Health and Wellbeing

March 9, 2007 We’ve written before about Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems’ BrainGate, a brain-implant device designed to control a computer, assistive devices and eventually, limb movement. The company’s focus is neural stimulation, sensing and processing technology to improve the lives of those with severe paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders and other conditions of the nervous system. Cyberkinetics' product development pipeline includes: Andara OFS (Oscillating Field Stimulator) Therapy for acute spinal cord injury, an investigative device designed to stimulate nerve repair and restore sensation and motor function; the; and a pilot program in the detection and prediction of seizures due to Epilepsy. Cyberkinetics has now filed to market its Andara OFS Therapy for Acute Spinal Cord Injury under Humanitarian Device Exemption. Cyberkinetics recently submitted a Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to obtain market clearance for the implantable Andara OFS System, a nerve growth stimulator. If approved, Andara would be the first commercially available neurotechnology device designed to partially restore sensation and motor function in acute spinal cord injuries by stimulating nerve repair. The company sees it as its first step toward building a Nerve Repair Franchise. Read More
March 6, 2007 For most of modern civilization, efforts to understand the human psyche have concentrated on understanding the downsides of anger, depression, anxiety and mental illness. In more recent times, there has been a great deal of scientific exploration of what makes people happy. In our increasingly complex society, happiness is not the simple product of favourable circumstance. Well-being is dependent on making the right individual choices. Handling freedom is not always easy and that has created a demand for happiness advice. Philosophers, psychologists and spiritual thinkers offer happiness counsel, but their widely differing views have never been empirically scrutinized. A special issue on Happiness Advice of the Journal of Happiness Studies published online this week, fills this gap, by comparing the advice given with what is known about the conditions of happiness observed in empirical research. Read More
March 5, 2007 Here’s an interesting new inhaler that provides metered dose inhaler (MDI) users with breath-activated delivery and dose-counting capabilities. From Accentia Biopharmaceuticals, the MD Turbo offers significant advantages for the users of many of the 40 million MDIs prescribed each year in the United States alone. Studies show that many patients using traditional press-and-breathe pMDIs (pressurized metered dose inhalers) to control asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), regardless of age or MDI experience, cannot successfully coordinate the press-and-breathe action necessary for drug delivery to the lungs. More than 70% of MDI users do not know the number of doses remaining in their inhalers at a given time. Read More
March 5, 2007 Two years ago, we wrote about the “time-shifting” drug, Modafinil that enables you to stay awake for 40+ hours with close to full mental capacity and with few side effects. The drug is a eugeroic and offers improved memory, mood enhancement, improved alertness and cognitive powers, and has a much smoother feel than amphetamines because they work differently. Popular Science is now reporting that we’re just about to see new forms of super eugeroic called armodafinil (Modafinil’s creator Cephalon is awaiting FDA approval for the drug), and a drug code-named CX717 from Cortex. Both drugs promise even longer periods of wakefulness, and in experiments with Ampakine CX717, sleep-deprived rhesus monkeys on the drug often outperformed their own well-rested but undrugged best efforts on mental-performance tests. While these drugs will be marketed to assist people with sleep disorders like narcolepsy, it’s their potential as recreational and workplace performance-enhancing drugs that make them worth watching. The times they are a changing … Read More
March 2, 2007 We’ve written about Tanita’s Innerscan previously, but the newly released Tanita BC-545 is such a leap forward in technology that it deserves more than just a mention. The BC-545 is designed to assess the impact of your training routine on different parts of your body. It is able to give individual body composition readings for five body segments (each arm, each leg and the trunk area). The measurements are taken quickly and accurately by standing on the 4 footplates and by pulling the hand electrodes that are housed in the base using retractable connecting cables. The monitor then sends a safe low signal from the hand and footplate electrodes through the body. The resistance to the measurement (known as Bio-electrical Impedance Analysis or BIA) is then fed into researched equations to provide your personalized body composition readings. As the device includes a calendar function, it can track the changes over time for you, so you can create comparison graphs showing a history for each segment of the body and for each of the body composition readings, so that you can see your progress, day by day, week by week and month by month over a three year period. The backlit buttons and animated illustrations are clear and user-friendly, and the scales come with batteries included and a three year guarantee. Needless to say, because the device sends electrical signals through the body, it is highly inadvisable to use this device if you have a heart pacemaker. Read More
