The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program of San Diego Neurosurgery

Results of Head Injuries

Source: healthreport.gr

Of the people that are involved in personal injury cases, such as automobile accidents, they tend to develop a traumatic brain injury and, as a result, post-concussive syndrome. While most people heal quickly (approximately one to six weeks) and do not require further medical care, in some other cases, the results can be long-lasting.

 

If post-concussive syndrome is long lasting, the symptoms can affect a person’s physical body, cognition, and emotions. As a result, daily life is difficult – work and personal relationships have a new strain put on them.

 

San Diego Service

Source: urwsdemo.com

In San Diego, few therapy programs exist to serve those with brain injuries. Of the few that do exist, none take any personal injury liens. This means that people cannot receive treatment until they have received their settlement money. This delays treatment and potentially limits the results patients should see.

 

The San Diego Neurosurgery program aims to serve those with brain injuries as quickly as possible. This is why it is the first program to offer treatment that can be done on a lien basis. Patients will be able to receive treatment more quickly and see better results than if they had waited to receive their settlement money.

 

The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program

Source: scripps.org

At San Diego Neurosurgery, patients are seen twice a week for an average of three months. Treatments include informal and formal testing to assess the patient’s skills at the initial appointment. From then on, therapy consists of twice-weekly and one-hour long sessions of cognitive therapy. These sessions are with a speech language pathologist.

 

Therapy also includes the patient’s caregivers. Caregivers learn about the recovery process, how the brain works, and ways how they can help their loved one regain his or her proper functions.

Termination of therapy occurs when the patient’s proper functioning returns. Therapy may also be terminated early if the patient stops coming to the sessions or does not do assigned homework. Not practicing skills outside of therapy greatly hinders improvement.

 

Fees

 

Although the San Diego Neurosurgery program does accept liens, it is still necessary to know how much treatment will cost. An estimated cost for the program includes speech and office evaluations, office visits, and speech treatments. It also includes cognitive evaluations and additional therapy, as it becomes necessary.

 

The total estimated cost for the program ranges from $5,000 to $6,000. This range is given because not every person will recover at the same rate.

 

Help is Available

 

If you find yourself in need of professional mental health help, there are many resources available for you. If a loved one is suffering from a brain injury and you find yourself in need of further support, do not hesitate to reach out for help.

 

As an example, BetterHelp is a company that offers online pain counseling or therapy.

This is a company that strives to provide mental help for those who want to avoid the stigma associated with seeking help for illnesses that cannot be immediately observed. This company is also professional, affordable, and convenient.

Robot Surgeons, Medical Drones and Other Advances in Disaster Relief

source: iecetech.org

Between climate change, devastation of certain ecosystems and Mother Nature’s indifferent attitude to human life, natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes are likely to remain with us for the foreseeable future. Technology has a role to play in how these are dealt with, however. Using social media and the internet, volunteer rescuers and donations from around the world can now be mobilized in hours instead of weeks. Refugees can be more easily tracked and united with their families, and various non-governmental aid agencies can stay in touch wherever they are, making it easier to avoid duplication of effort and getting help to where it’s most needed. A number of other technologies are also now being applied to disaster relief, from those involving improved logistics to some intended to actually change weather patterns.

 

Drones

source: waste360.com

Some of the materials needed for humanitarian efforts are measured in tons: bulk foodstuffs, potable water and large amounts of temporary shelter materials. In other cases, however, a few ounces can make a huge difference: medicines, blood samples and real-time video imagery.

 

After heavy floods in Kasungu, Malawi, a “drone corridor” has been established covering 5,000km² (2,000 square miles), an area that contains 300 schools and almost 500 clinics and other health centers. Using drones, aid workers need no longer spend much of their time physically travelling routes to see if they are passable, blood samples can be flown in from any location to a laboratory where they can be tested for infectious diseases, and small amounts of medicine can easily be dispatched to where they are needed.

 

As in the case of many civilian applications for drones, the underlying technology is already available; the creation of the “drone corridor” only means that special permission has been granted to use unmanned flying vehicles for humanitarian purposes.

 

Telemedicine

source: emedcert.com

Often, the major challenge in disaster areas is getting a limited number of qualified volunteers to where they’re needed while transport routes are damaged and vehicles are hard to come by.

