BU researcher receives NIH grant for clinical research in rheumatology

David Felson, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University Schools of Medicine (BUSM) and Public Health (BUSPH), was awarded a National Institute of Health (NIH) P30 Center Grant.

The five-year, $3.6 million award will allow for further clinical research in rheumatology at the Boston University Core Center for Clinical Research, and will provide broad clinical research expertise to a large multidisciplinary group of investigators whose research focuses on osteoarthritis and gout with a secondary emphasis on scleroderma, spondyloarthritis, osteoporosis and musculoskeletal pain.

The Center includes researchers from BU, Boston Children’s Hospital, the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University and different groups at Harvard University. This group is comprised of individuals with backgrounds in rheumatology, physical therapy, engineering, epidemiology, biostatistics, genetics, evolutionary biology and behavioral science, who critically review projects, provide methodologic guidance to research and creates new multidisciplinary collaborations.

Full story at News Medical

Exercise especially important for older people with heart disease

It is well-known that exercise is good for cardiac health, but older adults tend to fall through the cracks when it comes to rehabilitation programs. Now, a study has shown that these individuals have the most to gain.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, being responsible for 1 in 4 deaths. Every year, approximately 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease, while about 735,000 people have a heart attack.

Adults over the age of 65 years are more likely than younger people to have heart disease because the heart changes with age. Heart disease is a significant cause of disability, according to the National Institute on Aging, who note that it affects the ability of millions of older people to be active and have a good quality of life.

Full story at Medical News Today

Caution urged in reducing opioids for pain

After years and decades in which healthcare providers were freely prescribing opioids for all sorts of painful conditions, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidelines to help bring down opioid prescription rates and with them, addiction and overdose-related death rates. Though these were not binding, they urged physicians to be cautious in dealing with opioids when prescribing for pain.

The result was predictable: many doctors and patients, as well as advocacy groups, reacted strongly, claiming that many patients with severe chronic pain had been on opioids for years at high doses, yet had not developed addiction. They also claimed that the guidelines had caused many such patients to go without the pain relief they required. Over 300 doctors also formalized their protests in a letter to the CDC in the first part of 2019.

In clarification, the CDC countered by saying that its guidelines were not meant to force patients or healthcare providers to suddenly stop taking opioids or sharply reduce the dosage, and called upon doctors to understand its stance properly before applying the guidelines. The new guide shows potential sources of harm to patients who are abruptly taken off opioids, and describes factors that must be kept in mind when opioid tapering is considered. The CDC has also included several tapering protocols, to reinforce the message that abruptly stopping opioid use patterns could harm the patient.  

Full story at News Medical

Target introduces adaptive Halloween costumes for kids with disabilities

Halloween costumes are more inclusive than ever before, thanks in part to Target’s latest innovative options. Target’s Hyde and Eek! Boutique range has introduced four new Halloween costumes adapted for kids with disabilities. 

One of the designs allows kids to transform their wheelchair into a pirate ship, complete with a Jolly Roger flag and with waves for wheels. The other turns it into a luxurious purple princess carriage. Both wheelchair covers use “hook-and-loop closures for a secure fit,” and can fit on a variety of chair sizes, according to the Target website. 

The actual pirate and princess costumes are sold separately. They are specifically designed for ease of dressing for wheelchair users, with openings in the back and wide pant legs. 

Full story at CBS News

Biased? Me? PT in Motion Magazine Takes a Look at Unconscious Cultural Attitudes

Want to get an up-close glimpse at a person with cultural biases? Follow these instructions:1. Grab a mirror.
2. Look into it.

That’s one way to summarize the starting point for “Battling Bias’s Distorted Images,” the cover story for the October issue of PT in Motion magazine. The article makes the case that while unconscious bias—also known as implicit bias—is very much a part of the human condition, it’s something that can be acknowledged and managed in ways that minimize its impact on relationships. For health care providers including physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs), that’s an important step to take in effective patient care.

