UAB orthopaedics investigates speeding up recovery after ankle fractures

Speeding up the recovery time for patients following ankle or tibial plateau fracture is the goal of a new study in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The multi-center study, funded by the United States Department of Defense, will evaluate whether early weight-bearing following ankle or lower leg fractures will allow a patient to recover faster and return to work or duty more quickly.

The study will call for appropriate patients to begin weight-bearing two weeks after a surgical repair rather than the current standard of care: six to eight weeks following surgery for an ankle fracture and 10 to 12 weeks for a tibial plateau fracture. 

Full story at UAB

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

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

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

Wrist-worn step trackers accurate in predicting patient health outcomes

Determining how far patients with pulmonary disease can walk in six minutes has long been an effective clinical tool to help physicians determine their exercise capacity, as well as to aid in predicting health outcomes and mortality.

Now, in a new study, researchers at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City found that steps measured through a step tracker worn on the wrist can be used to estimate exercise capacity and determine the health status of patients, rather than the standardized six-minute walk distance test, which is usually conducted in a clinical setting.

Using the wrist-worn step trackers, researcher found data may be used in clinical care at higher intervals to effectively monitor patient progress and disease management. Researchers say the results are another example in how wearable and monitoring devices like Fitbits and Apple Watches can be used in patient care to improve outcomes.

Full story at Medical Xpress

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

Advancements in pain management are giving new options to patients

Hardly a day goes by without the public being warned about the dangers of opioids. But still, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die every day of opioid overdose and the problem is getting worse. A Houston Methodist pain specialist says new advancements in pain management are giving patients options.

Chokshi says if a doctor only prescribes pain medication for chronic or severe pain, it’s important for patients to ask three questions:

  • Are there any alternatives to pain medications?
  • Can we reduce the dosage of the pain medications by combining them with other treatment options?
  • What is the plan for weaning me off of the medications?

Full story at News Medical

Falls Awareness Week: An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency departments treat 3 million older adults for falls each year. More than 800,000 patients are hospitalized after a fall, approximately 20% of falls result in serious injuries, and falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Despite these often preventable statistics, individuals enrolled in Medicare often are not screened for risk of falling at their annual wellness visit.

Currently, during the initial annual wellness visit, a provider is required to assess an individual’s functional ability and level of safety with regard to the ability to successfully perform activities of daily living, falls risk, hearing impairment, and home safety. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not require functional status and safety assessments in follow-up wellness visits, in part due to the fact that the United Stated Preventative Services Task Force (USPTSF) has not proffered a recommendation for such.

Full story at APTA

Calorie restriction plus exercise can make bones more fragile

Calorie restriction, especially in combination with exercise, can make bones smaller and weaker, according to new research in mice.

In contrast, exercising while on a full calorie diet can benefit bone health, say the researchers.

They describe their investigation and its results in a recent Journal of Bone and Mineral Research paper.

“These findings were somewhat of a surprise for us,” says senior study author Dr. Maya Styner, an associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full story at Medical News Today

5 Ways to Get Ready for Falls Prevention Awareness Day

An estimated 1 in 4 adults 65 and older experiences a fall each year, and according to a recent study, falls-related deaths among adults 75 and older are on the rise, all of which makes falls prevention more relevant than ever.

With Falls Prevention Awareness Day coming September 23, now is a great time to check out a few falls-related resources from APTA and its components. Here are a few ways to make the next few days a little more fall-focused.

1. Check out the tests and measures at PTNow.
In addition to being your source for clinical summaries, clinical practice guidelines, and research, APTA’s evidence-based practice resource also includes a host of tests and measures—including many related to balance. Members can download information on the 360-degree turn stand, the balance error scoring system, the elderly mobility scale, and the falls risk assessment tool, to name a few. Some of the resources even come with accompanying videos. And don’t forget other falls-related resources at PTNow, such as this clinical summary on fall risk in community-dwelling elders.

Full story at APTA