 

Nowadays, highly skilled volunteers such as surgeons no longer even have to travel to be of use in a large-scale emergency. First developed as part of the space program, remotely controlled robots are now safe enough to use to perform surgery from any distance away. The first transatlantic operation was conducted successfully as far back as 2001, and surgeons using such systems claim that it’s not that much more difficult than doing a procedure in their own operating rooms. There are some limitations: reliable, lag-free internet connections have to be established to remote hospitals, while some complications are better handled with an experienced doctor physically present. Where nothing else is available, though, mobile, self-contained robotic surgeons may soon become standard equipment for organizations such as Medecins sans Frontieres. Other applications of telemedicine in disaster areas include making consultations with remotely located epidemiologists and other experts possible, or serving as a training aid.

 

An End to Hurricanes

Usually, “a force of nature” is used to describe something completely irresistible, but a number of scientists are contemplating engineering on a global scale in order to stop hurricanes and other disasters. While the main emphasis is on reducing global warming, more specific solutions are also being envisioned.

 

One possible approach is to use the sonic booms of aircraft travelling faster than the speed of sound to disrupt the wind patterns around the eye of a hurricane. Though this seems insanely dangerous to the pilots, there is indeed a chance that it might work and potentially protect hundreds of other lives.

 

A more practical, entirely preventative method relies on reducing the temperature of the surface across large swathes of ocean. Although this is likely to be expensive, the required investment seems to make sense when the disruption and property damage hurricanes can cause are taken into account. The main idea is that hurricane formation is impossible without large amounts of seawater evaporating. By suspending a large vertical tube in the ocean from a ring floating on the surface, the actions of waves sloshing over the ring’s rim drives warmer surface water into the colder depths, causing surface temperatures to remain below the storm threshold. The concept has been successfully tested in computer models, but is awaiting funding for large-scale field testing.

 

Fast-Acting Fixes

source: makeuseof.com

Those responding to disasters require infrastructure ranging from airstrips to wi-fi, but much of what they need is likely to have been destroyed or disrupted by the time they arrive. Enter inventions such as a wi-fitower providing instant, reliable telecommunications but still fitting in a standard airline suitcase when disassembled, buildings that can be erected in less than a day and afterwards used as sterile medical facilities, and chemical analysis kits costing only about $10 to build (computer not included).

 

Numerous other inventions are available or in development to provide people with the necessities of water, shelter, medical care and food in the aftermath of an earthquake or other disaster. Many of them will allow aid agencies to do more with less, freeing up personnel by being easy to use and install, or transport by being extremely lightweight as well as modular or collapsible, meaning that they can be delivered to their destination via air or light vehicle instead of requiring a working road or rail network. 

 

How Medical Research is Really Conducted

Source: skepticalraptor.com

You can’t google a sneeze or a pimple without stumbling on numerous articles and blog posts containing phrases like “scientists agree” and “research shows”. Unfortunately, this kind of article rarely includes additional phrases such as “cluster sampling technique” or  “p value of under 0.01”, which are some of the first things any real scientist will look for.

 

Physicians, scientists and individual studies sometimes just don’t agree with each other. Data measured using different techniques, or in different populations, sometimes show divergent results, and the real world and human body are too complex to make it possible to control for every single factor. This is unlikely to ever change, but the scientific community has, over the years, structured medical and other research in such a way that these differences can mostly be resolved or at least interpreted correctly, and errors kept to a minimum.

 

Statistical Significance

Source: userscontent2.emaze.com

It would seem that the primary goal of all medical research should be an answer to the question “did the patient get better or worse?” Unfortunately, it is rarely possible to give a completely clear-cut answer to such a question.

A research report might contain a phrase such as “a significant improvement of 2% was observed”. How important a difference of 2% might be depends on the circumstances, but it doesn’t seem very significant if it refers to something like blood pressure or body mass. This is, however, not at all what statistical significance means: it refers not to how dramatically one outcome differs from another, but to how likely it is that the difference is not just the result of random forces, but of the particular effect being studied.

A large part of medical research is concerned not with anatomy or molecular biology, but with statistics. This is the only way of knowing not only what conclusions to draw from data, but how certain of those conclusions we are allowed to be.

Very High Cost

Source: insurancejournal.com

When someone consults a doctor, they want to be sure that the letters “M.D.” after his name mean that they can trust his training and advice. Similarly, a new medicine can’t be put on the market until both its safety and effectiveness have been proven to a very high degree of statistical significance. This process takes years and costs hundreds of millions, and often fails partway through, leaving the manufacturer with nothing but loss.

 

Since people’s lives and health are at stake, similar degrees of certainty are expected for any kind of medical research. This often implies dozens if not hundreds of volunteer or paid participants, often for a period of more than a year, often with periodic blood tests or other kinds of monitoring. 

