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luchschen/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- From late nights out to early mornings on the job, 30-year-old entrepreneur Erin Finnegan says she has a secret boost that keeps her going.

She uses “nootropics,” also called “smart drugs,” or supplements claiming to boost brain function, helping to improve memory, focus and maybe even make you brilliant.

“I’m bicoastal, I’m in New York and I’m here [in Los Angeles], and a lot of times traveling,” Finnegan said.

Much like how actor Bradley Cooper played a character who took a pill and his focus went from zero to 100 in the movie “Limitless,” there are some saying the effects of these supplements are nonfiction. Countless users on Reddit swear by these pills, heralding benefits from “increased focus” to “mental stimulation.”

Finnegan said nootropics is one of the keys to her success.

“I would not give them up willingly,” she said. “The additional focus that I can have with them, yes, it does sustain the speed I am going at now and the many things, I would have to take a couple things off my plate if I wanted to keep going without them.”

And she takes a pill every day.

“It’s not like press a button and all of a sudden turbo charge and switch into ‘nootropics mode,’” she said. “I found that it helped lessen the time it took me to switch gears, if that makes sense.”

But some doctors are questioning if the claims are too good to be true.

“The lack of controlled trials the lack of rigorous scientific research and the lack of studies that actually try to study all of these different types of nootropics in certain combinations altogether,” said Dr. Richard Isaacson, a neuroscientist and Alzheimer’s expert.

Nootropics stacks, or pills, are mixes of different components and can include different ingredients from caffeine and L-Theanine -- a type of amino acid -- to herbal supplements to the brain-boosting supplement, piracetam.

Although they claim to alter brain function, nootropics are marketed not as a drug but as a type of dietary supplement, which means they don’t need FDA approval.

Geoff Woo, 29-year-old co-founder of nootropics company Nootrobox, said he got interested in the supplement because he “wanted to be smarter.”

“I grew up very competitive and wanting to be the best version of myself possible,” Woo said. “If there's one really smart person in the world, great we have another Einstein, but if everyone was super smart there's like an exponential amount of information and innovation.”

Four years ago, Woo was working at a venture capital firm when he started digging around the internet and experimenting.

“We were tinkering with things from laboratories from China, from off-label compounds, everything,” he said.

Today, it’s become much more than a hobby for Woo. He says business is booming, and he caught the attention and financial backing of top Silicon Valley titans like early Facebook investor Andreesen Horowitz and Yahoo’s Marisa Mayer. He even made his pitch on an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” but didn’t get any bites.

"I’ve tried nootropics, that’s what people use to go on 48-hour coding binges," Shark Chris Sacca told Woo when he appeared in a "Shark Tank" episode that aired in December. "But at the end of the day, you’re left with a headache, lack of recall, sometimes. I’m worried about the long term consequences so I’m out."

Inside Woo’s tightly controlled lab, located an hour outside of Los Angeles, his team pumps out thousands of little pills every day.

“For our company, we have four different pills, or four different types of stacks,” he said.

Woo claims his pills to do everything from boosting “immediate clarity, energy and flow” to enhancing "memory, stamina and resilience.”

“The whole notion is approaching the human body as if we were from an engineer's perspective. So optimizing shortcuts to being better, more productive versions of ourselves,” he said. “I think we all want to be better versions of ourselves. I think that's one of the distinguishing factors of being human.”

Nootrobox’s products are supplements so they are not FDA approved, but Woo said everything his company produces is “generally regarded as safe” by the FDA, which he said, “is the highest level of safety that the FDA gives for all things that one can consume.”

“It's based on understanding of biological mechanisms,” Woo said. “Our science team, which consists of actually practicing doctors and M.D. Ph.D.s, walk through that and actually validate any cross indications.”

But some experts caution that this temporary boost could have side effects, with many citing the lack of studies about long-term impacts.

“You may have several ingredients on the label and there may be one of the many ingredients on there that may interact with your blood pressure medicines or it may interact with something else,” Dr. Isaacson said. “While these drugs by itself may be generally safe, it's hard to generalize. They may interact with other things ... so that's why we always recommend discussion of approval by a treating physician.”

Despite potential side effects, there are some who are taking multiple nootropic pills a day. Megan Klimen is a self-proclaimed “bio-hacker” who has been experimenting with nootropics for years. On a stressful day, she said she’ll take about eight to 10 pills.

“So on a daily basis, I take ‘The Rise,’ I take the KADO 3, which is this mix of the vitamins that you need, it’s got vitamin D, it’s got K, it’s got Omega 3, it’s got DHA,” she said. “Before I found the Nootrobox, I had 12 different ones that I was taking, but those 12 different ones are summed up in these really well.”

Eric Matzner created his company Nootroo after becoming fascinating in reading about the supplements online. He said he takes over 40 supplements each day.

