Brain stimulation therapy explored by DARPA

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/SUBNETS_144_144.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is investigating the use of DBS (deep brain stimulation) implants for possible treatment of several chronic neuropsychological conditions. They are seeking to evaluate neural and behavioral processes in PTSD, TBI, major depression, borderline personality disorder, general anxiety disorder, substance abuse/addiction and fibromyalgia/chronic pain through the SUBNETS program (Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies). All these conditions are on the rise with service members and veterans. DBS is currently used in neurological diseases that impair motor function–Parkinson’s and dystonia–and is being researched for treatment of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette’s and epilepsy. SUBNETS is also linked to NIH’s BRAIN Initiative. Armed With Science article, the SUBNETS pre-solicitation (Photo courtesy of DARPA)

International CES unveils in NYC

The trends and items of note for next January’s show in Las Vegas

  • The ‘Internet of Things’ is the phrase-du-jour–embedding anything and everything with sensors (digital elements) and blending the physical and digital worlds
  • Consumer Digital Health Care was listed as #3 of CEA’s 2014 Technology Trends to Watch (PDF link). What is hot is self-tracking (1/3 of mobile users have tracked using a smartphone and tablet, and over half are now concerned about data security), integrating tech for seniors (touching on Selfhelp’s Virtual Senior Center [TTA 17 Mar 2010], remote monitoring (telehealth and telecare) including GrandCare Systems and kiosk HealthSpot Station, patient adherence, FDA approval of apps and the home as a healthcare hub.
  • Robots were the #4 trend: consumer robots such as home cleaners Roomba, Ecovacs; robots in eldercare; humanoid robots like NAO; robotic prosthetics and exoskeletons.

Digital health will again be showcased as a TechZone  (more…)

Counting the hits in a helmet with nano-enabled foam

Cushioning blows to the head, whether in football, soccer (football ex USA), hockey, cycling and in combat, is something that present helmets don’t do terribly well, if worn at all–thus the prevalence of concussions not being diagnosed properly, or the cumulative sub-concussive blows that may result in CTE. A Brigham Young University (Utah) team has developed a helmet with what they dub ‘ExoNanoFoam’ in contact with the player’s head. The foam is piezoelectric–when there is pressure on the foam, it produces an electrical voltage. (more…)

UCLA telemedicine platform connecting Army medicine and wounded warriors

In a joint program instituted by UCLA Health, Brooke Army Medical Center (AMC), a burn and rehab hospital in San Antonio and the Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System over the past six years, wounded soldiers undergoing major facial or burn reconstruction at UCLA have had access to telemedicine consults between UCLA and Brooke AMC. This is now being expanded to include other major reconstructions, such as orthopedic reconstruction for severely damaged limbs, urologic treatment, otolaryngological care, examination and treatment of reproductive issues, repair of airways and design of new prosthetic ears. In including Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, the program is now including TBI and PTSD.  FierceHealthIT on Operation Mend.

Acknowledging the reality of TBI in sports

Last week’s $765 million settlement by the National Football League (NFL) concluded a lawsuit in the works for over a year [TTA 7 Sept 12] that was brought by more than 4,500 players and their families. The more legally minded will argue that the NFL ‘got away with it’ before the season started; they admitted to no causal role between the game and traumatic brain injury (TBI) or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can only be confirmed post-mortem. The financial settlement sets small caps relative to the nature of the illness and the cost of care. What’s Unsettled About The NFL Concussions Settlement (Forbes) Also N.F.L. Agrees to Settle Concussion Suit for $765 Million (New York Times)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/nfl-surface.jpeg” thumb_width=”175″ /]If not an admission, player injury response may have been a factor in pushing the NFL into the 21st century. Concussion and injury assessment is a component of ‘Surface on the Sidelines’, part of a $400 million deal announced in May for official NFL adoption of the Microsoft Surface Pro (BusinessWeek). Teams have used iPads in many areas away from the sidelines due to outmoded league regulations, but the New York Giants’ medical/trainer staff used iPads last season to assess player injuries and concussions [TTA 23 Oct 2012]. Surface Pros are now loaded with the X2 app and database which stores player testing and medical history. Team doctors and trainers can now take down information on the field, make assessments and also to administer player self-testing. This allows faster determination of  injury and if needed, to pull the player, although it cannot do what Gizmag‘s headline claims it will: Could Microsoft Surface help the NFL to prevent brain injuries? (photo, SurfaceForums.net) (more…)