 

All of this costs money, even if the test subjects are rats or monkeys. One potentially important implication of the high cost of medical research is this: treatments that aren’t commercially valuable do not receive the same level of scientific attention as those that can turn a profit. For a company that may sell thousands of doses of a life-saving drug in the future, research is an investment. When it comes to holistic or alternative treatments, the amount of money to be made is much less, and no such research spending can expected to yield a monetary return at any point in the future. In the United States, less than a quarter of medical research is federally funded, and this budget is spread over a very large number of avenues of inquiry.

 

High Level of Rigor

The precision of any kind of scientific research requires heavily on the system known as peer review. Essentially, any theory or research is reviewed by knowledgeable individuals before it can even be published, and is understood to be open to criticism thereafter. Numerous papers have been retracted by their authors after others pointed out errors in them.

 

If a physicist publicizes new data or speculation, usually no more than a few hundred people in the world will be able to understand the field well enough to comment on it intelligently. In the medical field, however, thousands upon thousands of educated professionals can be expected to scrutinize any study’s experimental design, statistical methods, conclusions as compared to that of previous research and conceptual arguments. A fraudulent (it happens!) or carelessly performed study is almost certain to be exposed, and if the error is sufficiently great, the author’s career can be expected to suffer.

 

Bias Towards the Conventional

It’s a basic tenet of any kind of scientific research that what most informed people believe to be true, and what has worked well in practice over the years, is accepted as fact by default. A new or contrarian view requires a much higher standard of proof before being accepted.

 

Another way to interpret this is as Occam’s razor: the simplest explanation, or the one requiring the fewest unproven assumptions, is probably the correct one. Any new theory that presumes that basic natural laws aren’t what they’re thought to be, or that a causal connection that’s fairly obvious doesn’t exist, is conceptually less likely to be true and therefore needs to earn its stripes with masses of data before it can be taken seriously. This may mean that new discoveries can take a long time before being accepted, but it also prevents proven conventional knowledge from being discarded without sufficient evidence.

 

***

Magazine journalists and blog writers are often pressed by a deadline, lack scientific training or are influenced by their own opinions. When it comes to any second-hand claim that “science” is sure of this or that, the only way to verify it is to go to the primary sources and try to make sense of them. In the case of medical research, even some doctors don’t make much of an effort to keep abreast of the facts, so it may be necessary to talk to a specialist or even two.

Gone but not Forgotten: How Florence Nightingale Influenced Modern Medicine

Source: florence-nightingale.co.uk

At the time of the Crimean war between Russia, Turkey, Britain and France, a military hospital was a very grim place to end up in, reminiscent of a modern-day horror movie. The powers that were cared little about the quality of care the sick and wounded received, food was poor, hygiene was dismal and medicines were in short supply. Disease spread like wildfire, and those affected were more or less expected to either recover on their own or perish.

 

These were the conditions that greeted Florence Nightingale and a few dozen other volunteers trained by her, after crossing most of Europe to provide what aid she could. Despite the expectations of Victorian society and the desires of her family, andlargely self-educated as far as medicine was concerned, religious convictions led her to wade into a literal shambles to try to make a difference.

 

Activism

One of the most effective of the measures she took was to write to newspapers back in England describing the horrible conditions and death rates – at the time of her arrival, ten times as many soldiers died from preventable or treatable diseases as did from wounds sustained in fighting. One of the results of these letters was the design of a prefabricated hospital that would be manufactured in England and shipped to Turkey, eventually accommodating over a thousand patients and, more importantly, incorporating good drainage, sanitation and ventilation in its design. Once in use, patient deaths plummeted to 10% of what they had been. Newspaper coverage also caused the British government to send out a “Sanitary Commission” several months after Nightingale’s arrival, who helped to improve hospital and general hygiene further.

 

Some modern critics claim that her influence on government policy has been exaggerated, which may be true. However, in the midst of an unpopular, expensive and poorly managed war, her selfless actions provided a hero for the media and a nucleus for public opinion to adhere to.

 

Clinical Practice

Source: britishempire.co.uk

Although Pasteur and others were proving that many diseases are caused or spread by microorganisms around the same time, basic precautions such as doctors and nurses washing their hands were not being taken until Nightingale started campaigning for them. She also identified poor nutrition, overcrowding and the general conditions in military hospitals as major causes of unnecessary deaths, which helped inform her work once she returned to Britain. Improvements in cleanliness both in hospitals and low-income housing are counted as some of her later achievements.

 

Although modern medicine is heavily evidence-based, Nightingale is credited with being one of the first medical professionals to use statistics, and especially visual representations of statistics, as a way to support her arguments. It’s highly unlikely that she could have swayed political figures as much as she did without techniques such as pie charts, which are today much better known than they were in Victorian times. Changes recommended by her with regard to things such as drinking water and building design are regarded as a major factor in improving British life expectancy by two decades during a time when effective medical treatment of major diseases was still not possible.