Through interviews with PTs in a variety of settings, author and Associate Editor Eric Ries explores how implicit bias—and these PTs’ recognition of it in themselves—has impacted and changed their lives, particularly at the professional level. Several describe the journey as a path that’s not always easy, but absolutely crucial to providing the best possible person-centered care.

Full story at APTA

Physical therapy a potential application for ‘sensitive’ artificial skin

Engineers and roboticists in Europe have invented an artificial skin that can provide wearers with haptic feedback—replicating the human sense of touch—for potential applications in various fields, including medical rehabilitation and physical therapy.  

The work was conducted at Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, aka “EPFL”) and published in Soft Robotics.

The artificial skin is soft and supple enough to flex with the wearer’s movements. Its haptic feedback mechanism uses sensors and signals to communicate pressure and vibration.

The team’s key innovation is the development of “an entirely soft artificial skin where both sensors and actuators are integrated,” explains PhD candidate Harshal Sonar, the study’s lead author, in a news item published by the school.

Full story at AI in Healthcare

Interprofessional education aims to foster learning, collaboration among healthcare students

A virtual world may be a feasible learning platform for bringing together students from different healthcare professions and enhancing their understanding of collaborative patient care and knowledge of other health professions, according to a pilot study led by researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine and published online in the Journal of Interprofessional Care.

Interprofessional education (IPE) aims to foster learning and collaboration among healthcare students from different professions, with a goal of enhancing patient care. Scheduling face-to-face learning between students in different programs, however, is one of the largest barriers to implementing this type of learning. The study evaluated a virtual educational environment for its ability to provide IPE in palliative care, which is interdisciplinary by nature.

Full story at News Medical

CMS Releases a Burden Reduction Rule That Affects a Wide Range of Facilities, Settings

The big picture: An omnibus rule that could ease some regulatory burdens
The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a final rule aimed at reducing Medicare- and Medicaid-related regulatory burdens in a range of settings, from hospitals to home health care. And for the most part, the rule hits its target.

The final rule includes provisions related to outpatient rehabilitation facilities, home health agencies, ambulatory surgical centers, hospitals, CAHs, psychiatric hospitals, transplant centers, X-rays, community mental health clinics, hospice care, and more. For the most part, the changes either lift or relax requirements, giving facilities more leeway in meeting reporting and other duties. CMS estimates the changes will save providers 4.4 million hours of paperwork time and result in $800 million in savings annually.

Full story at APTA

Scientists identify a personality feature that could predict how often you exercise

Individuals who make concrete plans to meet their goals may engage in more physical activity, including visits to the gym, compared to those who don’t plan quite so far ahead, research shows. These research findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggest that self-reported levels of a trait called ‘planfulness’ may translate into real world differences in behavior.

Some people seem to be able to more consistently meet their goals than others, but it remains unclear if personality traits that have been found to promote goal achievement in the lab similarly encourage individuals to achieve long-term goals in their day-to-day lives, says lead researcher Rita M. Ludwig of the University of Oregon.

Conscientiousness, a measure of individuals’ orderliness and dependability on the Big Five Inventory of personality, has long been tied with healthy behaviors, notes Ludwig and colleagues Sanjay Srivastava and Elliot T. Berkman, also of the University of Oregon. Narrowing their focus to a single facet of this trait, planfulness, allows researchers to zero in on the psychological processes—such as mental flexibility, and a person’s ability to make short-term sacrifices in pursuit of future success—that contribute directly to achieving long-term goals.

Full story at Medical Xpress

Walking patterns may help differentiate types of dementia

The causes of dementia can damage the brain in different ways. Is it possible that these differences may reveal themselves in the way that people walk? A new study that compared walking patterns in people with two types of dementia explored the question.

“Alzheimer’s and Lewy body disease have unique signatures of gait impairment,” state the authors in a recent Alzheimer’s & Dementia paper about their findings.

The researchers suggest that the unique impairments to gait — or alterations to walking pattern — may reflect the specific damage that each disease inflicts on mental function and the brain.

Full story at Medical News Today