A glove to treat symptoms of stroke

The most obvious sign someone has survived a stroke is usually some trouble speaking or walking. But another challenge may have an even greater impact on someone’s daily life: Often, stroke survivors lose sensation and muscle control in one arm and hand, making it difficult to dress and feed themselves or handle everyday objects such as a toothbrush or door handle.

Now, doctors and engineers at Stanford and Georgia Tech are working on a novel therapy that could help more stroke survivors regain the ability to control their arms and hands – a vibrating glove that gently stimulates the wearer’s hand for several hours a day.

Caitlyn Seim, a graduate student at Georgia Tech, started the project in the hope that the glove’s stimulation could have some of the same impact as more traditional exercise programs. After developing a prototype, she approached Stanford colleagues Maarten Lansberg, an associate professor of neurology, and Allison Okamura, a professor of mechanical engineering, in order to expand her efforts. With help from a Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute Neuroscience seed grant, the trio are working to improve on their prototype glove and bring the device closer to clinical testing.

Full story at Medical Xpress

Can blocking a single protein tackle depression, obesity, and pain?

Depression, obesity, and chronic pain are some of the most pressing global health concerns. New research may have found a drug that could one day tackle all of these three conditions.

Almost 40 percent of adults in the United States were living with obesity in 2015–2016. Worldwide, nearly 40 percent of adults are overweight, and 13 percent of them have obesity.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability across the globe. In the U.S., over 17 million adults have experienced at least one episode of major depression in their lives.

Full story at Medical News Today

Small changes can go far in preventing childhood obesity

In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents with obesity has more than tripled since 1970. Today, approximately one in five school-aged children (ages 6 to 19) is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and that figure doesn’t include children who are considered merely overweight and not obese.

According to Dr. Alka Sood, a family medicine physician with Penn State Health Medical Group – Park Avenue in State College, Pennsylvania, children with obesity face physical, social and emotional hurdles while growing up.

“Children with obesity are more likely than their classmates to be teased or bullied and to suffer from low self-esteem, social isolation and depression,” Sood said. “They are at higher risk for other chronic health problems, including asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes, and are more likely to be obese as adults— resulting in increased risk of heart disease and other serious medical conditions.”

Full story at Medical Xpress

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

Where Does Chronic Pain Begin? Scientists Close In on Its Origins

A new study by researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT Health Science Center at Houston and Baylor College of Medicine has produced evidence of the source of chronic pain in humans, revealing several new targets for pain treatment.

The paper — published March 19 in Brain, one of the world’s oldest neurology journals — examined specialized nerve cells clustered near the base of the spine. Researchers took advantage of an exceedingly rare opportunity to study these nerves, called dorsal root ganglia (DRG), removed from cancer patients undergoing surgery at MD Anderson.

The researchers cataloged variations in RNA expression in the dorsal root ganglia cells of patients differing by pain state and sex. Using RNA sequencing, a specialized form of gene sequencing, on those DRG cells yielded a list of promising biochemical pathways for which researchers might be able to devise analgesic drugs.

Full story at utdallas.edu

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