SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Jason Koger is happy to be alive.
In 2008, the young husband and father was riding his four-wheeler on his grandfather's farm when he came in contact with a downed power line.
His body was jolted with 7,200 volts of electricity.
"I remember waking up from an induced coma a few days later and being told that they had to amputate my both hands in order to save my life," said Koger, now 34. "My mom and dad kept telling me that I would get through this."
And he has. Since his accident, Koger has had a variety of prosthetic hands to help him function with his "new normal" in everyday life.
"It's like I'm carrying a tool box, but only have one tool," said Koger. "You can't use a wrench for everything."
In recent years, the prosthetic devices field has seen remarkable developments.
And Koger is the first double amputee in the world to receive one of the most innovative products on the market: bionic hands that are, in part, controlled by an iPhone app.
The i-Limb Ultra Revolution is the latest innovation from UK-based prosthetic developers Touch Bionics.
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The hand offers "unparalleled dexterity and control, enabling wearers to more easily perform activities of daily living and thus increase their quality of life," said Ian Stevens, CEO of Touch Bionics.
The company claims it offers the closest thing on the market to a real human hand.
Unlike most conventional prosthetics, this hand boasts five individually-powered fingers -- including a fully rotatable thumb.
"This is something we've never seen available for patients before," said John Miguelez, senior clinical director at Advanced Arm Dynamics, who is not affiliated with Touch Bionics.
The prosthesis also has an auto-grasp feature, which prevents accidental slippage when, say, holding a soda can or picking up an apple.
But the most unique part of the prosthetic is the app control. On an iPod Touch or an iPhone 5, users can select 24 different types of grip patterns that will allow more functionality.
"If you are holding a computer mouse (and) you want to right click, that is a complicated thing with a prosthetic. But this integrated app technology allows a person to do this with ease," said Miguelez.
These are basic movements many of us take for granted: a tri-pod grip to pick up a pen, or hand-shake grip for business meetings, said Miguelez, who has fitted hundreds of amputees with prosthetic devices.
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"For the first time in five years I can hold my daughter's hand," said Koger. "I can't tell you what a gift that feels like."
Users can also customize grip patterns through the integrated app technology.
"Let's say you want to go out and play pool with your friends. You can customize a grasp pattern that allows you to hold the pool stick -- or if you like to do handy work, you may customize one to hold an electric drill," said Miguelez.
The hands are not waterproof, which is one reason Koger says he'll still keep his other prosthetics, like his metal claw, available.
"Nothing is perfect, but I feel like I can be a more active participant in everyday life with these hands," said Koger, who now spends his time reaching out to new amputees about keeping a positive outlook on their situation.
"I can do pretty much everything I could before; it just might take me a little longer."-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The part of the brain needed to make safe left-hand turns largely shuts off during a cellphone conversation — even if the phone is a hands-free device, a group of Toronto researchers have found.
The results of a brain-imaging study led by Tom A. Schweizer, director of the neuroscience research program at St. Michael's Hospital, may explain statistics that show drivers using hands-free phones are just as likely to be involved in collisions as those using hand-held phones.
"Hands-free isn't brains-free," Schweizer said in an interview Thursday. "You're still distracting the individual. You're still processing information, which could take [brain] resources away from the primary task of driving."
The study was published Thursday online in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
Using hand-held cellphones while driving is banned under provincial and territorial laws across Canada, but using hands-free devices is still allowed.
Schweizer said he and his colleagues undertook their study after noticing statistics showing that a large proportion of collisions tend to involve left-hand turns.
That got them interested in determining what areas of the brain were activated during different driving maneouvers.
A good technique for measuring brain activity during different tasks is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures the blood flow to different areas of the brain in real-time — pointing to the areas that are activated and working the hardest.
Because small, portable fMRI scanners don't yet exist to scan drivers inside their vehicles, Schweizer and his colleagues spent 1 ½ years setting up a high-quality driving simulator inside an fMRI machine at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
They recruited seven women and nine men between the ages of 20 and 30 and scanned their brains while they were inside the driving simulator. The volunteers had to drive straight ahead as well as make right and left turns, with and without oncoming traffic. In some cases, they had to answer true or false questions such as "Does a triangle have four sides?" while driving, to mimic a hands-free cellphone conversation.