“I get most of my energy from the ingredients in Nootroo,” he said. “There’s a form of caffeine, a really advanced form of caffeine called Purenergy. That’s a caffeine crystal ... I love ubiquinol I take a ton of it ... I’ll take like 300 or more milligrams a day.”

Matzner said nootropics are a whole new take on science and health care, and some users believe they could be the future.

“We’re talking about ... a new type of biology where we’re taking these things into our own hands but also to try and proactively go from baseline to above,” said Matzner.

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Courtesy Josue and Maruska Vella(NEW YORK) -- Jake Vella is literally running for his life.

The 7-year-old Maltese boy suffers from an extremely rare life-threatening disease that causes him to gain weight despite his healthy diet and vigorous exercise regime. Less than 100 people in the world have ever been diagnosed with the illness called ROHHAD, which affects the automatic nervous system and endocrine system.

But Jake is no ordinary kid. To help combat the disease he competes in triathlons like his father and follows a strict diet.

“Triathlons help Jake to keep fit and active. It’s good for his health and also gives him a chance to socialize with other kids,” his parents, Josue and Maruska Vella , told ABC News. “He leads a normal life, goes to school, plays the drums, but he has to be very careful not to get sick and we are frightened that a simple flu could lead to other complications.”

When Jake was first diagnosed with the dangerous illness at age six in 2015, it came as a huge shock to the family. Nobody else on the small Mediterranean island nation of Malta suffers from ROHHAD, so there was no playbook to go by.

ROHHAD stands for rapid-onset obesity (RO) with hypothalamic dysregulation (H), hypoventilation (H), and autonomic dysregulation (AD). It is a rare, life-threatening syndrome that affects the autonomic nervous system (which controls involuntary actions) and the endocrine system.

People with this disease may exhibit a wide range of symptoms including slow heartbeat, excessive sweating, altered pupil response to light and they also may be unable to maintain normal water balance in the body or go through early or late puberty, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Typically the patient will experience rapid weight gain in a 6- to 12-month period and may be at risk for developing certain kinds of tumors. In Jake's case it has also caused a tumor to grow on his back. There is no proven cure for the disease.

The Vellas say they just live day-by-day and hope for the best.

Jake’s video has gone viral and helped raise awareness for the disease. The young triathlete dreams about meeting Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, two of the world’s top triathletes. Jake cannot travel because of his illness but the Brownlee brothers’ manager has been in touch following the video’s success.

Nothing is organized yet, but Jake has his fingers crossed for a shot at meeting his idols.

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Courtesy Michelle Adkins(ROBINSON, Texas) -- One kindergartner undergoing cancer treatment is able to "attend" class, thanks to the help of artificial intelligence.

In January, PJ Trojanowski, 6, was diagnosed with the kidney cancer Wilms tumor in both kidneys.

"She's our most outgoing child," dad Eric Trojanowski told ABC News Wednesday. "It was a different thing to sit down and tell my 6-ear-old, 'You have cancer and the doctors have to figure out how to get it out of you. She was feisty about it. The doc even said, 'I don't know Paisley very well, but I know kids like her do well in treatment because they have a lot of fight in them.'"

"It takes a lot out of her ... [but] she's taking it in stride," he added. "She talks about [how] she's going to beat cancer."

Because of her weakened immune system, Paisley Jane, who goes by PJ, was unable to return to her kindergarten classroom at Robinson Primary School in Robinson, Texas.

With help from her school and the Region 12 Education Service Center, a VGo robot was brought to Robinson Primary on PJ's behalf.

The robot allows PJ to interact with classmates and observe lessons given by her teacher, Michelle Adkins, while she receives chemotherapy treatments at McLane Children's hospital in Temple, Texas.

Adkins told ABC News that her other 19 students are accustomed to PJ logging into the mobile robot from her iPad, and having it move around the classroom.

She also does home teaching visits with PJ two days a week to practice new skills face-to-face.

"I think she likes to interact with it," Adkins said. "She likes to know what we're doing and it's a way for her to get more learning time in. Her parents really enjoy it also."

Trojanowski, a dad of three, said he helps PJ drive the robot around the classroom from the hospital.

"She enjoys listening to the story time and listening in on the lessons," he said. "She told me, 'Sometimes it makes me sad because I want to be with my friends at school.'

"I tell her, 'You're at home now and get to watch and listen,'" he continued. "She's getting used to the idea. The support of the school district has been nothing short of amazing."

PJ is undergoing chemotherapy and will receive surgery to remove the two tumors at the end of April.

The Trojanowskis hope she can rejoin her classmates at the start of first grade.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Premature deaths of people under age 75 are increasing at a dramatic rate across the U.S., according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The authors of the foundation's annual report from its County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program noted a dramatic uptick in premature deaths in the U.S. due largely to "unintentional injuries," which include accidental drug overdoses and car crashes.

