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Bionic Pancreas Could Help Diabetes

Type I diabetes is the result of the body not producing enough insulin, which can lead to serious health complications. The condition requires regularly supplementing the body with insulin.

One of the ways people with type I diabetes can manage their condition is with an insulin pump, but it requires constant monitoring of blood sugar levels and adjusting to normal levels. This can be not only inconvenient, but also time-consuming for diabetics. However, a new device is in the works that may help solve these problems: a bionic pancreas.

How the Bionic Pancreas Works

This new device is being designed by Dr. Steven Russell, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and Ed Damiano, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University. For Damiano, the development of what could be a medical breakthrough is personal – 13 years ago, his son was diagnosed at 11 months old with Type I diabetes.

To create a sort of artificial pancreas, the developers had to figure out how much of two hormones produced by the pancreas (insulin and glucagon) were necessary to keep blood sugar levels in a normal range. The most current prototype of the bionic pancreas uses a continuous glucose monitor, which can communicate with an iPhone app that calculates the amount of hormones needed. The app then instructs the device to deliver the hormones to the body.

Although there is hope that this device could fight type I diabetes, it still needs to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The developers would like to see this happen soon, so that it can be made available to consumers by 2017. At this time, the potential cost of the device isn’t clear.

What to Do When Type I or Type II Diabetes Becomes Disabling

Patients with diabetes continue to battle the disease – both type I and type II. Although most people can control it and live a normal lifestyle, others experience serious complications. Significant elevations in blood sugar can cause damage to organs, blood vessels and nerves. And when it drops drastically, it can lead to confusion, blurred vision and even a loss of consciousness.

But there are many other health complications that can develop. Heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, high blood pressure and nerve damage are just some examples. When diabetes can’t be controlled, and it prevents someone from working, Social Security disability benefits could be available if the patient meets requirements in the Social Security’s Listing of Impairments.

To qualify, applicants must prove they have diabetic complications that are severe enough to interfere with working and meet the criteria under other conditions in the Listing of Impairments. The symptoms must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months.

With the various types of complications that can accompany this disease, it might be best to consult an attorney to learn if you qualify. Sometimes a condition may not meet the Listing of Impairments requirements but could qualify under residual functional capacity.

Contact Markhoff & Mittman in New York to learn more about qualifying for Social Security disability. Call us at 866-205-2415 and be sure to request a free copy of our eBook, Guide to Navigating the Social Security Disability Maze.

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