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Salt Lake Area
Paralyzed Patients Get a Chance to Walk
By Devin Felix
Salt Lake City – Two years ago, Heather Leighton was in college as a dance major. On Aug. 14, 2011 she went cliff-diving with friends at Echo reservoir. She hit the water and felt a bad sensation in her back, but it wasn’t until she tried to climb into the boat that she realized something was very wrong: She couldn’t move her legs.
A trip to the hospital and an MRI showed that she had fractured her T-12 vertebrae. She was paralyzed from the hips down. She could no longer walk. She could no longer dance.
In time, she got used to living life in a wheelchair, but now she’s learning to walk again with an assist from a new technology known as ReWalk. It’s an exoskeleton designed to enable people to walk who are paralyzed or have otherwise lost the use of their legs. ReWalk is the creation of ARGO MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES and UNIVERSITY OF UTAH researchers.
“It was kind of the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Leighton says, describing the first time she used the device during a rehab session. “During one of my visits, my dad came down and I had my first standing hug in a year and a half. It was kind of amazing.”
ReWalk is basically a pair of robotic legs that a user can wear on the outside of her own legs. The device is powered by batteries and controlled by a computer, both housed in a backpack worn by the user. It has accelerometers to sense movement, and when the user leans forward, the exoskeleton begins walking, taking the user’s legs along with it. The user also relies on crutches for balance and support.
The device is currently approved for use in rehabilitation centers like the UNIVERSITY OF UTAH’s SUGAR HOUSE CLINIC. A version designed for use at home and in day-to-day life is currently in use in other countries and is expected to be approved by the FDA within the next few months, says Phil Astrachan, a representative of Argo Medical Technologies.
BioFire Diagnostics Acquired in $450 Million Deal
Salt Lake City – bioMérieux, a French company that provides in vitro diagnostics, has entered into an agreement to acquire BIOFIRE DIAGNOSTICS INC., a privately held Salt Lake-based company specialized in molecular biology.
Under the terms of the agreement, bioMérieux will acquire 100 percent ownership of BioFire. The transaction will include a $450 million acquisition price and the company’s net financial debt. Completion of this acquisition remains subject to usual closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. The deal is expected to close by the end of the fiscal year or in early 2014.
“We could not have found a better shareholder than bioMérieux, world leader in clinical and industrial microbiology,” says Kirk Ririe, CEO and founder of BioFire. “This is an exciting next step in the evolution of BioFire, and it will allow us to achieve our mission of helping to make the world a healthier and safer place and to continue to support our biodefense customers in the United States Department of Defense and allied forces.”
BioFire invented, manufactures and commercializes its multiplex PCR FilmArray system, a simple and rapid molecular biology solution dedicated to the diagnosis of infectious diseases.
Salt Lake City – The STEM ACTION CENTER and the SALT LAKE CENTER FOR SCIENCE EDUCATION hosted 120 teachers from 55 schools who gathered to receive training on technologies that have been chosen for STEM implementation in schools.
Salt Lake City – CAFE RIO MEXICAN GRILL opened a new culinary training facility at its headquarters: The Cafe Rio Advanced Food Training Institute, or CRAFT.
Murray – Researchers at INTERMOUNTAIN MEDICAL CENTER received a $786,000 grant to launch the largest study of its kind to examine antibiotic use and implement ways to optimize antibiotic prescribing in Utah’s small community hospitals.
Salt Lake County – GOAL ZERO, EQUINOX BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, VRX, SILENCERO, SNAP ADVANCES and HIREVUE were featured on the annual Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing companies in the United States.
Salt Lake City – Students at the UNIVERSITY OF UTAH’s Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program created Enee, the first video game in the Shoshone language.
Salt Lake City – ORIENT OVERSEAS CONTAINER LINE (USA) INC., an international container shipping and logistics company, announced plans to open a Utah office, bringing an estimated 300 management and professional jobs.
Draper – SAVERS, a national thrift store chain, opened its eighth store in Utah, which will operate in partnership with BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF UTAH.