They found that in 2015, 1.2 million people in the U.S. died prematurely or before the age of 75 from causes considered preventable. This is an increase of nearly 40,000 from the previous year. These additional premature deaths were more likely to occur in younger people, the report found.

Eight-five percent of the increase in people who died prematurely in 2015 were 15 to 44 years old.

"These are Americans [who] are dying essentially in the prime of their life," said Abbey Cofsky, the deputy director of data and science at the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute, which collaborated on the report. "They are dying as young adults" or with young families, she added.

Accidental drug overdose, homicides and motor vehicle crashes appear to be huge factors in these deaths. The report's authors found that 6,787 people ages 15 to 24 died from motor vehicle accidents, 4,140 were firearm homicide victims and 3,727 died from drug overdoses. Accidental drug overdoses are increasing at a much more significant rate than other causes of premature death, the authors said.

The researchers have documented an increase in premature deaths since 2012, with a more dramatic increase from 2014 to 2015.

"That's when we really wanted to look deeper in population," said Julie Willems Van Dijk, a registered nurse and the director of the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program. She pointed out that before 2012, there was a long-term downward trend in the number of premature deaths.

"That's when we dug into the story [of increased injuries]. A lot of time people don't think of drug overdoses as injuries," she said. "Even when someone is a drug addict, they don't intend to die."

Opioid overdoses in particular have increased in recent years. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 33,000 people died because of opioid overdose in 2015 and that 91 people in the U.S. die every day from such drugs.

The researchers estimated the years of life lost in a population due to drug overdoses. For American Indian/Alaskan Natives, 736 potential years of life are lost per 100,000 people. The number was highest for white people, with 778 years lost per 100,000 people.

Dr. Ellie Ragsdale of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center said it has been a struggle to reach people most affected by opioid addiction, many of whom live in rural areas with fewer resources.

"That is a population that we have been trying to target for many years, and we want to decrease the epidemic," she said.

Ragsdale said doctors have been making an effort to cut down on the amount of opioids prescribed for patients, in the hopes of diminishing the epidemic.

"I think there's been a big collaborative effort among health care providers to limit prescriptions," she said. "We have seen a benefit on the front lines, but we're not seeing it in the data yet."

To see your county's health data, click HERE.

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ABC News(Chris Christie denies rift with Jared Kushner, says pair 'get along just great'

(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie denied there was tension between him and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, as the two prepare to team up in a new White House initiative to combat the nation's opioid epidemic, saying on Good Morning America Wednesday that they "get along just great."

When he was the U.S. attorney of New Jersey, Christie prosecuted Kushner's father, real estate mogul Charles Kushner, who was sentenced to prison in 2005 on 18 counts of tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign contributions.

Now, Christie is set to lead a new White House commission tasked with tackling opioid addiction nationwide. The commission will fall under the White House Office of American Innovation, which Trump unveiled Monday. The president appointed Kushner, his son-in-law and a senior aide, to lead the office.

“The Office of American Innovation will bring a creative and strategic approach to many critical issues and intractable problems that affect Americans’ quality of life,” Kushner said in a statement issued by the White House on Monday. “We have an opportunity to identify and implement solutions by combining internal resources with the private sector’s innovation and creativity, enabling the Federal Government to better serve Americans.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91 Americans die every day from opioid overdose, which includes prescription opioids and heroin. Deaths in the United States from prescription opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone, have more than quadrupled since 1999.

In addition to addressing the drug and opioid epidemic, the White House Office of American Innovation will create task forces to focus on other initiatives, including reforming care for veterans.

When asked on GMA Wednesday morning whether things were tense with Kushner given their history, Christie replied, "Not at all."

"That stuff is ancient history," he added. "Jared and I have worked incredibly well on this issue and, by the way, on a whole bunch of other issues during the campaign ... Jared and I get along just great."

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ABC News(RICHMOND, Va.) — For parents of terminally ill children, professional photographs aren't typically at the top of the priority list.

But the Tiny Sparrow Foundation, an organization that matches professional photographers with these families free of charge, says the parents they serve are often "incredibly appreciative and grateful for the memories."

ABC News traveled to Richmond, Virginia, to document a Tiny Sparrow photo shoot with the Cummings family. Veronica Cummings, 10, was born with a genetic condition called Trisomy 13.

"All I remember was, when I looked up, his face had turned white," mother Christina Cummings said about her husband, Ronnie, when Veronica was first born, "and he sat down on the couch, hands on his head, and doctors were calling for other doctors to come in and they wouldn’t let me see her, and I was on a lot of medicine."

"And the next thing I knew, a little bit later, they had brought in a geneticist who handed me a page-and-a-half printout stapled together," she said. "I just remember reading 'Trisomy 13 is not compatible with life' and I couldn’t even read past that."

"I couldn’t even read whatever else was on there because I didn’t understand how to take that. I had no idea and I didn’t believe that was happening."

