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All bodies are getting assistance from technology all the time, yet some are stigmatized.Abler is one woman's quest to rectify this.
Without technology, the human body is a pretty limited instrument. We cannot write without a pen or pencil, nor eat hot soup without a bowl and, perhaps, a spoon.
And yet, only certain technologies are labeled "assistive technologies": hearing aids, prostheses, wheelchairs. But surely our pens and pencils, bowls and spoons assist us as well. The human body is not very able all on its own.
My curiosity about how we think about these camps of "normal" and "assistive" technologies brought me to Sara Hendren, a leading thinker and writer on adaptive technologies and prosthetics. Her wonderful site, Abler, was recently syndicated by Gizmodo. I talked to her about why crutches don't look cool, where the idea of "normal" comes from, and whether the 21st century might bring greater understanding of human diversity.
Read the full article at the Atlantic
An orthopedic surgeon who was paralyzed from the waist down still performs surgeries through the use of a stand-up wheelchair, according to the Daily Mail.
Dr. Ted Rummel, an orthopedic surgeon from O'Fallon, Missouri suddenly became paralyzed in 2010 after a blood-filled cyst burst in his spine.
After a year of rehabilitation, he went back to work and started operating on his patients using a traditional wheelchair.
Dr. Rummel told the Enquirer that his freedom has been a lifesaver. "When I'm able to do this, and I can get a piece of my life back, it's huge. It's so special," he said.
Read the full article at Parent Herald
If you want to see the future of health care, the can’t miss conference of the year is the Health Innovation Summit hosted by Rock Health in San Francisco. As a practicing primary care doctor, I had the opportunity to view health care through the lenses of technology entrepreneurs. I thought the conference was even better than the one I attended last year. Absent was the provocative rhetoric by 2012 keynote speaker Vinod Khosla who noted that “technology will replace 80 percent of doctors.”
What continued to remain was the curiosity, confidence, enthusiasm, and optimism that health care and medical care could be even better and the willingness of entrepreneurs to fix a problem and build a business around it.
Themes I found particularly interesting included the following:
- Make health care smarter by creating platforms, whether software or hardware, like wearables, to collect patient data and to analyze data, whether at the individual or population level, to gain insights and change behavior or predict outcomes.
- Make health care better by using expertise from other fields, like the wisdom of the crowds, to provide patients more accurate diagnoses particularly when it revolves around a constellation of systems more likely due to a rare diagnosis.
- Make the health care a more personalized care experience comparable to other industries with the use of information technology and mobile computing.
- The creation of the ACA will fundamentally shift how patients will access care. This provides a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs.
- Entrepreneurs believe that they can both do good, improve the health and medical care of individuals and the community, and make money.
Read the full article at Kevin Md
By Kyle Shachmut|
Kimberly Railey, USA TODAY
10:04 a.m. EDT July 14, 2013
While technology takes on a greater role in the college classroom, disability rights groups are seeking to ensure visually impaired students aren't left behind.
Jordan Moon graduated from Arizona State University last year with a lesson that may outlast his journalism and political science degrees: how to get help.
As a visually impaired student, some assignments, like newspaper designs, were nearly impossible to complete on his own.
"There are a lot of times where materials are way too print-featured and graphic-oriented that you have no choice but to get an aide," says Moon, who is legally blind. "Braille and software technology can only do so much."
Read the full story at USA TODAY
Cyborgs are here -- or, at least, they're in DARPA laboratories.
For a while now, the Defense Department agency, alongside civilian researchers, has been working to develop prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by the brains -- as in, the thoughts -- of their wearers.
And one of the most promising of those prosthetic devices, especially for near-term, practical application, has been something that emphasizes the "man" in "bionic man." (Or, of course, the "woman" in "bionic woman.") DARPA, through its Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET) program, has developed a prosthetic interface that relies on "targeted muscle re-innervation." TMR works, DARPA says, by essentially "rewiring nerves from amputated limbs," allowing the wearer of a given prosthetic to control the device with his or her existing muscles. The approach relies on signals, from nerves or muscles or both at the same time, to control the prosthetics and provide direct sensory feedback to the wearer. Limb to brain and back again.
29 May 2013
Use of an avatar can help treat patients with schizophrenia who hear voices, a UK study suggests.
The trial, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, focused on patients who had not responded to medication.
Using customised computer software, the patients created avatars to match the voices they had been hearing.
After up to six therapy sessions most patients said their voice had improved. Three said it had stopped entirely.
