Meditation could help reduce anxiety levels and some heart health risk factors

It sounds like a late-night commercial: In just one hour you can reduce your anxiety levels and some heart health risk factors. But a recent study with 14 participants shows preliminary data that even a single session of meditation can have cardiovascular and psychological benefits for adults with mild to moderate anxiety.

John Durocher, assistant professor of biological sciences, is presenting the work of a team of Michigan Technological University researchers about mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce anxiety at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting April 21-25 in San Diego, which is attended by approximately 14,000 people.

In “Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Aortic Pulsatile Load and Anxiety in Mild to Moderately Anxious Adults,” Durocher, along with fellow researchers Hannah Marti, a recent Michigan Tech graduate, Brigitte Morin, lecturer in biological science, and Travis Wakeham, a graduate student, explains the finding that 60 minutes after meditating the 14 study participants showed lower resting heart rates and reduction in aortic pulsatile load–the amount of change in blood pressure between diastole and systole of each heartbeat multiplied by heart rate. Additionally, shortly after meditating, and even one week later, the group reported anxiety levels were lower than pre-meditation levels.

Full story at News-Medical.net

Surprisingly, opioids may increase risk of chronic pain

After surgery, opioids — such as morphine — are routinely used to manage pain. However, according to a new study, the drugs could actually raise the likelihood of experiencing chronic pain.

Opioids are big news. The “opioid epidemic” in the United States is destroying lives from coast to coast.

More than 100 people die from opioid-related overdoses each and every day in the U.S.

Despite the horrors of addiction, one aspect of opioid use that is rarely questioned is just how effective they are at fulfilling their primary function: to quell pain.

Full story at Medical News Today

Flex: New CEU Courses

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Exercise is safe for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and is necessary to combat the secondary deconditioning resulting from MS-related weakness and fatigue.  The goals of this CEU course include reviewing the importance of physical fitness in persons with MS, examining if self-efficacy and physical activity have relationships with quality of life (QOL) in individuals with MS, investigating the perception of barriers and facilitators to exercise for those with MS, and comparing the effects of Pilaties, static stretching, and elastic bands resistance training.

CHILDHOOD OBESITY, EPIDEMIOLOGY, AND BONE THICKNESS

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.  Problems during the childhood and adolescence phases of the human development, during which the adult bone mass density is determined, could compromise bone health in adulthood.  The goal of this CEU course is to analyze the relationship between abdominal adipose tissue and bone mineral density (BMD) in obese children and adolescents.

For more information on these new courses and many more, visit Flex CEUs

This Virtual Physical Therapy Is Better and Cheaper Than the Old-Fashioned Kind, Study Says

Digital tech is slowly but surely creeping into the medical sphere. Just consider the ways in which patients are clamoring for more telemedicine and virtual doctor visit options while medical schools are harnessing virtual reality systems like Microsoft’s Hololens to teach anatomy to young surgeons. Now, a new study suggests that virtual physical therapy (PT) may be more effective and cheaper than the old-school variety.

The research was conducted by Cleveland Clinic scientists, centered on technology developed by Reflexion Health, and was published in the Journal of Knee Surgery(because, well, it featured patients going through PT after hip or knee surgeries).

Full story at Fortune

APTA Adds Its Voice to Coalition Calling for Medicare Advantage to Rein in Prior Authorization

With nearly a third of the total Medicare population enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan and growth expected to continue, it’s time for the public-private hybrid system to evolve and move away from excessive use of prior authorization—that’s the message being delivered to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from a coalition of health care and consumer organizations including APTA.

In an April 10 letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, the Coalition to Preserve Rehabilitation (CPR) writes that MA’s uses of prior authorization “may be sources of increasing barriers to accessing needed care, particularly inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services and devices, for beneficiaries nationwide.” The coalition argues that in many cases, prior authorization “often serves as an unnecessary delay for beneficiaries seeking medically necessary care, and often results in no cost savings to the plan.”

