News Article | May 19, 2017
Chronic pancreatitis (long-standing inflammation of the pancreas) (CP) is a challenging disease for health care practitioners because it is difficult to diagnose and treat. Although its annual incidence rate in the United States is low (5 to 12 per 100,000 persons), hospital admissions due to CP are on the rise. CP is characterized by severe abdominal pain and irreversible damage to the pancreas. In the past decade new medical and surgical treatments have emerged that enable multidisciplinary teams to better recognize and manage this disease. In 2014, gastrointestinal specialists at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), led by David B. Adams, M.D., professor of surgery and an expert in CP, organized the first international exchange of information on these advancements. The "2014 International Symposium on the Medical and Surgical Treatment of Chronic Pancreatitis" brought together experts from the fields of medicine, surgery, psychology, physiology, pharmacology and genetics. Last month, a textbook covering the information that came out of that meeting was published (Wiley-Blackwell, April 2017). "Pancreatitis: Medical and Surgical Management" (ISBN: 978-1-118-91712-1) covers acute pancreatitis (sudden inflammation that lasts a short time) as well as CP. Adams is the chief editor. Co-editors are Peter B. Cotton, M.D., professor of medicine at MUSC; Nicholas J. Zyromski, M.D., associate professor of surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine; and John A. Windsor, MBChB, M.D., professor of surgery at Mercy Hospital in New Zealand. The book provides gastroenterologists and gastrointestinal surgeons with an evidence-based approach to the most recent developments in the diagnosis and clinical management of pancreatitis. In addition to new surgical procedures such as endoscopic biliary intervention and minimally invasive necrosectomy, these advances include medical therapies, such as antiprotease, lexipafant, probiotics and enzyme treatment. "This book is the latest information from international experts in all of the relevant disciplines of medicine," says Adams. "This represents the first time all of these experts have come together to share their knowledge and experience." MUSC will host a second international CP symposium in 2018 in Charleston, South Carolina. International experts from the fields of medicine, surgery, psychology, physiology, pharmacology and genetics will confer and exchange ideas to identify the direction, trends and developments in the diagnosis and management of CP that are needed to enhance clinical effectiveness, encourage adoption by healthcare providers, and engage patients in best practice and cost-effective care. Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 13,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $2.2 billion. MUSC operates a 750-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), Hollings Cancer Center (a National Cancer Institute designated center) Level I Trauma Center, and Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit musc.edu. For more information on hospital patient services, visit muschealth.org.
News Article | April 17, 2017
MCG Health, a leading provider of informed care strategies and part of the Hearst Health network, has named UnitedHealthcare Global a recipient of the 2016 Doyle Award. UnitedHealthcare Global was recognized for its innovative collaboration with physicians around the world to drive evidence-based care delivery, improve patient health outcomes, and generate medical assistance and evacuation cost savings for plan participants traveling or living abroad. Working with its international network of physicians, UnitedHealthcare Global leveraged MCG’s care guideline solutions – augmented by its own data and global clinical expertise – to enhance its inpatient care management support, leading to patients spending 27 percent fewer days in hospital and a 5 percent decrease in international medical evacuations. This resulted in a 35 percent savings in global medical spend and a 24 percent savings in international medical evacuation costs. The evidence-based approach to care management helped UnitedHealthcare Global facilitate appropriate levels of care, and determine alternatives to hospital admission and best possible avenues to patient recovery. If a UnitedHealthcare Global plan participant was in a facility or country that lacked appropriate clinical capabilities to provide optimal recovery, the individual was medically evacuated to the closest country or facility that had the appropriate capabilities – helping ensure optimal patient health outcomes, while mitigating unnecessary expenses for both employer customers and plan participants. “The results achieved by UnitedHealthcare Global are a testament to the power of MCG solutions when applied by a visionary health care organization with the goal of improving patient health worldwide,” said MCG President Jon Shreve. “It is a privilege to work with a partner organization practicing innovation and compassion on a global scale.” “A more mobile global workforce requires access to quality, cost-effective care no matter where they work,” said Dr. Margaret Wilson, UnitedHealthcare Global chief medical officer. “UnitedHealthcare Global’s initiative – anchored by MCG’s care guidelines – drove a shift in focus from solely an access-based global health care model to a quality-focused model. Sharing information and best practices with our international network of physicians has resulted in success stories for our health plan customers, and we are honored to receive this recognition for our efforts.” The Doyle Award will be presented to UnitedHealthcare Global at MCG’s annual Client Forum in Miami, Fla., April 30-May 3, 2017. Conference attendees who attend the award ceremony will be able to earn continuing education credits for selected presentations and network with health care professionals from across the country. Full details and registration for this event can be found here. About UnitedHealthcare Global UnitedHealthcare Global is dedicated to helping people living or traveling abroad live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers a full range of global health insurance, wellness, assistance and security solutions for individuals, families and employers, and access to a global network of more than 90,000 hospitals and clinics, and more than 800,000 physicians and other providers around the world. UnitedHealthcare Global is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare Global at http://www.uhcglobal.com. About MCG MCG, part of the Hearst Health network, helps healthcare organizations implement informed care strategies that proactively and efficiently move patients toward health. MCG’s transparent assessment of the latest research and scholarly articles, along with our own data analysis, gives patients, providers and payers the vetted information they need to feel confident in every care decision, in every moment. For more information visit http://www.mcg.com or follow our Twitter handle, @MCG_Health. About Hearst Health MCG is part of the Hearst Health network, which also includes FDB (First Databank), Zynx Health, Homecare Homebase, MedHOK, Hearst Health International, Hearst Health Ventures and the Hearst Health Innovation Lab (http://www.hearsthealth.com). The mission of Hearst Health is to help guide the most important care moments by delivering vital information into the hands of everyone who touches a person's health journey. Each year in the U.S., care guidance from the Hearst Health network reaches 84 percent of discharged patients, 177 million insured individuals, 60 million home health visits, and 3.1 billion dispensed prescriptions. About The Richard L. Doyle Award for Innovation and Leadership in Healthcare The Doyle Award was developed to recognize organizations that make innovative use of the care guidelines to help deliver effective healthcare. Dr. Doyle, the care guidelines founding editor, was a hospital chief-of-staff when he began creating clinical guidelines in the 1980s to help improve healthcare efficiency and quality at Mercy Hospital in San Diego. He later joined Milliman & Robertson and in 1990 published the first set of what was to become the care guidelines. Judges for this award are independent healthcare quality experts, not currently associated with MCG. Applicants were judged on how well their projects supported the MCG mission to help drive effective care. Judges looked for evidence of improvements in healthcare quality and patient safety; patient/member satisfaction; staff efficiency, productivity and satisfaction; internal/external communication; and effective use of resources.
