Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Digital games emerge as new tool to foster health, exercise: Playing for health

Entire Gaming Setup

Entire Gaming Setup (Photo credit: Cinder6)

The Wii console by Nintendo. Featured with the...

The Wii console by Nintendo. Featured with the Wiimote. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Digital games emerge as new tool to foster health, exercise: Playing for health

From the Nation’s Health

These days, students at Halcyon Elementary School in Montgomery, Ala., cannot wait to get to physical education class.

As part of Alabama’s Wee Can Fight Obesity campaign, Halcyon Elementary is one of dozens of schools that received a free Nintendo Wii Fit, a video game system that requires players to move around to earn points, also known as ‘exergaming.’

“They don’t even realize they’re exercising,” said Audrey Gillis, the school’s PE teacher. “It’s fabulous.”

Gillis’ students use the Wii two to three times a week during the 30-minute PE class and “they just love it — we actually had some of the little children cry because it wasn’t their Wii day,” she said.

“These kids are active for 30 minutes straight — they don’t stop,” Gillis told The Nation’s Health. “If we can get them to enjoy physical activity as children, then they’re more likely to stay physically active as adults.”

Gillis’ experience is just one example of the growing intersections between public health and digital games. While using game-related challenges in public health endeavors is not new, video games and avatar-based simulations are emerging as an effective way of teaching healthy behaviors.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Concerned about health related issues in your community? Volunteermatch.org just might be the answer.

Many (most??) of my postings here address problems, concerns, and challenges related to health. However, I am hopeful that while many won’t “go away”, we do have the power to alleviate many of them. One way to be part of these efforts is to volunteer.

Recently I have started to volunteer at the local Area Office on Aging. This agency is wonderfully connected to the community, including outreach efforts. The volunteers here are valued for their skills as customer service, event planning, and document/brochure creation. Mundane tasks as envelope staffing are kept to a minimum. Presently I am assisting in interviewing folks to see what programs they may be eligible for to meet their nutrition and medical needs. It can be a bit exhausting at times, but it is always rewarding.

Do you have the time and/or inclination to address health or social issues in your community? Either a weekly commitment or periodically at events?
Volunteermatch.org is a great place to start.
The advanced search allows you to limit your search by

  • Geographical area
  • Keywords and skills
  • Organization and Preferred Partners (as American Red Cross)
  • Thirty (30) Opportunity Interest Areas including Emergency/Safety, Environment, Health & Medicine, Crisis Support, Disaster & Emergency, and Homelessness/Housing
  • Age (Great For area) – Kids, Teens, 55+

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , | Leave a comment

Skeptical Scalpel: Robots attack America, but Canada not so much

A laparoscopic robotic surgery machine. Patien...

A laparoscopic robotic surgery machine. Patient-side cart of the da Vinci surgical system. Into the sealed Computer God Robot Operating Cabinet, as a Frankenstein slave, at night. Da Vinci Surgical System. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Robotic surgery has its place. However, robotic surgery is not superior to traditional surgery in every case or for every surgery candidate.  It is best to discuss the pros and cons (and alternatives)  of any surgical procedure with trusted health care professionals.
Discussion starters below under Related Resources.

Why I am posting this? Partly because a recent article in my local newspaper read more like an advertisement for robotic surgery than an unbiased news item.  It seemed to have been written the surgeon interviewed (or at least had only one source of information — the surgeon who touted robotic devices). Am seriously considering a letter to the editor gently inquiring about their journalistic standards. I know they have a skeletal staff of reporters, and no longer have a staff librarian to do research. Still.

Skeptical Scalpel: Robots attack America, but Canada not so much

As of December 2011, 1548 surgical robots have been sold and installed in the United States as opposed to 16 in Canada.

The estimated population of the U.S is 313,388,000 and for Canada, 34,764, 600.

Canada has a population that is 11.1% of the U.S. population but Canada has only about 1% as many robots. Or put another way, Canada has 1 surgical robot for every 97 robots in the U.S….

..

The estimated population of the U.S is 313,388,000 and for Canada, 34,764, 600.

Canada has a population that is 11.1% of the U.S. population but Canada has only about 1% as many robots. Or put another way, Canada has 1 surgical robot for every 97 robots in the U.S.

California’s population is 37,691,912, which is about 3 million more than the population of Canada, but California, with 114 robots, has seven times as many robots as Canada..

Related Resources (will be adding resources included unbiased items about robotic surgery by the end of the week)

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Post: The Evolution of Sedentary Time

Janice Flahiff:

Add your thoughts here… (optional)

Originally posted on Mr Epidemiology:

Mr Epidemiology: Today, I’m welcoming Lindsay Kobayashi back to the blog. You can find out more about Lindsay at the end of this post.

How sad.

The negative health effects of sedentary behaviour are a hot topic gaining scientific and popular attention. Any Canadian reading the news should be aware that sitting is killing us – Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail, and the CBC have all recently published on the topic. Given the tsunami-like obesity epidemic that has risen over North America over the past few decades, critical investigation of our sedentary behaviour is highly warranted.

Every time I hear someone talk about how sitting is killing us, I return to the same question – If I was born 50 or 100 years earlier, would I be less sedentary than I am now? In the figure above, I’ve depicted my average 16-hour day (waking hours only). Exemplary of a big question…

View original 860 more words

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Do More People Die During Economic Expansions?

St Annes Nursing Home

St Annes Nursing Home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the April 2012 brief at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

The brief’s key findings are:

  • When economic times are good, deaths in the United States increase.
  • Previous research suggests that a likely culprit is poorer health habits tied to greater job demands.
  • However, the increase in mortality is largely driven by deaths among elderly women in nursing homes.
  • These nursing home deaths may reflect increased shortages of caregivers during economic expansions.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Public Health, Workplace Health | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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