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The Longitude Prize is back after 300 years

To commemorate the 300th Anniversary of the original Longitude Prize (won by John Harrison with the invention of a clock that could keep time at sea), UK charity Nesta has launched a new £10million prize to encourage inventors and scientists to find a solution to one of six problems facing the world. [more inside]
posted by Jakey on May 19, 2014 - 22 comments

"I didn’t die?"

A Life-Or-Death Situation. "As a bioethicist, Margaret "Peggy" Pabst Battin fought for the right of people to end their own lives. After her husband’s cycling accident, her field of study turned unbearably personal." Via.
posted by zarq on Jul 19, 2013 - 26 comments

The Future Gets Closer, Part IV: Mouse Edition

Some scientists have used stem cells to regenerate myelin in mice, paving the way for new MS treatments. Other scientists have created mice from two fathers. Meanwhile, using stem cells to treat paralysis advances from mice to monkeys.
posted by StrikeTheViol on Dec 9, 2010 - 23 comments

Every breath you take

Scientists in Israel have developed a system that allows (some, not all) people who are "locked in" to type messages by simply holding and releasing their breath. The system was also adapted to control a wheelchair, notably in a manner that can't be disrupted by jarring or bumpy terrain. [more inside]
posted by XMLicious on Jul 26, 2010 - 8 comments

"Loss is loss, and nothing is gained by calling it by a nicer name. My nights are intriguing; but I could do without them."

"This cockroach-like existence is cumulatively intolerable even though on any given night it is perfectly manageable." Tony Judt, in the advanced stages of ALS (aka motor neurone disease) begins a series of short pieces for the New York Review of Books with a reflection on how he spends his unmoving nights.
posted by holgate on Dec 29, 2009 - 41 comments

The Future Gets Closer, Again

Interesting developments in med-tech: gene testing machines for doctors, a plan to engineer stem cells to kill HIV, a new way to repair damaged nerves, the next generation of retinal implants, and the first bionic fingers up for sale. (Bonus for those uninterested in medicine: the newest take on a Minority Report-style interface, courtesy of MIT.)
posted by StrikeTheViol on Dec 11, 2009 - 2 comments

A Belgian man diagnosed as being in a coma for 23 years was actually conscious the whole time.

"I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me – it was my second birth. Rom Houbens was simply paralysed and had no way to let doctors caring for him what he was suffering. Only the re-evaluation of his case at the University of Liege brought to light that Houben was only paralysed all these years. Hi-tech scans showed his brain was still functioning almost completely normally.
posted by njbradburn on Nov 23, 2009 - 94 comments

Lytico-Bodig, the mysterious killer of Guam

Can an obscure disease from Guam explain the explain the appearance of neurological disorders near Marscoma Lake in New Hampshire? The only people thought to contract Lytico-Bodig were Chamorros born before 1961 and related or married to particular familes living near the village of Umatac in Guam. It was theorised that it came from eating cycad seeds, but why were there no documented cases before the 1900s, and why are there no new cases on the island today? The popular author and neurologist Oliver Sacks visited the island and has continued to study the disease. He suggests that the cause is biomagnification of a toxin produced by cyanobacteria and concentrated twice - first by the cycads, and a second time in the flesh of the fruit bats. There are no new cases, he says, because the fruit bats have been nearly hunted to extinction.
posted by Joe in Australia on Nov 16, 2009 - 10 comments

The Future Gets Closer, Part II

Practical gene therapy treatment emerges. Prosthetics that feel. Circumventing paralysis with brain implants.
posted by StrikeTheViol on Oct 25, 2009 - 15 comments

Locked-In Syndrome

The Unspeakable Odyssey of the Motionless Boy. "How much of our humanity are we prepared to cede to machines? This is a dilemma of the future, but it's not much of a concern for Erik Ramsey. Erik can't move. He can't blink his eyes. And he hasn't said a word since 1999. But now, thanks to an electrode that was surgically implanted in his brain and linked to a computer, his nine-year silence is about to end." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Oct 8, 2008 - 32 comments

"It's like Mother Nature: It's going to find a way to express itself."

Philip Martin Chavez is paralyzed, so he creates art using DragonDictate and Paint.
posted by brundlefly on Feb 15, 2007 - 16 comments

Stem cells vs. spinal cord injury

A team of Korean scientists have enabled a woman who has not been able to stand up for the last 19 years due to a spinal cord injury to walk on her own (103 MB .wmv), thanks to a transplant of stem cells from umbilical cord blood. [Via Future Hi.]
posted by homunculus on Nov 28, 2004 - 41 comments

Sleep paralysis

The terror of a trapped mind is difficult to describe. Have you ever awakened to complete immobility? If so, you probably suffer from sleep paralysis, a condition that afflicts 25% of the American population. Such episodes, which usually only last for a few minutes, can frequently be accompanied by bizarre hallucinations, and some believe the phenomenon is responsible for alien abduction, "Old Hag Syndrome", and the incubus myth. Although most believe the disorder is genetic, explinations vary. Are you an experiencer? Then you understand how frightening it can be. Luckily, you can fight it.
(This is my first FPP in 3 years of reading, so comments and criticisms are very much appreciated.)
posted by baphomet on Nov 28, 2004 - 102 comments

Brandon's Arms

When he was seven years old, Brandon Maxfield was accidentally shot in the face, becoming permanently paralyzed below the neck. [More inside]
posted by mr_crash_davis on Aug 9, 2004 - 50 comments

Farkers requested that this be spread to all communities on the web. It is absolutely Snopes approved.
posted by oflinkey on Sep 24, 2002 - 64 comments

Christopher Reeve is gaining ground in his fight against paralysis.

Christopher Reeve is gaining ground in his fight against paralysis. I was prepared for the article to be a typical "celebrity's struggle gets public attention" piece, until I read this:
"No one who has suffered an injury as severe as Chris', and failed to have any initial recovery, has regained the amount of motor and sensory function he has."
Hope is coming for many.
posted by o2b on Sep 10, 2002 - 25 comments

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