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July 19, 2013

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 19, 2013 BioHug offers hugtherapy in an automatic vest By Abigail Klein Israel21c Most of us have moments when we could really use a hug--when we're sad, lonely, scared or stressed. The therapeutic value of a good squeeze for emotional wellbeing is well docu- mented. For people affected by autism, post-traumatic stress and anxiety or atten- tion disorders, research has shown that hugging is an especially effective soother. That is the scientific fact behind the develop- ment of the BioHug Vest by Haifa-based  BioHug Technologies. Already in use and soon to roll out to a wide market, the vest provides an effective, portable, non-restraining stress-relief solution using deep, hug-like pressure. "We're all familiar with stress, which is associated with lots of health prob- lems," says BioHug CEO Andrew Schiffmiller. "For some populations it can be associated with much more severe symptoms-- someone with autis/n under stress may injure himself or An occupational therapist at University of North Carolina hospital wears a BioHug vest. others, while,someone with ADHD under stress may be unable to stay on task." Technion-educated en- gineer Ral/fi Rembrand already had business expe- rience and a few medical- related inventions under his belt. As the father of a son with autism, Rembrand well understood the calm- ing benefits of hugging. "It has not only an emo- tional content, but pressure on certain parts of the body has a physiological effect of calming in a measurable way," says Schiffmiller. Oh a practical level, it's not always possible (or ethi- cal, in a school setting) to get a hug as often or as long as needed. Others have tried to solve the problem with devices like the "squeeze machine" improvised by animal science expert and autism advocate Temple Grandin based on a cattle- restraining chute. The hefty box is fairly effective but not practical, says Schiffmiller. "Others have tried to induce a calming effect us- ing constant pressure from .weights, and it works--but only for short time, because after a few minutes the body gets used to it," he says. The same problem applies to a few pressure vests on the market, which are also less effective because they require manually pumping ai" into them--something not every wearer can do. Rembrand's adjustable- fit, cotton-blend vest shell has an integrated light- weight air compressor and single-board computer, plus tiny valves and pipes that feed compressed air to plastic "bubbles" under the lining of the washable vest. The unique twist to this invention is that the air can be pumped into the bubbles automatically according to a pre-defined script, or manually via remote control. The location and duration of the "hug" can be varied so the effects are longer lasting. The vest is powered by rechargeable batteries and lasts for up to four hours between charges. BioHug Vest hit the mar- ket a few months ago and is being used in group homes for people with autism in Israel, in schools in Israel and the U.S., and by occu- pational therapists in the U.K. and Canada. "We started in the world of autism," says Schiff- miller. "One of the other areas we're using it is post- trauma. After the Novem- ber [2012] rocket barrages in the south, we teamed up with OneFamily, which helps victims of terror, to use BioHug as a calming intervention for those suffering post-traumatic stress symptoms." BioHug Technologies is expecting to begin clinical trials at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital to see how the vest helps patients suf- fering from chronic pain, "because there is a stress component to chronic pain," explains Schiff-" miller, who holds a degree in experimental psychology and comes from a manage- ment background in the pharmaceutical industry. The vest was developed with input from occu- pational therapist and autism researcher Eynat Gal of the University of Haifa and the Research Institute for Health and Medical Professions at Ono Academic College in Israel. The company's board in- cludes Shlomo Oren, CEO of Carmel Haifa University Economic Development Corporation, and Margalit Tirosh, former CEO of ALUT---The Israeli Society for Autistic Children. "The distance between the bottom and the top in .