It sounds like science fiction, but duke researchers are making it more like reality TV. They've given monkeys an implant in their brain that enables them to use thoughts to send signals to the computer which controls a robotic arm. Scientists say the animals can reach and grasp with the same precision as their own hand.
The Duke researchers came up with the model by monitoring normal brain and muscle activity as the monkey moved its own arms. In the future, they hope the technology will help people with paralysis by bypassing brain lesions or damaged parts of the spine, enabling them to control robotic aids, such as a mechanical arm attached to a wheelchair.
The advance is being reported in an article published online October 13, 2003, in the Public Library of Science (PLOS), by Neurobiologists led by Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., who is Professor of Neurobiology and Co-Director of the Duke Center for Neuroengineering.
It's no secret that Americans are heavier than ever before, but a new study finds the greatest increase in the number of overweight people is among people who are severely obese. The study finds the rate of people who are at least 100 pounds overweight and have a body mass index of forty or more has quadrupled in the last two decades. That means the number of people considered "morbidly obese" is now about one in fifty - compared to one in two-hundred in 1986. The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
This research was conducted by the Rand Corporation, which used information from a telephone survey of adults conducted between 1986 and 2000 to compile data.
Doctors are concerned that people aren't recognizing the dangers of the influenza virus and ignoring advice to get immunized. Only about two-thirds of eligible people over 65 receive an annual flu shot, although the Centers for Disease Control says flu in the single most vaccine-preventable illness.
Each year around 36,000 people die from the flu, and more than 100,000 are hospitalized.
Dr. Gregory Poland, the head of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, also warns that otherwise healthy people who get the flu can pass on the virus to the elderly or others at risk for flu related problems.
Poland says the only people who should not receive a flu shot are those who have suffered severe reactions to flu shots in the past, and those with severe allergic reactions to chicken eggs.