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I-Limb Hands Controlled by App; Bracing for Bird Flu; Fountain of Youth?

Aired April 13, 2013 - 16:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Hey there, and thanks for joining us.

You may have heard about a deadly flu strain in China. I'm going to tell you what you need to know, and also in investigate whether the United States is ready to handle an outbreak. The head of the CDC is going to join us.

And living longer with fish oil. It's one of the few supplements I regularly take. And I'll tell you the best foods to eat. Plus, also, what to avoid.

Let's get started.

First up, though, I want to show you something that's truly remarkable. It's a bionic limb that's run in part by a basic household technology, really an iPhone. We're going to get a demonstration in just a moment.

But, first, I want to introduce you to the first recipient of these hands. He's a young father who lost the use of both of his hands after being electrocuted.


GUPTA (voice-over): March 1st, 2008. That was the day that life, as Jason Koger knew it, changed. The husband and young father was riding his four-wheeler when he came in contact with a downed power line. Next thing he remembers, waking up in the hospital three days later. He was alive but both of his hands were gone. They had to be amputated.

Koger didn't let that new reality get him down. His focus immediately, making life with prosthetics as normal as possible. Five years now after the accident, Koger is embracing another first. He's the first double hand amputee in the world to receive prosthetics hands that can be controlled with a mobile application. This is a new part of a new wave in prosthetic technology. The i-Limb revolution now available to the masses.

The U.K.-based developers say it is the closest thing to a real human hand. Unlike most conventional prosthetics, this hand goes five individually powered fingers, including a fully rotable thumb.

The new app technology allows for 24 grip patterns, movements many of us take for granted like this -- a tripod grip to pick up a pen. The skin over the prosthesis helps double amputees like Jason use the app and he can even customize grip patterns to use tools like his electronic drill.


GUPTA: And Jason Koger joins us now. Welcome to the show.


GUPTA: That's an incredible story. I'm glad you're doing well.

Do you have pain at all or are you fully recovered from that standpoint?

KOGER: I'm fully recovered.

GUPTA: I used to shake my guest's hands. And you can do this as well. Take a look there. That's pretty incredible.

I wonder if you see this, but look around the back over here as well. I mean, this is a true handshake.

KOGER: That's right.

GUPTA: The fingers coming all the way around.

It's incredible technology. You've literally just gotten this technology this week. How is it going? What's your impression?

KOGER: You know, I love it. These have motorized thumbs. It has an app that comes with it so you can do several different grasp patterns. It gives me the ability to do more things that I want to do.

GUPTA: It looks like it takes full advantage of lots of different -- because you take for granted how much, you know, dexterity you have in your fingers. Just for sake of reference, I mean, these are two of your other hands as well over here. I think you were explaining that this basically has the pinch here between this. That's basically it.


GUPTA: Then, you call this sort of more of your working hand. And it opens up. It doesn't do much more than that.

KOGER: That's it.

GUPTA: So, this is the app here. Do you mind if I take a look?


GUPTA: So, you hold this up -- let's see here. So if I want to -- you have --

KOGER: Yes, let me try.

GUPTA: Yes, we'll have you control this a little bit to start.

KOGER: So, I have to use a stylus.

GUPTA: So, you're picking up a stylus. Is that something you could have done before?

KOGER: No, not with that.

GUPTA: That's pretty fine movement there.

KOGER: So I would get this into a grip form that I wanted. Close down on it. I also have wrist rotators so I can rotate all the way around.

GUPTA: You're controlling again. You're doing this all on your own. Your wrists (ph) go all the way around. Okay.

KOGER: So, these also have different -- there's 24 different grip patterns. So, you can also customize one also. So here is one that I have customized. I don't know if you know what that is. That's for Louisville.

GUPTA: As a Michigan guy, I know that too well.

KOGER: So, that's one. And then you can go from -- you can play with it if you would like.

GUPTA: All right. Since you have Louisville right on there, I love that. Let's see. We have candies here on the set. Let me see if I can find one that can help you open this up. All right. There we go.

KOGER: OK. So you put it in that mode right there. I also have wrist flexion. So I can flex it. I can pick up something that small.