 

Establishment of Nursing as a Profession

Source: greatluxurymedicaluniforms.files.wordpress.com

Prior to 1855, female nurses were generally part of religious orders, with wide variations in the quality of their training. Other primary caregivers and midwives might have received no training at all, and could provide little more than comfort and folk remedies. At the same time, modern medical science was beginning to come into its own and best practices being developed.

 

Equipped with several thousand pounds from public donations, Nightingale established the first non-religious nursing school in Europe and possibly the world. Before this, nursing was hardly considered a profession a woman could follow, and certainly not a respectable one. Although her own health deteriorated not long after the nursing school bearing her name was organized, she wrote numerous books on health and nursing, often aimed at the public rather than fellow professionals, and devoted the rest of her life to improving the training of nurses. Graduates of the Nightingale Training School soon began spreading their knowledge to hospitals around Britain and North America.

 

***

Although some of her opinions would have horrified modern feminists, Nightingale’s effect on the modern medical profession is doubly impressive considering her gender and the times she lived in. The training center she helped established still bears her name, as does the highest award that is awarded to internationally outstanding nurses, as well as no fewer than four hospitals in Istanbul. Despite little scientifically proven information being available at a time, her skill at observation, her aptitude for convincing influential people of her viewpoints and sheer persistence arguably made her contribution to practical modern medicine greater than that of any scientist.

 

Industrial Farming, Health and the Environment

Source: theilmeier-landtechnik.d

It’s commonly heard that the 7 billion people or so (up from around 1.5 billion in 1900) living on the planet would starve if it weren’t for modern, scientific, commercial farming on a large scale – though statistics simply do not support this view. Industrial farming is indeed more productive if conditions are ideal, but the amount of resources it requires, the ecological damage it causes and the risks a lack of biodiversity entails are now becoming better understood.

 

Industrial Animal Husbandry

Source: ak8.picdn.net

The American media is not exactly famous for its reasoned, objective coverage of new diseases, with the recent ebola scare being a case in point. If television was your only source of information on the swine and bird flu epidemics, you could be forgiven for thinking that they were the result of unhygienic, primitive farming practices in Mexico and China respectively.

 

This view is half correct: unhygienic, yes; primitive, not so much. Although the exact chain of events which led to the development of these epidemics will probably never be known, it is likely that intensive farming played some role. In traditional livestock farming, where not much has changed over the last several hundred years, animals do indeed come into contact with all sorts of environmental factors, but the conditions they live in are less conducive to the rapid spread of infections. New diseases have probably appeared on numerous occasions in the past, but simply died out again before they could spread widely. In intensive farming, on the other hand, each animal lives in very close proximity to several others.

 

The mutations that produced the swine and bird flu virus involved the exchange of genes from viruses living in different species, which then produced a disease capable of infecting more than one kind of host animal. Similar evolutionary changes have undoubtedly occurred long before modern food production techniques were common – the virus responsible for the deadly 1918 flu pandemic could also infect both pigs and humans.The difference lies in how rapidly a new virus can spread through a population, which allows more time for an epidemic to take hold and viruses to mutate further. Once a strain capable of making the jump to another species – us, for instance – is well established in a herd or flock, it is basically just a matter of time until people get sick, whether through poor waste management practices, direct contact or by the action of a vector such as flies.

 

Quite apart from any concerns about the humaneness of the way industrially farmed animals are treated, this method of producing food entails risks other than that of a global epidemic breaking out. As far as the meat, eggs and dairy produced using industrial methods go, there is undoubtedly a difference between free-range products and those produced intensively, for instance a difference in the balance between omega 3 and 6 fatty acids depending on whether cattle are fed grass or cereals. The actual effects on humans of the widespread use of artificially introduced growth hormones and non-therapeutic antibiotics on the animals that feed us is not yet fully understood, but research does point to an increased risk of cancer in humans consuming intensively farmed beef.

 

GMO, Diversity and Long-Term Food Security

The proverb about not putting all your eggs into one basket has an earthy, agricultural tone about it, yet this seems to be exactly what the agribusiness industry is doing. Supporters of the increasing use of GMO crops often point out that tinkering with genes is not conceptually different from what farmers have been doing since agriculture began, but making discretionary, sudden changes in the genome of major food sources has very different practical implications. If something goes wrong with the genetic design of 95% of a given crop, without the safety net offered by a wider variety of less productive but demonstrably reliable cultivars, serious problems are bound to result. To mangle another saying slightly, you can break a whole bunch of eggs without getting an omelette in return.

