Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

News Literacy Project Trains Young People to Be Skeptical Media Consumers (and Health News Evaluation Tips)

Yesterday evening the PBS News Hour had an engaging segment on a news literacy program in several major American cities.
The students learn how to separate fact from fiction in news.

The transcript and video of this 13 December PBS News Hour item may  be found here.

Excerpt

JEFFREY BROWN: The lesson is part of an effort called the News Literacy Project, a four-year-old program now taught to middle and high school students in 21 inner-city and suburban schools in the Washington, D.C., area, New York City, and Chicago.

It was started by former Los Angeles Times investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Alan Miller.

ALAN MILLER, News Literacy Project: A century ago, Mark Twain said that a lie can get halfway around the world while truth is still putting on its shoes. In this hyperlinked information age, a lie can get all the way around the world and back while truth is still getting out of bed.

There is so much potential here for misinformation, for propaganda, for spin, all of the myriad sources that are out there. More and more of, the onus is shifting to the consumer.

JEFFREY BROWN: And a slew of recent studies supports the notion that young people seek out traditional news sources less and less and that they have a difficult time knowing how to judge the legitimacy of the information that does come at them.

 

 

Of course, I thought of some of my posts on health literacy…

 

 

 

 

 

December 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories | , , | Leave a comment

Global Observatory for eHealth – World Health Organization Initiative

From the WHO Global Observatory for eHealth Web site

eHealth is the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health. It is recognised as one of the most rapidly growing areas in health today….

…[in 2005] WHO launched the Global Observatory for eHealth (GOe), an initiative dedicated to the study of eHealth—its evolution and impact on health in countries.

Mission and objectives

The Observatory’s mission is to improve health by providing Member States with strategic information and guidance on effective practices and standards in eHealth.

Its objectives are to:

  • provide relevant, timely, and high-quality evidence and information to support national governments and international bodies in improving policy, practice, and management of eHealth;
  • increase awareness and commitment of governments and the private sector to invest in, promote, and advance eHealth;
  • generate knowledge that will significantly contribute to the improvement of health through the use of ICT; and
  • disseminate research findings through publications on key eHealth research topics as a reference for governments and policy-makers.

 

Accomplishments of the observatory so far…

Safety and security on the Internet: challenges and advances in Member States

Safety and security on the Internet Challenges and advances in Member States

mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies

mHealth

Telemedicine – Opportunities and developments in Member States

Telemedicine – Opportunities and developments in Member States

 

December 14, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Treating neck pain with a dose of exercise – Harvard Health Publications

Treating neck pain with a dose of exercise – Harvard Health Publications

Excerpt from the article

 

POSTED DECEMBER 12, 2011, 9:59 AM

Neck-pain

Do your neck and shoulders ache? Not long ago, you would have been told to rest, maybe use a neck brace, and wait until the pain had ebbed away. Doctors have changed their song about the best treatment for neck and shoulder pain. They now recommend movement instead of rest.

As described in Neck and Shoulder Pain, a newly updated Special Health Report from Harvard Health Publications, there is mounting scientific evidence for the role of stretching and muscle strengthening in treating people with neck and shoulder pain. After a whiplash injury, for example, people heal sooner and are less likely to develop chronic pain if they start gentle exercise as soon as possible. For those with long-term pain (called chronic pain), results from controlled studies show that exercise provides some relief…..

December 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Lying and sitting more comfortably through pressure mats

 A sensor mat integrated in a wheelchair set helps prevent pressure ulcers.

From the 15 December 2011 Eureka News Alert

Anyone confined to a wheelchair or a bed has to deal with numerous complications. Frequently, they suffer from bedsores or decubitus ulcers as physicians call them. Bony prominences, such as the sacrum, coccyx and ischium, are especially endangered spots. Unrelieved pressure can lead to tissue necrosis. Damage can extend into the periosteum and, at the worst, into bones themselves. The ulcers are entryways for germs, which can trigger sepsis. While hitherto available passive aids such as air, gel or vacuum cushions relieve pressure, they do not relieve the affected area optimally. Some patients are also unable to actively control the distribution of pressure and alleviate their own suffering. They are dependent on others for help. Personal care assistants or family caregivers must constantly keep an eye out for the formation of pressure ulcers. A newly developed sensor mat will take over this job in the future and thus prevent tissue damage: Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in Magdeburg are endowing textile cushions with the capability to “feel” by outfitting them with smart sensor systems….

