Magnetic nano-sized disks could restore function for Lou Gehrig’s disease patients

For decades the renowned English physicist Stephen Hawking lived with a motor neuron disease until his death last year. People who suffer from this condition lose functionality of brain cells that control essential muscle activity, such as speaking, walking, breathing and swallowing.

To help individuals afflicted by MNDs, UTSA has embarked on revolutionary research that uses magnetic nano-sized disks and magnetic fields to individually modulate functionality to crucial neurons. This research could open the door to reversal of degenerative conditions like Hawking’s to restore the quality of life for about 1 million adults across the globe.

Full story at Medical-News

New Research: Prescriptions for Narcotics Are Surging for Knee Pain

Although physical therapy and lifestyle changes have been shown to bring significant improvements to those with knee osteoarthritis, new research suggests U.S. physicians may be leaning toward pain medications instead.

Published in Arthritis Care & Research, the study looks at 2,297 physician visits for the condition, data that’s kept in a national database. Researchers found that PT and lifestyle suggestions—like losing weight, quitting smoking, eating healthier foods, and getting more exercise—declined from 2007 to 2015, while prescriptions for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotics, and opioids increased.

In fact, during study period, lifestyle recommendations and referrals for physical therapists were reduced nearly by half, while prescriptions for narcotic pain relievers nearly tripled.

Full story at Runner’s World

Osteoarthritis May Play a Role in Social Isolation

When older adults become socially isolated, their health and well-being can suffer. Now a new study suggests a link between being socially isolated and osteoarthritis (arthritis), a condition that causes joint pain and can limit a person’s ability to get around.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Arthritis patients often have other health issues which may increase their risk of becoming socially isolated. These include anxiety and depression, being afraid to move around (because arthritis makes moving painful), physical inactivity and being unable to take care of themselves.

Full story at Psych Central

Technology’s Brave New World of Ethical Challenges Explored in PT in Motion Magazine

That latest piece of technology you’re thinking about weaving into your practice? Maybe it should come with a warning label.

This month, PT in Motion magazine takes a look at the ethical issues that new technologies can introduce in physical therapist practice. From seemingly offhand social media posts to the use of voice assistant devices (VADs) such as Alexa to mounting cameras in clinics, experts interviewed for the story explain the ethical considerations that need to be weighed before powering up.

“New Technology: Keeping It Ethical, Keeping It Legal” focuses on 7 general areas of technology: providing online advice, posting photos, VADs, wearable technology, use of cameras, electronic health records, and telehealth. PTs interviewed for the article include APTA Ethics and Judicial Committee Chair Bruce Greenfield, PT PhD, FAPTA; APTA Section of Health Policy and Administration member Robert Latz, PT, DPT, who’s also the section’s representative on the association’s Frontiers in Rehabilitation, Science, and Technology Council; and Nancy Kirsch, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA, president of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and author of PT in Motion‘s “Ethics in Practice” column.

Full story at APTA

Traumatic brain injury patient lives to tell the tale

John Kaczmarczyk’s wife, Noelle, and their son, Dylan, were at home when they heard a thud. They went to investigate the sound and found the alarming cause. John, 58, was unconscious on the floor at the bottom of a flight of stairs with shattered glass around him.

Rapid response

Noelle and Dylan quickly assessed the situation. They suspected John fell backwards while walking up the stairs to take out the recycling. He was breathing and they didn’t see blood at first. Noelle stayed with John and Dylan went to call 911.

Everything that happened next felt like rapid fire to Noelle. Emergency medical services quickly arrived at their home and transported John to the Norwalk Hospital Bauer Emergency Care Center, where the trauma team examined him immediately.

Full story at News Medical

SYMPTOMS POP UP EARLIER FOR KIDS OF PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA

Family history, variations in certain genes, and medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes influence a person’s chance of developing dementia. But less clear are the factors that affect when the first symptoms of forgetfulness and confusion will arise.

Factors such as education, blood pressure, and carrying the genetic variant APOE4, which increases the risk of dementia, accounted for less than a third of the variation in the age at onset—meaning that more than two-thirds remains to be explained.

“It’s important to know who is going to get dementia, but it’s also important to know when symptoms will develop,” says first author Gregory Day, an assistant professor of neurology and an investigator at the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Full story at Futurity

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