Paralysed man can walk again
A man who was hit by a car and paralysed from the chest down has been able to walk again for the first time since the hit and run accident that damaged his spinal cord.
Rob Summers, from Oregon in the US, has benefited from an electrical stimulation of the spinal cord in a revolutionary new treatment.
Doctors planted 16 electrodes into Summers’ spine and electrical pulses were sent to the spinal cord as he tried daily to stand and walk again.
Within just a few days of the treatment he was able to stand independently and he can now voluntarily move his hips, knees, ankles and toes and with support he can also walk on a treadmill.
After a spinal injury the nerve cells in the spinal tissue is damaged and they need help to respond to movement signals that are being sent from the brain and legs.
In this case, precise electric stimulation was needed. It mimics a message sent from the brain that the legs need to start moving and changes the ‘mood’ of the spinal cord so it becomes aware of the messages being sent to it and responds accordingly.
When this was coupled with some intensive rehabilitation training, Summers was able to stand and walk again.
Summers said in an interview that the treatment has “completely changed my life” and added: “For someone who for four years was unable to even move a toe, to have the freedom and ability to stand on my own is the most amazing feeling.”
Now that electrical stimulation has worked in one patient, four more are being lined up to test the treatment further.
However, experts are warning that in this early stage of research electrical stimulation of the spinal cord should not be construed as a cure for paralysis.
Professor Susan Harkema was part of the study at the University of Louisville and she said in an interview: “It is really critical to be clear that it's still in a research realm, but stay tuned we're going to learn a lot more every day.”
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”