"Not compatible with life" is a phrase parents of children with Trisomy 13 often hear. And while Veronica needs a great deal of assistance in every respect, her parents say she is very much alive and a tremendous blessing to her family and community.

"I couldn’t say this at the beginning, but I think now that it’s really a gift that was given to us, she’s touched so many people around us in so many different ways," said her father, Ronnie Cummings.

"I didn’t grow up around anybody with special needs in my family, Christina didn’t either, and just the change it’s made in people in our family," he said. "For me personally, she’s made me humble in a different kind of way. She needs us for everything, and it’s just changed me as a person in a good way. We're lucky that we have her."

It's a testament to both Veronica and her devoted parents and sisters -- Ava, 11, and Charlotte, 6 -- that she has lived for more than 10 years. "She’s so strong, she’s a fighter," her mother said.

But Christina has had to come to terms with the reality of losing Veronica, in the last year. Tiny Sparrow had offered a photoshoot to the family in the past, but she declined.

"I wasn’t ready for it," she said. "I thought it was an amazing organization for a great cause. I loved the idea, but I didn’t want to accept that we were candidates for that."

Other charitable organizations had also offered the Cummings family services that she didn't accept for the same reasons.

"It felt like similar to the way Veronica got a Make-A-Wish trip –- I wasn’t ready to take that for a whole 10 years," Christina said. "[Make-A-Wish] had been telling us 'Take it, take these trips,' and I didn’t want to because it felt like it’s the beginning of the end. And I wasn’t ready for that.

"But this past year, actually, she had been really sick," Christina said. "She hasn’t been to school at all this year. She was supposed to have surgery in January, and she had a surgery this past summer, and it just kept feeling like more and more things were going in the wrong direction. And so I opened up my mind to it and I said 'Okay, let’s go ahead and get some memories while she’s looking good, while she’s happy.' So only this past year, after 10 years of people telling me, you don’t know how long you have with her you need to take advantage of all these things."

Tiny Sparrow has worked with more than 200 families since its inception in 2009 and say their goal is to capture feelings and personality.

"We try to capture their [the child's] spirit and their smile and just the essence of who they are and the innocence," Communications Director Mary Beth Thomsen told ABC News. "We also get to capture the love of their family."

The Cummings' other daughters spoke about Veronica's spirit.

"Her smile brightens my day," said Charlotte.

That smile is what professional photographer Katie Cartwright was hoping to capture during the photo shoot. The Cummings family was the third family she photographed on behalf of Tiny Sparrow.

She said she strives for "the photos you get of the child when you get that expression in their eyes, the light caught in their eyes where you know that that’s something their parents will really cherish."

Thomsen said the foundation does a "special screening for our photographers because we need them to know that this is a very sensitive situation and they need to be handle it emotionally and they’re going to be put in a situation that is very difficult for them."

Tiny Sparrow doesn't have trouble finding photographers willing to donate their services, she said. But the demand for these photos is great and since the photographers are volunteers, it isn't always easy to keep up. The organization said it hopes to be able to raise enough funds for some paid positions this year.

"We're hoping to fund some paid part-time positions so we can have some dedicated people to dedicate their time to making these photo shoots happen," she said.

But they continue providing their services to families. On an overcast day in Virginia, there was an appreciative family and a talented photographer capturing special moments between the parents and children. Christina Cummings called the experience a success and reflected on what having Veronica in their lives has meant.

"We wouldn’t see the world that we see it, we wouldn’t have the doors open that we have open for us if it wasn’t for her, if it wasn’t for Veronica," she said. "It’s showed us a different side of humanity, who we can be, and to show our kids the same -- to see them grow up with the type of heart and compassion that you don’t always see in kids now."

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is set to play a role in a new White House effort to tackle the nation’s opioid epidemic, a White House official confirms to ABC News.

Christie was a central figure in President Trump's campaign and was the first to lead his transition team, but he was replaced with Vice President Mike Pence just days after the election.

He was also passed over for high-profile positions in Trump's administration, such as attorney general.

Politico has reported on the details of a draft order, not yet obtained by ABC News, which calls for the creation of a commission that will be tasked with making recommendations on the funding, treatment and law surrounding opioid addiction and treatment.

The expected commission would mark the president’s first foray into fulfilling one of his big campaign promises to address the opioid crisis.

Though the White House now confirms that Christie is set to take a role in helping the president on the effort, the New Jersey governor was uncharacteristically mum when asked about it on a New Jersey radio show earlier this week.

“We’ll see … I don’t jump any announcements by the President of the United States. If the president has something to announce, he’ll announce it when he wants, and then I can respond if I’m involved in any way,” he said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump signed on Tuesday the "Energy Independence" executive order, requiring the review of a regulation unpopular in coal country states where he was wildly popular on election day. The order also unravels former President Barack Obama's goal of tackling climate change.

"Today I'm taking bold action on that promise," Trump said at the signing of the executive order at the Environmental Protection Agency. "My administration is putting an end to the war on coal. We're going to have clean coal, really clean coal."