Full story at APTA

Predicting 1 Repetition Maximum Using Handheld Dynamometry

Isometric assessment of muscular function using a handheld dynamometer (HHD) is frequently used in clinic environments. However, there is controversy in terms of the validity of isometric assessment to monitor changes in dynamic performance. One repetition maximum (1RM) is considered the gold standard for evaluating dynamic strength, though clinicians do not often use 1RM testing, preferring to be cautious with clients who have preexisting impairments. If strength testing using an HHD could be used to predict 1RM, this may have significant implications for the use of isometric testing to prescribe exercise in clinical environments.

The aim of this study was to establish the relationship and agreement between 1RM and isometric strength scores measured using HHD for the biceps and quadriceps muscle groups and to determine if HHD measurements can be used to predict 1RM. This involved a convenience sample of 50 healthy adults (26 women) aged 19-33 years (mean 23.38 ± 3.11 years) who had their bicep and quads muscle strength tested muscle groups measured by 1RM and isometric maximal voluntary contraction measured using an HHD.

Full story at Physiospot

As APTA’s Financial Solutions Center Marks 1 Year, Student Debt Looms Large in the News

The challenges associated with college costs, student debt, and postgraduation financial management continue to make headlines, with very little progress being made in identifying ways to curb what seems to be a growing—and worsening—issue.

APTA’s Financial Solutions Center, launched 1 year ago this month, was designed to help physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students respond to those challenges by helping them deepen their financial knowledge and potentially refinance student debt at a discounted rate. But as the news will attest, the underlying issues affect a broad swath of those who are pursuing or have completed a college degree. Here’s a roundup of recent coverage of college costs and student debt in the news.

Full story at APTA

Student engineers improve mobility of teen with nerve disorder

It’s not easy for 14-year-old Cooper Meshew to do the simplest of things, like brush his teeth or open doors. In fact, for the last three years, he’s been unable to write his own name. With progressive muscle loss and limited mobility in all his limbs, Cooper could not begin to sketch out his thoughts for the special gadget he helped design that would eventually improve his physical abilities.

All that has changed, thanks to two University of Akron biomedical engineering students who relied on Cooper’s words and descriptions to create a 3D-printed adaptable arm brace. The youngster has now regained the ability to use a fork to eat or a pencil to write his name.

It all happened after a doctor at Akron Children’s Hospital connected Cooper to our Department of Biomedical Engineering. The doctor had asked Cooper, “If I could wave a magic wand and do one thing for you, what would it be?” Cooper, with a keen interest in engineering, wished for an engineer to come to his Wooster home and help set up his own 3D printer. That’s when seniors Stephen Conklin and Brett Flesher learned about Cooper and the issues he faces from his nerve disorder.

Full story at uakron.edu

Scientists induce sensations of touch and movement in the arm of a paralyzed man

For the first time, scientists at Caltech have induced natural sensations in the arm of a paralyzed man by stimulating a certain region of the brain with a tiny array of electrodes. The patient has a high-level spinal cord lesion and, besides not being able to move his limbs, also cannot feel them. The work could one day allow paralyzed people using prosthetic limbs to feel physical feedback from sensors placed on these devices.

The research was done in the laboratory of Richard Andersen, James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, T&C Chen Brain-Machine Interface Center Leadership Chair, and director of the T&C Chen Brain-Machine Interface Center. A paper describing the work appears in the April 10 issue of the journal eLife.

The somatosensory cortex is a strip of brain that governs bodily sensations, both proprioceptive sensations (sensations of movement or the body’s position in space) and cutaneous sensations (those of pressure, vibration, touch, and the like). Previous to the new work, neural implants targeting similar brain areas predominantly produced sensations such as tingling or buzzing in the hand. The Andersen lab’s implant is able to produce much more natural sensation via intracortical stimulation, akin to sensations experienced by the patient prior to his injury.

Full story at Medical Xpress

Newly expanded program at Rush offers relief from pelvic floor problems

Trouble with urine or bowel control, bladder pain, recurring urinary tract infections, constipation and other sexual function issues frequently can be traced to a dysfunctional pelvic floor — the layer of muscles that support the bladder and bowel in men, and bladder, bowel and vagina in women.

Twenty-five to 30 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 55 have a weak pelvic floor. Unfortunately, the symptoms often go under-reported and undiagnosed.

Different studies rate the prevalence of incontinence in women alone as between 15 percent up to 50 percent.

Full story at News Medical