3D Printing and Orthopaedic Research

There’s only so much you can do with the average plastic sawbone model.  So SPRI researchers have taken new technologies to the lab, tinkering with little 3D-printed femurs.  “We’re trying to simulate the cortex of a bone so that they could be used for a model to drill through bone,” said Kelly Adair, director of the Surgical Skills Laboratory.  “When you drill through a real bone it’s harder on the outside … and when you get through the middle it is cancellus (spongy bone).  We are trying to come up with a better model because the normal sawbones just have a hard outer [plastic] surface and then you just punch through them.  We’re trying to make them more consistent.”

Adair received the 3D printed femurs in November and immediately put them to the test.  “We drilled through them and put anchors in them, more to look at the tactile feedback.  The goal is to help a surgeon get that [realistic] feeling in a model.  The more realistic it is to a surgeon the more applicable it is to use as a demo device or a practice tool,” Adair said.

Adair says 3D printing may be the ticket to creating a more realistic bone model.  “The material we are using is interesting because you can actually coat it with harder more pliable materials,” Adair noted.  “We had 4 different models with different coatings and I think a couple of them were closer [to bone].”

The femurs were printed by LGM, a local modeling company located in Minturn.  Under the leadership of director and CEO Charles Overy, LGM has become a national leader in 3D printing for architecture.  Working with researchers at SPRI created an opportunity for them to dabble with new gradient and infiltration printing methods.  During a tour through the LGM facility, Overy showed me how 3D printing actually works.  It starts with a scanned image.  The scan is fed to a large box-shaped machine equipped with a standard HP print head, giving it the ability to use color.  The machine is filled with a soft white powder; in this case Overy used substances called epoxy and cyanoacrylate infiltrations with high and low saturation to achieve different densities.

“The 3D printer uses powder the same way the Ancient Egyptians built arches with sand,” Overy explained.  The machine sees the scanned image as multiple 2D layers.  It then prints these layers one after another (removing excess powder) until the 3D object is complete.  “With 3D printing, you can make it as complex or simple as you want, even an incredibly complex vascular structure, down to the resolution of the printer,” Overy said.  The process is not very long; it took about 4 hours to print up the femur bone models.

 Adair and Overy agree that 3D printing has a bright future in medical applications.  There are already printers in Denver that create titanium drill guides for teeth, and others have printed soft tissues.  In orthopaedics, 3D printers could replicate a patient’s unique trauma before surgery, which may be especially helpful in complex cases.  “You can vastly enhance the ability of the surgical team to practice on extraordinary cases by printing extraordinary geometry that wasn’t available on a commercial model,” Charles said.

Adair also pointed out that “it would benefit the patient in the long run, because a replica can be tested.”

The next step in 3D printing may even extend to printing biological materials into customizable clinical implants.  “That’s the hope,” Overy said.  “The real promise of 3D printing is that rather than [focusing on] mass produced objects, every object can be customizable.  Every one can be unique.  And yet you can make another one fairly cost effectively.”

For more information on LGM and 3D printing, you can visit their Web site:

From The Inner Connect Newsletter

Protecting Pricey Purchases 

High priced gadgets like laptops, gaming systems and flat screen TVs may be at the top of the wish list.  And the shopping rush from November to January brings offers of extended warranties for a couple hundred dollars more.  Before you drop that extra hundred bucks at check out, it's important to consider other ways you can protect your holiday purchase.  A homeowners and renters insurance policy can actually give you more protection in the case of damage and theft.  Winter months are notorious for hazards like fires and floods that can threaten your personal belongings.  Theft rates also tend to spike during the shopping rush.  Whether you own a home or rent, the right insurance policy will protect your goods from various perils.  Homeowners and renters insurance can cover the cost of replacement for losses in your house or even in your vehicle.  So if you happen to be hiding a pricy gift in the car when a thief breaks in, you can replace it.

Renters without insurance should especially consider this type of policy.  While the landlord probably has insurance for the building, the personal items inside are still at risk.  For about $15 a month, you can have a policy with thousands of dollars in coverage to replace your possessions.  Renters insurance also includes liability protection, in case you are sued, and coverage for other living expenses.

