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Health Highlights: June 27, 2014

Health Highlights: June 27, 2014

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

FDA Approves First 'Exoskeleton' to Help Paralyzed Walk

An "exoskeleton" motorized device that uses leg braces, motion sensors, motorized joints, a computer and a wireless remote control to help paralyzed people stand, sit and walk has been approved for home use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

ReWalk is already used in rehabilitation centers and was developed by the paralyzed founder of Argo Medical Technologies in Israel, the FDA said in a statement released Thursday. In addition to the device, patients use crutches that provide additional stability. Using the remote control device, which is strapped to the wrist, the patient can send the command to sit, stand or walk.

ReWalk is only designed for people who have lower body paralysis, and patients need the assistance of a trained caregiver to use the device, the agency said.

"Innovative devices such as ReWalk go a long way towards helping individuals with spinal cord injuries gain some mobility," Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the statement. "Along with physical therapy, training and assistance from a caregiver, these individuals may be able to use these devices to walk again in their homes and in their communities."

Earlier this month, a team of scientists debuted a robotic "suit" with artificial skin that allowed eight people who were paralyzed to kick soccer balls during the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Brazil.

About 200,000 Americans have spinal cord injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Supreme Court Voids Mass. Law Restricting Abortion Protesters

A Massachusetts law requiring abortion protesters to keep at least 35 feet away from the entrances of abortion clinics was struck down Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The justices concluded that the Massachusetts rule denied protesters their First Amendment rights guaranteeing free speech.

"Petitioners wish to converse with their fellow citizens about an important subject on the public streets and sidewalks - sites that have hosted discussions about the issues of the day throughout history," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, according to NBC News.

The court felt that Massachusetts, which adopted the ruling because of previous abortion-related violence, had not tried other less intrusive means, the news network reported.

However, the court let stand an earlier Massachusetts law allowing smaller "bubble zones," which keep protesters at least 8 feet away from abortion-clinic entrances.

 

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