 

GMO crops are variously intended to be resistant to herbicides, drought, insects and other threats to production, but this sometimes fails. Cross-pollination also occurs between GMO crops and traditional strains, meaning that the genes that may make GMO varieties vulnerable to disaster can spread to “heritage” cultivars, leading to the possibility of entire harvests being destroyed if the unexpected happens.

 

Possible Alternatives

The most important indicator of productivity in industrial agriculture is yield per acre, not taking into account many input costs and “externalized” effects such as the water pollution caused by nitrate and pesticide runoff. It destroys biodiversity, degrades the quality of soil over time, uses far more water than most other methods, produces more greenhouse gases and uses more petrochemicals, especially fertilizers. It also operates most efficiently when practiced on the largest possible scale, meaning that most of the revenue from it accrues near the top of the economic pyramid.

 

Organic agriculture, on the other hand, also has a large number of charges that can be leveled against it, including being labour-intensive, offering lower yields on prime farming land where irrigation is available and producing very expensive food when the farm meets the criteria to be certified as organic. Much of the agriculture in the Third World can be described as “organic by default”: not scientifically planned or productive at more than a subsistence level, but simply not making use of herbicides or modern fertilizers due to their cost.

Source: 4.bp.blogspot.com

A middle way exists in what is called “biological farming”, where modern methods aren’t rejected simply because they are artificial, but organic and ecological approaches are also used where appropriate. It may take a near-disaster for legislation surrounding industrial farming to become stricter, but the profit margins of farms following the biological route are already making this worth a second look. 

How Safe is Vaping?

Source: istockphoto.com

It’s a strange world when cigarettes have to be charged and phones are prone to catching fire. Vaping is one of the fastest-growing “lifestyle” activities, boasting its own specialized retail outlets, competitions and other community activities. In many ways, vaping lives in a regulatory gray area: how should vaping juices and paraphernalia be taxed, and should children be allowed access to them? At the same time, the debate surrounding e-cigarettes and their associated health risks is taking place against the backdrop of a market in products intended to help people stop smoking that’s worth $3 billion, as well as a tobacco industry that pays upwards of $13 billion in excise taxes alone.

 

Vaping Versus Smoking

Source: vapenewsmagazine.com

For obvious reasons, vaping is naturally compared to smoking cigarettes. As far as public health is concerned, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco are all far less important. The nicotine in vaping liquids – many of which are nicotine-free – is identical to that found in nicotine replacement gum or dermal patches.

 

As it happens, one of the advantages of vaping is that it apparently helps smokers to quit, or at least reduce their consumption of tobacco. Many start the vaping habit with nicotine-laced mixtures but soon discard these in favor of herbal or other flavored blends. At the very least, this reduces the aggravation people around them are forced to suffer. To a dedicated vaper, calling what they do “smoking” is so inaccurate as to be offensive. 

 

The substance they inhale truly isn’t smoke, but rather consists mostly of water vapor with some other chemicals added. Some of these chemicals are indeed harmful, but are found in much lower concentrations than what is present in cigarette smoke. In fact, the British Royal College of Physicians has gone on record to state that e-cigarettes are far, far less harmful than the traditional kind and are therefore to be recommended to those that currently smoke. In general, the scientific consensus appears to be that vaping may be bad for you, but it certainly doesn’t entail anything near the amount of risk that traditional smoking does. Even when vaping liquids contain nicotine, they are not associated with the several thousand other potentially harmful chemicals found in ordinary tobacco smoke.

 

Children and Vaping

Source: jeremybuckingham.org

In Florida, the popularity of e-cigarettes amongst teens has increased fivefold since 2011, to the alarm of public health officials. The vaping industry has been accused of targeting their marketing towards younger people, especially by offering their products in candy-like flavors such as cherry and caramel. The lack of a burning sensation in the throat and an unpleasant odor may indeed be making vaping more attractive to the youth, and it can conceivably play the role of a “gateway” drug, although this remains to be proven. What is certain, however, is that illegal drugs such as cannabis can be “smoked” with vaping equipment.

 

On the other hand, the increase in vaping among the younger generation also coincides with historically low levels of tobacco use in the traditional sense, making it difficult to conclusively determine whether the effects of e-cigarettes have been good or bad from a public health standpoint.

 

A Political Football

Few politicians have ever lost votes promoting public health – or at least giving the impression of doing so. While it took decades for tobacco products to be controlled and taxed to the extent they are now, state and national legislators seem to be acting with alacrity against the possible threat of vaping.