Knowing the difference between insurance and warranties can save you money.  Warranties are designed to guarantee the quality of a product for a certain amount of time.  But they usually will not cover replacement costs from accidents or theft.  It's also a good idea to keep a home inventory, listing values and model numbers for each belonging.  Talk to an agent to find a homeowners or renters insurance plan that fits your needs.  They will explain provisions and deductibles, and as your inventory changes over time, an agent can help make sure you are not under-insured.

From The Latest Nevin and Witt Insurance News Newsletter

Shawntel Newton, "The Bachelor" contestant and funeral director, introduces book

“There she is!” members of the audience hummed when Shawntel Newton appeared from behind a column of shelves for her book signing event at Lyon Books and Learning Center Wednesday night.  At standing room only, the bookstore was brimming with an estimated 80 fans, friends, and family members.  Although they had all seen Newton on “The Bachelor” TV show, some of them knew her better as the funeral director who had orchestrated a funeral for their family.  While “The Bachelor” may have brought Newton national fame, her book mostly focuses on her career as a funeral director and embalmer, and her life growing up in Chico.

“I never thought I’d be a funeral director and embalmer.  I never thought I’d be on a reality TV show.  And never once in my life did I ever think I would be standing here telling people about a book I wrote,” the 26-year-old said with a laugh as she debuted her memoir, “Final Rose.”  Newton shared a few stories from her book about growing up in a Christian household and her experiences in college.  “My first year in college was a struggle.  My boyfriend broke up with me and my fish, Fred, died.”

As a teenager Newton never thought she would take up the family business at Newton-Bracewell Funeral Homes.  In college she took a Myer’s-Briggs test to see what her calling in life would be.  She was surprised by the result:  Funeral Director.  “Ok, my dad must have rigged this computer,” she joked.  Newton then began to seriously explore the family profession and learned there was a lot more to it than she had originally thought.  Mortuary school soon followed. 

Newton’s excursion on “The Bachelor” started when her sisters signed her up for the show.  As Bachelor Brad Womack (season 15) stated, Shawntel Newton was “the hottest funeral director” that the show had ever met. 

Newton recalled her shopping spree in Las Vegas and travelling around the world.  The book-signing audience seemed most eager to hear more about bringing “The Bachelor” home to Chico.  “You’re laughing because you saw [Brad] lay on the prep table,” Newton said as she described the funeral home tour that aired on the show.

Fans were happy to see their town on national television.  “Shawntel represented Chico really well,” said Chico resident Judy Fales.  “And some people may think a funeral home is boring, but Shawntel showed that’s not the case.”

“It was so fun to see our town on TV,” said bookstore owner Heather Lyon.

Being sent home from the show was difficult for Newton.  “I came home and I grieved for several weeks.  I felt like an idiot.”  It was especially difficult for her to see negative posts about her on the Internet.  But she said that the overall reaction in Chico was positive.  “People on the street would want to take pictures with me.  Moms would say I’m a good role model for their daughter,” she said.

More recently, Newton thought she’d give “The Bachelor” another shot.  She had been in contact with season 16’s Ben Flajnik before he became the next Bachelor.  “We wanted to meet up, but then he became the Bachelor and it never happened.”  To the shock of the other season 16 contestants, she came back to the show hoping Ben would give her a chance.

“It was awful,” Newton said.  “The girls called me bad names and it definitely wasn’t easy.”  She was sent home that very same night.  After reflecting on that evening, Newton was glad things panned out as they did.  “Now I feel like I dodged a bullet … and I mean that in the best possible way,” she laughed.  “Ben told me it wasn’t fair.  But the whole show’s not fair.  I want a man who is willing to put up a little fight for me.  But he wasn’t.”

“I’m so glad I did it because [otherwise] I would have wondered, what if,” Newton said.

The second time she left the show, Newton’s book was well underway.  She poured into the memoir for three months.  “I think I’ve been to every coffee shop in Chico,” she said.

