biopsy to extract viable sperm and subsequently achieved pregnancy. Lower spinal lesions (below T10) were associated with lower rates of pregnancy after electroejaculatory stimulation. One patient developed autonomic dysreflexia during the procedure, which was therefore abandoned.

Electroejaculatory stimulation is an effective method of obtaining semen for reproductive purposes and is an option for fertility preservation in patients with spinal cord injury-related anejaculation.