News Article | May 23, 2017
Soliant Health, a leading specialty healthcare staffing provider and part of Adecco Group, is now accepting votes for its ninth annual Most Beautiful Hospitals in the U.S. contest. Between May 22 and June 23, Soliant is accepting votes for its 2017 Most Beautiful Hospitals in the U.S. contest on mostbeautifulhospitals.com. Voters are encouraged to vote as many times as they can over this 4-week voting period. There is no limit on how many votes an individual can cast per day up until the voting period closes on June 23. Winners will be announced on June 26. “Doctor’s Memorial Hospital, our 2016 winner, showed us that smaller critical access hospitals can make a big impact on several accounts,” said David Alexander, president of Soliant Health. “An impact not only on the lives they serve, but also on the innovation of hospital design and efficiency of care – two integral commitments they have sustained for more than five decades.” Doctors Memorial Hospital in Bonifay, Fla. earned Soliant’s Most Beautiful Hospital in the U.S. distinction in 2016 with almost 40,000 votes. Located at the heart of Florida’s Panhandle, this critical-access hospital has served the Bonifay population for more than 50 years. It was rebuilt from the ground up in 2008, doubling its size and splitting its floor plan into two distinct components, one for business and the other for medical services, which maintains patient privacy away from public business operations. Doctor’s Memorial Hospital has appeared on Soliant’s Top 10 rankings three times in past years. This year's nominations include facilities from all across the United States: Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center's Andrews Women's Hospital — Fort Worth, TX Broughton Hospital — Morganton, NC Children's Hospital at Sacred Heart — Pensacola, FL Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC — Pittsburgh, PA Christus Highland Medical Center — Shreveport, LA Cobb Hospital — Austell, GA Dell Children's Medical Center — Austin, TX Doctors Memorial Hospital — Bonifay, FL Dr. Phillips Hospital — Orlando, FL Elmhurst Memorial Hospital — Elmhurst, IL Eskenazi Hospital — Indianapolis, IN FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital — Pinehurst, NC Flagler Hospital — St. Augustine, FL Greenville Memorial Hospital — Greenville, SC Henry Ford Hospital West Bloomfield — West Bloomfield Township, MI Intermountain Medical Center — Murray, UT JFK Medical Center — Edison, NJ Kettering Medical Center — Kettering, OH La Rabida Children's Hospital — Chicago, IL Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital — Wheaton, IL McKay-Dee Hospital — Ogden, UT Memorial Healthcare System - Miramar — Hollywood, FL Mercy Hospital — Folsom, CA Methodist Hospital — Philadelphia, PA Mosaic Life Care — St. Joseph, MO Norton Sound Regional Hospital — Nome, AK Oaklawn Hospital — Marshall, MI Orange Regional Medical Center — Middletown, NY PinnacleHealth West Shore Hospital — Mechanicsburg, PA Poway Healthcare Center — Poway, CA Primary Children's Hospital — Salt Lake City, UT Riverview Medical Center — Red Bank, NJ Sanford Health — Bismarck, ND Sioux Center Health — Sioux Center, IA St. Francis Hospital — Flower Hill, NY St. Jude Children's Research Hospital — New York, NY Summit Pacific Medical Center — Elma, WA WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center — Marietta, GA Winnie Palmer Hospital — Orlando, FL To cast your vote and to learn more about last year’s winners, visit mostbeautifulhospitals.com. For more information about Soliant Health, visit soliant.com. About Soliant Health Soliant Health, an Adecco Group company, is one of the largest healthcare staffing companies in the country. Soliant Health connects hospitals and healthcare providers with highly qualified, full- or part-time healthcare professionals in a variety of specialized disciplines. Soliant's teams of professionals are qualified to fill physician, nursing, therapy, pharmacy, and other healthcare positions. For further information, please contact: Tera Tuten Vice President of Operations Soliant Health 904-527-5826 tera.tuten(at)soliant(dot)com
News Article | May 24, 2017
Getting connected on a jobsite was once a matter of trying to find a decent cellphone signal. But innovations in wireless mesh networks, sensor technology and data analytics now can offer a new level of intelligence and contextual awareness to workers on the site. And some contractors are diving right in, running pilot projects with the latest smart devices. “This wave of connected jobsite technologies is one of the most exciting opportunities we’ve had in recent years,” says David Burns, director of field solutions for McCarthy Building Cos., which has been testing advanced sensor technology on its jobsites. But putting a sensor on everything isn’t a solution in itself, notes Burns. “There have been a number of situations that arose as we were piloting where we had to dig a bit deeper into what specifically was being tracked,” he says. Burns recently oversaw a pilot project, run by McCarthy, that used sensors to record ambient and environmental data across the jobsite. “It’s very much a learning experience for us,” he says. McCarthy deployed wireless environmental sensors from tech start-up Pillar Technologies on an expansion project at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. The mounted sensors measure ambient qualities, such as temperature, humidity and dust-particulate levels, as well as noise and vibration. But the data is not simply logged for future records. Burns and his team receive real-time alerts when a wireless sensor detects something amiss on the site. “Sometimes it’s driven by a contract requirement for noise or vibration, but the platform could also be used to mitigate risk,” notes Burns. “It can detect smoke or a rise in temperature, provide an early indicator of damage to materials and avoid the need for rework.” While tracking on-site conditions with basic sensor packages is nothing new, Burns began to refine the data once McCarthy started collaborating more directly with Pillar Technologies. “When we start to look to an ‘internet of things’ [IoT], we have to ask ourselves, what is it that we’re tracking and how is it useful?” he says. “OK, we can track dust particulates, but to what degree? We found that Pillar was very responsive in building out sensors that fit our needs.” Burns says that, once the Pillar team fine-tuned the sensors to what the project