Her father, Ric Newton, said, “She never let me look at the book until it was published.”  Reading his daughter’s completed book for the first time was a moving experience for him.  “When I read 'Final Rose', I read it as her diary.  I could relate to the real life experiences and 'The Bachelor'.  I connected with her emotionally.  I got a lump in my throat and the next moment I’d smile and laugh,” he said.  “I did not realize the parental influence I had in my daughter’s life [before].  It really touched me when I read it.”

“[This book-signing event] was really nice and personal because it was a small setting,” said Nina Zamudio, who had seen Newton speak at a women’s conference.  “It was like a hug.”

Fans of “The Bachelor” were happy to meet Newton in person.  “I thought it was really cool that she came to support Chico at the local bookstore.  I watched every single episode with my mom,” said Jennifer DeWitt.

Jennifer’s mother, Wendy DeWitt, agreed.  “It was great to support Shawntel and hear her in person without the cameras.  I think it’s great to have something as big as ‘The Bachelor’ in Chico.  She’s our local hero!”

Newton said that she has no intentions of becoming The Bachelorette in the future.  She met this year’s Bachelorette, Emily Maynard, during Brad’s season.  “Emily is great.  I wish her the best of luck.  But no thanks for me.  I’m retired from roses.  Daisies are my favorite flowers.”  Now she plans to succeed her dad at the funeral home, along with Dane Bracewell.

Shawntel Newton’s book is on sale at local booksellers around Chico and Online at and  So far Lyon Books has sold more than 80 copies of “Final Rose”. 


Our doctors serving elite athletes at Sochi Olympics and around the world

Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Tom Hackett took “Keeping People Active” to winning degrees as Chief Physician for the U.S. Olympic Snowboarding Team at the Sochi Olympics.

Injuries are part of the game when it comes to high intensity sports like skiing and snowboarding, so having top physicians nearby is crucial for Olympians who push their bodies to the absolute limit.  “We’re here to take care of those problems when they arise,” said Dr. Hackett in a prior interview.

The Steadman Clinic has cared for many Olympians over the years.  Professional athletes, like U.S. Skier Tim Jitloff, trust their physicians with their careers.  “It gives us a lot of confidence when we are putting our bodies on the line and we know [that] we’ve got guys that can take care of us should something ever happen,” said Jitloff at Birds of Prey 2012.  Sochi was his second trip to the Olympics with the U.S. Ski Team.  “A lot of us on the team have had injuries, and because of what they’ve done with the research [at The Steadman Philippon Research Institute], it allows us to come back faster.  It allows us to come back stronger.”

With a background of excellence in orthopaedics and years of research, Dr. Hackett, along with the Steadman Clinic and SPRI, has much to offer elite athletes.  “Our techniques have evolved and improved and I think that our ability to get people back onto snow is better than it has ever been,” said Hackett.

The Olympics is but one of many sporting events that our doctors support.  Other attending physicians and sports medicine fellows travel the world often with top athletic teams.  “The US Ski Team has an orthopaedic surgeon with them regardless of where they are in the world,” said Dr. Viola when we spoke to him last summer.  “Whenever they’re training on snow, they have an orthopaedic surgeon.” 

Dr. Viola smiles when he describes his experiences serving as a U.S. Ski Team physician.  “Working with the U.S. Ski Team is certainly unique.  The slopes the athletes are skiing on aren’t easy so it forces you to go ski,” said Viola.  “I think it’s a lot more fun because you get to travel all over the world, you work with a great, really fun group of guys, and you get to go skiing.  So it’s a phenomenal experience.”    

The 2014 Sochi Olympics was not Dr. Hackett’s first rodeo, so to speak.  He also worked as an Olympic Physician at the Vancouver winter games in 2010.  “It really is an honor,” said Hackett in a recent Denver Post interview.  “This is a way I can provide a service to my country.”

