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IEEE Pulse

Jennifer Berglund
The science of the microbiome is arguably one of the hottest topics in medicine, and rightfully so. A deeper understanding of the ecology of the flora in our bodies is providing revolutionary insight beyond the simple form and function of our major parts. This new frontier is dauntingly complex, and most studies focus on details, failing to place these microbial ecosystems within the larger context of evolutionary time and environment.
September 2016: IEEE Pulse
Sergio A Gonzalez, Max E Valentinuzzi, Pedro D Arini
The origins of convolution and its further and rather complex historical development were dealt with in detail by Alejandro Dominguez in a previous article [1]. We saw there that it can be traced back to the middle of the 18th century; however, its modern form and use are not more than 50 or 60 years old.
July 2016: IEEE Pulse
David L Chandler
In April 2016, in honor of Autism Acceptance Month, Apple released a video that quickly went viral, racking up more than 4 million views in its first few days (https://youtube/oMN2PeFama0). It shows a teenage boy named Dillan whose life has been completely transformed by the use of an iPad. As a nonverbal person, until he learned to use the device, he had no way of showing people that he was aware, thoughtful, paying attention, and eager to communicate. He just didn't have the necessary control over his body?s vocal apparatus to let people know he was really there...
July 2016: IEEE Pulse
Peter Hunter
The Physiome Project was initiated by the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS; in 1997 to bring multiscale engineering modeling approaches to the physiological interpretation of the wealth of molecular data that was becoming available at that time [1]. The discipline of physiology, which with anatomy underpins medical practice, had lost its traditional central position in the biological sciences (at least from a funding perspective) to molecular biology, despite the very small impact molecular biology has had on the diagnosis and treatment of disease...
July 2016: IEEE Pulse
Kristina Grifantini
It seems simple: send a small electrical current to a major nerve in the body and stimulate hormones and organs to react in the way you want. New efforts by research teams are doing just that, zapping peripheral nerves attached to major organs in the hopes of addressing problems as diverse as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic pain, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Thanks to the continued advance of smaller and more efficient electronics, researchers are finding new ways to develop implantable bioelectrical devices to treat a wide range of ailments...
July 2016: IEEE Pulse
Summer E Allen
When brothers Jamie and Glen Selby, aged 5 and 7, arrived at the Shriners Burns Institute in Denver, Colorado, in July 1983, more than 97% of their skin had been destroyed by a fire they had accidentally started while playing in an abandoned house. The boys were so badly burned that their outlook was grim-a 6-year-old friend who was also in the fire died from his injuries?but Jamie and Glen were lucky. Not only did they survive, but they were also some of the first patients to benefit from a new burn treatment nicknamed test-tube skin...
July 2016: IEEE Pulse
Michele Solis
Since the 1980s, stem cells' shape-shifting abilities have wowed scientists. With proper handling, a few growth factors, and some time, stem cells can be cooked up into specific cell types, including neurons, muscle, and skin.
July 2016: IEEE Pulse
Leslie Mertz
Researcher Jeanne Loring thinks she has a good method for reversing the symptoms of Parkinson's disease (Figure 1), and she believes this method-a stem-cell therapy-will find its way to clinics in as little as twoand-a-half years. Although the work has progressed very smoothly, one thing has continued to nag at her: is it actually safe to transplant induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), or are these cells potentially dangerous to patients?
July 2016: IEEE Pulse
Leslie Mertz
Interest in stem cells escalated in 2006 when scientists figured out how to reprogram some specialized adult cells to assume a stem-cell-like state. Called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), these cells opened the door to a range of potential applications, including generating cells and tissues to replace those that are faulty or missing in patients with cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or other maladies (Figure 1). Visions of new treatments and even cures for debilitating and fatal illnesses proliferated, and some of that work is well under way (see "A Wealth of Research")...
July 2016: IEEE Pulse
Sarah Campbell
Here's the drill. Upon waking, count down from 100 to one as quickly as possible. Next, recite the alphabet, giving each letter a corresponding word partner (A, antler; B, bargain; C, cartoon, for example). After that, crank out several lists, numbering each of the items: 20 men's names, 20 women's names, 20 food items, 20 words beginning with the same letter. When you're done, close your eyes, count to 20, and open them. Your mind, according to Mental Aerobics: Exercises for a Stronger, Healthier Mind [1], is now warmed up and ready to face the day...
