Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Success with Carbon Nanotubes, 2020

 What is a carbon nanotube, and what does it matter?

As explained by How Stuff Works, "A carbon nanotube is a nano-size cylinder of carbon atoms. Imagine a sheet of carbon atoms, which would look like a sheet of hexagons. If you roll that sheet into a tube, you'd have a carbon nanotube. . . . With the right arrangement of atoms, you can create a carbon nanotube that's hundreds of times stronger than steel, but six times lighter."

In 2009, Discover Magazine published an article called "9 Ways Carbon Nanotubes Just Might Rock the World."  The subtitle hinted at some of the nine ways, reading, "Nanotubes have been billed as the key to curing cancer, building space elevators, and creating real-world Spidermen. Whether they're totally tubular or just an overhyped pipe dream remains to be seen."

Fast forward eleven years and you can find articles on a use that isn't mentioned in the Discover piece, but has its own potential to "rock the world."  Although it isn't the first time carbon nanotubes have been studied in relation to spinal cord injury, a recent study in Italy focused on using carbon nanotubes as scaffolds to support nerve growth in a living mammal with a partially-severed spinal cord — not in cell cultures, as done previously. 

By inserting an implant that is "a kind of sponge of carbon nanotubes comprising interwoven fibers," researchers found that the nerves could be reconnected at the damage site.  The animals with the implants "regained functionality" without any apparent adverse reactions.  While researchers caution that they are not ready to transfer the technology to humans yet, the results of the study are encouraging.  Eventually, this technology could be implemented as a treatment for similar spinal cord injuries, injuries of the optic nerve, and other types of nerve damage.

And in the meantime, there's always the space elevator application.  That, too, is moving closer to reality.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Devon Gales, Still Going

An update on Devon Gales, who has fought non-stop since his spinal cord injury five years ago.  He continues to make progress.  Please keep Devon in your thoughts and prayers!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Tendo AB's Exoskeleton (Hand Unit)

This article in Health Europa describes an exoskeleton that could offer greater independence to people with high spinal cord injuries.  A modified space technology designed by Tendo AB, the new exoskeleton is a minimalist system for users with compromised hand strength or motor control.  The technology may be expanded to focus on other limbs, such as the elbow or knee.  Since the exoskeleton "(uses) the body’s signals as a source," it will be interesting to see what beneficial effects the device might have as a therapy tool.  There are many possibilities here; the hand technology alone has the potential to change many lives for the better.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Graduate Max Ahlquist's Recovery Story

 Max Ahlquist was paralyzed in a rafting accident, but he has had a miraculous recovery and continues to work hard in his physical therapy.  His positive story is one worth sharing, like the news that he has graduated as co-valedictorian and is now moving on to college.  Congratulations, Max! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Using KAFOs and a Mobility Scooter (Video)

Today's video is posted in response to a question someone asked about mobility.  When starting to use KAFOs (knee-ankle-foot orthoses) and trying to navigate a college campus, I was blessed to be provided with a mobility scooter.  This video shows how well the KAFOs worked with the scooter, even when I was relatively new to long leg braces.  Between the two, I gained an immense amount of independence.  (This clip is also featured in my video "6 Years in 6 Minutes," where you can see how the scooter works similarly outside on different surfaces.)

Scooters are not always an option if you have a spinal cord injury.  I could not have used one in the first year post-SCI due to the extensive spinal damage caused by the original accident.  As time has passed, a scooter has been a great device for me.  It's especially nice to be able to swivel the seat and not have to avoid a footrest when standing.  The scooter is easier on the wrists and shoulders than a manual wheelchair is, and can go over more terrain without trouble.  Several types of scooters give increased accessibility because they are smaller, as well.  The prices of scooters vary widely and you may find foundations or other groups able to help with the cost.  

A scooter is not an option or best choice for everybody with an injury or neurological condition.  Obviously each user who does try a scooter will find disadvantages and advantages for the individual situation.  But for those who are curious about life with KAFOs and wondering about possibilities, maybe this video will be a help.  

Note: if you have a spinal cord injury and are considering a mobility scooter, make sure to research the size and padding of the scooter's seat and foot area.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Liam Wagner's Milestone Walk

 This is an encouraging story about Liam Wagner, recovering from a spinal cord injury four years ago.  He walks three times a week with forearm crutches and is working toward walking a mile on September 12th.  Now he is hoping to use "Liam's Milestone" to raise money for adaptive equipment for others. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Prayers for Memphis H.

Six-year-old Memphis sustained a serious cervical SCI in June.  It's good to see that she is getting support and encouragement: she can look forward to having her own service dog in a year, thanks to some South Florida Foundations and Furry Friends adoption.  Memphis has a lot of rehabilitation ahead of her.  Please keep this little girl and her family in your thoughts and prayers.