Read entire article

December 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Microneedle sensors may allow real-time monitoring of body chemistry

 IMAGE: This is a scanning electron micrograph of a hollow microneedle, which was prepared out of an acrylate-based polymer. In this study, hollow microneedles were integrated with sensors for detection of glucose, lactate, and pH levels in a selective and simultaneous manner.

From the 15 December 2011 Eureka News Alert

Researchers from North Carolina State University, Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of California, San Diego have developed new technology that uses microneedles to allow doctors to detect real-time chemical changes in the body – and to continuously do so for an extended period of time.

“We’ve loaded the hollow channels within microneedles with electrochemical sensors that can be used to detect specific molecules or pH levels,” says Dr. Roger Narayan, co-author of a paper describing the research, and a professor in the joint biomedical engineering department of NC State’s College of Engineering and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Existing technology relies on taking samples and testing them, whereas this approach allows continuous monitoring, Narayan explains. “For example, it could monitor glucose levels in a diabetic patient,” Narayan says. Microneedles are very small needles in which at least one dimension – such as length – is less than one millimeter.

“The idea is that customized microneedle sensor arrays could be developed and incorporated into wearable devices, such as something like a wristwatch, to help answer specific medical or research questions,” Narayan says. “It’s also worth pointing out that microneedles are not painful.”

In addition to its clinical applications, the new technology may also create opportunities for new research endeavors. For example, the microneedle sensor arrays could be used to track changes in lactate levels while people are exercising – rather than measuring those levels only before and after exercise.

The researchers developed a proof-of-concept sensor array incorporating three types of sensors, which could measure pH, glucose and lactate. However, Narayan says the array could be modified to monitor a wide variety of chemicals.

The paper, “Multiplexed Microneedle-based Biosensor Array for Characterization of Metabolic Acidosis,” is published online in the journal Talanta. The paper was co-authored by Narayan and NC State Ph.D. students Philip Miller and Shelby Skoog as well as researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of California, San Diego. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Energy.

December 14, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Potential To Learn High-Performance Tasks With Little Or No Conscious Effort (with Video summary!)

Image with a head and three brain patterns going to people, Chinese characters and airplanes.

In the future, a person may be able to watch a computer screen and have his or her brain patterns modified to improve physical or mental performance. Researchers say an innovative learning method that uses decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging could modify brain activities to help people recuperate from an accident or disease, learn a new language or even fly a plane.

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

[The NSF has a video about this learning method (Decoded Neurofeedback)at http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_images.jsp?cntn_id=122523&org=NSF,

http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_images.jsp?cntn_id=122523&org=NSF

news_images.jsp?cntn_id=122523&org=NSF

however on 15 December 2011

From the 14 December 2011 Medical News Today article

New research published in the journalScience suggests it may be possible to use brain technology to learn to play a piano, reduce mental stress or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort. It’s the kind of thing seen in Hollywood’s “Matrix” franchise.

Experiments conducted at Boston University (BU) and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, recently demonstrated that through a person’s visual cortex, researchers could use decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to induce brain activity patterns to match a previously known target state and thereby improve performance on visual tasks.

Think of a person watching a computer screen and having his or her brain patterns modified to match those of a high-performing athlete or modified to recuperate from an accident or disease. Though preliminary, researchers say such possibilities may exist in the future. …

“The most surprising thing in this study is that mere inductions of neural activation patterns corresponding to a specific visual feature led to visual performance improvement on the visual feature, without presenting the feature or subjects’ awareness of what was to be learned,” said Watanabe, who developed the idea for the research project along with Mitsuo Kawato, director of ATR lab and Yuka Sasaki, an assistant in neuroscience at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“We found that subjects were not aware of what was to be learned while behavioral data obtained before and after the neurofeedback training showed that subjects’ visual performance improved specifically for the target orientation, which was used in the neurofeedback training,” he said.

The finding brings up an inevitable question. Is hypnosis or a type of automated learning a potential outcome of the research? ….

Read entire news article

December 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

   

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