EPA chief Scott Pruitt said on "This Week" this past weekend, "This is about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach to how we do regulation in this country."

Part of Trump's executive order will require the EPA to rewrite one of the key parts of Obama's agenda, the Clean Power Plan.

What is the Clean Power Plan?

The Clean Power Plan, signed into law by Obama in August 2015, set the ambitious goal of requiring a 32 percent reduction in greenhouse gases emitted by existing power plants from 2005 levels by 2030.

Upon signing it, Obama called it the "the biggest, most important step we have ever taken to combat climate change."

According to the EPA, the Clean Power Plan was designed with three building blocks. First, it required an increase in the efficiency of existing coal-fired power plants. Second, it moved electricity generation away from fossil fuel-fired, coal power plants to natural gas-fired power plants. And third, it planned to increase the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

With the Clean Power Plan, each state was given specific carbon emission goal for electricity producers. The EPA claimed that the climate and health benefits of the plan "far outweigh the estimated annual costs of the plan, which are $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion in 2030." It also claimed that the plan would reduce asthma rates in adults and children.

But the Clean Power Plan isn't currently being enforced because the law is stuck in legal proceedings. On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the law pending judicial review. Attorney generals from 28 states -- led by Pruitt, when he was Oklahoma's attorney general -- joined together to claim that the plan presents too broad an interpretation of the Clean Air Act.

In December, those state attorney generals wrote a letter to President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan urging them to withdraw from the Clean Power Plan on day one of the Trump administration, saying that the rule "directly intrudes on each state's traditional prerogative over its mix of electricity generation."

Legal challenges ahead

The first hurdle for the Trump administration will be moving Obama's rule out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit where it currently stands in legal limbo.

The rewriting of the Clean Power Plan could take over a year, as it requires the EPA to follow the same procedure of rule-making used when crafting the original plan. This means, for every rule the EPA plans to rewrite, the administration will have to justify why the rule is being rolled back. Then, comments will be made on each of the new rules that the administration must respond to. This complex re-writing period will likely face hefty litigation from environmental advocacy groups opposed to the executive order.

How will this affect the Paris Climate Agreement?

The same year Obama signed into law the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. signed onto the Paris Climate Agreement.

The goal of the Paris deal is to commit countries worldwide to lowering the emission of greenhouse gasses. To remain in the deal, the U.S. must cut its emissions by about 26 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2025.

Exactly how the Clean Power Plan will affect the Paris Climate Agreement is "unknowable," Richard Lazarus, an environmental law professor at Harvard University, told ABC News.

"As a formal matter, we cannot really withdraw from Paris for about two years," said Lazarus. He added that China might welcome the withdrawal by the U.S, though, as it would provide the country with an opportunity to take leadership on a global issue and take the charge on clean technology innovations.

Rolling back the Clean Power Plan "affects our standing in the world as a leader in climate change issues and we'll have to see what the other countries do," he said.


Environmental advocacy groups and health organizations are roiling over Trump's executive order.

"With this executive order, the Trump administration is simply putting America further behind in the global race towards a renewable future," Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard said in a statement.

Rolling back the Clean Power Plan "disregards science," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at a press conference Tuesday with Democratic colleagues Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Sen. Ed Markey, D- Massachusetts, added "President Trump didn't issue an executive order, he issued a declaration of war on American climate leadership and our clean energy future. This executive order isn't about energy security, it’s about climate denial."

Harold Wimmer, CEO of the American Lung Association, raised concerns about how the new order will affect air quality. "Today's executive order directly contradicts EPA's core mission of protecting public health and the environment, and undercuts the Agency's ability to achieve the promise of the Clean Air Act -– ensuring that all Americans are able to breathe clean, healthy air."

But the United States Chamber of Commerce came out in support of the Trump administration's plans. "America got good news today when President Trump took bold steps to make regulatory relief and energy security a top priority," the lobbying group said in a statement. "The U.S. Chamber has long argued that EPA's power plant regulations are not only unlawful, they are a bad deal for American families and businesses."

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Case Western Reserve University(CLEVELAND) -- After years of paralysis, a man was able to pick up a cup of coffee and take a sip, thanks to experimental technology that allowed brain signals to control his arm with the help of a computer.

The researchers at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center documented their work in a new study published Tuesday in The Lancet medical journal. The study explains how a special electrical device, including implants in the brain and arm, allowed the man to control the movement of his right hand and arm years after being paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Dr. A Bolu Ajiboye, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University and lead study author, explained their patient was the first to have such a high level of paralysis and yet still be able to move his arm via the device called BrainGate2.

"He literally cannot do anything on his own," said Ajiboye of the study subject, who was paralyzed eight years before he took part in the study. "With [this] system, he's been able to scratch his nose or be able to take a take a drink of a cup of coffee ... he now has the ability to do things."