managers needed to know on the site, work started to accelerate on the hospital project. “Their agility really impressed me. As they rewrote the software and firmware, we saw the chance to adjust sensors to fit any type of project we might be working on—hospitals, solar farms—really, anywhere we self-perform work and know what we want to know.” Once more projects begin to record rich data on every aspect of the job, the benefits from analysis will begin to stack up, Burns says. “Over time, we’ll aggregate this data, and what’s not a problem today may actually be an indicator of a problem tomorrow,” he says. Sensors that can send an alert when they notice something amiss are the low-hanging fruit of connected jobsites. Some firms and manufacturers are aiming quite a bit higher. From November 2016 to February 2017, Mortenson Construction ran a connected jobsite pilot on a project at the Penn State campus, State College, Pa., in which it ran trials on a comprehensive wireless mesh network with IoT capabilities. While building an expansion to one of the university’s athletic facilities, the team deployed a prototype of a jobsite wireless connectivity solution, made by the tool company DEWALT. Using a series of relays, the system generated a wireless mesh network across 100,000 sq ft of the jobsite, providing high-speed internet access to everyone on site without the need for cell or satellite signals. Linked to a high-speed, wired connection in the jobsite trailer, the system required only one or two nodes per floor, driven by external power or DEWALT battery packs. “It was the first time we’ve blanketed the jobsite from corner to corner with a WiFi mesh,” says Taylor Cupp, technologist at Mortenson Construction. “We needed that connectivity, and now we had it. The object is to keep our people in the field, instead of making trips to the trailer to get the latest information.” Foremen and superintendents were able to quickly download the latest construction documents and project management files. “We opened it up to our subcontractors—mechanical, electrical—using BIM 360 Glue for the VDC and BIM, and they were able to have constant access to the model,” says Cupp. “For the project management side, we were able to use Procore anywhere on the site to get the latest project information.” DEWALT has been quietly developing a jobsite connectivity solution for some time, and while it is new territory for the company, it is also a natural extension of its brand, says Tony Nicolaidis, vice president of marketing for DEWALT. “First step is a wireless mesh network, ruggedized for the jobsite,” he says. “But down the road, we’ll launch our IoT platform. Then, we’ll be able to track where assets are—our products or anything that’s tagged—across this mesh network down to a floor or specific zone.” DEWALT is looking into not just providing real-time updates but also automatically generating summary reports tailored to team members’ requirements. With a site blanketed in DEWALT’s WiFi, Nicolaidis imagines a scenario in which Bluetooth-enabled DEWALT tools, tagged materials and even workers with badges will be passively tracked. During the pilot at Penn State, Cupp saw the earliest stages of this vision. “We tested out some of the IoT features,” he says. “There are so many opportunities to track data and collect it in the field. I can’t think of anything on a jobsite that doesn’t rely on locational awareness.” Cupp says the real value of the system was having a single solution for tracking and wireless, as the team should have as few layers of software and log-ins as possible to access the data. DEWALT’s in-development system sent out alerts and push notifications, and even the basic analytical data it generated showed promise. “It was very interesting when we started to overlay where people were versus equipment and started to take a lean approach—how to avoid wasted movement and underutilization of equipment,” Cupp says. While the system used on the Penn State site was very much a work-in-progress version, Nicolaidis says the ready-for-deployment wireless solution is near. DEWALT plans to announce more details about its product at ENR’s FutureTech conference in San Francisco, held from May 29 to June 1. Worker tracking can be used for more than improving efficiency. Tech start-up Triax Technologies is starting to get its belt-mounted sensor out in the field (ENR 11/7/16 p. 99). Now it is seeing how data gathered while tracking workers can improve safety. Based on a local mesh network, the device, whose batteries last a year, logs worker movements only while they’re on site. The firm’s “spot-r” system clips to a worker’s belt and features accelerometers and gyroscopes that can detect sudden falls or motions. It has an alert button for workers to signal for help or when they see an unsafe condition. “Now that we’re collecting data on a larger scale, we’re starting to see new ways to improve worker safety,” says Chad Hollingsworth, Triax co-founder and president. “There’s been excitement among workers about using the alert to point out hazards on the site.” The system’s logs of worker movements also brought new insights into safety practices. “On one job, we saw a lot of small falls around where they were doing the rebar for concrete,” recalls Hollingsworth. “Turns out, the guys were jumping into the pit instead of using the ladder, and the safety manager was able to tell them to use the ladder, based on that aggregated data.” While sensor technology has gotten cheaper and more durable, processing the mountains of data generated by connected sites remains an issue. DPR Construction has run its own pilot projects for sensors, but it also is developing the back end that will help to make sense of the information. “We don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen with IoT, but we’re working on the back-end platform in Microsoft Azure so data from any sensor can be ingested and analyzed,” says Kyle Shipp, MEP coordinator for DPR Construction. “If we can develop that capability and tie it to our display dashboards, we’ll be well ahead.” Shipp has been leading DPR’s sensor pilots, even building from scratch some of his own environmental sensors. But the bulk of the work has been in Microsoft Azure’s cloud-computing environment and PowerBI’s dashboard visualization platform so that meaningful insights can be gleaned from new information. “There are no limits on the type of data you can collect,” says Kaushal Diwan, head of innovation for DPR. “The next step is applying machine learning to get predictive analytics and make smarter systems.” DPR has begun integrating BIM 360 into its PowerBI dashboard. Also, it is looking to bring in data from worker-tracking systems. “The goal is for any sensor data to flow into the real-time analytics system,” says Diwan. With more and more data coming into DPR’s back end system, Diwan says he is looking beyond the construction phase to the whole life cycle of a building. “On one side, it’s understanding the micro-ecosystem of the project, being more aware of the specific dangers of that site and climate,” he says. “But if we can tie this data into what we hand over to the owner when we close out projects, it becomes the handover of a smart building.”