July 2016: IEEE Pulse
Richard Johnston, Max E Valentinuzzi
A previous "Retrospectroscope" note, published early in 2014, dealt with spirometry: it described many apparatuses used to measure the volume of inhaled and exhaled air that results from breathing [1]. Such machines, when adequately modified, are also able to measure the rate at which work is produced (specifically by an animal or a human being). Metabolism in that sense is the term used by physiologists and physicians, a word that in Greek, metabolismos, means "change" or "overthrow," in the sense of breaking down material, as in burning some stuff...
May 2016: IEEE Pulse
Summer Allen
It's tough to imagine anything more frustrating than interacting with a call center. Generally, people don't reach out to call centers when they?re happy-they're usually trying to get help with a problem or gearing up to do battle over a billing error. Add in an automatic phone tree, and you have a recipe for annoyance. But what if that robotic voice offering you a smorgasbord of numbered choices could tell that you were frustrated and then funnel you to an actual human being? This type of voice analysis technology exists, and it's just one example of the many ways that computers can use your voice to extract information about your mental and emotional state-including information you may not think of as being accessible through your voice alone...
May 2016: IEEE Pulse
Natalia M Lopez, Sergio Ponce, David Piccinini, Elisa Perez, Martin Roberti
Advances in medicine have led to a significant increase in human life expectancy and, therefore, to a growing number of disabled elderly people who need chronic care and assistance [1]. The World Health Organization reports that the world's population over 60 years old will double between 2000 and 2050 and quadruple for seniors older than 80 years, reaching 400 million [2]. In addition, strokes, traffic-related and other accidents, and seemingly endless wars and acts of terrorism contribute to an increasing number of disabled younger people...
May 2016: IEEE Pulse
Matteo Cianchetti, Cecilia Laschi
Open your Internet browser and search for videos showing the most advanced humanoid robots. Look at how they move and walk. Observe their motion and their interaction with the environment (the ground, users, target objects). Now, search for a video of your favorite sports player. Despite the undoubtedly great achievements of modern robotics, it will become quite evident that a lot of work still remains.
May 2016: IEEE Pulse
Harish Mysore
It is 8 a.m. on a December morning in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. The day has just begun at Bhagawan Mahavir Vikalanga Sahayata Samithi (BMVSS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to fitting the disabled with artificial limbs (Figure 1). Slowly, patients from across India and neighboring countries gather in the center?s front yard. By the end of the day, more than 35 people will make a long journey back to their homes and communities outfitted with a new prosthetic leg or arm that will promise them a more active and functional future...
May 2016: IEEE Pulse
Leslie Mertz
Approximatley 2% of Americans have a visual disability-vision that cannot be corrected even with the strongest prescription-and in developing countries where infectious disease or untreated cataracts are more common, the percentage is often higher. Many different diseases and conditions can cause low vision, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and cone dystrophy (a genetic mutation affecting the cone cells of the retina). People with low vision find everyday activities more challenging...
May 2016: IEEE Pulse
Leslie Mertz
Every year, Doris's primary care physician sends her to see a neurologist to check on her hand tremor, which has increasingly worsened over the past 20 years. Year in and year out, the neurologist asks her to draw a circle on a piece of paper. "The doctor looks at it, says 'Hmm,' and sends me home," Doris explains, adding that she gets no treatment, no recommendations, nothing except a request to schedule next year's appointment.
May 2016: IEEE Pulse
Silvestro Micera
Hand amputation is a traumatic event that dramatically and permanently changes the life of any person who undergoes one. After surgery, the amputee requires a prosthetic device to perform activities of daily living-in particular, tasks requiring grasping and manipulation functions. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Amputee Coalition, there are 1.9 million amputees who use limb prosthetic services and products, and it is estimated that, among them, 500,000 are upper-limb amputees, with approximately 185,000 new amputations every year (www...
May 2016: IEEE Pulse
Jim Banks
Using state-of-the-art technology, athletes at the Paralympic Games achieve great feats of physical prowess, but for most people using assistive and rehabilitative technologies (ART), even simple tasks can present huge challenges. Many do not make full use of the technology available to them because it is unreliable, uncomfortable, and nonintuitive, so researchers are pushing the envelope to create practical solutions that function like real limbs.
May 2016: IEEE Pulse
Summer Allen
Forty years ago, Les Baugh lost both of his arms in an electrical accident. With bilateral shoulder-level amputations, his options for prosthetic arms were limited. That changed two years ago, when Baugh underwent a surgical procedure at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore that allowed him to control state-of-the-art robotic arms using nerves that had been rerouted to his chest. Within ten days of training, he was able to control both arms simultaneously and move a cup from a lower shelf to a higher shelf-a task that previously had been impossible-just by thinking about how he wanted to move his arm...
May 2016: IEEE Pulse
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