{srael is small, and BioHug is a really good illustration of that concept," Schiff- miller says. '"Ours is a story of a father of an adult with autism who is also an engineer and had a great idea. He walked into ALUT and got the support of the largest autism advocacy organiza- tion in the country. His wife frequently talked with researchers concerning the treatment of autism, and this led to a collaboration with the Haifa University on the project." Through those sources, the company entered the L.N. Green Technological Incubator in Haifa, which operates privately under the auspices of the Israeli Chief Scientist's Office. "I am not sure there's arty other country where this could have happened the same way," Schiffmiller observes. Teen Heroes: Ben Hirschfeld00 By Suzanne Kurtz This is the first install- men t of Teen Heroes, JTA's biweekly column profiling teens involved in interest- ing and important social action. See below for in- formation about Our spon- sor and how to nominate someone for coverage. A (safe) lightunto students in Africa (JTA)--When Ben Hirschfeld first heard that students in developing African "countries lacked electricity and must endure noxious fumes from smoky kerosene lamps while read= ing and doing their school- work, the teenager from Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., knew he had to find a way  Development Corporation for Israel Israel Bonds 12600 South Belcher Road, Suite 101A to help. Over the last four years-- with guidance from his neighbor and fellow Wood- lands Community Temp!e member Pare Allyn, who also heads the New York- based literacy organization LitWorld--Hirschfeld, 19, has raised enough money to replace the dangerous kero- sene lamps with cost-effec- tive and environmentally friendly solar lanterns for than 1'5,000 additional students and their families in Kenya as well as Guinea and Nigeria. With the funds, Hirschfeld says, his goal is "trying to be as high impact as possible." JTA recently caught up with him to talk about his service project, the impgr- tance of tikun olam and his future plans. JTA: Who or what are the-biggest influences in more than 11,300 Kenyan your life? I SRAE L BONDS .......... Largo, Florida 33773 Reve Pearlstein Monica DiGiovenni Assisfanf Director Registered Represenfaf/ve 727-539-6445 = 800-6224017 tampa@isr www.israe;Ibonds,com students and their families. Ben Hirschfeld: I would A recent recipient of a Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award, Hirschfeld, a rising sophomore at Columbia University, says he plans to use his $36.000 prize to expand his "Lit! Solar Ca B-5469! Caring for you In your home or facility part.time or 24 hours 7 days a week. We always provide a C.N.A. Exercises ng Medtion Reminders Errands & Transportation Alzheimer's & Dementia Care Bathing/Trensferring/Toileting Get 10 hours of care FREE/ Call us TODAY for details,.. Stata of FL AHCA License # NR 0211467 State o FLAHCA License # 231012 Ismd nd Ionaed say my communit and my family. From them I've learned what to be proud of and what to strive for. JTA: What have been some of the most meaning- ful Jewish experiences in your life? BH: I grew up in a very Jewish environment. There was always an emphasis on tikun olam at my temple and at home. I studied at the Technion [in Israel[ and I was part of Hazamir. a Jewish choral group. JTA: How has your Jewish identity had an impact on your service project? BH: After the first dis- tribution of lanterns, I remember waking up that morning and seeing the feedback and I said right there, "Now I really feel like a bar mitzvah. "I re- ally connected then to the Jewish value of tikun olam and feeling like a respon- sible man. JTA: If you could have lunch with anyone and tell him or her about your service project, who would it be? BH: Bill Clinton. I'm re- ally interested and inspired by the work of the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, specifi- cally their work on HIV and finding market-based solu- tions to combat the disease. Ben Hirschfeld has heed supply more than 11,300 Ke- nyan students with solar lanterns to use while reading and doing their schoolwork. JTA: What do you think you want to be doing when "you grow up" or think you'd like to be doing pro- fessionally in perhaps five or 10 years? BH: I'd love to be doing something that allows me to still be helping people and making a difference. Whether it's through a for-profit or a nonprofit or a combination of the two. working in developing economies is an area that is exciting for me to explore and a place where you can make the most difference, especially in health and literacy. JTA: What kind of things do you like to do for fun? BH: I love spending time with my friends outdoors-- barbecuing, building fires, hiking. I also play gugtar and I'm in an a cappella group at college. The Teen Heroes column is sponsored by the Helen Diller Family Founda- tion, which is dedicated to celebrating and support- ing teens repairing the world. To learn more about the foundation's $36,000 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, visit httfl://diller- Please tell us about teens who deserve attention by sending an email to