To help the unnamed patient, doctors used the experimental neural interface system, BrainGate2, which is being studied in clinical trials at various institutions in the U.S. The system works by using electrical chips in the brain to transmit data to a computer, which then sends electrical signals to the muscles to move. In this case, two small chips were implanted in the man's brain in order to transmit data via a cable to a computer. The researchers also implanted small electrodes in his right arm, so that electrical impulses can cause the muscles to move.

In a person with full mobility, a desire to move the arm will result in an electrical signal down the spinal cord to the muscles that will result in the arms moving. The devices recreates that by having the implant "read" data from the patient's brain, which the computer translates into action that is then triggered by electrical signals to implants in the patient's arm.

"What we are doing in this project is circumventing the spinal injury by taking [the] pattern of brain activity to directly stimulate the muscles," Ajiboye explained.

Ajiboye said the patient was excited to take part in the study despite the invasive surgery in order to be able to do things for himself again.

"He said, 'You know what I really want to [do is] drink coffee,'" Ajiboye recalled. "We showed him drinking through a straw and drink coffee [via the device]."

He also has gotten to feed himself and even itch his nose with the device. However, since the device is experimental, the patient can only use it in the lab, but researchers hope to eventually have a device that he can use at home.

"He definitely keeps us wanting to innovate," said Ajiboye. "We want to give him more functionality."

Dr. Ben Walter, medical director of the Deep Brain Stimulation Program at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and co-author of the study, said that this is still an early prototype with limitations. For example, the patient can't "feel" what he's holding; instead, he has to visually judge how much force to use in order to pick something up.

"In this particular application, he is not sensing the pressure and able to modulate the force based on feedback," Walter explained. "He can see what he's doing, but he can't feel."

While experimental, Walter said the implant is still an important move forward and could become much more streamlined in the future.

"In this case, he just thinks about moving and he moves," Walter said. "We're really putting things back together the way they're meant to be."

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Keegan Carnahan/Twitter: @selftltledtyler(TAMPA, Fla.) -- One little girl’s magical mermaid dreams of being “Under the Sea” came true during bath time last week.

Keegan Carnahan, a teen from Tampa, Florida, was helping give her nanny’s daughter a bath while the nanny, Jenna Haslam, was busy making dinner.

Haslam’s daughter, 3-year-old Alidy Clark, thought Carnahan looked like a real-life mermaid because of her dyed pink hair, so the teen decided to take it one step further by putting on a waterproof mermaid tail she had in her closet.

The timing worked out perfectly because Haslam had just ordered Alidy a children’s mermaid tail too, and the two quickly flipped and floated their way into “gadgets and gizmos a-plenty” paradise.

“Alidy had decided to wear her mermaid costume around the house and ironically I had gone through a phase a couple years ago and had a mermaid tail in my closet!” Carnahan, 15, wrote to ABC News. “I thought what happened was funny so I was texting my friend Sophia about it and put it on Twitter but I never would’ve expected it to get this big.”

Carnahan tweeted photos of their enchanting mermaid time together on March 22 and it was an instant hit on social media, garnering 15,000 retweets and 25,000 likes.

"What are you up to"

— keegs (@selftltledtyler) March 23, 2017

The girls’ sweet bonding time meant the world to Haslam, who said her daughter has been going through a tough time since Alidy’s father died in November.

“Since the day he passed, Alidy has decided to wear princess outfits. It makes her feel better, so I think we’ve gotten every single one,” Haslam explained of the costumes. “So the fact she and Keegan found something to bond about … for Keegan to take the time to do that for her meant the world.”

Carnahan, however, was thrilled for the opportunity to brighten Alidy’s day while channeling her own inner-mermaid.

“Alidy’s dad had passed away a couple months ago and that has obviously been pretty hard for her to comprehend,” said Carnahan. “I’m really happy that we were able to have fun and ‘dive’ into things that make her happy. I really hope to be in her life for as long as possible because she is a really hilarious kid.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A former Olympic hopeful-turned-truck driver has released a book on how to stay fit and lose weight even if you have a largely sedentary lifestyle.

Siphiwe Baleka is attempting to revolutionize the trucking industry, which has often been called one of the country's unhealthiest industries.

The fitness guru and long-haul trucker shared tips from his new book, 4-Minute Fit: The Metabolism Accelerator for the Time Crunched, Deskbound, and Stressed Out, live on ABC News' Good Morning America Tuesday.

Baleka, a former NCAA Division I athlete at Yale University who failed to qualify for the 1992 U.S. Olympic swimming trials in the 100-meter freestyle by just 0.8 seconds, became a trucker in 2008 after searching for a job that would allow him to travel.

As a truck driver, Baleka said his metabolism plummeted, and within weeks of spending all day sitting down, he gained 10 percent of his body weight.

