Monday, October 17, 2011

The Lone Marine holds salute to Rolling Thunder vets for over 3 hours

WASHINGTON – In a city dedicated to monumental sacrifices, there’s one that stands strong and never surrenders.

“It just gives me chills,” says Jennifer Phillips of Virginia Beach. “I can’t believe he’s out there.”

Retired Marine Staff Sgt Tim Chambers holds his salute for over 3 hours

Retired Marine Staff Sergeant Tim Chambers has stood at this post since 2002.”It’s an extremely long time to hold a salute that long,” says Air Force Master Sergeant Russ Ware of Columbia, MD. “Takes a lot determination and a lot of discipline. This guy does it every year.”

With a stiff spine and straight shoulders, this lone marine stands at attention as the Rolling Thunder rumbles by…for more than three hours.

“They zoom by me and I’m getting an eyeball at them,” says Chambers. “I’m trying to give every one of them that ‘Welcome home’ they didn’t get.”
Chamber says it started as a spontaneous ‘Thank you’ nine years ago but has now become his moral obligation.

Retired Marine Major Larry Carmon was one of thousands who came to watch Chambers. “I did 28 years in the Corps,” Carmon says. “I was a drill instructor. I’m totally impressed with this young man. Totally impressed.”

Carmon says holding a salute this long is nearly impossible for a healthy Marine. It’s unthinkable for a wounded warrior.

“He has a broken wrist? God Bless him.”

Only the slightest of a tremble gave Chambers away. A broken wrist that should have been in a cast was instead held high in a salute.

“I knew something was wrong!” Ware says. “He started to waver a little bit today. That’s dedication! That’s service before self.”

But as one hour bled into the next, the temperatures started to soar.

“If you actually watch him right now, he’s in distress,” says Dave Macedonia. The veteran says he started ferrying water and aspirin to Chambers when it became apparent the solider was in pain. “You know, veterans help each other,” Macedonia says. “If he falls down out there, we’re going to help him.”

But Diane Hoge says she knows her son would never let that happen. “He was always very determined,” Hoge says. “Everything he does, he puts 150% into it.”

She says her son got it from his grandmother Anne DeSanis. Every year, the 81 year-old quietly stands on the sidelines and refuses to sit down until her grandson finishes what he started.

“It’s real emotional,” she says. “Real emotional.”

The Lone Marine has now become a bit of a celebrity. People flock to this corner just to get a picture with of him. But rather than let it go to his head, Chamber says he hopes others will follow his example.

“I’m doing this because America needs to see this,” he says. “I want them to emulate it any which way they can across the country.”

Because, for Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers, when it comes to remembering the men who serve, you never give up. You never surrender.

Rolling Thunder is an annual motorcycle rally that is held in Washington, DC during the Memorial Day weekend to call for the government’s recognition and protection of Prisoners of War (POWs) and those Missing in Action (MIAs). About 400,000 veterans will roar across Washington, DC on their motorcycles as a tribute to American war heroes.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Virtual Reality May Help Treat Phantom Limb Pain

October 11, 2011 (Hamburg, Germany) — In the future, amputees might merely repeatedly watch a virtual version of their lost limb in motion to be rid of their phantom limb pain.

Researchers believe that virtual reality, which uses sensory illusions in real time, can reverse the remodeling processes within the brain that occur in most patients who lose a limb. The idea is to get the brain to believe that the limb is still there, so the pain-inducing conversion processes do not occur.

Institute for Applied Computer Science, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

The virtual approach has several advantages over the standard mirror box approach because it uses artificially modified movements instead of merely normal mirrored ones, said Martin Diers, PhD, from the Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Germany

Dr. Diers' virtual reality study was among several presented here at Pain in Europe VII: 7th Congress of the European Federation of IASP Chapters (EFIC) that suggest it may be possible to prevent or even reverse the postamputation maladaptive cortical reorganization that causes phantom limb pain.

