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Spinal  Cord  Injuries
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Spinal cord injury

 

Spinal Cord Injuries

Magnetic treatment may help people with spinal cord injuries
May 11, 2004

A preliminary study has shown for the first time that it may be possible to help people who have suffered partial damage to their spinal cord by applying a magnetic therapy to their brain.

Writing in this month's Spinal Cord, a team of UK doctors describe how patients with incomplete spinal cord injuries received repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), leading to improvements in their ability to move muscles and limbs, and ability to feel sensations.

rTMS uses an electromagnet placed on the scalp to generate brief magnetic pulses, about the strength of an MRI scan, which stimulate the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex. Incomplete spinal cord injuries are a type of spinal injury where the spinal cord has not been entirely severed, but the patient has still lost the ability to move or feel properly below the injury point.

Dr Nick Davey from Imperial College London and Charing Cross Hospital, and one of the study's authors, says: "Through rTMS we may be able to help people who have suffered partial injuries to the spinal cord recover some of their movement and feeling. We think it works by strengthening the information leaving the brain through the undamaged neurons in the spinal cord. It may work like physiotherapy but instead of repeating a physical task, the machine activates the surviving nerves to strengthen their connections."

The researchers from Imperial College London, the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, UK, and Charing Cross Hospital, UK, tested rTMS on four patients with incomplete spinal injuries. The patients had all sustained their injuries at least 18 months previously and had already received conventional rehabilitation including physiotherapy. They were all considered stable in that they were no longer undergoing natural improvement. The patients received both real and sham rTMS treatment over a three-week period. The rTMS treatment involved five consecutive days of magnetic stimulation for one hour per day.

They noticed no difference between the baseline and the sham treatment, but found that the rTMS treatment resulted in a 37.5 (+/­ 8) percent drop in intracortical inhibition, compared with normal physiotherapy. Weaker intracortical inhibition makes it easier for messages from the brain to pass down the spinal cord to the rest of the body. This reduction in intracortical inhibition was accompanied by improvement in both motor and sensory function, which lasted for at least three weeks after the treatment. Reduced intracortical inhibition also occurs naturally and can facilitate functional recovery, and this is reflected in improvements to the patients' ability to move and feel.

rTMS was a treatment designed to treat psychiatric disorders, and has been used in treating some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Dr Davey adds: "Despite this, we still need to be extremely careful in interpreting these results as we only sampled a small number of patients. Further studies on larger groups of patients will need to be carried out before we will know if this treatment is fully effective. Similarly we have no idea how long the treatment benefits will last over a longer period."

This work was supported by the International Spinal Research Trust, and Dr Davey and his team have recently received a further grant, again from the International Spinal Research Trust, to carry out further, larger trials.

Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine


Daihatsu and Toyota Launch New Compact SUV
(25 gennaio 2006)

DAIHATSU MOTOR CO., LTD. (Daihatsu) and TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today the nationwide sales launch in Japan of a new compact SUV sold as the Daihatsu Be-go *1 through the Daihatsu dealers and as the Toyota Rush *2 —through “Toyopet” (“Osaka Toyota” in the Osaka Area) dealers.

In pursuit of being the best in its class, the new model was designed to fulfill its theme of “a tough and casual sport-utility wagon”, and was developed as a new genre that merges the enjoyment and drivability of an SUV, the ease-of-use and convenience of a compact hatchback and the fun and functionality of a small station wagon. This SUV is intended to expand the freedom of young men and women who value their individuality.

The vehicle planning capabilities of both TMC and Daihatsu were combined, drawing from Daihatsu''s extensive experience in compact vehicles, with Daihatsu in charge of development and production. Daihatsu will supply the Rush to Toyota on an OEM basis.

*1 The name “Be-go” expresses the transformation from “inactive” (be-ing) to “active” (go-ing), evoking an image of an active vehicle that can change people’s lives and thinking.
*2 The name “Rush” is intended to convey a sense of energetic vitality and cheerfulness.

New SUV Styling that Combines a Refined Urban Image with Dynamic Strength
- With an innovative base in which front and rear overhangs are minimized, a refined and urban image is evoked through beautiful character lines that are rounded to create a sense of flow. The wide front bumper, which conveys a robust image, and the overhanging wheel flares at the four corners of the vehicle express dynamic strength.
- Great attention was paid to the stylish interior to create a sophisticated and sporty feel. Based on a basic structure that conveys an SUV''s sense of sturdiness, the three, separate gauges trimmed with “edge lights” and attractively located metallic-toned elements, such as a metallic center console and instrument cluster, express sophistication and a sporty sensibility.
- Eight body colors, including the newly adopted color, “Titanium Gray Metallic”, create a stylish and sporty image.

