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 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.

Figure 1

While you’re on Instagram looking at lolcats, artisan desserts and celebrity selfies, some doctors are on a different photo sharing app, called Figure 1, looking at gangrene, gallstones and rashes.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

If you like chili peppers, tomatoes or blueberries, you like bumblebees. The larger, hairier cousin of the honey bee is a social insect, and  especially good at pollinating the tasty crops mentioned above. What’s concerning is that bumblebees are on the decline, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has designated the American bumblebee as a “species of greatest conservation need.”

Parkland Health & Hospital System

Ten thousand babies are delivered each year in Parkland Memorial Hospital. This year, there was even a set of quintuplets. When the $1.3 billion dollar hospital opens in August, all those newborns and their mothers will be in a large building called the WISH Tower.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Before any healthy baby can be born, you’ve got to take care of mom. Tens of thousands of moms in Dallas rely on Parkland Hospital each year for checkups and prenatal care. In the new $1 billion Parkland, which opens in August, women are getting their own building that's outfitted with high-tech check-in kiosks and more privacy.

Maybe you've seen them in the gym, or even squeezed into them yourself: super-tight T-shirts, leggings, knee and calf sleeves, even tube tops. More and more athletes are wearing compression garments, hoping they will improve their performance and recovery.

But do they work? This is a question Abigail Stickford, a postdoctoral researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, wanted to answer.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

After a bone marrow biopsy left her with back pain a few years ago, Naveen Khan was given a set of physical therapy exercises to follow. And like many patients, she forgot how to do most of them by the time she got home.

Nihan Aydin / flickr

Trying to remember a grocery list or a phone conversation isn’t always easy. And it turns out, there are certain thoughts that may make these types of tasks even harder.

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Your toes may be numb and your lips chapped, but the cold isn’t all bad for your health. Here are three things to appreciate about cold weather.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Even though dozens of people in Dallas have heart attacks every day, most of them do not call 911. Instead, they wait, ignore the symptoms or drive themselves to the hospital.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

You might say the William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital has an identity problem.

Inside, you could almost forget you’re in a hospital. The hallways look like art galleries, the bright patient rooms like spas, and the ER exam rooms like private law offices.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

The new $1.3 billion Parkland hospital is just the tip of the iceberg. Hospital construction has reached unprecedented levels in North Texas.

The Dallas medical district now has a skyline of its own.

The new Parkland Memorial Hospital and UT Southwestern’s William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital are the latest projects in a health care building boom that’s not projected to slow down any time soon.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Forget neon signs and puppies in the window. Glass-Media co-founder Daniel Black says digital displays are what’s hot for businesses.

There’s a new box to check on income taxes for 2014. Showing proof of health insurance for most folks will be easy as checking a box, but for others there are extra forms to fill out. Susan Hoff, with United Way in Dallas, helps sort through new tax time rituals.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. But there are people trying to make a difference for the millions of Americans who have the disease. Molly Meyer helps people living with Alzheimer’s rediscover lost memories, and create new ones through poetry.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Usually its IV poles being wheeled down hospital hallways. Today, it’s a harp.

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The U.S. is a bloodthirsty place. More than 12 million pints of blood products are used every year. With high demand and limited availability comes challenges, and business opportunities. 

UT Dallas

This year in Breakthroughs, we’ve reported on everything from Ebola-fighting robots and high-tech fall prevention to an academic rehab program for concussions. Here's a best of 2014 stocking stuffer for the New Year.

 

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

If you’re trying to combine education with entertainment this holiday season you’re not alone. The aisles of kids toys are packed with high-tech gadgets promise to challenge the mind. So which ones are good?

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The deadline to sign up for health insurance for the New Year through healthcare.govis Monday, Dec. 15th.

A warning: Research shows consumers often choose a plan that’s not the best deal. We’ve got some tips for shopping health care.

University of North Texas

Spoons, forks, candelabra…The Dallas Museum of Art has the world’s largest collection of American silver objects from the 19th and 20th century. But curators and conservators don’t have much history on what they’re made of or how they were created. To investigate the artifacts, a scientist at the University of North Texas Dallas is using nano-scale tests.

Courtesy of Amy Ho

Text messages from your doctor are just the start. Millennial physicians are taking over hospital wards and doctors’ offices – and they’re bringing new technologies and new ideas about life-work balance.

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