Mirror Box

Research has already shown that using mirrors to give patients the optical impression that their missing limb is still present can reduce phantom limb pain, and that brain activation differs between amputees with and without pain. Dr. Diers' group conducted a longitudinal study comparing brain changes before and after a classical mirror box treatment in patients with phantom pain to better understand the mechanisms of mirror treatment.

To determine whether the virtual mirror box is comparable to the mirror box in terms of brain activation, the researchers conducted a pilot study. They put 20 healthy volunteers inside a magnetic resonance imaging scanner with their left arm hidden, and fitted them with head-mounted 3-dimensional goggles. The virtual reality process transfers images of movements from 1 hand (the right hand) onto the other (hidden or amputated) hand. The viewer sees his or her body with both hands moving, but is actually moving only the right hand.

During these movements, researchers measured brain activity. They found activation in the primary sensorimotor cortex contralateral to the actual movement. In addition, they found activation in the primary sensorimotor cortex contralateral to the virtual movement.

During a second experiment, the volunteers moved their right hand in front of a mirror and could see their mirrored right hand as their left hand.

"In both of these conditions, you have movements of the right hand, but you are seeing movement of both hands," said Dr. Diers. "The difference is that one is a mirrored image and one is in virtual reality."

With the virtual reality technique, there was significantly more activation in the primary somatosensory cortex contralateral to the actual movement. "So, both conditions are quite similar in terms of brain activation, but the virtual reality mirror box has some advantages during the training from which patients could benefit," said Dr. Diers.

Additional Advantage

It also has other, technical advantages. The mirrored limb always moves opposite to the intact limb, which is unnatural, especially for the leg. The position of the arm inside a magnetic resonance imaging scanner is also unnatural, and even uncomfortable. Instead of using only responses from the opposite remaining limb, virtual reality can include the residual limb by capturing motion data directly from a patient's stump.

Dr. Diers estimated that it would take 15 minutes a day for 4 weeks to "trick" the brain into thinking the limb still exists, and for the phantom pain to subside. His research indicates that the pain is reduced for at least 2 months.

In the future, virtual reality applications will likely be used instead of the classical mirror box, but it will take some time for them to reach clinical practice, partly because of the expense, said Dr. Diers.

Up to 80% of amputees experience some phantom limb pain. Factors that influence whether a patient experiences this pain include age (those who lose a limb younger than about 7 years do not normally feel this pain), the degree of preoperative pain (less pain before the amputation normally leads to less phantom pain), and genetics. The use of a myoelectric prostheses or sensory discrimination training at the stump can also improve phantom pain.

This research is part of the European Research Council–founded PHANTOMMIND project. A second funded project that uses magnetic resonance imaging carried out by Dr. Diers and others, and presented at the meeting, showed that patients could learn to regulate their brain response.

This study included 10 healthy control patients who completed 24 neurofeedback sessions on 4 consecutive days. Their objective was to regulate activation in the posterior insula and anterior cingulated cortex either up or down in response to painful electrical stimulation.

"This method seems promising not only for phantom pain patients, but also for chronic back pain or generalized pain syndromes," Professor Herta Flor, PhD, from the Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, University of Heidelberg, commented in a press release. "With these possibilities for targeted control of the body's own pain perception mechanisms, a whole new world opens up that could soon free us, in many areas, from dependence on analgesic medications, with all their diverse side effects and risk of complications."

Another approach being studied is the rubber hand illusion paradigm that involves replacing the missing hand with a realistic artificial limb and stroking the real and replica limb simultaneously, while the patient focuses on the rubber hand. After some seconds, most patients experience the rubber hand as his or her own hand.

Ketamine Effect?

Yet another potential treatment discussed at the pain meeting was the administration of ketamine pre- and postoperatively. Researchers at the Pain Clinic, University Hospital, Martin, Slovak Republic, carried out a blind, prospective, placebo-controlled study that included 31 patients with diabetes who were to undergo lower limb amputation.