Contact sports, long term effects and CTE

The effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) are likely far more widespread than the National Football League (NFL) and thousands of combat soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. That evidence was presented this past Monday at the German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI)  by two leading researchers in the field: Robert A. Stern, MD of Boston University and Inga Koerte, MD of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU). The panel was moderated by Alan Schwarz of The New York Times, a freelance sportswriter/baseball stats expert-turned-concussion investigator/writer whose articles on sports concussions and long term effects are helping to change US sports safety. Update 10 June: video (1:38:00), event summary. (more…)

TBI drug in potential trial with former NFL players’ association

Breaking news in the US today on a topic we’ve been following. Maryland-based Neuralstem, a developer of neurogenic drugs, announced this morning that it is working with the National Football League Alumni Association (NFLAA) to develop a trial of their NSI-189 for treating NFL alumni members suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). According to their release, NSI-189 (or NS1-189, both are used) is currently in a Phase Ib clinical trial to treat major depressive disorder. Because it appears to work by stimulating neurons in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that atrophies in depression, this could also apply to brain injury. While this announcement is perhaps more than it seems–a Phase I clinical trial is ‘early days’, to make it through all four phases (I-IV) may take a decade, and now the developer is switching around the treatment condition–the drug itself has received support from DARPA and NIH which are both closely concerned with TBI. In addition, working with the NFLAA will help Neuralstem find subjects for the trials. PR Newswire via Baltimore Business Journal 

Previously in TTA on TBI and the NFL: Further sad confirmation of CTE, Brain injury research study, NFL donates $30 million to NIH, Combating TBI on the battle and football fields.

Tablets for mental stimulation, concussion detection

Clevermind for dementia, cognitively disabled

The new Clevermind app/user interface for iPad is designed to simplify the internet for active use by those with Alzheimer’s disease, dementias or others who are cognitively impaired for a variety of reasons. According to founder Glenn Palumbo in an interview with Neil Versel, “The initial release, set for June will have limited functionality, serving as the front end for communication and social hubs like Skype, Facebook and Twitter, with a simplified display including a basic Web browser.” Depending on the stage that the dementia is in, it can be a boon in mental stimulation or as their website terms ‘neuroplasticity’, if presented appropriately–or, based on your Editor’s knowledge of working with dementia sufferers, potentially quite upsetting. The secondary markets that Mr. Palumbo mentioned, stroke patients and children with disabilities, may be more favorable. Clevermind is on Kickstarter with an initial goal of $10,000 but has raised a low $1,717 with 23 days to go. (Hint: try a healthcare- oriented crowdfunding site like Medstartr or Health Tech Hatch for your next round.)

GeriJoy’s ‘virtual pet’ to engage older adults

Another iPad and Android tablet app, GeriJoy, uses the interface of a virtual pet to respond to the user both by voice and touch to lessen isolation, loneliness and increase connectivity to loved ones and friends. Another asset of these tablets is that they have two-way capability, and that active monitoring can help an older person in a bad situation. From the release: (Co-founder Victor) “Wang describes how a customer adopted a GeriJoy Companion for her elderly father, who lives alone. One day, the companion woke up to a loud sound, and heard a paid caregiver screaming at the elder. GeriJoy reported the abuse to the customer, who was very grateful and replaced the caregiver that week.”

Sideline and ringside voice testing for concussion

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a tablet-based test that can detect injury through before-and-after voice analysis. For instance, an athlete recites a series of words before a game, recorded on a tablet. If there’s a suspected concussion or brain injury, the same words are used and software compares differences. Injury indicators can be pitch, hyper nasality, distorted vowels and imprecise consonants–and the tests are far more difficult to fake. In action in this video, the tests also appear to include spatial and balance. Associate Professor Christian Poellabauer describes the research below using Notre Dame’s boxing teams.

[This video is no longer available on this site but may be findable via an internet search]