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Health Highlights: Oct. 21, 2014

Paralyzed Man Walks After New Type of Spinal Surgery Millions of U.S. Car Owners Urged to Get Air Bag Defect Repaired Ban Most Edible Marijuana Products: Colorado Health Officials

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

Paralyzed Man Walks After New Type of Spinal Surgery

A 38-year-old Bulgarian man who was paralyzed from the waist down can walk again after groundbreaking surgery, and is believed to be the first person in the world to recover from complete severing of the spinal nerves.

Polish surgeons transplanted nerve-supporting cells from Darek Fidyka's nose to his spinal cord in order to help the ends of severed spinal nerve fibers to grow and rejoin, something previously thought to be impossible, reported The Guardian newspaper in the U.K.

The successful surgery on Fidyka, who was paralyzed four years ago, offers hope to the millions of spinal cord injury patients around the world.

"We believe that this procedure is the breakthrough which, as it is further developed, will result in a historic change in the currently hopeless outlook for people disabled by spinal cord injury," Geoffrey Raisman, leader of the team at University College London's institute of neurology that developed the treatment, told The Guardian.

"The patient is now able to move around the hips and on the left side he's experienced considerable recovery of the leg muscles," Raisman said. "He can get around with a walker and he's been able to resume much of his original life, including driving a car. He's not dancing, but he's absolutely delighted."

If funding can be raised, at least three more patients will undergo the procedure in Poland over the next three to five years, Raisman said.

The research was funded by the U.K. Stem Cell Foundation and the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation (NSIF), and the details of the treatment will be shared with experts worldwide.

"The scientific information relating to this significant advancement will be made available to other researchers around the world so that together we can fight to finally find a cure for this condition which robs people of their lives," NSIF founder David Nicholls told The Guardian.


Millions of U.S. Car Owners Urged to Get Air Bag Defect Repaired

More than 4.7 million people in the United States need to get the air bags in their cars fixed immediately to correct a defect that could injure or kill the driver or passengers, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration says.

The inflator mechanisms in the air bags can rupture and release a shower of metal fragments when the bags are deployed in crashes. The defect has caused at least four deaths and there have been many injuries, according to safety advocates, the Associated Press reported.

Worldwide, about 12 million vehicles have been recalled due to the problem with the air bags made by Takata Corp. of Japan. The defective air bags were used in vehicles made by BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota.

The NHTSA began investigating the problem in June and has cited six cases of air bag inflator ruptures that resulted in three injuries. Safety advocates say the air bag defect could affect more than 20 million vehicles in the U.S., the AP reported.


Ban Most Edible Marijuana Products: Colorado Health Officials

Edible forms of marijuana such as brownies, cookies, and candies should be banned, Colorado health officials say.

In a submission to state marijuana regulators, the Department of Public Health and Environment says these edible marijuana products "are naturally attractive to children" and violate the state law's "requirement to prevent the marketing of marijuana products to children," the Associated Press reported.

Edible marijuana products should be restricted to lozenges and some liquids, the health department said in recommendations sent to regulators Oct. 14.

The final decision on the issue will be made by the Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division. If it agrees with the health department, most types of edible marijuana would no longer be available in stores, the AP reported.

The state's marijuana regulators received several submissions about edible marijuana products. An advocacy group called Smart Colorado wants the products to be colored, marked or stamped to indicate they contain the drug.

The marijuana industry opposes attempts to ban many of the edible marijuana products currently available in Colorado, the AP reported.

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