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Screenshot via YouTube
Screenshot via YouTube

Electric Stimulation Lets Paralyzed Men Move Their Legs Again

Screenshot via YouTube
Screenshot via YouTube

Electric stimulation may provide a way for people with complete paralysis to move again. In a study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, five men who had been paralyzed for more than two years received electric stimulation to their spinal cord via electrodes placed on the skin of their lower back. Previous research has shown movement can be regained with electric stimulation, but never using this type of non-invasive, skin-based technique. 

The men received the treatment, combined with physical training, in 45-minute segments once a week for 18 weeks. After just four weeks of training, the men’s range of motion during voluntary leg movements doubled. In the last weeks of the study the men also received a drug called buspirone, which has been found to aid locomotion in mice. Afterward, they were able to move their legs without the electric stimulation, with about the same range of motion as during the stimulation period. 

"It's as if we've reawakened some networks so that once the individuals learned how to use those networks, they become less dependent and even independent of the stimulation," study author Reggie Edgerton of UCLA explained in a press release

The improvements shown in the study weren’t dramatic enough to allow the paralyzed men to walk again. The patients’ legs were suspended in a brace that allowed them to move without being hampered by gravity. Edgerton’s next study will examine whether similar treatments can allow paralyzed people to bear their weight. 

Banner image via Edgerton Lab/UCLA

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Stop Your Snoring and Track Your Sleep With a Wi-Fi Smart Pillow
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REM-Fit

Everyone could use a better night's rest. The CDC says that only 66 percent of American adults get as much sleep as they should, so if you're spending plenty of time in bed but mostly tossing and turning (or trying to block out your partner's snores), it may be time to smarten up your sleep accessories. As TechCrunch reports, the ZEEQ Smart Pillow improves your sleeping schedule in a multitude of ways, whether you're looking to quiet your snores or need a soothing lullaby to rock you to sleep.

After a successful Kickstarter in 2016, the product is now on sale and ready to get you snoozing. If you're a snorer, the pillow has a microphone designed to listen to the sound of your snores and softly vibrate so that you shift positions to a quieter pose. Accelerometers in the pillow let the sleep tracker know how much you're moving around at night, allowing it to record your sleep stages. Then, you can hook the pillow up to your Amazon Echo or Google Home so that you can have your favorite smart assistant read out the pillow's analysis of your sleep quality and snoring levels the next morning.

The pillow is also equipped with eight different wireless speakers that turn it into an extra-personal musical experience. You can listen to soothing music while you fall asleep, either connecting the pillow to your Spotify or Apple Music account on your phone via Bluetooth or using the built-in relaxation programs. You can even use it to listen to podcasts without disturbing your partner. You can set a timer to turn the music off after a certain period so you don't wake up in the middle of the night still listening to Serial.

And when it's time to wake up, the pillow will analyze your movements to wake you during your lightest sleep stage, again keeping the noise of an alarm from disturbing your partner.

The downside? Suddenly your pillow is just another device with a battery that needs to charge. And forget about using it in a place without Wi-Fi.

The ZEEQ Smart Pillow currently costs $200.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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Want to Fall Asleep Faster? Add This Tweak To Your Bedtime Routine
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iStock

There are countless reasons people have trouble falling asleep. It could be physiological, as in the case of airway-obstructing sleep apnea, or it could be because you’ve had too much caffeine too late in the day. But some of us experience delayed slumber for a different reason: Our racing minds can’t quite shift into a lower gear. If you fall into this hyper-vigilant category, there’s a side effect-free way to try and resolve the problem.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found that subjects who were tasked with writing out a to-do list for the following day (or days) before bed were able to fall asleep more quickly than other subjects who wrote about only what they had done that day.

The test, performed at Baylor University, recruited 57 people between the ages of 18 and 30 and kept them overnight in a sleep lab. Those who wrote down their planned tasks could use bullet points or paragraphs and fell asleep an average of nine minutes faster than subjects who didn’t. The more specific the list, the faster they were able to crash.

Researchers believe that the act of writing down responsibilities might be one way the brain can let go of a person’s obligations. (Thinking of what you have to do won’t have quite the same effect.) It was a small study, but considering how non-invasive it is, it might be worth trying if you're experiencing a lot of tossing and turning.

[h/t Travel+Leisure]

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