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Babies with Cerebral Palsy Develop Motor Skills Thanks to This Device
Cerebral palsy is a disease that develops in infancy or early childhood and permanently affects body movement, muscle coordination, and balance. But now, thanks to a research by a team led by physical therapist Thubi Kolobe seeks to impart motor and cognitive skills in babies.
“Effective robotic assistance of infants with or at risk of developing Cerebral Palsy (CP) has the potential to reduce the significant functional limitations as well as the potential deficits in cognitive development. This project focuses on the development and testing of a sequence of robotic assistants that promote early crawling, creeping, and walking, [along with] a model of infant-robot interaction that encourages the continued practice of movement patterns that will ultimately lead to unassisted locomotion,” they explain.
Typically, learning in infants is completely reward-based, i.e. the infant’s brain sends a signal to the brain to move in a particular direction; however, when the body is unable to do so – the infant eventually stops trying, and the brain removes its spatial & motor connections. The device, known as Self-Initiated Prone Progression Crawler, or SIPPC consists of a suit fitted with sensors; and rewards an infant’s attempts by providing the relative movement needed to carry out the instructions. A larger trial with 56 infants is scheduled to be held later this year.
Crowdsourced Study Reveals 15 Genes that Cause Depression
A Genome-wide association study is “an approach that involves rapidly scanning markers across the complete sets of DNA, or genomes, of many people to find genetic variations associated with a particular disease.” Pfizer, in partnership with California-based 23andMe, carried out a study involving 400,000 people – 141,000 who had been diagnosed with depression, and 337,000 who reported no signs of depression. They detected over 15 genes connected with serious depression – providing further insight into the genetic composition of depression.
“The big story is that 23andMe got us over the inflection point for depression,” says Douglas Levinson, Psychiatrist at Stanford University, “That is exciting. It makes us optimistic that we are finally there.”
Making Smart Cars Even Smarter
The Intelligent Car Interior project, or InCarIn, is a camera-based technology that analyzes a smart car’s interior and provides smart assistance to a driver using sensors.
“We are expanding sensor technology to the entire interior. Using depth-perception cameras, we capture the vehicle’s interior, identify the number of people, their size and their posture. From this we can deduce their activities,” says Dr. Michael Voit, Group Manager at Fraunhofer IOSB.
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