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

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

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

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

How To Teach Future Doctors About Pain In The Midst Of The Opioid Crisis

The next generation of doctors will start their careers at a time when physicians are feeling pressure to limit prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

Yet every day, they’ll face patients who are hurting from injuries, surgical procedures or disease. Around 20% of adults in the U.S. live with chronic pain.

That’s why some medical students felt a little apprehensive as they gathered recently for a mandatory, four-day course at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore — home to one of the top medical schools in the country.

The subject of the course? Pain.

Full story at NPR

A young woman, a wheelchair and the fight to take her place at Stanford

Sylvia Colt-Lacayo is 18, fresh-faced and hopeful, as she beams confidence from her power wheelchair. Her long dark hair is soft and carefully tended, and her wide brown eyes are bright. A degenerative neuromuscular disease, similar to muscular dystrophy, has left her with weak, underdeveloped muscles throughout her body, and her legs are unable to support any weight. Each time she needs to get in or out of her wheelchair — to leave bed in the morning, use the bathroom, take a shower, change clothes — she needs assistance.

Throughout her young life, Sylvia has been told her disability didn’t need to hold her back. And she took those words to heart. She graduated near the top of her high school class in Oakland with a 4.25 GPA. She was co-captain of the mock trial team at school, served on the youth advisory board of the local children’s hospital, interned in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and is a budding filmmaker. In April, Sylvia learned she had been admitted to Stanford University with a full scholarship for tuition, room and board.

Full story at News Medical

Lifestyle, not genetics, explains most premature heart disease

Physical inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol play a greater role than genetics in many young patients with heart disease, according to research presented today at ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology. The findings show that healthy behaviours should be a top priority for reducing heart disease even in those with a family history of early onset.

“Genetics are an important contributor to premature heart disease but should not be used as an excuse to say it is inevitable,” said study author Dr Joao A. Sousa of Funchal Hospital, Portugal.

“In our clinical practice, we often hear young patients with premature heart disease ‘seek shelter’ and explanations in their genetics/family history,” he added. “However, when we look at the data in our study, these young patients were frequently smokers, physically inactive, with high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure — all of which can be changed.”

Full story at Science Daily

New York Hospital Using Sailing As Unique Therapy For Disabled And Special Needs Children

Spending a relaxing day on a sailboat can be great medicine for just about anyone.

But for a special group of kids, there’s an even greater benefit.

“I’ve never been sailing,” 10-year-old Alexandria said.

Alexandria is part of a group of patients from the Hospital for Special Surgery, where they’re being treated for conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, and scoliosis.

HSS arranged a first of its kind sailing trip at the adaptive program at the waterfront center in Oyster Bay, after similar, successful patient outings for horseback riding, surfing, and skiing.

“I think these programs give them the opportunity to move their body in a new way and be open to new opportunities,” Sabrina Cerciello from HSS said.

Cerciello is a physical therapist in pediatric rehabilitation.

Full story at CBS News

Study: Mothers Who Exercise During Pregnancy Give Their Infants a Motor Skills Boost

The message
Infants of mothers who engaged in aerobic exercise during pregnancy tend to show better motor development at 1 month compared with infants of nonexercising mothers, according to authors of a new study. The researchers believe that aerobic exercise during pregnancy could be a hedge against childhood overweight and obesity.

The study
Researchers analyzed data from 60 healthy mothers (ages 18 to 35, with an average age of 30) and their infants. During their pregnancies, 33 women participated in 45-50 minutes of supervised aerobic exercise, 3 days a week. The remaining 27 women in the control group were asked to engage in a 50-minute supervised stretching and breathing program 3 days a week, but were otherwise advised to continue with “normal” activities. The infants of both groups were then evaluated for motor skills development at 1 month using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales, second edition (PDMS-2), a tool that tests reflexes, locomotion, and a child’s ability to remain stationary. The measure also provides a composite score, known as the Gross Motor Quotient (GMQ).

Full study at APTA

Study eyes role of Apple smart devices to help identify early stage AD

A study conducted by Evidation Health on behalf of Eli Lilly and Apple suggests that data collected from smart devices and digital apps might help speed up the diagnosis of early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, “Developing Measures of Cognitive Impairment in the Real World from Consumer-Grade Multimodal Sensor Streams,” was performed in order to assess the feasibility of using smart devices to differentiate individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia from healthy controls.

MCI is the clinically symptomatic, pre-dementia stage of AD; cognitive deficits do not yet impair the ability to function at work or in daily activities.

Full story at Medical Xpress