News Article | May 24, 2017
Paris, France: EuroPCR 2017, the official annual meeting of the European Association for Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions (EAPCI), pushed back barriers in bringing together young and established interventional cardiologists to learn from past successes, build understanding and experience of new percutaneous interventional approaches, and develop innovations for the future at this year's course held from 16 to 19 May 2017 at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, France. Nearly 11,800 interventional cardiologists, nurses, technicians, scientists and industry innovators from around the world shared the latest developments, research, and best practice in treating cardiovascular conditions, including coronary and valvular heart disease and stroke, with minimally invasive endovascular techniques. EuroPCR 2017 provided a unique opportunity to bring together different communities within interventional cardiology: PCR celebrated the 40th anniversary of angioplasty with an exhibition tracing the major milestones in the pioneering history of interventional cardiology. The high level of interest was illustrated by the long queues of participants who waited, after a 'hands on' tour through the major milestones of interventional procedures and a look into the future, to have anniversary books signed by authors Philippe Gaspard and Holly Whitin. More than 120 young interventional cardiologists attended the first EAPCI Fellows Course held in conjunction with EuroPCR, with interactive lectures from leaders in the field, lively discussion sessions and the unique opportunity to meet the first patient to undergo percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), together with Professor Bernie Meier, who carried out the procedure alongside Dr Andreas Grüntzig. Extending the Stent for Life initiative to achieve a truly global reach, representatives from more than 60 countries across Asia-Pacific and Africa met to discuss how to improve access to the latest therapies recommended by guidelines to reduce mortality and morbidity in patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction. Delegates shared their best practices and experiences of initiating and managing national STEMI programmes. More than 400 participants gathered at the PCR Innovators Day at EuroPCR 2017, bringing together clinicians, inventors and industry to plan the best way to develop novel device-based therapies designed to improve patient outcomes. Delegates explored the issues that can challenge innovation in today's fast-changing environment and discussed the best ways to support new developments. The PCR Clinical Research Course, held on Thursday 18 May at EuroPCR 2017, gathered an attentive audience to learn more about how to plan and structure clinical research to ensure that interventional cardiology moves from ideas at the bench to innovation in procedures and to improved patient care. The 2017 Ethica Award, the highest honour of the European cardiovascular intervention academies, was presented to John Ormiston, medical director and interventional cardiologist at the Mercy Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand. The award recognised his outstanding contribution to investigating innovations in interventional cardiology, including pioneering studies with bioresorbable scaffolds and transcatheter aortic valve implantation and his work studying the architecture of stents using micro-computed tomography. "I was initially very, very surprised and thought there must be a mistake. I am very proud, as it reflects well on our small country so near to Antarctica, our high standard of cardiology, and the high standard of my colleagues," he said. EuroPCR 2018 will be held from 22 to 25 May 2018 in Paris, France. For any press-related inquiries, please contact: EuroPCR press releases can be found at https:/ Abstracts are available online at https:/ EuroPCR, the official annual meeting of the European Association for Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions (EAPCI), a registered branch of the European Society of Cardiology, is the world-leading course in interventional cardiovascular medicine. PCR has established a distinctive format for educational activities in the field of cardiovascular interventions. Beyond its flagship course in Paris that gathers more than 11,500 participants every year, PCR organises annual courses in Singapore, London UK, Dubai EAU, Johannesburg RSA, Milano Italy, Chengdu China and Tokyo Japan. For further information on EuroPCR, PCR London Valves, PCR Peripheral, PCR-CIT China Chengdu Valves, GulfPCR-GIM, AsiaPCR, AfricaPCR, PCR Tokyo Valves, and all PCR activities, please contact: Célia Vilà: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit For more information, please visit: https:/ and follow us on Twitter https:/ using the hashtag #EuroPCR
News Article | February 20, 2017