 

Unlike with smoking tobacco, though, the science on vaping as a health risk is far from clear-cut, especially when it’s considered as an alternative for adults who currently smoke. Despite the enthusiasm with which lawmakers are trying to get vaping products to be treated in much the same way as traditional cigarettes, they may be hurting rather than helping public health. The vaping industry lobby, such as it is, has little political influence, while the most vocal politicians aren’t necessarily the most scientifically educated.

 

Conclusion

Source: vapersemporium.co.uk

Using e-cigarettes will do nothing good to your body, but they are indeed an effective way to stop smoking. As a method of harm reduction, for individuals as well as in a wider context, they are most likely very beneficial, but on a societal level vaping is still seen not as the lesser of two evils, but just the same evil in a different shape.

Breakthrough Discovery in Predicting Autism in Later Childhood

Autism is a childhood mental condition that affects language skills, social behavior, and actions or behaviors that gets repeated overtime. Such behaviors are observable when the child reaches 2 years old and this leads to the diagnosis of the condition. Recently, a medical breakthrough in detecting the probability of having autism in a child in the future has been introduced through the use of MRI scan.

Source: dai;ystormer.com

“Many teens with autism – boys and girls alike – don’t pay close attention to the social examples and cues of their classmates and peers. As a result, many need help understanding that these behaviors are important.”  –Stormi Pulver White, PsyD. 

A study published in Science Translational Medicine introduces the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 6-month-olds to reveal how the different regions of the brain are connected and synchronized. Eventually, these images will be able to predict the babies who are at high risk of developing autism by the time they reach 2 years old.

The research was able to highlight the presence of a second type of brain biomarker as early as 6-month-old and will be used as part of the diagnostic toolkit in determining if the child will have autism, even before the symptoms starts to appear.

Source: news.mit.edu

The study involved examining the neural activity of the 230 different brain regions of babies. From these images, the researchers were able to detect how various brain regions were synchronized with each other. Synchronous brain regions are indications of coordinated brain activities that are critical for cognition, memory, and behavior.

“Traditionally, intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has focused upon reducing interfering behavior and teaching language, academic and self-help skills.”  Marlene Driscoll, MA, LMFT explained. However, researchers were then able to develop a computer program called machine lister classifier which will be sorting through the variances in synchronization of the mentioned key brain regions.

Participants in this research study were 59 babies with an older sibling with autism. Genetics play a role the development of autism, so with this, it is expected that there is about one baby who will develop autism in every five babies in the study. Later on, it was known that eleven of the 59 babies went on to develop autism.

The computer program successfully predicted babies who would later meet the criteria for autism at two years of age using the MRI data.

 

Implications of the study

Prevention is better that a pound of cure. This is an old time saying that it is better to undergo steps in preventing a medical condition to develop from happening. In the case of autism, detection as early as 6-month-old is considered an achievement. This will allow clinicians and health professionals identify and plan treatment to improve outcomes.

Source: happenings.com.ng

“Autism is a complex developmental disability that causes difficulties in many areas, with varying degrees of severity, most notably with social interaction and communication.”  Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT said. For parents, this study will provide an emotional stability or assurance if their children have a lesser chance of developing autism in later life. For parents whose children with high risk of developing autism, the diagnosis may be devastating, however, it will help the parents prepare for the medical treatment that children should receive and as early as it is detected, the chances of having a positive outcome is also highly achievable.

As senior author Joseph Piven, MD, the Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine, and director of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, reported, “The more we understand about the brain before symptoms appear, the better prepared we will be to help children and their families.”

 

Language Barriers Broken Down with the Help of a Translation Device

Imagine yourself travelling to Russia or any countries abroad, communicating with the locals as if you are a native in that place. Or having a business meeting and closing a business deal with a Japanese company without the hardships and fear of cover-ups because you directly hear, speak and understand their language. The catch here is that you are not a linguist nor have undergone an extensive language training program. This is all made possible by a translation device that easily translates verbal communication into your own language and can provide equal translation to other party in order to promote and enhance communication. Neat, right? 

Searching the internet on the earliest form of this said device, the earliest year that you have more traffic on is 2013. As early as 2013, innovations on making devices that easily translates foreign languages without the help of a human interpreter or a person possessing a native dialect have been made available to the public consumers. Let’s try to review and know these beauties.

The Sigmo Voice Translation Device

Source: uncrate.com

It’s handy and it’s square. The device lets you speak into it and can translate 25 language. it also allows you to record your voice or conversations that you had. The translation service is provided by Google Translate so it is important that you are connected to an internet before you push the button and speak into the device. Presently, the Sigmo device was reportedly to be failed technology and did not ultimately last for a long time.