GUPTA: That's amazing. What is it like for you to be able to do that? How big a deal? You got this app. You have that fine dexterity.

KOGER: You know, a lot of things you take for granted in life. To pick up something small as this or, for instance, you know, I do have kids. To be able to hold my kids hands again, you know, with that, is a lot harder because this forms to their hand.

So, in my eyes, that's huge for me. So, it's definitely interesting how you can do small things instead of asking somebody else to do it for me.

GUPTA: Thanks for joining us.

KOGER: Thank you. Thank you.

GUPTA: Next up, bird flu. We know that it's killing people in China. Well, the head of our Centers for Disease Control is worried about it. We asked him to come by, join us, and explain what's happening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) GUPTA: It started like this. On the last day of March, three people, hundreds of miles apart, sick with a strain of flu that had never infected people before. And barely a week, more than two dozen people were sick. A third of them had died. Health officials around the world went into scramble mode.


GUPTA (voice-over): The scenes are eerie: masks for protection, spraying to kill an unseen danger.

FENG ZIJIAN, EMERGENCY RESPONSE DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR, CHINA CDC: The public is concerned about the information regarding those in close contact with those infected. We are tracing many close contacts and they are all under strict medical observation.

GUPTA: This time the danger is H7N9. It's named after the key proteins that make up the virus.

It's a known type of bird flu, but never before has it infected people. Something in the virus has changed. Something is different.

GUPTA (on camera): A quick explanation is in order here. There are many different strains of the flu virus. And they mutate constantly. That's why we need a different shot every year.

The virus changes by adding new genes and by dropping old ones. The natural home for influenza is birds especially poultry. It also infects mammals, especially pigs, and, of course, it also people.

The virus is constantly adapting to different hosts. Remember the 2009 pandemic, H1N1, that originated in Mexico. More often than not, new flu strains arrived in Southeast Asia because there is a concentration of poultry, wild birds, pigs and people, all living in close proximity.

LING WANNIAN, NATIONAL HEALTH & FAMILY PLANNING COMMISSION: There is a lot we don't know about the virus and we are actively tracing its origin.

GUPTA (voice-over): Testing has found the H7N9 virus in samples of chickens and pigeons sold in the markets. And Chinese authorities are killing chickens and other possibly infected birds as a safety precaution.

But questions remain including this big one, could the virus be passing from person to person? So far the answer seems to be no.

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR, CDC: There has been no person-to-person transmission and no epidemiologic link between any of the cases so far.


GUPTA: And joining me from the CDC campus right here in Atlanta is CDC director, Tom Friedan. Thanks so much for joining us, Doctor. Appreciate it.

You know, we have been talking about the strain of flu. Why are you so concerned about it?

FRIEDEN: Well, on with one hand, we are reassured because there is no person to person transmission that's been documented yet. We have great collaboration with the Chinese authorities and we've built on the decade of getting more and more prepared for stains of flu or other pandemics.

At the same time, it's a strain of influenza that causes severe disease but doesn't seem to cause disease in the birds. So we can't identify it easily in birds and stop it in the animal hosts. And that does some aspects that suggest that it could evolve into something that can spread person to person.

GUPTA: So, based on what you know now, should people in the United States be concerned?

FRIEDEN: There is nothing different that the average person in this country needs to do. There's a lot that we at CDC are doing to make sure that we do absolutely everything in our power to be as prepared as possible for every scenario that could happen. And that's what we are doing day in, day out.

GUPTA: So, just, again, putting it all together your level of concern when you compare this to, for example, previous novel viruses, how would you rank this or rate this?

FRIEDEN: We are tracking this very closely. We know that influenza can cause an enormous amount of suffering and dislocation. This strain seems severe.

So, we're working very closely and doing everything we can to be prepared if it fizzles or if it spreads.

One of the things that we are looking forward to being able to do more in the future is to go deep into the sequence and understand better what all of the different genetic changes mean. We have some new technologies that are really exciting and will allow us to do it better than ever.