He spent four years fighting, bombed from the skies and blasting away on guns almost too heavy to hold against an enemy sometimes less than a kilometre away. "I think, 'If I killed that one it's a human being like me,' but you are forced," he said. One day the inevitable happened: Nhial (not his real name) was injured, treading on a mine while on early-morning patrol with two other soldiers in a patch of Upper Nile state surrounded by their enemies. "I stepped on it and it exploded," he recalled. "It threw me up and down again – and then I was looking around for my foot. I tried to look for my leg and found that there was no foot. When I saw there's no foot I feel shock. I was really confused. If I was not with the two others I would kill myself because I thought there was no use for me now, so I decide to die." His comrades carried him back to base camp, but there was hardly any medical care there. It took 25 days before he received proper treatment, during which time he developed tetanus on one side of his body. Finally Nhial was put on a flight to the Kenyan border, his life saved when he was handed over to a Red Cross health team. Now, a decade later, he lives in a Juba refugee camp, having suffered further troubles in the whirlwind of conflict that has engulfed the struggling new nation of South Sudan. During one outbreak of violence he was rounded up with other Nuer – the country's second-largest ethnic group – and taken to an army barracks. His life was only spared when he was dismissed as "useless" because of his disability. Today he plays wheelchair basketball for his country, although he relies on a prosthetic lower leg to struggle his way round the muddy, sprawling camp that entails long walks to reach the most basic services. It can be difficult to get to training. But at least his hands are free to carry things such as food and water, unlike those on crutches. Mary Lam (not her real name), 34, who caught polio as a child and today works as a restaurant supervisor in the capital, Juba, explained what it was like growing up reliant on bamboo sticks to haul herself around with a bad leg. She would get up much earlier than her siblings, since it took an hour to get to the classroom and they could rush there much quicker. "It was hard to go with my exercise book to school unless I tie it on my back like a baby," she said. And it limited her use of her arms too. "When two hands are using the bamboos you are not able to do domestic work in the house." Stories of lives devastated by conflict or disease are all too common across low-income countries. Lack of an arm or leg can be tough anywhere, but for people in poorer parts of the planet, with so much less support and more rickety infrastructure, it is especially challenging. Some are victims of conflict, others were born with congenital conditions. Many more are injured on roads, the casualty toll soaring in low-income nations even as it plummets in wealthier ones. Every minute, 20 people are seriously injured worldwide in road crashes. In Kenya, half the patients on surgical wards have road injuries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are about 30 million people like Nhial and Lam who require prosthetic limbs, braces or other mobility devices. These can be simple to make and inexpensive. As one veteran prosthetist told me, his specialism is among the most instantly gratifying areas of medicine. "A patient comes in on Monday on crutches that leave them unable to carry anything. By Wednesday they are walking on a new leg and on Friday they leave with their life transformed." Yet more than eight in ten of those people needing mobility devices do not have them. They take a lot of work and expertise to produce and fit, and the WHO says there is a shortage of 40,000 trained prosthetists in poorer countries. There is also the time and cost to patients, who may have to travel long distances for treatment that can take five days – to assess need, produce a prosthesis and fit it to the residual limb. The result is that unglamorous items such as braces and artificial limbs are among the most-needed devices to assist lives. Yet, as in so many other areas, technology may be hurtling to the rescue, this time in the shape of 3-D printing. Slowly but surely, 3-D printing – otherwise known as additive manufacturing – has been revolutionising aspects of medicine since the start of the century, just as it has impacted on so many other industries, from cars to clothing. Perhaps this is not surprising, given that its key benefit is to enable rapid and cost-efficient creation of bespoke products. There are, after all, few commercial products that need to suit a wider variety of shapes and sizes than medical devices made for human beings. Experts have developed 3-D-printed skin for burn victims, airway splints for infants, facial reconstruction parts for cancer patients, orthopaedic implants for pensioners. The fast-developing technology has churned out more than 60 million customised hearing-aid shells and ear moulds, while it is daily producing thousands of dental crowns and bridges from digital scans of teeth, disrupting the traditional wax modelling methods used for centuries. Jaw surgeries and knee replacement operations are also routinely carried out using surgical guides printed on the machines. So it is unsurprising the technology began to stir interest in the field of prosthetics – even if sometimes by accident. Ivan Owen is an American artist who likes to make "weird, nerdy gadgets" for use in puppetry and budget horror movies. In 2011 he created a simple metal mechanical hand for a steampunk convention, the spiky fingers pulled by loops through his own. He posted a video that – as is the way in our interconnected world – was seen by a carpenter in South Africa who had just lost four fingers in a circular saw accident. They began discussing plans for a prototype prosthetic hand, and soon that came to the attention of the mother of a five-year-old boy called Liam, born without fingers on his right hand. She wanted a tiny version of their hand. But Owen realised the child would rapidly grow out of anything they made, so he looked at the idea of using 3-D printing. "If we could develop a design that was printable, it would be possible to rescale and reprint that design as Liam grew, essentially making it possible for his device to grow with him," he said. So the artist persuaded a printer manufacturer to donate two machines and developed what has been claimed to be the first 3-D-printed mechanical hand. And crucially, rather than patent this work, Owen published the files as open source for anybody to access, allowing others to collaborate, to use and improve the designs. This has grown into Enabling the Future, a community with 7,000 members in dozens of countries and access to 2,000 printers, who help make arms and hands for those in need. One school student in California even printed a new hand for a local teacher. Often they are aimed at children, since many dislike the weight, look and hassle of modern prosthetics, which can involve inserting the arm in a silicone sleeve and using straps across the back to hold the device in place. These body-powered hands cost thousands of pounds, yet must be replaced every couple of years as a child grows. The 3-D-printed