From The Inner Connect Newsletter

Keeping Your Personal Data Secure:  Top Ten Tips

Stories of identity theft and data breeches have been everywhere lately, from news of stolen nude celebrity photographs to large companies like Target infiltrated by information thieves.  Government reports released within the last couple of years serve to indicate that all of us are potential targets for hackers.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that over 16 million U.S. Americans became victims of identity theft in 2012 alone.  That's about seven percent of the population.  "Financial losses totaled $24.7 billion," BJS headlined.  (You can read the report at

The hackers are everywhere, but there are ways we can deter them.  The Federal Trade Commission is one great resource for information on identity theft and prevention.  They recommend keeping a few things secure: personal information offline, personal data online, social security numbers, and data from computers and mobile devices.  Lucky for me, I have a family member working in the data security industry who is happy to share a bit more on how to better protect digital information.  Nathan Riley, associate services engineer at Logrhythm, develops security intelligence systems that automatically react to hacking and alert analysts (you can find out more about them at  Riley says adhering to a few insider tips can help people better secure their personal digital data. 

Here are the top ten ways  to secure your digital data:

1.  Be Obscure.  Stick to activity that does not draw the interests of hackers.  Do not keep a list of important passwords on your computer or mobile devices.  Riley says this is likely the reason Target was hacked.  "The trick is not having anything worth looking for, or creating things like 'honey pots' which are dummy connections."  A thief who gets access into a computer (through spyware or stealing a laptop for example), would love to find a desktop document titled "My Passwords".

2.  Use Strong Passwords.  Hackers today have moved beyond just guessing.  They can query a database and look for what seems significant, then use that data to hack a password.  Make your password obscure by not relating it to information like birthdays and family names.  A good password containing letters and numbers that seem random is a great way to deter simple hackers.  

3.  Don't Share Too Much on Social Media.  Thieves can use personal information you share publicly on sites like Facebook and Twitter to steal your identity.  They can find out who your family members are, when you are going on vacation, and where you work.  They can then use this information to answer those challenge questions that your bank web site asks when you log in.  The Federal Trade Commission says never to post "your full name, social security number, [home] address, phone number, or account numbers in publicly accessible sites."

4.  Don't Click.  Keep your pointer away from unknown web site links, advertisements, Emails from strangers, and links in any suspicious Emails.  Hackers use these portals to send out viruses and spyware.  Also watch out for impersonators claiming to be a company you have an account with.  They should never send you an Email asking you for your personal information.  If this happens, contact that company by phone or by the official web site and ask them if they sent you such an Email.  

5.  Use Encryption.  Look for an icon of a lock on the status bar of your internet browser when visiting a web site to do business.  If you see that little lock, that means the web site is encrypted and your credit card number will be safe when you send it.  When a hacker tries to look at encrypted data, it appears scrambled and unreadable.  It is best to only transact business on web sites that are encrypted.  By the way, all of The Steadman Clinic's and The Steadman Philippon Research Institute's email systems and web sites dealing with personal information are encrypted and secure.  You can also purchase programs to encrypt your computer at home.

6.  Don't Use Auto Log In.  This is especially important for laptops, mobile devices, and any machine you use outside of home.  With automatic logging in, a thief would not even need to do any hacking to get into your accounts.  Log off of your accounts and out of the computer device when you are done. 

7.  Secure Everything Mobile.  This includes phones, tablets, laptops, and anything else that can hold data that you carry around with you.  Use the lock feature to keep thieves out. When disposing of old devices, make sure you completely wipe the hard drives clean by overwriting them in a utility program.  Some people physically destroy their old hard drives by drilling holes completely through the disk.  Remove the SIM card (subscriber identity module) from your old phone and delete any data saved on the phone: address book, call log, messaging, web history, photo data, etc.

8.  Read the Privacy Policy.  Avoid doing business with a web site that does not have one.

9.  Hire a Security Analyst.  Analysts monitor networks with personal information and react to security breeches.  Credit card companies hire them, but they are also a good idea for high profile people (like celebrities who are unable to fly under the hacker radar.)

10.  Remediation.  This is the most important way to deal with hackers.  "You can't keep them [all] out," Riley says.  "If you think you are at risk, change your password.  React to suspicious activity.  Look over your activity logs.  That is actual security."

