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Experts discuss medical advancements for treating injured soldiers

Experts discuss medical advancements for treating injured soldiers



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Special honors were given Tuesday to 11 Utah veterans, who served in various wars and in various parts of the world. Members of the faculty, the military and the school's ROTC paused to pay tribute to them in a full military ceremony.

The school also hosted a panel discussion on the medical and mental health advances being made in the effort to treat soldiers returning home from today's conflicts.

University of Utah bioengineering professor Greg Clark is part of a large team set up to help restore some function to soldiers who've lost limbs or motor function because of injuries.

They've been working on ways to better detect electric signals sent by the brain through the nervous system.

"The idea, for example, after limb loss, is that if a person thinks about moving, we pick up their brain signal or nerve signal, decode that and transfer it to the artificial limb," Clark explains.

But they're not stopping there. Researchers are also working on ways to restore sensation to people through artificial limbs.

"So that the person has intuitive and natural control of their limb," Clark says. "In a similar way, the limb reaches out to touch the hand of their child and to embrace their loved one."

Clark says the research is in its infancy, but he hopes that at some point in their lifetimes the soldiers injured today will have access to that technology.

"If we could restore some of that back to individuals who have given so much for us, and all the rest of us in this country, that would be a wonderful thing," Clark says.

E-mail: mgiauque@ksl.com

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Marc Giauque

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