He decided to retake control of his health, and then help other truck drivers do the same. Baleka eventually became a full-time fitness coach for the trucking company Prime Inc., where he has worked with thousands of truck drivers to help them stay fit and healthy while on the road.

Here are Baleka's top three metabolism-boosting tips:

1. "Get 4 minutes of rigorous exercise a day"
Baleka recommends getting at least four minutes of any kind of rigorous exercise every day. This activity will spike your metabolism, even if it is only done for four minutes, according to Baleka, who recommends slowly easing into up to 15 minutes of rigorous exercise every day.

2. "Spike your metabolism every 3 hours with food"
Eating a healthy snack every three hours can help keep your metabolism high, and Baleka said he found that many truck drivers would only eat one or two meals a day, which can have a crippling effect on your metabolism.

3. "Sleep the pounds off"
Baleka adds that sleep deprivation can be a big contributor to weight gain, and a lack of sleep can inhibit the body from regulating your metabolism properly.

4-Minute Fit: The Metabolism Accelerator for the Time Crunched, Deskbound, and Stressed Out hits shelves on Tuesday.

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ABC News/Mara SchiavocampoBy MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO

ABC News' Mara Schiavocampo shared her experiences after spending a day inside a metabolic chamber at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City. Schiavocampo's journey, which aired on "Good Morning America," was the first time that TV cameras were allowed to peek into a metabolic chamber, which is used to monitor your total energy expenditure and better understand how your body uses energy in everyday tasks such as resting, eating and exercising.

Three weeks ago I spent an entire day inside a vacuum-sealed metabolic chamber at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York; 23-hours trapped inside a room the size of a prison cell. Why? It’s the most cutting edge way to measure how your body burns calories, and just might provide a glimpse into the future of weight management. The room has previously only been available for research purposes, and I’m one of the first people to ever use it commercially.

After analyzing the data for weeks, I finally got the results. As someone who spends a lot of time reading about health and wellness, I wasn’t expecting to learn much. Instead, I was shocked by the results. Here’s what I learned about the way I burn energy:

1. For me, good ole fashioned cardio beats high intensity interval training (HIIT)
High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is one of the hottest new fitness trends. This is a training method where high intensity intervals are followed by brief periods of rest. For example, you might sprint for one minute, then walk for a minute, and repeat this cycle for 30 minutes. It’s widely believed to be one of the most efficient ways of exercising, burning more calories in less time. The chamber found that I burned more calories during a moderate steady run (10.7 per minute) than during a HIIT workout (7 calories per minute). Of course this isn’t a conclusive finding about HIIT’s effectiveness, but it surprised me because I felt like I was working much harder during HIIT.

2. After burn? Not so much
After burn is a phenomenon where your body continues burning calories at an elevated level after you’ve completed a workout. I always thought I was burning higher levels of calories for hours, even days, after an intense workout. Not so much. The chamber found that my body returned to pre-exercise calorie burning levels within 15-minutes of completing my workout. Bummer.

3. Carbs burn fast
The one thing that didn’t surprise me was seeing just how quickly my body burned through carbs. To test this, I spent six hours in a different, smaller chamber, and ate a high carb breakfast of a muffin and sugary coffee drink. My body torched those 750 calories in four hours, compared to the estimated six hours it would have taken to burn off a high-protein meal. This confirmed what most of us know instinctively; protein keeps you full longer.

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iStock/Thinkstock(SOUTH WEYMOUTH, Mass.) — A Massachusetts mother said her fifth-grader suffered severe burns after playing with homemade slime, a project she said she’s done with her daughter many times before without incident.

Siobhan Quinn said her 11-year-old daughter, Kathleen, endured second and third-degree burns on her hands after playing with the homemade slime, a "do it yourself" trend that surged in popularity this year thanks to social media.

"She was crying in pain, 'my hands hurt, my hands hurt,'" Quinn said in an interview with ABC News affiliate WCVB on Monday. "When we looked at them, they were covered in blisters."

The most common recipe for slime involves just three ingredients: Elmer’s Glue, the household cleaner Borax, and water. Users can also add a bit of food coloring for added effect.

Earlier this year, Elmer's U.S. sales rose 9 percent in the 13 weeks leading up to February 11, thanks to the popularity of slime, according to its parent company Newell Brands.

"I thought it was great," she said. "I encouraged it, bought all the stuff, and then when they were gone, I bought more. She was being a little scientist ... [Now] I feel terrible. I feel like the worst mother."

Quinn took her daughter to South Shore Hospital in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, where doctors said the injuries were likely the result of prolonged exposure to borax.

Consumer Reports' Chief Scientific Officer James Dickerson has warned about the dangers of using borax, which is meant to be a household cleaner or an additive for laundry, for other purposes, but many parents still use it.

"Just because you have it around, just because it seems to be perfectly safe for those types of applications doesn't mean it should be used in anything else, particularly household slime," Dickerson told WCVB last week.

