Letter from the Editor: Looking to the future

At Medical News Today, we pride ourselves on providing you with the latest news in medical research. This month, we’ve gone one step further, taking a deep dive into the future of health technology.

Last week, MNT attended the annual Future Healthcare 2019 Exhibition and Conference, which took place in London in the United Kingdom.

It was an intriguing, eye-opening conference, brimming with healthcare professionals and scientists from across the globe, brought together to talk about the latest technological innovations in healthcare.

One standout innovation for me was a technology called GripAble.

Full story at Medical News Today

Exercise adds up to big brain boosts

Anyone who trains for a marathon knows that individual running workouts add up over time to yield a big improvement in physical fitness. So, it should not be surprising that the cognitive benefits from workouts also accumulate to yield long-term cognitive gains. Yet, until now, there was has been little research to describe and support the underlying neurobiology. In new work being presented this week about the effects of exercise on the brain at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) in San Francisco, researchers are finding that brain changes that occur after a single workout are predictive of what happens with sustained physical training over time.

“There is a strong and direct link between physical activity and how your brain works,” says Wendy Suzuki of New York University (NYU), who is chairing a symposium on the topic at CNS. “People still do not link physical health to brain and cognitive health; they think about fitting into a bikini or losing that last pound, not about all the brain systems they are improving and enhancing every time they work out.”

Full story at Medical Xpress

Children’s ball pits full of pathogenic microbes

Researchers at the University of North Georgia found significant microbial colonization in ball pits located across six clinical settings, nine of which were opportunistic pathogens.

The popularity of ball pits has increased since the 1980s when the fun pools were introduced into restaurant chains nationwide. As well as the dirt, feces, vomit or urine that is sometimes visible in the pits, numerous bacterial species have been found including normal human skin bacteria and opportunistic pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus.

Ball pits are also commonly used in physical therapy clinics to provide stimulation for children with sensory processing disorders or motor impairments. However, national standards or protocols for cleaning these enclosures remain elusive, say study authors Dobrusia Bialonska and colleagues.

Full story at news-medical.net

Too Much Focus on Productivity Increases Risk of Unethical Behavior, Say Researchers

Employers that overemphasize productivity goals over evidence-based practice (EBP) may inadvertently set the stage for unethical behaviors by physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs), say authors of an unedited new study published ahead of print in Archives of Rehabilitation Research and Clinical Translation. Organizational culture, say authors, is “the most easily changeable” factor in promoting ethical behavior.

In an email survey, researchers asked licensed PTs and PTAs in the state of Texas about their practice settings, their employers’ use of productivity goals, and observed unethical behaviors, such as inappropriately discharging patients or falsifying or changing documentation.

The majority of the 3,446 respondents were women (70.5%) and had been practicing an average of 15 years. One-third of respondents were PTAs. The most-represented practice settings were skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) (23.1%) and private outpatient clinics (17.7%).

Full story at APTA

Caterpillars could hold the secret to new treatment for osteoarthritis

A substance from a fungus that infects caterpillars could offer new treatment hope for sufferers of osteoarthritis according to new research.

Cordycepin is an active compound isolated from the caterpillar fungus Cordyceps militaris and has proved to be effective in treating osteoarthritis by blocking inflammation in a new way, through reducing a process called polyadenylation. The research was undertaken by scientists from the University of Nottingham and supported by funding from Versus Arthritis. The findings have been published today in Scientific Reports.

Dr. Cornelia De Moor from the University of Nottingham’s School of Pharmacy led the study and said: “The natural compound cordycepin is derived from a caterpillar fungus which is famous in the Far East for its medicinal properties. In this paper we show that orally administrated cordycepin reduces pain and halts disease progression in animal models of osteoarthritis. Intriguingly, it does this by a different mechanism than any other known anti-inflammatory painkiller, through affecting the last step of making a messenger RNA, polyadenylation. This means that medicines derived from cordycepin may help patients for whom other treatments have failed. We hope that cordycepin will prove to be the founder of a new class of pain killer, the polyadenylation inhibitors. There is a long way to go before a cordycepin derived medicine reaches patients, but our work is very promising we are very excited about the prospects.”

Full story at Medical Xpress

What to know about MCL tears

A tear to the medial collateral ligament in the knee can cause pain, swelling, and a lack of stability in the knee. Treatment is usually with ice, a knee brace, and physical therapy. Surgery may be necessary in rare cases.

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) connects the bones in the thigh and lower leg. The MCL runs along the inside of the knee, while the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) runs along the outside of the knee. Together, these two ligaments, along with others, help to keep the knee in place.

Ligaments consist of strong connective tissue. A sprain stretches the ligament, which can become loose after a severe injury. A tear is a more severe injury that splits the ligament in two. When someone tears the MCL, it may not hold the knee in place as securely.

Full story at Medical News Today

New Device Uses Eye Movements To Measure Concussions In Patients

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Bella Adkins is a gymnast and cheerleader, but then a concussion from snowboarding put her on the sidelines.

“When I came home, I was like, I think I need to get checked out. I could tell something was wrong,” said Bella. “Any light or sound that was loud or bright really affected me. I can’t really focus on one thing without my mind going somewhere else.”

She was crushed.

“I can’t even go to, like, the cheerleading games, because it’s really loud and all the bright lights,” she said.

Her pediatrician recommended physical therapy, and Bella came to River Therapies.

It’s currently the only place in the Pittsburgh area using a new device called the I-PAS. It uses eye movements to give the therapist an objective measure of impairment and progress.

Full story at KDKA Pittsburgh

Hand pressure points: Everything you need to know

The human body contains a lot of pressure points, and some people believe that pressing on these points can affect other parts of the body and overall health.

There is limited research to support the use of pressure points to help a person heal. However, there is much more research about the use of acupuncture, which involves needles instead of just pressure.

Using pressure points is a noninvasive and relatively risk-free practice, so it is usually safe to use alongside doctor-recommended treatments.

Practitioners of acupressure and reflexology use pressure points in their healing treatments.

Full story at Medical News Today

Late-blooming exercisers may get the same benefits as lifelong gym rats

If you weren’t active in your youth, it’s easy to feel like you’re starting off at a disadvantage. Maintaining fitness is so much easier than gaining it, and It’s painful to feel like you’re the only one struggling at the gym. If you’re in your 40s or 50s and looking to get fit for the first time, you might wonder if it’s even worth the effort.

A new study suggests it is. People who start exercising later in life—and yes, we mean as late as your 50s—reduce their mortality risk just as much as people who’ve been exercising their whole lives as compared to folks who are completely sedentary. What’s more, in this new study that held true regardless of how a person’s BMI fluctuated throughout their lives.

The study, which was published in JAMA Network Open, shows how powerful exercise is and why it’s so important to be active late into your life. Researchers looked at 315,059 participants in total and separated them into three basic experimental groups: those who were active throughout their lives, those who were inactive as youngsters but became active as they got older, and those who were active youths who became less active in their later years.

Full story at Popular Science

Top 10 stretches for shoulder tightness

Shoulder stretches can help relieve muscle tension, pain, and tightness in the neck and shoulders.

Stiff or tight shoulders can cause discomfort and limit a person’s range of motion. If the tightness goes unchecked, it can lead to neck pain and cause tension headaches.

In this article, we describe 10 shoulder stretches and their benefits. We also discuss what causes shoulder tightness and how to prevent it.

Full story at Medical News Today