Left-hand turns in traffic hard on brain
The scans showed that the amount of brain activity and the number of brain regions required for different types of driving varied greatly.
"Nothing compared to the amount of brain that was needed to pull off the left-hand turn at the busy intersection," Schweizer said. "It was very, very striking."
In particular, difficult left hand turns were very demanding on the part of the brain used to process vision and maintain alertness.
However, those brain areas largely turned off when the drivers were holding a simulated cellphone conversation. Instead, the blood was redirected to the parts of the brain used to process conversations.
"It kind of speaks to the fact that there's only so many brain resources one has," Schweizer said. "They're almost at capacity when making a left turn at a busy intersection. When you throw in a distracting task like talking, something's got to give. And it just so happens that what gives is the visual system, it looks like."
The researchers don't yet know for sure how that affects the driver's vision.
Also, while it appears that hands-free conversations may be as distracting as conversations with hand-held devices, the researchers don't yet know that for sure. Nor are they entirely certain that leads to an increased chance of being in a collision.
They hope to increase the difficulty of the driving task in future experiments to find out. They would also like to repeat the experiment with a group of older adults to see if there are differences linked to aging or greater driving experience.
In the meantime, the paper suggests that those who are concerned about distracted driving should consider how certain activities distract the brain from its focus on driving, rather than putting too much emphasis on whether a driver is physically holding a device.
The study added that vehicle manufacturers "have a responsibility to improve safety" by not installing communication devices in vehicles or by installing systems that deactivate communications if the driver tries to use them while the vehicle is moving. The researchers also suggest that tests of whether someone with a brain impairment or dementia is fit to drive should possibly include specific conditions such as heavy traffic or driving during a conversation with the examiner.
In the future, Schweizer said, the researchers hope their findings will lead to tests that target the areas of the brain involved in different driving scenarios to more objectively gauge whether someone is fit to drive.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - A new piece of technology from Volvo is designed to make daily commuting much easier. The Traffic Jam Assistance can drive and steer a vehicle in thick traffic at speeds up to 31 mph. And rather than just a fanciful concept, Volvo says Traffic Jam Assistance is a real-world system that will go into production by 2014.
Volvo admits that Traffic Jam Assistance is essentially an evolution of two existing technologies: adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning. When the driver is in a slow-moving jam on a highway, he or she can push a button to have the Volvo’s computer take control of steering, braking, and steering. The car will continue driving in the same lane until the driver takes over. The system is even said to be clever enough to automatically steer around obstacles in a traffic lane, like construction barrels.
“Our aim with the traffic jam assistance is to make commuting a bit less stressful for the driver,” Volvo senior vice president for research and development Peter Mertens said in a statement. “It offers you a safe, effortless drive in slow traffic.”
The technology follows on Volvo’s earlier trials of “road trains”, in which cars communication with one another to drive safely at highway speeds. Unlike that trial, however, Traffic Jam Assistance doesn’t require cars to communicate with one another, and functions only at low speeds when highways are gridlocked. The company notes that this technology has lots of potential to help drivers on a daily basis — the average American apparently spends over 100 hours annually driving to and from work.
While Volvo says this technology will simply help drivers relax when commuting in heavy traffic, it’s clear that Traffic Jam Assistance is the company’s first tentative foray into self-driving cars. Volvo has publicly promised that by the year 2020, nobody will be killed or injured in any of its road cars, and self-driving cars are a big part of that goal. The company has already shown systems that can automatically brake to avoid a collision at an intersection, as well as technology that automatically brakes to avoid hitting animals like moose and deer.
Traffic Jam Assistance will debut on a new Volvo product in 2014. The company says the feature will be built into its new Scalable Product Architecture that will underpin future small Volvo models, meaning a wide range of new cars could be fitted with Traffic Jam Assistance.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — While we count down the minutes until the iPad mini event, a French site received some fresh photos of the device. Nowhereelse.fr has a track record of receiving good leaks: they received images of the EarPods before the launch of the iPhone 5, as well as other iPhone 5 leaks.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Police west of Toronto say they have found two severed hands in their search for body parts in a Mississauga river where a head and a foot had previously been discovered.
"The likelihood of it being the same person is, common-sense wise, probably pretty high," said Sgt. Pete Brandwood of Peel Regional Police, the force responsible for the area that includes Mississauga.