An Optimal Layout That Achieves Compatibility between Effortless Driving and a Roomy Interior
- A minimum turning radius of 4.9 meters makes driving easy in the city, as well as on narrow streets.
- On four-wheel drive vehicles, the driver''s seat is set at 740mm*1 at the hip to provide a seating position with a high point of view, allowing for easier driving.
- Despite compact body dimensions, the vehicle''s high-efficiency layout offers a cabin space that accommodates four adults in relaxed comfort and a roomy, 380-liter cargo space.
- In addition to the expansive space of 850mm*3 between the front and rear seats, the backs of the front seats curve inward to amply provide comfortable backseat legroom.
- The wheels are placed as close to the four corners of the vehicle as possible, providing a long wheelbase and a wide track, thereby achieving excellent cruising stability.
- The minimal difference in height between the floor and the scuff plates by the front doors, along with rear doors that open in three-stages to a maximum of 77 degrees, provide excellent overall ease of entry and exit.

The Cargo Space of a Small Station Wagon Combined with Comfort-enhancing Equipment
- The back seats can recline, fold in a 60/40 split, or be easily stowed away. By stowing both the left and right rear seats, an expansive and flat cargo space of 755 liters*4 can be created.
- Special features, such as four luggage tie-down hooks, electrical sockets for accessories in the instrument panel and rear cargo space, and water-repellant full-fabric seats facilitate outdoor leisure activities.
- Numerous and easy-to-use storage areas achieve optimal use of space, and are located in an overhead console and under each of the two rear seats.
- A “key free” electric keycard system with an immobilizer function features a “request switch” that allows drivers to easily lock and unlock the doors and an “engine switch knob” to turn the engine on and off. (This is a standard feature on the Rush G model and a manufacturer''s option on the Be-go CX model offered in a premium package that includes a leather-wound steering wheel and shift knob.)
- A comfortable and relaxing interior is created through the use of an automatic air conditioner with a liquid crystal display and a pollen-removal mode, which filters out pollen, dust and other impurities from the air in the cabin (standard on the Be-go CX and the Rush G), an air-cleaning technology called Plasmacluster Ions*5, UV cutting glass (on all windows) and a security alarm.
- The new vehicle is equipped with a HDD (hard disk drive) navigation system compatible with the advanced “G-BOOK ALPHA” telematics service, which includes services such as provision of optimal travel routes based on traffic-congestion forecasts (manufacturer option on all vehicles in the series).
- The Active Winter Pack, a bundle of features for cold climates, features a window seal de-icer and electrically operated, heated door mirrors, seat heaters for the driver''s and passenger''s seats, and rear fog lamps that are integrated into the rear combination lamps. (This is a manufacturer''s option on the Be-go; seat heaters and rear fog lamps are available as a set as a manufacturer''s option when selecting the cold climate specifications on the Rush.)

Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive and Superior Drivability
- A sophisticated full-time four-wheel drive system, with a mechanical, center-locking differential, offers not only excellent off-road performance but also on-road stable cruising performance at high speeds.
- The VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) system (a manufacturer''s option) adds sensors to four-wheel-drive vehicles to detect sliding tires on slippery road surfaces and to automatically control the brake-force distribution between the front and rear. In addition, four-wheel-drive, automatic transmission models with VSC are equipped with the newly developed DAC (Downhill Assist Control) function and the HAC (Hill-start Assist Control) function, which are helpful in both bad road and off-road conditions.
- The newly developed 1.5-liter engine features high torque at low and medium speeds combined with smooth acceleration performance at high speeds for ample power in all situations.
- The short overhangs and adequate, minimum ground clearance provide excellent off-road performance.
- A newly developed, “built-in ladder frame” monocoque body achieves balance between lighter weight and higher body rigidity, offering a comfortable ride.
- A newly developed suspension system provides a smooth ride, brisk maneuvering and cruising stability at high speeds, as well as ease of driving in off-road conditions.
- A quiet cabin space is realized through the use of sound-absorbent dashboard silencers, the effective placement of sound-blocking materials and doubled seals around the doors.

A High Level of Safety and Environmental Performance
- The body incorporates the concept of omni-directional compatibility (collision safety) and meets the requirements of both Daihatsu''s TAF (Total Advanced Function) and Toyota''s GOA (Global Outstanding Assessment).
- The pedestrian-injury-lessening body structure has been evolved to further reduce pedestrian head injuries.
- By using an Intelligent Catalytic Converter with a self-regenerating function and excellent cleaning performance, all vehicles in the series have been certified as having emissions levels 50% lower than 2005 standards under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport''s Approval System for Low-emission Vehicles.
- Outstanding fuel efficiency has been achieved thanks to a new engine with precise combustion control, lower overall vehicle weight, improved aerodynamic properties, etc.
- In order to increase the efficiency of dismantling major components, improved dismantling labeling is used, and the concept of design for recyclability (DFR), which incorporates an easy to dismantle structure, is adopted for body parts.
- With use of lead eliminated in fuel tanks and elsewhere, the new vehicle meets the Japanese automotive industry''s voluntary environmental target for January 2006 and thereafter of reducing overall lead usage in vehicles to one-tenth or less of the 1996 levels.
- The materials, processing techniques and adhesives used in interior components have been reviewed to limit the volume of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and lessen unpleasant interior odors.

*1 According to measurements by Daihatsu
*2 According to measurements by Daihatsu using the VDA method
*3 According to measurements by Daihatsu
*4 According to measurements by Daihatsu using the VDA method
*5 “Plasmacluster Ions” is a registered trademark of Sharp Corporation.

 

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