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Daily Archives: April 20, 2009

Local veteran isn’t letting paralysis keep him down

Published: April 20, 2009

shawn-ritchhart-smRecent trip to winter sports clinic just one way man keeps active

Shawn Ritchhart always thought of himself as kind of a loner. However, after a rodeo accident in 2004 paralyzed him, the 35-year-old is telling others with disabilities to not be a “hermit.”

“There’s no reason to be a hermit. Get out and do stuff. That’s the only way to start getting better,” said Ritchhart, a Navy and National Guard veteran.

The quest for a cure: Stem cells’ potential for 10 vexing illnesses

Published: April 20, 2009

With President Barack Obama’s recent lifting of the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, scientists now have new prospects for developing medical treatments. Excitement over the embryonic cells comes from their remarkable ability, as biological blank slates, to become virtually any of the body’s cell types. Many observers believe the president’s move will accelerate the hunt for cures for some of our most vexing diseases.

However, the benefits are largely hypothetical, given the infancy of the field, and are offset by some real obstacles: The risks of embryonic stem cells, as well as cells programmed to become like them, include the possibility they will actually cause cancers in people who receive them.

Avon Lake grad fights through spinal cord injury

Published: April 20, 2009

Avon Lake High School grad Keith Concar wanted to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but while volunteering near New Orleans in 2006, he suffered a devastating accident.

Concar, then 27 years old, was attending Kent State University when he decided to travel south with a group of volunteers to stay at the Baptist Church of Slidell, La., just north of New Orleans. With a background in construction, he uses his skills to help people whose homes had been destroyed.

Researcher use brain interface to post to Twitter

Published: April 20, 2009

twitter_brain_20090421124438945_320_240In early April, Adam Wilson posted a status update on the social networking Web site Twitter – just by thinking about it.

Just 23 characters long, his message, “using EEG to send tweet,” demonstrates a natural, manageable way in which “locked-in” patients can couple brain-computer interface technologies with modern communication tools. See video of Wilson using the brain-computer interface to post to Twitter.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison biomedical engineering doctoral student, Wilson is among a growing group of researchers worldwide who aim to perfect a communication system for users whose bodies do not work, but whose brains function normally. Among those are people who have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), brain-stem stroke or high spinal cord injury.