I, for one, have a few security changes to make at home!  If you would like more tips on keeping your personal information safe, visit

From The Inner Connect Newsletter

Brady Goes Head First into Pond Skimming  

Each year Vail celebrates the end of the ski season with the World Pond Skimming Championships competition presented by Red Bull.  Participants wear wild costumes, ski or snowboard down hill, and attempt to zip across the long pond without sinking.  Twelve years running and with 75 competitors, the MC called this the largest pond skimming event in the world.   

This year, SPRI Intern Brady Williams bravely took the Pond Skimming challenge.  Completely cloaked in bubble wrap, Bubble Boy flew down the hill and high into the air.  With a spectacular areal flip, Williams dove head first into the pond.  Though he did not clear the length of the pond, judging by the cheers he was a crowd favorite.  “It was exciting coming down the slope until I hit the bottom and realized I was going too fast,”  Williams said.  “The water was pretty cold but landing upside down was probably safer.”  

We think Williams scored extra points for his creative costume.  There were at least three Joe Dirts and two Easter Bunnies but we only saw one Bubble Boy.  Williams explained, “I wanted a costume that I knew nobody else would have. I saw a big roll of bubble wrap at Walmart and thought, why not? I hope the suit floats!”  

For Williams, community sporting events like this one make Vail special.  “They’re a great way to get people out and involved.  And it’s hard not to like events with the potential for giveaways and other free stuff.”   

Although Williams enjoyed the experience, he’s not sure he would participate again.  “But who knows,” he said.  “Ask me this time next year.” 

From The Inner Connect Newsletter

Health Care Reform Provisions 2012

Health care in America has been looking a little bit different ever since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010.  With today’s wavering political climate and Supreme Court decisions yet to be made, the end result of health reform is still subject to change.  Even so, this will be a big year for Affordable Care Act provisions already set in motion.  There are five major provisions coming in to play this year with the goals of “improving quality and lowering costs” according to

 Accountable Care Organizations


The new law began providing financial incentives to physicians, hospitals, and other providers to voluntarily join together and form Accountable Care Organizaions (ACO).  These groups are geared towards Medicare recipients and share information to better coordinate patient care. states that patients who have multiple doctors would have their medical information readily available, fewer duplicated medical procedures, and would not need to explain their medical situation over and over again.  ACOs that provide high quality care at a lower cost can share in the savings with the Medicare system.

Dealing with Disparities in Health Care


“Not all Americans have equal access to health care—or similar health care outcomes. Low-income Americans, racial and ethnic minorities, and other underserved populations often have higher rates of disease, fewer treatment options, and reduced access to care. They are also less likely to have health insurance than the population as a whole,” states.  To begin addressing these types of disparities, the law propels the collection of racial, ethnic, gender and language data to research and reduce disparities.  It will also help fund community health centers and encourage diversity among health care professionals.  The goal is to make health care affordable for all by 2014. 

Rebates on Insurance Premiums


Some consumers may see an insurance rebate this summer.  As a result of the medical loss ratio initiative (MLR), health insurance companies and HMOs must spend the majority of their collected premiums (80-85 percent) on actual medical care instead of profits. Companies who do not meet the profit requirements are to send the extra money back to the consumers. 

Value-Based Purchasing


The Value-Based Purchasing program will link a hospital’s payment to the cost and quality of services that they provide in the Medicare system.  Hospital performance statistics must be made public for measures relating to heart attacks, surgical care, patients’ quality of care and more.  The law aims to reward hospitals with better payment for quality care.

From Paperwork to Electronic Records


Health care is one of the few industries still dependent on paper and ink.  In the fall the law will kick off a series of changes to implement electronic health records as the new standard.  By moving away from paper, the plan is to reduce paperwork, cut costs, and reduce errors.