 

The Pilot earpiece

Source: ft.com

This in-ear piece is the recent translation device in the market that can translate English, French, Spanish, and Italian in real-time. The device cost $199 and will be available in September this year. The user also listen to music streaming if translations are not used. The whole package comes with 2 ear pieces and a battery charger. The company promises that additional languages which are downloadable will be made available soonest.

The ili device

It’s like holding a small stick where you speak into and it will translate immediately into Japanese or Chinese (for now). The good news about this device is it does not need internet connection or mobile data so you can use it even in remote places. And it’s much cheaper too, well, considering that it can only translate 2 Asian languages at this time. Watch the YouTube on this link: http://bit.ly/2rxFqfj 

Advantages of these devices

The most obvious reason why people would be getting this device is to make communication easier for them. It has also been a huge problem travelling to another place and getting lost without any idea on how to speak and ask for directions. This device is made to solve this kind of problems.

Source: nuevomovil.com

For the business industry, it would not be hard anymore to look for clearer meaning in conveying messages. Now, it is not sure if specific jargons are covered or being delivered by the translation device as needed in the medical and science fields.

The translation devices are handy, convenient and very fashionable that users will surely develop a fond way of using it. The cost may turn you off, but with the law of economics and demand, in due time, these babies will be more affordable and more models will be available to the consumers.

The Role of Virtual Reality in the Treatment of Mental Health Disorders

Imagine yourself in a dark room walking towards an open hallway. Your heart is racing as if it’s going to explode from your chest. Your throat is dry and you can barely call out or shout for help. You need to get out from this room as quickly as possible! While you are thinking of a plan to escape, a soft calm voice is coaching you that it’s okay and you’ll be able to get out. No, you’re not imagining things. This is actually your therapist monitoring your physiological responses towards the stimulus that you are involved as of the moment. You are in a virtual reality environment and undergoing a therapy session to help your fear of dark places or achluophobia.

Source: huffingtonpost.co.uk

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality, developed in MIT in the 1960’s, was first used in training pilots to fly planes. Later it was used in computer gaming technology where until now its gaining popularity and getting far more advanced as the year progress.

The concept of using virtual reality as therapy for some mental disorders has come a long way from its theoretical inception, to development of various simulations specific for mental conditions, testing it to specific group of patients, and up to present time where enhanced virtual environments brought about by the advances in information technology are now being considered as effective. But note that “Balancing technology use with other aspects of daily life seems reasonable, but there is a lot of conflicting advice about where that balance should be.” Christopher J. Ferguson Ph.D. in clinical psychology said.

To put it simply, virtual reality in psychiatry is the immersion of the patient to a computer generated environment creating a true-to-life experience about their mental health conditions. Guided with a professional therapist or psychiatrist, the patient will be able to face these fears and overcome them successfully.

Conditions helped by virtual reality

Two decades ago, scientists and researchers have introduced this technology to help manage anxiety disorders and phobias. Anxiety disorders and phobias like fear of open and closed spaces, heights, spiders, elevators, thunderstorms, flying, driving, and speaking in public have shown great improvements through the help of virtual reality. 

“There is also little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we think in ways obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional, and advantageous and detrimental.” –Jim Taylor Ph.D.

Other conditions where virtual reality is being utilized is among substance abuse disorders and addiction problems like smoking. It is also beneficial as cognitive rehabilitation among autistic adults and children to help them develop necessary skills in performing activities of daily living.

Virtual reality is also used among persons suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) like soldiers who just came from war or heavy encounter and individuals who experienced traumatic events like rape, loss of a loved one, etc.

In patients with major thought disorder like schizophrenia, virtual reality is being used to present and help patients control symptoms of paranoia, hallucinations, illusions and delusions.

Presently, research and science development has introduced the use of virtual reality technology among patients having Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and chronic pain disorders. 

YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAhuVEQRJs8 

What to expect during virtual therapy session?

The therapy usually involves six to twelve treatments depending on the response of the patient in each session. An informed consent is obtained from the patient to undergo the treatment process. This will be followed by an explanation of the whole process and what to expect during the virtual reality sessions as a preparatory activity to help allay anxiety. 

Source: virtuance.com

The patient is then assisted to wear a head mounted display that will show a 3D visual-audio scenario, and at times can include smells and vibrations to make it more realistic. The whole system is equipped with physiological monitoring device to record the responses of the patient in terms of heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressures and even oxygen saturation. Variations in vital sign readings will indicate how well the patient is responding to the simulation. 

Simulations can be stopped if the patient can no longer tolerate and responds abnormally to the given scenario. However, it is the goal of virtual reality to help the patients overcome their fears in a controlled and safe clinical environment, thereby, an encouragement and motivation to go on until this is resolved is being carried out. This process is called desensitization.