February 27, 2007 The term Spanish Flu seems almost innocuous to those who are unaware of its history. Spanish Flu swept the world in the years after World War One, killing somewhere between 2.5 and 5% of the human population of Planet earth. Around 20% of the world population suffered from the disease which killed more people than had WW1 and more than the Black Death of the 1300s – it remains the most deadly outbreak of disease in world history. Spanish Flu was caused by a mutation of the bird-specific H1N1 strain of the influenza virus. More recently, another highly infectious avian strain (H5N1 also known as Bird Flu ) has caused great concern that it might also mutate to allow human-to-human transmission and cause another catastrophic pandemic. Specific mutations in a viral protein, the polymerase, contribute to the ability of the bird virus to jump the species barrier to humans. European researchers have now produced the first three-dimensional image of part of this key protein. The study, which is published in the current issue of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, investigates the structure and function of the protein and sheds light on how polymerase mutations contribute to transmission of avian flu to humans. Read More
February 23, 2007 Mayo Clinic and Digital Cyclone (a subsidiary of Garmin) have collaborated to develop a software application that delivers an array of health information and tools directly to cellular phones. The Mayo Clinic InTouch wireless health program will be available next week offering wireless phone subscribers a rich health resource directly on their phone with immediate access to step-by-step first aid tips, a symptom checker that provides self-care guidelines or advises emergency care for more than 45 common symptoms in adults and children, health news videos, health alerts and drug watches. Read More
February 22, 2007 Intel Corporation today announced its mobile clinical assistant (MCA) is ready for primetime. Motion Computing’s C5 is the first product based on Intel’s MCA platform and has earned support from clinicians and nurses participating in pilot studies around the world. As Intel’s first platform built specifically for healthcare, the MCA is an important step in the company’s efforts to better connect clinicians to comprehensive patient information on a real-time basis. The lightweight, spill-resistant, drop-tolerant and easily disinfected MCA allows nurses to access up-to-the-minute patient records and to document a patient’s condition instantly, enhancing clinical workflow while reducing the staff’s administrative workload. The Motion C5 features wireless connectivity to access up-to-date secure patient information and physician’s orders; radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for easy, rapid user logon; a digital camera to enhance patient charting and progress notes, to keep track of wounds as they heal; and bluetooth technology to help capture patient vital signs. Read More
February 20, 2007 VeinViewer is a vein-contrast enhancement device that uses an infra-red camera to highlight blood (the underlying vasculature) and projects the image in real time onto the skin. With this device, physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals can find veins easily and avoid multiple needle sticks to patients. Venipuncture, the collection of blood specimen from a vein, is commonly seen by nurses as one of the most painful and frequently performed invasive procedures. According to an article in the Journal of Phlebotomy, an estimated one billion venipunctures are performed annually. In one study in the Journal of Nursing, the number of needle sticks for successful catheter placement ranged from one to at least 14. Ninety percent of inpatients require peripheral IV access and approximately 25% of patients need central venous access which consists of a small flexible tube being implanted under the skin so medications can be delivered directly into larger veins. Read More
February 19, 2007 Patients who have gone blind are a step closer to perhaps one day regaining some of their sight with the news that the United States FDA has approved a study to evaluate an artificial retina. Researchers at the USC Doheny Eye Institute are developing the technology that hopefully will help patients with retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration regain some vision using an implanted artificial retina. The announcement by Mark Humayun, professor of ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and associate director of research at the Doheny Retina Institute, came at a press conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco. Read More