versions cost about £40, come in any colour and look like a cheery toy, so are often more appealing despite being less sophisticated. Jorge Zuniga, a research scientist in the Biomechanics Research Building at the University of Nebraska in Omaha, heard about this project on his car radio. He was only half-listening, but arriving home he started playing baseball with his four-year-old son and observed how important the grabbing of an object was to his own child's development. He spent the next month carefully building a prosthetic model that mimicked the human hand, only for his work to be dismissed instantly by his son. "He told me children wanted a hand that looked like a robot." From this conversation and the open-source designs available emerged Cyborg Beast, a project being heavily backed by his department to develop futuristic-looking, low-cost prosthetic hands. "You can do anything with 3-D printing," said Zuniga, who now heads a seven-strong team. "We believe it will revolutionise the prosthetics field. It will lower the costs worldwide and gives engineers, patients and doctors the chance to modify prosthetic hands as they want. And they can be any colour." When I told Zuniga slightly hesitantly that his design looked like a toy, he was delighted. "That's great – we want children to see it as a toy," he said. "This is a transitional device. Many children do not like prosthetics, however good they are these days, because they might have a hook for a hand and the harness needs help to put on, which children dislike. So this is to bridge the gap, helping them get used to the idea as they grow up. "We have even had a child missing a shoulder. So we developed a device that weighs the same as the missing arm. This meant he not only got a new arm that helped daily life but it also improved his posture and balance, therefore was much better for his spine. This sort of thing can be done much easier with 3-D technology. But of course the difference between a toy and a prosthetic arm is that you need professional involvement to enhance use of the devices and ensure they are fitting properly." It is remarkable that people who do not even own a printer can obtain a functional child's hand for the price of a theatre ticket within 24 hours. Zuniga says at least 500 Cyborg Beasts are in use worldwide, and the design has been downloaded almost 50,000 times. He has taken it to his native Chile, where he runs a paediatric orthopaedic 3-D-printing laboratory, and has had recent requests for the plans from Nigeria. "My concern at this stage is that some of the materials can melt in higher temperatures. It is not working well there yet, but this sort of prosthetic has huge potential to be used with better materials in the developing world. We are still in the infancy stage at this moment." Another place that has experimented with this technology is in the cruel, forgotten war cursing the Nuba mountains of Sudan, where an amazing American named Tom Catena has been working as the only permanent doctor for half a million people around his Mother of Mercy Hospital. Fuelled by his religious faith, for almost a decade this brave medic has ignored bombings, lack of electricity and water shortages to do everything from delivering babies to amputating limbs. "It's demoralising for us to amputate an arm knowing that there is no good solution," Catena told me by email. "We have many arm amputees – both above and below the elbow as a result of the war here and general lack of medical care. This in an agricultural society, where nearly everyone is a subsistence farmer. If one is missing an arm, he is not very functional in this society. They become totally dependent on the family and they have a difficult time getting married (also very important in this society)." The idea of using 3-D printing to help arose when Mick Ebeling, an American film producer and philanthropist, learned about this work at the same time as he was hearing about the emerging work on low-cost prosthetic hands. Searching for information on Catena, Ebeling read about one of his patients: Daniel Omar, a 12-year-old boy who had wrapped his arms around a tree to protect himself during an aerial attack. His face and body were protected when a bomb exploded nearby – but both the boy's arms were blown off. Ebeling travelled out with printers and, working with hospital staff, fitted about a dozen people with new arms. "Unfortunately, as time went on, none of the amputees were using the prostheses as they felt they were too cumbersome," said Catena. The doctor concluded that "the 3-D model was good, fairly easy to make and inexpensive… although it hasn't worked out so well here, perhaps with some tweaking, the 3-D printers can be of great use for arm amputees." Yet for all the agonies and difficulties associated with arm loss, the bigger problem in low-income countries is when lower limb disability leads to loss of mobility. Wheelchairs are expensive and can be difficult to use when roads are pot-holed, streets are muddy and pavements are non-existent. Without a prosthetic limb, people struggle to fetch water, to prepare food and, above all, to work. This throws them back on their families and communities, intensifying any hardship and poverty. One group that has spent almost three decades trying to tackle such issues is Exceed, a British charity set up by diplomats and academics at the request of Cambodia's government to help thousands of landmine survivors. It works in five Asian countries, training people at schools of prosthetics and orthotics. In Cambodia, there are still almost 9,000 landmine survivors in need of artificial limbs, although these days traffic accidents are a more likely cause of disability, while children also need braces for a range of common conditions such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy and polio. "If you wear a prosthesis you are disabled for about ten minutes in the morning while you have a shower, then you put your leg on and go to work. If you do not have one, then your hands are out of use with crutches so you can't even take drinks to the table," said Carson Harte, a 59-year-old prosthetist and chief executive of Exceed. "Without a prosthesis there are no expectations. You just go back and rely on the goodwill of your family." It is not really cash shortages that deny people these devices, since simplified forms cost little and generic Chinese models are improving fast. The components can cost just £30. The big hurdle is