He said during a mid-afternoon news conference that one hand was found near the foot but downstream on the Credit River, while the other hand was a considerable distance downstream, though he couldn't say specifically how far. Both hands, a left and a right, were found early Friday afternoon.
Police also made a third discovery during the afternoon, but the coroner later determined it was animal remains.
At an earlier news conference, Const. George Tudos said "at this point we're no closer to identifying the victim," but added that police hope tests at the Centre for Forensic Sciences will provide more information. The hands have been sent to the centre.
Investigators believe the body parts were severed in the last few weeks, adding there's no evidence of a connection to the case of Luka Rocco Magnotta, who is accused of the murder and dismemberment of a Montreal student.
"There is no evidence at all to indicate that there is any connection to that incident," Tudos said.
Friday's search of the water, parklands and surrounding rocky hills, involving dozens of officers, began to wrap up around 7 p.m. Tudos said the search will continue on the weekend.
"We're just hoping that the weather plays a role here to assist us and that we can complete this investigation and have some answers," he said, noting that identifying the victim is a priority.
1st body part discovered Wednesday
Investigators found the head late Thursday morning about a kilometre north of the spot at Hewick Meadows Park where the foot was discovered. Police can't say if the body parts were placed where they were found or if they drifted there from another point upstream in the river, which flows from headwaters above the Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario.
Investigators have also not yet been able to confirm if the foot and head belonged to the same person.
The foot was discovered Wednesday by a group of people who had been hiking in the park near Eglinton Avenue West and Mississauga Road. They spotted it in the shallows of the Credit River, which runs through the park, police said.
A coroner later confirmed it was a human right foot with painted yellow toenails that had been severed from the ankle down.
The presence of yellow nail polish has led police to suspect the foot belonged to a woman.
Police have said the head doesn't appear to be that of a child, and appears to be female.
Tudos said at the Friday morning news conference that investigators hope the examination by the forensics team will provide them with "DNA, size, height and weight" of the victim.
Officers are also sifting through missing person reports.—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Libya’s outgoing National Transitional Council (NTC) has handed over power to the newly-elected General National Congress almost a year after the revolution that toppled long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The North African country’s first peaceful transition of power in more than four decades took place in an official ceremony in the capital Tripoli on Wednesday night, AFP reported.
NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil handed power to Mohammed Ali Salim, the chairman and the oldest member of the 200-seat legislative body elected on July 7.
NTC and government officials, representatives of civil society groups as well as diplomatic missions in Libya, participated in the ceremony.
The legislative assembly will appoint a new interim government which will rule until new parliamentary elections after the drafting of a new constitution.
The assembly members have agreed to formally name a new chairman and two deputy chiefs within a week.
Libyans rose up against Gaddafi in February 2011 and deposed him in August 2011. He ruled for more than four decades without a legislature.—www.shafaqna.com/englis
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The Olympics can be "a time of new, and renewed, friendships where deeper peace and understanding is forged." That's how the Archbishop of Westminster greeted the athletes who had arrived in London from all over the world. To convey this spirit, in the opening ceremony of the Government of Her Majesty did have the flag with the five Olympic circles, a symbol of peace, raised … by a team of 16 British soldiers, chosen from among those most distinguished in recent wars.
At the head of the squad, made up of soldiers and officers from the three arms of the military, was Tal Lambert, director of communications of Lyneham and Brize Norton Air Bases, used last year in the war against Libya. Among other members of the RAF was Sergeant Suneil Raval, who distinguished himself in the wars in the Balkans and Iraq. Among those in the Navy and Marine Corps was Warrant Officer John Hiscock, who was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his actions in the invasion of Iraq. Among those of the army, Platoon Sergeant Kyle Reains distinguished himself in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was wounded, and Lance Corporal Josh Rainey, with two dangerous missions in Afghanistan behind him.
For the military squad to hoist not only the British flag but also the Olympic flag was a highly symbolic gesture: a reaffirmation that the forces of the United Kingdom and other NATO countries do not conduct wars of aggression, but operate in the interest of peace and humanity. It is outrageous that the International Olympic Committee has authorized this choice, which should be banned in any country in the Olympics are held. Equally outrageous is that the international press has ignored it, though they are present in London with thousands of journalists. Their task was to describe the hat worn by Her Majesty at the time when the Olympic flag was hoisted by the soldiers who were renewing the glory of the British Empire. —www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Global Research