GUPTA: Yes, why don't you give us an idea of what it means? You have examples of the older technology and the newer. What can you do now that you couldn't do then?

FRIEDEN: Well, when I began at CDC, we had just begun looking at genome of different microbes. And we had things like this. And they gave you a rough sense, kind of a blurry sense of whether organisms were the same or different.

They took weeks. You often had to compare them by hand. It was very inexact.

Today, we have things like this. This is a way of sequencing an entire genome in just a few hours. In fact, the genome of more than one organism in just a few hours.

And with that huge amount of information, putting it into the computer, putting thousands of jigsaw puzzle pieces together and figuring out, is it resistant, is it connected, is it evolving to better adapt to the human host? So, we are beginning to do this for H7 and other organisms.

But this opens a whole new way that we can protect Americans better by finding threats sooner, and stopping them quicker.

GUPTA: I'm glad you're on the job, Dr. Frieden. I know we'll be talking a lot about this in the days and weeks to come. Thank you.

FRIEDEN: Thank you very much.

GUPTA: Still ahead, perhaps the most convincing evidence that eating fish can lead to a longer and healthier life. We'll explain.


GUPTA: Got some fish for life today. A new study found older adults who eat fish reduce their risk of dying from heart disease by more than 27 percent. A lot of the credit, they say, goes to omega-3 fatty acids.

Dr. Melina Jampolis is one of only 200 physician nutrition specialists in the entire country.

Welcome back to the show, Melina.

We talked about this quite a bit. I want to jump in with this. You have been on several times talking about the benefits of omega-3s but some of the studies are conflicting. What make this is one different?

DR. MELINA JAMPOLIS, PHYSICIAN NUTRITION SPECIALIST: I think what's interesting about the study is first of all it was done in healthy older people. So this is not people who are really sick with heart disease. It's just like you and I that are healthy. We're not older yet.

But -- second of all, they were not taking fish oil supplements. So, this looks just at fish intake.

And most importantly, researchers measured their blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids instead of relying on dietary recall. So, this is a much more accurate indication of how many omega-3 fatty acids they are consuming on a regular basis.

GUPTA: Fascinating, because you're right. Most of these studies are done by questionnaires. It's hard to remember what you had yesterday, let alone two weeks ago.

JAMPOLIS: Absolutely.

GUPTA: According to the study people with the highest levels of omega-3s in the blood did the best. They lived two years longer and it always comes back to the question. How much should you be getting and the best way to get it?

JAMPOLIS: Yes. Well, that's a great question. Based on this study, the researchers think that sweet spot, so the benefits are most when somebody goes from no consumption up to 400 milligrams. So, this is relatively modest dose.

Now, the average American only takes in about 150 milligrams a day. So, we know we need to go up, but you don't necessarily need to super dose like our tendency is when anything is good for us.

GUPTA: So 400. Is there a way that you can put that into the context of food? Because in this study again, they were talking about eating fish as opposed to supplements.

JAMPOLIS: Right. Four hundred milligrams is on average two servings of fish a week. The American Heart Association is right on track with their recommendations for eating fish at least twice a week.

GUPTA: Do you think some of this is because if you eat fish you are not eating, you know, other things like could be more problematic -- red meat and things like that?

JAMPOLIS: Well, you know, it's interesting because they looked at confounding variables, so other explanations in the study. It really does seem to be a benefit of omega-3 fatty acids. And by looking specifically at the omega-3 fatty acids in the blood they could attribute those benefits.

So, I think, you know, people who tend to eat the most fish have a healthier lifestyle. And actually, the people in the study did seem to be healthier which is even cooler. If we could get healthier people living 2.2 years longer. That's a win in my book.

GUPTA: You know, I always love having you on. And I have to tell you, I think we talked about this last time. But fish oil is one of the few things I take. There's a lot of studies out there. This is another one that offers more benefits.

Thanks for joining us.

JAMPOLIS: My pleasure. Me too, by the way.

GUPTA: Yes. All right. Melina, thanks.

You may not know this but this week marks the 71st anniversary of the Bataan death march that followed one of the worst U.S. military defeats in history. Few survivors are alive today.

