|November 05, 2010||Media contact: Ian Demsky
U-M Health System experts available for Veteran's Day coverage
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – As the nation recognizes Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11, the University of Michigan Health System has experts available to discuss the health and well-being of America’s troops.
Cutting-edge work is underway by the U-M Department of Surgery to provide prosthetic devices that are not only functional, but can restore a sense of touch for soldiers who have lost limbs in combat.
The U-M Depression Center and the Buddy-to-Buddy program are inspiring veterans to help fellow soldiers transition back to civilian life after deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, and new U-M research examines suicide risk among soldiers with psychiatric illnesses.
Read on for story ideas related to the work and sacrifices of the military:
Tissue engineering could improve hand use for wounded soldiers
The warmth from holding a child’s hand in yours or the security of feeling your feet planted firmly on the ground – these are experiences so common, so ordinary for most of us we take them entirely for granted.
But for the 1.7 million people living without a limb, these simple experiences are what many miss most. Now, a groundbreaking new device created by U-M surgeons holds the promise to restore limb function and sensation for amputees by connecting a sophisticated robotic prosthesis directly to the peripheral nerves.
Called a “bio-artificial neuromuscular junction,” the new device combines muscle tissue with an organic polymer to connect severed nerves to a prosthetic limb.
“The nerves in an amputated arm or leg remain connected to the brain, so the brain forever will continue to send signals down those nerves, trying to tell the hand or foot what to do, even if the hand or foot isn’t there,” says plastic surgeon Paul Cederna, M.D., a U-M professor of surgery and lead researcher on the project.
“With our technique, we’re connecting these nerves to our device – the nerves send signals that communicate with the prosthesis, which then operates just like a normal hand.”
Researchers across the globe have been working for years to figure out how to make prosthetic limbs function like a normal arm or leg. But to date, none have provided a realistic long-term solution. The research, published in the December issue of the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, is partly funded by the Department of Defense. Media contact: Shantell M. Kirkendoll, firstname.lastname@example.org, or (734) 764-2220.
Buddy-to-Buddy: Veterans help soldiers transition back to civilian life after deployment
No one knows more about the issues facing veterans – in combat or on the home front – than another veteran. That’s why the U-M Depression Center, together with the Michigan Army National Guard, developed the Buddy-to-Buddy program.
Veteran volunteers provide peer support and help finding resources to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Buddy-to-Buddy experts can talk about the program and the issues surrounding reintegration. Media contact: Ian Demsky, email@example.com or 734-764-2220.
Veterans with psychiatric illnesses may have increased suicide risk
Veterans diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, appear to have an elevated risk of suicide, according to a study led by Mark Ilgen, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School and research investigator with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The study, which appeared this month in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found male soldiers with bipolar disorder and female soldiers with substance abuse disorders may have a particularly high risk. Media contact: Ian Demsky, firstname.lastname@example.org.