Daily Archives: October 22, 2006
Dr. Luis Cebrian says he feels like he’s trapped inside a shell. “I feel like I’m basically made out of wood or rubber.”
Although he is paralyzed, he is acutely aware of his body. His experience is different from a person who has had a severe spinal injury and has no sensation from the neck down. “I can feel my toes. I can tell you the places where I hurt. I feel tired when I’ve been sitting in one place too long. I feel like I could just get up and walk.”
As he sits in an alcove off his living room talking about what it’s like to be unable to move, Luis’ wife Valerie is at his side. She periodically crosses and uncrosses his legs, puts a glass of water to his lips so he can sip from it and makes small adjustments in the direction his wheelchair is facing. Except for brief respites, she’s his full-time caregiver.
Parkinson’s Treatment Tried in Rats Reduced Symptoms but Caused Tumors
Nerve cells grown from human embryonic stem cells and injected into the brains of rats with a syndrome mimicking Parkinson’s disease significantly reduced the animals’ symptoms, but the treatment also caused tumors in the rodents’ brains, scientists reported yesterday.
University of New Hampshire faculty member Therese Willkomm calls herself “MacGyvette.” But Willkomm doesn’t fight crime like the resourceful 1980s television sleuth; rather, she fashions tools from everyday objects that make life easier for people with disabilities.
Willkomm, clinical assistant professor of Occupational Therapy and director of ATinNH at the Institute on Disability at UNH, is a specialist in assistive technology, which she describes as “solutions for easier living, learning, working, and playing.” And while the users of her solutions have some form of disability – from an aching back to extensive paralysis – Willkomm’s work rarely deals with expensive wheelchairs, specialized computers or complex communication systems. “Eighty percent of assistive technology costs $100 or less,” she says.