The gooey stuff has been around for a while, but it surged in popularity this year as more parents and kids began to share their creations on social media. More than 1.2 million results appear on YouTube from a search for "homemade slime."

Quinn said she, like many moms in the country, made the slime many times before without a problem, but now she’s warning others against it.

"I've had other mothers say, 'Oh, we've made it a million times, it's fine, nothing happened to my child,'" she told WCVB. "We made it a million times, too, and nothing else happened."

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The Baby Box Company(NEW YORK) -- Alabama will give families of all newborns in the state free baby boxes in which to slumber if they take a quiz on sleep safety. The initiative, to start Wednesday, follows New Jersey and Ohio's campaigns for infant sleep safety with the Baby Box Co.

For Alabama, however, the goal is for the state to combat its higher than usual infant mortality rate, where 8.3 infants die every year out of 1,000 births, compared with the national average of 5.8 infant deaths to 1,000 births, according to officials.

"Alabama is sort of in a crisis situation," Jennifer Clary, CEO of the Los Angeles-based Baby Box Co., told ABC News while comparing the state's infant mortality rate to the other two states that have already started using the company’s resources.

About 3,500 infants die every year in the United States from sleep-related infant deaths, like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“If every mother in the state of Alabama used the baby box, it could cut the infant immortality rate by 22 percent,” Suzanne Booth, executive assistant for the Alabama Rural Development Office, told ABC News.

The top three causes of infant deaths in Alabama are malformations at birth, disorders from short pregnancies like low birth weights in premature babies and SIDS, according to Alabama Department of Public Health.

Alabama has set up the resources where parents can watch online videos about SIDS and safe sleep for their newborns through Baby Box University, and take a quiz to qualify for the free box. The families can pick up the boxes at a distribution center or have them mailed to their home address.

The baby box is portable, secure and comes with a firm foam mattress and tight-fitting sheet for safe sleeping. The boxes, which retail for about $70 to $225, also include breast-feeding accessories, onesie, diapers and wipes.

“It feels to me sometimes that I’m doing more for these families by giving them the education, and giving them the box, than by actually being their midwife during labor,” Celina Cunanan, director of the division of nurse-midwifery for University Hospitals/Case Medical Center in Cleveland, told ABC News.

Infant mortality rates among black infants were also three times higher than white infants in Alabama, even though there are nearly double the number of white infant births in 2015, according to the state.

Here are some tips the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to create a safe sleep environment for an infant:

  • Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
  • Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
  • Avoid baby's exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.

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Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With drug overdoses causing tens of thousands of deaths every year in the U.S., physicians are calling for the crisis to be treated like a medical emergency.

On Monday, the American College of Physicians (ACP) published a position paper arguing that action needs to be taken by the medical community and others to stem the crisis, especially in light of the massive growth of the opioid epidemic.

"Twenty-two million people need treatment and a large percentage of people aren't getting treatment," Dr. Nitin S. Damle, president of the American College of Physicians, told ABC News, citing national statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). "We want to focus the spotlight on that."

In the paper, the ACP is making a host of new recommendations on the basis that substance abuse should be considered a chronic disease that needs ongoing treatment, not a "moral disorder or character defect."

Damle said compared to other chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes, where 75 percent of people get treatment, just 18 percent of people with substance abuse disorders get treatment, according to CDC statistics.

The ACP paper emphasizes shifting the focus to treatment, rather than punishment, for drug addiction, including opioids. They said they would like to see tighter controls for opioid prescriptions, more training in the medical community to deal with substance abuse and more options for patients to receive mental health treatment.

In addition, the ACP advocates for policies that give non-violent drug offenders the option to receive treatment and reduced prison sentences for possession.

"We need to have more treatment programs and we need to have more funding in this area," Damle explained. "It's a heavy societal burden it really endangers families and not just individuals."

Physicians can make a huge difference in combating the substance abuse epidemic by limiting the amount of opioids they prescribe, Damle added. Checking databases to ensure patients aren't getting opioid drugs from other doctors and taking additional courses on substance abuse to better treat disorders can also help, he said.

Opioid abuse remains a deadly crisis in the U.S. An estimated 91 people fatally overdose on opioids every day, according to the CDC, and approximately 52,000 died from drug overdoses in 2015.

Dr. Caleb Alexander, Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, said the paper is "welcome news" given how little help there is for people suffering from substance abuse disorders.

"There is a huge gap between the need for these services and their delivery," Alexander said. "Millions of Americans need treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem yet don’t receive."

"This is all the more shocking because it’s a good investment," he continued. "For every dollar invested in drug prevention and treatment, we save money as a society –- we can either pay for it now, or pay for it later."

Alexander said the fact that the paper emphasizes treatment for substance addiction rather than incarceration is important.

"When it comes to opioids, we should be talking about addiction, not abuse," he said. "Addiction is a disease, abuse is a behavior."

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