Breakthroughs | KERA News

Breakthroughs

Breakthroughs is a weekly series devoted to the latest innovations in health, science and technology — with a North Texas accent.

Explore special Breakthroughs multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

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The Forest Park Medical Center campuses were supposed to be more like spas than hospitals.  And they were —  from the hand cut stone and sculptures to the lavish trees and fancy menu.

Christopher Connelly/KERA

There’s a new start up in Fort Worth that wants you to skip the gas station and let them bring the fuel to you, courtesy of a smartphone app. 

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Toys can do more than entertain. Priscila Caçola, assistant professor of kinesiology in the UT Arlington College of Nursing and Health Innovation, has published research showing how specific toys and items in the home can help children develop motor skills.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

It’s common to train service dogs to help veterans with physical disabilities. But how about helping them with post traumatic stress disorder? The Veterans Administration is launching a major study to find out what effect specially-trained service dogs can have on a veterans ability to cope with life after service. Veterans who already rely on service dogs say the research should have been done years ago.

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It can be tricky to pin down a patent troll.

 

Gil Gillam, artist and attorney with Gillam & Smith LLP in Marshall, Texas.

East Texas is known for its Piney Woods, Caddo Lake, maybe for sweet potatoes. It’s also the patent lawsuit capitol of the country. More patent infringement cases are brought to Eastern District courts than anywhere else. There’s pressure to root out the so-called “patent trolls”.

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Doctors across the country will be trying out a new treatment for traumatic brain injury. UT Southwestern, the National Institutes of Health and other partners announced today that they’ll study a new drug that could help stop bleeding in the brain.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

For the first time since it opened in 1790, the United States Patent and Trademark Office is expanding outside of Washington, D.C. The agency – which has a team of more than 8,000 patent examiners – has established regional offices in four cities across the United States, including Dallas.

 

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Treating complex hand wounds often involves wrapping gauze and bandages around the injury to the point of making any movement impossible. The “boxing glove” look is problematic because the joints in the fingers can easily become stiff — making it harder to recover mobility later on. Researchers at UT Arlington are developing a specialized glove that can deliver medicine to an injured hand to help speed up healing time and make the process less painful.

Nate Rice / The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

A North Texas scientist is working to revive a bird that went extinct 80 years ago.

This is no Halloween prank.

Jonathan Bender

Even with the connections of a former NBA player, becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy.

Health Wildcatters

Ten young companies from across the world snagged a spot in the 2015 class of Health Wildcatters. Some entrepreneurs have developed products – one for reducing the risk of stroke, another for easy eye exams – others, health services – like fast access to specialists through telemedicine and bilingual wellness programs for employers. Each company gets $35,000 in seed money and space to work for three months.

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If you’ve ever wondered where your data is stored – maybe those family vacation photos, your medical records, podcasts – they could be here: in a highly-secure, grey building north of Dallas called Digital Realty.

Center for BrainHealth

This week, the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas is starting construction on a new institute – and it’s shaped like a brain.

Lauren Silverman/KERA News

Fewer African-American men applied to medical school last year compared to 1978. To find out why, we talked with medical students and doctors who are bucking that trend.

Wendi Bates

When Caitlyn Jenner shared her story of transition from male to female she put the transgender community in the spotlight. She also focused attention on a specific surgery, known as facial feminization.

Have you ever thought about what makes a face feminine? I’m not talking lipstick here, but something deeper.

According to one of the surgeons who pioneered facial feminization surgery, what makes a face feminine isn’t easy to define.

UNT Health Science Center

There’s a serious doctor shortage in Texas.

Catching up will be hard to do, but three new medical degree programs in the state are scheduled to open classes in 2018, including a joint program in Fort Worth between the UNT Health Science Center and Texas Christian University.

So what impact will the new schools have?

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As our devices get smarter, they also are at risk of more sophisticated cyber security attacks.

Yes, that car connected to the internet makes tracking trips and monitoring teen drivers easier, but it also means killing the motor with a few keystrokes is no longer science fiction.

UT Southwestern

Four volunteers recently went on a zero gravity ride with the help of NASA in Houston – in the name of science.

Imagine you’re flying in a plane, high above the Gulf of Mexico — and then you start to fall. Eight thousand feet in just 30 seconds.

UT-Arlington

UT Arlington professor Sahadat Hossain is standing on an enormous mound of dirt at the city of Denton landfill, smiling. Because he’s literally turning trash into treasure.

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There used to be a standard treatment for hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause: hormone replacement therapy. But in 2002, studies showed a possible link to cancer and what was once standard practice became a rare prescription. Since then, scientists have been searching for alternative therapies. Recently, a biochemist at UNT Health Science Center found a drug that looks promising.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act opened up services and opportunities for people with disabilities. Twenty-five years later, North Texas developers are testing new technologies with the disabled community in mind.

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144,000 Texans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year—that’s one every 4 minutes. For those who survive there’s often cognitive and psychological difficulties, like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some parts of the body repair themselves. Skin, for instance. Bone, even the liver.

Heart muscle does not.

Vinli

Can any car be turned into a smart car? A Dallas-based startup called Vinli has captured the attention of drivers across the country with a device promising to do just that. We tested it out.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Batons and handcuffs move aside. The newest addition to the police uniform is high tech, and doesn’t require that you lift a finger.

Tech Wildcatters

Technology is transforming the work of first responders. That’s the focus of a new startup accelerator program that’s a collaboration of the local Tech Wildcatters, the federal Department of Homeland Security and the Center for Innovative Technology.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

John Rodakis wasn't looking to launch an investigation into autism.

But that’s what happened after the Dallas man began a quest to understand why his son’s autism symptoms changed dramatically while taking an antibiotic for strep throat.

Jiya Bavishi was born deaf. For five years, she couldn't hear and she couldn't speak at all. But when I first meet her, all she wants to do is say hello. The 6-year-old is bouncing around the room at her speech therapy session in Dallas. She's wearing a bright pink top; her tiny gold earrings flash as she waves her arms.

"Hi," she says, and then uses sign language to ask who I am and talk about the ice cream her father bought for her.

Long hospital stays and frequent checkups are a drag. And they’re especially hard on kids who often fall behind in school and miss spending time with friends. To help these patients stay home, Children’s Medical Center in Dallas is trying to connect with kids using video and Bluetooth after organ transplants.

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