the lack of trained technicians to fit the artificial limbs. In the Philippines, there are estimated to be 2 million people needing prosthetics or orthotics. Yet there are only nine fully trained experts, each able to assist at most 400 patients a year with the time-consuming process of creating and fitting a customised limb, although more are being trained on a new four-year course. Traditionally, a prosthetist would wrap a stump with plaster of Paris bandages to make a reverse mould and let it dry, then fill it with more plaster that must harden. From this a socket can be forged that fits, with more modifications for precision, to the bone on the stump. Great care must be taken to avoid nerves and tender areas that are not tolerant of pressure. The key for the technician is to understand the pathology of a stump, which differs for each person. This is a cumbersome process that can take a week, especially with gait training for new patients that lasts three days. It can also be messy work, mixing up and moulding the plaster, while a prosthetist visiting a rural area must cart around 20-kilo packs of plaster. But with a 3-D scanner, a digital image can be made in half an hour and sent by email, and there is no mess. Exceed has begun a seven-month trial of 3-D-printed devices in Cambodia with Nia Technologies, an innovative Canadian not-for-profit organisation. "This technology has the potential to increase the productivity of every technician," said Harte. "It is not about printing off legs, nor does it replace the skills of a well-trained professional, but it has potential to produce a better, faster, more easily repeatable way of doing one key part of the chain. There are no magic bullets, but this may be an important incremental change. "The key to success so far has been cross-fertilisation: putting engineers and prosthetist orthotists together. Engineers make broad assumptions that are not always right, prosthetist orthotists do not always know what engineers can do. Together we have made more advances in a few months than have been achieved in years, sorting our real problems in real time through collaboration." Nia is also trialling its 3-D PrintAbility technology in Tanzania and Uganda, where there are only 12 prosthetists to serve a population of about 40 million people – and at the time of writing all six state clinics have run out of materials. Doctors there often deal with children who have lost limbs after falling in open cooking fires, while other youngsters need braces after suffering post-injection paralysis caused by badly administered jabs that damage nerves. In Uganda their team is working with CoRSU hospital in Kisubi, a specialist rehabilitation centre for children with disabilities. Orthopaedic technician Moses Kaweesa said they found the technology lighter and faster to use, as well as easier for people in remote rural areas. "It used to take five days to have a limb manufactured, with lots of hanging around for the patient. Now it is barely two days, so they spend much less time in the hospital. There is also less waste of material, so for a country like ours this can help so much by cutting down the costs." The first person to test out a 3-D-printed mobility device was a four-year-old girl who until then had dragged herself across floors and had to be carried around by her family. "When she was born her leg was missing the right foot," said her older brother. "It was very difficult for her to walk, to play with other children. She can be lonely. But when she was given a leg she was able to run with others, play with others." Matt Ratto, Nia's chief science officer, who led the project's development, admitted that it was only when he saw the serious-looking child in her red dress start to walk that he realised his technology actually worked. But, like Harte, he urges caution. "We are surrounded by the hype of 3-D printing with crazy, ridiculous claims being made," he said. "We must be cautious. A lot of these technologies fail not for engineering reasons but because they are not designed for the developing world. You can't just smash in these new technologies. "A lot of what we are doing is social innovation. People think you are threatening to replace prosthetists, which is a problem since they can be hesitant to embrace it just like in the developing world. We are trying to develop a bridge between the North and South but we have to work with the people on the ground to build their capacity. They are the experts – and they are deeply interested in doing whatever they can to get the children walking." Ratto's aim is to use their technology to fit 8,000 people with 3-D-printed mobility devices within five years, across some 20 sites in low-income countries. "My sense if we get this right is that the growth can be exponential. If we iron out the kinks and work out the best way to help clinicians I think we will see something of a hockey-stick curve on the graph. But we must not get it wrong, move too fast nor over-hype the potential." One person who shares Ratto's belief in this technology is Claudine Humure, a 24-year-old Rwandan with big ambitions whom I met on a chilly November day at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. She lost her parents in the genocide, and then at the age of 12, while living in an orphanage, developed a dreadful pain in her right leg that turned out to be bone cancer. "I thought I was going to die when the doctors told me, because that was all I knew about cancer. I thought that was my fate," she said. "Then they said they had to amputate my leg the next day. I was crying so hard. I hated the doctors who were telling me the news since everything was happening so fast." After the operation, Humure was flown by a US charity to Boston for further treatment, including chemotherapy and surgery to prepare the leg for a prosthetic. She spent almost a year recovering before returning to Rwanda with an artificial leg. But when it broke, she struggled to find a new one and saw the deficiencies of what was available in low-income countries. "I had seen what was possible. A good prosthesis fits well and feels comfortable. You can do anything with it, you feel normal." Now this affable woman is back in the US, studying biology and business at a prestigious university. She wrote her high-school project on the design of prosthetic limbs and has volunteered at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, where she spent time with injured victims of the 2013 