Lester Tenney has lived to tell the story but he's also turned his tragedy into joy for others.


GUPTA (voice-over): Lester Tenney, along with his wife Mary, are packing boxes to ship overseas. Tenney is the founder of Care Packages from Home. It's a volunteer organization that sends goodies to servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since it began five and a half years ago, Tenney and his buddies have shipped socks, deodorants, snacks, even holiday item such as peeps, to more than 150,000 troops.

LESTER TENNEY, BATAAN MARCH SURVIVOR: We have zero employees. We have zero payroll. We have zero expenses. Every dime that we collect go directly to the troops, in the way of Care packages.

GUPTA: And although it's a labor of love, Tenney has a more personal reason. Back in 1940, Tenney enlisted in the National Guard and was then transferred to the Army division and ended up in the Philippines.

Then, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. One day later, Japan invaded the Philippines. The fighting became so one-sided that the U.S. had to surrender. And on April 9th, 1942, according to historians, one of the worst episodes in U.S. military began. American soldiers were brutally forced to march to a POW camp 80 plus miles away in 100 degree heat with no food or water.

TENNEY: It was called the Bataan Death March not just because how many died, but because the way they died.

GUPTA: Some men were decapitated. Others speared with bayonets. Many were buried alive, because they were too weak to march. Tenney himself carries a scar from being slapped with a samurai sword and taken a bayonet in the leg.

TENNEY: If you stop, you're killed. If you have to defecate, you're killed. If you just couldn't take another step you were killed and they just killed you for no reason, except for the fact that you did not move.

And so, the whole goal to number one, stay on your feet. Number two, keep moving.

GUPTA: Unlike many of his buddies, Tenney made it to the concentration camp. Because he was strong, his captors eventually shipped him to work in a Japanese coal mines where he remained until World War II ended on August 15th, 1945.

TENNEY: It was a feeling of freedom that you can't -- you can't ever describe.

GUPTA: After the war, Tenney went to college. He became a professor of economics and he wrote a book about his experiences, "My Hitch in Hell." After he left teaching, he and his wife moved to the La Costa Glen retirement community near La Jolla, California.

Tenney had never stopped thinking about his days as a prisoner of war. The loneliness, the fear. That's the reason he started sending packages to the troops, to let them know that someone, somewhere, is thinking about them.

TENNEY: So, when I send a box, I'd put my name on it. They know where I've been -- maybe they do, maybe they don't. But the one thing they do know, they do know that we care.

GUPTA: At 92 now, Lester Tenney is one of the few remaining survivors of the Bataan Death March. And when asked how he survived, his answer is inspiring.

TENNEY: I think my first thought after that was I can't die, because the Japanese want to kill me and they are working hard to do it, and if I die, then they win. And I just was making sure that they did not win.


GUPTA: Just an incredible story. And, obviously, doing so much good for our troops who are still overseas, Lester Tenney there.

Got a check of the top stories minutes away. But, first, "Chasing Life" -- learning how to put the right foot forward.


GUPTA: We are back with SGMD.

You know, more than 10,000 runners are going to take to the streets Monday for the Boston marathon. It's inspiring stuff, but it's also daunting. Now, I get this question all the time. They say a marathon is likely not in my future, but how do I start to run?

I'd say keep two important things in mind. First of all, get a good pair of shoes and start off slowly to prevent injury. Running shoes are different from everyday sneakers. And you're going to need that support to get the real exercise.

And also, everyone's foot is a little different so make sure you go to a running store to be fitted properly, at least the first time.

Then when you hit the road, again start slowly. A good approach is to alternate running and walking. Do a few minutes at a time. Over time you can build up to running continuously.

Remember, you are in it hopefully for the long run. Jeff Galloway has been a guest on the show, the guy who founded the run-walk approach, tweeted this this week: "The single reason runners improve and enjoy running is they don't get injured."

So, beware. Good luck.

That's going to wrap things up for SGMD. Let us know what you think of the show, Also, follow me on Twitter @DrSanjayGupta.

You got a check of your top stories up next in the "CNN NEWSROOM."