The study was led by psychiatrist emeritus professor Julian Leff, who spoke to patients through their on-screen avatars in therapy sessions. Gradually he coached patients to stand up to their voices.
"I encourage the patient saying, 'you mustn't put up with this, you must tell the avatar that what he or she is saying is nonsense, you don't believe these things, he or she must go away, leave you alone, you don't need this kind of torment'," said Prof Leff.
"The avatar gradually changes to saying, 'all right I'll leave you alone, I can see I've made your life a misery, how can I help you?' And then begins to encourage them to do things that would actually improve their life."
By the end of their treatment, patients reported that they heard the voices less often and that they were less distressed by them. Levels of depression and suicidal thoughts also decreased, a particularly relevant outcome-measure in a patient group where one in 10 will attempt suicide.
via BBC News
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
By Ivan Oransky
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The importance of health literacy hit home for Lisa Gualtieri when a Cambodian refugee diagnosed with cancer asked her to act as a patient advocate.
She played the role of a "salty tongue," a Cambodian expression that paints outspokenness in a positive light. But even though the patient's family was in the room when doctors took the time to answer every last question about test results and treatment options, the refugee's family would call Gualtieri hours later to review what doctors had said.
A new study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests one potential reason for the family's confusion: Despite good intentions, many experts may be creating educational materials that are too difficult for patients and their families to grasp.
"Patients will often come to the office, and one of the first things they say to you, especially about technical information, they'll say that they've been on the Internet, and they'll quote one or two key phrases back to you," said study author Dr. Charles Prestigiacomo. "Unfortunately, the little soundbites, while accurate, may not be complete."
Prestigiacomo and his colleagues at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark used a number of readability scales - including "simple measure of gobbledygook (SMOG) grading" - to test how challenging materials by 16 different medical specialty societies were to read.
The average reading level of the online materials by groups ranging from the American Society of Anesthesiologists to the American Psychiatric Association, fell anywhere from ninth grade to the sophomore year of college. (See one example here:.)
That's far above the fourth-to-sixth grade level recommended by the American Medical Association and by a number of U.S. government agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services.
Those guidelines are based on the fact that the average American reads at 7th or 8th grade level, said Nitin Agarwal, a medical student at UMDNJ and another author of the study.
"We might not be cognizant of the population reading our articles, who might need something more simple," Agarwal told Reuters Health.
The current study's findings agree with those of previous work by some of the same researchers looking at patient education materials in individual specialties.
"Organizations often end up using jargon," said Gualtieri, who studies health communication at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, but was not involved in the new research. They end up "using the language they're accustomed to as opposed to (the language) the people they're trying to reach are accustomed to using," she told Reuters Health.
"You have to think about reaching people where they are," she added.
Sometimes, according to Prestigiacomo, that means using analogies. "There are only so many ways you can describe an aneurysm," said the UMDNJ neurosurgeon, who tells patients such ballooning blood vessels are "like a blister on a tire."
"The problem is that it's not quite perfectly accurate," he said. "But sometimes we have to realize that simplifying it to an analogy may be the best way for patients to understand it."
DROWNING IN CLICHES
When it came to the quality of the writing, obstetrics and gynecology really failed to deliver. Materials in that specialty had nearly six cliches for every 50 pages, and also "contained the highest total number of indefinite article mismatches (the improper use of "a" or "an")."
"You go from region to region in the U.S., people aren't familiar with what each cliche refers to," said Agarwal.
And in a sentence that might have unintentionally demonstrated the authors' point, they report, "The proportion of passive voice sentences used throughout resources ranged from 4% in family medicine to 27% in neurological surgery."
"Concise and to the point is the way to go for this sort of stuff," Agarwal said. Gualtieri recommended that those who produce such materials consider why people are coming to their sites, and what they're looking for. She echoed the authors' suggestion that such sites use pictures and videos.
"The organizations represented should be happy that people are at their sites," Gualtieri said. "It's high-quality, reliable information, there's a lot out there that isn't. If one of these organizations could read something like this, and say, ‘we're not doing everything we can for those who most read us,' that would be a lovely outcome from a study like this."
That's already happened. Prestigiacomo showed the results to one of the specialty groups whose patient materials were analyzed before publishing the paper, and the organization committed to rewriting them.
And the Cambodian man with cancer is doing well, Gualtieri said. "The treatment was successful."
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/13GdSBH JAMA Internal Medicine, online May 20, 2013.