marathon bombing. "They were very new to the idea of missing a limb, so it was very traumatic for them. You could see they were terrified since it was so sudden. I hope I was a positive influence, an inspiration not to give up hope." Most significantly, Humure won a biomechatronics research internship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab. Here she met Hugh Herr, a pioneering figure in prosthetics. He lost both legs after being trapped for three nights in a freezing blizzard while climbing, then designed titanium-tipped artificial feet to let him return to his beloved mountains. She also came across 3-D printing for the first time. "This was life-changing," she said. "My eyes opened. I saw all this cutting-edge research when we had such bad prostheses in Rwanda. I looked at my own prosthetic leg and started thinking." Now she dreams of opening specialist clinics, first in Rwanda, then across the rest of Africa. And she is designing a socket for prosthetic limbs to be used by people who have had leg amputations above the knee, aimed at low-income nations. "I am making the socket lighter, easier to use and cheaper to manufacture. But what makes the design special is that the user can adjust it to make it more comfortable. In developing countries, people just do not have the time to keep travelling to clinics." Humure believes such advances can change the world for millions of people like her. "You can have a disability and still be successful. I know I have been lucky in many ways because I met the right people, but I am a positive person and this is the attitude I want to instil in other amputees and people with disabilities, especially the millions of us in developing countries. A good prosthesis does not just help your mobility. It gives you confidence and can change your life. Above all, you forget you are an amputee."
News Article | February 17, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Feb. 17, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- February 17, 2017 – Representatives from Farmland, a brand of Smithfield Foods, presented a check for $25,000 to Children’s Mercy Hospital of Kansas City, MO, yesterday afternoon. This donation was made in honor of former Smithfield Foods Pork Group President, George H. Richter, and will support the hospital’s nationally recognized pediatric care services. A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/bb6401bb-0c79-4eab-986a-ca4995349f29 Richter, a 43-year veteran of the meat industry, began his career with Farmland in 1971, and was appointed to company President in 1988. When Farmland was purchased by Smithfield Foods in 2003, Richter served as President of the organization’s Pork Group, until his retirement in 2014. For more than 12 years, Richter and his family have been ongoing donors to the hospital and supporters of its mission. The Richter family has given special financial support to the expansion of the Northland Clinic, which has served over 500,000 patients since it opened its doors in 2003. “As a parent, nothing is more important than one’s children. By providing compassionate and high-quality pediatric care to the children in our community, including to my own family, Children’s Mercy Hospital has become an essential cornerstone of where we live and has a special place in my heart,” said Richter. “This donation from Farmland will help the hospital continue to provide comprehensive care for our children, and I am honored to be a part of it.” Since 1959, Farmland has been passionate about supporting communities throughout the Midwest. “Farmland was founded and built on the values of family and quality by leaders like Mr. Richter,” said Megan Thomas, senior brand manager for Smithfield Foods. “We are proud to honor him, and the entire Farmland family today, by supporting the Children’s Mercy Hospital.” Farmland has donated to Children’s Mercy for over 45 years, dating all the way back to 1970. A pillar in the Kansas City community for the past 120 years, Children’s Mercy Hospital is recognized as one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country and known as a leader in pediatric specialties. “Children’s Mercy proudly helps all children and their families who walk through our doors,” said Lyndsay Bruns, philanthropic corporate giving manager of Children’s Mercy Hospital. “We’re humbled by the community-minded example set by Mr. Richter, and this generous donation from Farmland will help us continue to fight for better treatment for children and new frontiers in pediatric medicine.” To learn how you can contribute or volunteer with the Children’s Mercy Hospital, please visit www.childrensmercy.org. About Farmland Founded in 1959, Farmland is a maker of high-quality, popular consumer goods such as bacon and sausage, and serves retail and foodservice customers. To learn more about Farmland, please visit www.FarmlandFoods.com. Farmland is a brand of Smithfield Foods. About Smithfield Foods Smithfield Foods is a $14 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Nathan's Famous®, Farmland®, Armour®, John Morrell®, Cook's®, Kretschmar®, Gwaltney®, Curly's®, Margherita®, Carando®, Healthy Ones®, Krakus®, Morliny®, and Berlinki®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com. About Children’s Mercy Hospital About Children’s Mercy Kansas City Founded in 1897, Children’s Mercy is one of the nation’s top pediatric medical centers. With not-for-profit hospitals in Missouri and Kansas, and numerous specialty clinics in both states, Children’s Mercy provides the highest level of care for children from birth through the age of 21. U.S. News & World Report has repeatedly ranked Children’s Mercy as one of “America's Best Children's Hospitals.” For the fourth time in a row, Children’s Mercy has achieved Magnet nursing designation, awarded to fewer than seven percent of all hospitals nationally, for excellence in quality care. Its faculty of more than 700 pediatric subspecialists and researchers across more than 40 subspecialties are actively involved in clinical care, pediatric research, and educating the next generation of pediatric subspecialists. Thanks to generous philanthropic and volunteer support, Children’s Mercy provides medical care to every child who passes through its doors, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. For more information about Children’s Mercy and its research, visit childrensmercy.org. For breaking news and videos, follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.