Medical Research

Medical Research and Advancements in Medicine

Impact of being a donor in support of medical training, research and development.

Plastic Surgery: Discoveries Resulting From Whole Body Donation

Dr GrottingEarlier this summer, a story broke regarding the meeting of Richard Norris and Rebekah Aversano. In 2012, Norris, who was terribly disfigured from a gunshot wound, was the recipient of the first full facial transplant in the United States when he received the face of Aversano’s deceased brother. The meeting allowed Aversano to witness the results of the surgery and, for the first time, see her brother’s face on Norris’s body.

Sounds a bit like the stuff of science fiction, right? Yet it is quite real.
Plastic surgery is so much more than just cosmetic surgery. It is the repair or reconstruction of part of the body, often as the result of injury. For a woman undergoing breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, a child who survived a horrific fire, or for a man such as Norris above, plastic surgery can be a treatment modality that dramatically improves an individual’s quality of life.


Worldwide Pain Management Made Possible Through the Use of Whole Body Donation

Pain is often referred to as the fifth vital sign, indicating that its assessment and management are critically important in patient care. Yet treatment of pain, especially chronic pain, has proven to be one of the most challenging areas of medicine.

Dr Ira FoxAccording to Dr. Ira Fox, MD, DABPM, FIPP, ABIPP, the specialty of interventional pain management has really evolved over the last 20 to 25 years. In 1996, Dr. Fox decided to leave the operating room as an anesthesiologist and dedicate all of his time to treating those with chronic pain. He founded Anesthesia Pain Care Consultants in Florida.

There are several components of interventional pain management. Injections using very small amounts of medication such as Lidocaine can be used to help diagnose exactly where the pain is originating. For example, if a patient feels relief after a certain anatomic region is injected with a numbing medication, that result can be used to pinpoint the source of the pain. Once that is accomplished, other techniques can be employed to treat the pain. Further injections like steroids can deliver powerful anti-inflammatory treatment directly to the area or an ablation can be performed on nerves in the area of the pain. Neurostimulators and drug pumps can also implanted to help block pain on a spinal level.


Innovations in Arthritis Treatment Credited to Whole Body Donation

Dr. Nathan Wei Arthritis Treatment CenterDr. Nathan Wei, an interventional rheumatologist based in Frederick, Maryland, is pioneering some groundbreaking new treatments for arthritis, and he believes none of this would be possible without the use of whole body donations to learn and refine his skills.

Dr. Wei points out, “Generally, rheumatologists don’t do arthroscopy.” Typical arthritis treatment involves the use of pills, injections, and exercises. However, under the tutelage of Dr. Lanny Johnson, an orthopedic surgeon in East Lansing, Michigan, Dr. Wei acquired the knowledge to perform arthroscopic procedures.

Dr. Wei then took his newfound skills back to the cadaver lab at the University of Maryland. “The value of having cadavers just can’t be underestimated when you are learning new procedures”, he emphatically states.

Dr. Wei practiced these techniques on the cadavers. He studied videos of Dr. Johnson’s surgeries and replicated his methods on the donor bodies. As a result, he was able hone his skills, eventually becoming the only rheumatologist member of the Arthroscopy Association of North America.


Brain Growth, Development and Autism

By Deborah C. Mash PhD
Founder and Director, University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank

The number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is rising. The CDC now estimates that 1 in 68 children are affected with an ASD.

Brain ResearchAutism spectrum disorder is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Some children have repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. These children are impaired in social, occupational and other areas of childhood development and functioning.

ASD is now defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a single disorder that includes disorders that were previously considered separate — autism, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

The term “spectrum” in ASD refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity. Although “Asperger’s syndrome” is no longer a diagnosis, it is generally thought that this condition is a mild form of the disorder.



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