Just like any treatment procedures, virtual therapy does not present a 100% positive response. Some patients will experience and report virtual reality induced sickness during their initial session. This is characterized by nausea, dizziness, headache, eye strain, and inability to maintain balance and coordination.

“Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.” – Chris Corbett, PsyD.

The future of virtual reality

There is an endless possibility on the use of virtual reality in psychiatry and help treat or manage mental health disorders. It is now projected that virtual reality can be useful in forensic psychiatry and crime-related situations. 

Source: wnyc.org

If before the patient is required to go to the medical facility where the virtual reality is set up and performed, now there are available headsets in the market where they can simply buy for personal use and have the virtual reality encounter at their own homes. Nonetheless, patients should be instructed that a clinical and controlled setting with an available professional therapist or psychiatrist is still highly recommended. This is to ensure that the sessions are done appropriately, can respond immediately to any changes that will occur during the sessions and to document treatment response of the patient. 

In the future, the therapist can monitor the patient remotely using telemedicine and will continue to observe and evaluate effectiveness of treatments while at home.

 

Are You Afraid Of Technology?

Is there such a person who is afraid of technology? The answer is YES!

As crazy it may sound like, there is a group of phobias on technology. This article will introduce you to the common ones and who knows, you may be one experiencing it.

Source: images.onhealth.com

What are phobias?

“An individual’s world gets smaller each time they give into a fear,” – counselor Monte Drenner

First let us discuss what is phobia. Phobia is an irrational fear of objects or situations that is experienced by some individuals. The phrase irrational fear is an important consideration because this will distinguish the fact that some persons are terrible afraid of an object or situation, in which other persons are not capable of feeling fear at all. Common phobias that arachnophobias (spider), social phobia (fear of being in places with lots of people), agoraphobia (open spaces), claustrophobia (confined or closed spaces), aerophobia (flying). The list can go on and at times gets weirder, like fear of trains or siderodromophobia. 

 

Psychiatrists presented that phobias developed between ages of 4-8 years old. This is the time where discipline takes the form of scaring and being exposed to unpleasant experiences. Individuals who suffer from great phobias would feel an overwhelming sensation or exaggerated fear once confronted with the object or situation. Clinical manifestations would lean on the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system presenting increased in heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, dilation of pupils and perspiration, feelings of having butterflies in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, and syncope. “Fear, or getting scared, is an emotion that’s part of our biology as human beings, just like other emotions such as sadness, joy and anger. It serves a purpose that’s crucial to our ability to survive,” says Steve Orma, PsyD, a clinical psychologist.

Techno phobias

Now, with the advances of technology in all aspects of our daily living, we feel that life is getting better and easier because we can communicate easily with the use of our mobile phones and internet connection. Advances in science, medicine, and information technology are also beneficial towards diagnosing and treating medical conditions. With all the advantages that technology provides us, there are certain groups of persons that do not like the idea of technology in their lives. Let’s try to know some of these phobic reactions.

 

  1. Technophobia – basically, this is the umbrella of several other fears that relates to technology. It’s the irrational fear of technology and the advances it presents. Persons who experience such fear are called technophobes.

Source: theithacan.org

 

2. Nomophobia – this person does not like technology. Rather, they have this fear of not having their mobile device with them or being disconnected from communicating, internet usage, gaming, or anything that they do with their mobile phones. How much more if they lose it? Go figure.

 

 

 

3. Cyberphobia – some say that a lot can take place when you are in front of computers. For these group of people, it’s all fear of facing it. It is also known as logizomechanophobia.

 

 

Source: mroutsource.com

 

4. Telephonophobia – fear of telephones. Now you have an idea on how they prefer to communicate. Try snail mail perhaps. The again, these certain individuals are not literally afraid of telephones, but the thought of answering and receiving calls is the main cause of fear.

 

 

 

5. Selfiephobia – although it is now easier to take a photo of yourself with the use of your mobile devices, there are still group persons who are not keen in taking their own “selfies”. This can be linked to low self-esteem, feeling unphotogenic, or simply does not want to be criticized or praised once their photos are seen by the public.

 

 

 

6. Loremophobia – with everything now that is electronic, I guess this one fits my description. This is the fear of losing the remote control. Come to think of it, how can you possibly control an equipment or appliance without a remote?

“Nervousness, anger, oppositional defiance, and lowered frustration tolerance all indicate the psychological effects that can occur from prolonged screen use.”  Jyothsna Bhat, PsyD said. I am guessing that as technology continues to progress and expand, there will be more forms of phobias that will develop among individuals who don’t submit to the idea on the role of technology play in their lives. The list can still increase.