After receiving anesthesia, 25 patients got a 0.5 mg/kg bolus of intravenous ketamine. After surgery, these participants received a 48-hour postoperative intravenous infusion of either 0.1 mg/kg/hour or 0.05 mg/kg/hour of ketamine; those who did not receive ketamine got magnesium.

Three months postsurgery, the incidence of phantom pain was 66.6% in the group who did not receive ketamine compared with 0% in the group receiving the higher postsurgery ketamine dose (P = .02) and 15.4% in the lower postsurgery ketamine dose group (P = .07).

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Pain in Europe VII: 7th Congress of the European Federation of IASP Chapters (EFIC): Abstracts S268, S270, and S424. Presented September 24, 2011.

'Crying ain't gonna grow anything back': Extraordinary bravery of Marine who lost three limbs in blast... and then walked down the aisle

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 7:36 AM on 11th October 2011

Comments (22) Add to My Stories Share Tyler Southern, 22, is perpetually positive.

'I'm chronically happy,' he said. 'It's kinda hard to get me off the happy horse.'

Mr Southern's optimism continues in spite of the massive injuries he received while serving as a lance corporal Marine in Afghanistan.

A triple: That's the way Tyler Southern refers to triple amputees like himself, after he lost both his legs and right arm from an IED explosion
Both of his legs and his right arm were blown off by an improvised explosive device, making Mr Southern a triple amputee.

'I didn't feel that me crying about it would help the situation at all and I know it won't. Crying ain't gonna grow anything back,' he said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

Training: Mr Southern is in physical rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland
He is still undergoing physical rehabilitation, and works out much of the day, though his injuries are not the only focus of his life.

In July, he married Ashley Statti, a friend from high school and the wedding was filmed by a local Jacksonville, Florida television station.

Mr Southern's injuries are not putting a stop to his military career either.

He plans to work in the public affairs office of the Marines, and will not be quitting any time soon.

'I plan on doing 16 more years,' Mr Southern said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

'I told my dad I'd do 20, I'm not going to let something like this stop me.'

For the next 18 months, however, much of his time will be spent at Walter Reed for his physical therapy. With the prosthetic legs and arm that doctors have given him, he needs to exercise his other muscles and build up strength in his torso.

'I've got the world at my prosthetic feet,' Mr Southern said.

click here to see rest of story and video

Monday, October 3, 2011

Oscar Pistorius: The bullet in the chamber

(CNN) -- He's "the fastest man on no legs," or -- as his sponsor's high-profile advertising campaign put it -- "the bullet in the chamber."

He is Oscar Pistorius, the "Blade Runner" who is changing the world's perception of what is acceptable on an athletics track.

Born without a fibula bone in each leg, the South African is the first double amputee to run at the world championships, and next year he will be the first to race at the Olympics.

"I think next year's going to be quite a big year, as far as demand on my performances," the 24-year-old told CNN.

"I feel that the condition I'm in and the knowledge I've gained probably will definitely help me in achieving those times in the first half of next season. So I know next year is going to be a big year."

Pistorius qualified for the 400 meters with a time of 45.07 seconds in Italy in July, which is less than two seconds slower than Michael Johnson's 1999 world record and would have given him fifth place in the final of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Pistorius on Championship experience Pistorius buoyant after Daegu breakthrough

He did not compete at the main event in China. Despite eventually reversing the decision by athletics' ruling body to ban the carbon-fiber prosthetic blades he uses, the Johannesburg native was unable to meet the qualifying mark.

South Africa's 'Blade Runner' He did, however, run at the Beijing Paralympics that year, becoming the first athlete to win gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

The International Association of Athletics Federations had at first decreed, after a series of tests, that the blades gave Pistorius an unfair advantage.

He overturned that at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and maintains that he will be competing on a level playing field in London next year.

"If the legs did provide such an advantage that some of the people are claiming they did, then there would be a lot more amputees using the exact same prosthetic legs I have, running the exact same times I have -- and that's not the case," Pistorius said.

click here to read more