When looking for the right health insurance plan for your individual needs, it may be more important than ever to have an experienced agent on your side.  Your Nevin and Witt agent will tell you exactly what you need to know to make an educated decision on what health insurance plan is right for you.  And as the tide of health care reform ebbs and flows, our full-time customer service agents will be there to answer any questions about your policy.  If you would like to speak with an agent about health insurance plans, call us at 1-800-247-9889.

From The Latest Nevin and Witt Insurance News Newsletter

The Little Red Hen serving children and adults with developmental disabilities

The Little Red Hen locations in Chico are more than just a Plant Nursery, Kitchen Store and Gift Shop.  Every purchase made at this non-profit organization goes to benefitting children and adults in the community living with developmental disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and others.

Executive Director Teresa Wolk Hayes has made the Little Red Hen her life’s work.  It all started about 20 years ago when Hayes’ son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three.  “All of a sudden my focus was on him and helping him heal,” Hayes recalled.

At the time, there were little to no resources in the community for autistic children, so she started a small group with some other parents.  “We now know that behavioral intervention is the only thing that really works for autism,” Hayes explained, thinking back on the humble beginnings of her program.  “But back then not a lot was known.” 

Early on, Hayes hosted a swim program at her home, where children with developmental disabilities had one-on-one swimming instruction and their parents could provide support.  The swim program garnered attention from larger groups in the state.  Representatives from Far Northern Regional Center had heard about Hayes’ swim program and came by for a visit.  They were so impressed that they gave support and funding, and the program lasted for 15 years.

With a natural talent for nurturing and helping things grow, Hayes also began using plants for therapy and started selling them around town.  “We had a whole bunch of plants,” she laughed.  “They were all over the place.”  Hayes credits the plants for giving her the idea to name The Little Red Hen after a folk tale about farming, hard work and community.  Hayes thought of this story while digging holes for the plants.  She realized she was doing the work alone, when it would be better to have the involvement of families to truly benefit children with disabilities. 

The Little Red Hen program soon branched out and grew successfully.  A plant nursery was founded ten years ago, and since then, The Little Red Hen has sprouted a gift shop and a kitchen store.  The programs for disabled children and adults now reach into the Chico Unified School District, and a college scholarship is provided.  Funding from The Little Red Hen stores, donations and the Far Northern Regional Center goes to numerous programs and opportunities designed to help disabled children transition into adulthood.  “It takes a village,” Hayes said about raising a child with autism.  “And it took everybody involved to do all this: teachers, kids and parents.”

“Everything about The Little Red Hen is about quality,” Hayes said.  The company has won best plant nursery five years in a row, best gift shop and received state recognition.  The three shops employ about 100 workers, 60 of whom have developmental disabilities.  The Little Red Hen creates a positive work environment by recognizing the employees’ abilities and instilling a sense of self-worth.  “We don’t pay below minimum wage,” Hayes emphasized.  “You can’t teach self esteem by paying less than another human being.” 

Hayes shared the story of when one employee was first hired.  They had special computer equipment set up for the woman, as she had three fingers.  After a while, the new employee asked to see her paycheck.  “She kept wanting to see her paycheck over and over again,” Hayes recalled.  “I wondered why.  Then I realized that she used to only get less than 25 cents an hour [at a previous job].  She wanted to look at the paycheck again because she was amazed at the [much higher] wages.”  Now the very same employee regularly does computer work for The Little Red Hen.  “She does everything, and she does a great job,” Hayes said with a smile.

Teresa Hayes recognizes how essential it is for disabled children and adults to have a safe haven.  She remembers moments when her son might bump into a stranger as a child.  “Out in the big environment people who yell and complain are the first to say something.  But for someone with autism, The Little Red Hen gives them the chance to say, ‘Come into our environment.’  And that’s an environment of quality.”

Hayes’ son and inspiration, Alex, is proof that a parent’s dedication works.  “I was a monster,” Alex said with a huge smile as Teresa shared stories of his childhood.  Now at 21-years-old he studies business at Chico State University and has big plans for the future.

The Little Red Hen is currently hosting community programs for the holidays.  There are also plans to open an interactive park and garden in the spring.  For more information about the Little Red Hen and store locations visit their web site



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