Researchers building glove to treat symptoms of stroke

Strokes often have a devastating impact on hands function. Now, Stanford researchers are collaborating on a vibrating glove that could improve hand function after a 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, researchers at Stanford 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.

Full story at Medical Xpress

Robotic Neck Brace Restores Function for ALS Patients

A novel neck brace, which supports the neck during its natural motion, was designed by Columbia engineers. This is the first device shown to dramatically assist patients suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in holding their heads and actively supporting them during range of motion. This advance would result in improved quality of life for patients, not only in improving eye contact during conversation, but also in facilitating the use of eyes as a joystick to control movements on a computer, much as scientist Stephen Hawkins famously did.

A team of engineers and neurologists led by Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine, designed a comfortable and wearable robotic neck brace that incorporates both sensors and actuators to adjust the head posture, restoring roughly 70% of the active range of motion of the human head. Using simultaneous measurement of the motion with sensors on the neck brace and surface electromyography (EMG) of the neck muscles, it also becomes a new diagnostic tool for impaired motion of the head-neck. Their pilot study was published August 7 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

Full story at Technology Networks

Military System Study: PTs in Primary Care Provide Safe Treatment and Are Less Likely to Order Ancillary Services or Make Referrals

While civilian health care policymakers and stakeholders in the US continue to debate whether physical therapists (PTs) should be included as primary care providers, the country’s military health systems have marched ahead with the concept. A new study adds to the evidence that the idea is working, both in terms of patient safety and reduced health care utilization.

Authors of the study, published in Military Medicine and first presented as a poster at the 2019 APTA Combined Sections Meeting, frame their research as an exploration of the potential for PTs to address the nationwide physician shortage by lowering costs and increasing access to care. They assert that the potential for more team-based, effective care could be at least partially realized if civilian PTs were treated like their military counterparts and included as primary care providers. It’s a position that APTA strongly supports in its strategic goals and is consistent with APTA’s own investigations into the PT’s role in primary care settings. In addition, in 2018 the association conducted a practice analysis aimed at determining the feasibility of primary care as a specialty area recognized by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties and the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education.

Full story at APTA

Do rising obesity levels explain cardiovascular mortality trends?

For decades, deaths caused by cardiovascular events, such as stroke, had been on the decline in high income countries. Recently, however, this decline has come to a halt, and some countries are even experiencing rising rates of stroke and heart disease-related deaths. Why?

“In high income countries, the very substantial decline in [cardiovascular] mortality over the past half-century has been a major, yet often unheralded, global public health achievement.”

This is what Prof. Alan Lopez and Tim Adair, Ph.D. write in the introduction to a new study paper, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The journal reviews current trends in mortality associated with stroke, heart disease, and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

Full story at Medical News Today

BIDMC podiatrist offers advice on most common foot injuries

As the summer is in full swing, you may be spending more time outside being active. John Giurini, DPM, Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), encourages you to pay special attention to your feet.

“Foot health contributes to your overall health,” he says. “From beginners to advanced athletes, proper foot care is important to keep your body healthy.”

Whether you’re training for a big race or taking a short walk, here are a few common injuries that everyone should be aware of to keep your feet happy and healthy.

Full story at News Medical

Physical Therapy Gets Low (Tech)

There’s a place for virtual reality treadmills, robotic exoskeletons, and motion-capture sensors—just not in Eva Norman’s car trunk.

Evan Norman, PT, DPT, president of a mobile wellness practice in Minnesota, is one of the physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapy device industry professionals who share their thoughts on “unplugged” equipment for “In Praise of Low-Tech Tools,” an article in the August edition of PT in Motion magazine.

Norman’s business model, which brings providers including PTs to patients and clients, includes the use of what she calls a provider “toolbox,” aka a car trunk. That toolbox contains items such as ankle weights, foam pads, resistance bands, and foam rollers—the “evergreen” tools of the rehab trade, according to Norman. She emphasizes that “all of the tools we use must be practical for our purposes—portable, easy to use, durable, and low-cost for people to purchase for themselves.”

Full story at APTA

#Fail? Study Says Physical Therapy’s Reach on Social Media Comes up Short

When it comes to using social media to promote the profession, physical therapy may be missing out: that’s the conclusion of a recent study that analyzed physical therapy-related tweets and found that, for the most part, Twitter discussions about the profession are occurring in an “echo chamber”—if they even rise to the level of a discussion in the first place.

The study, published in APTA’s journal PTJ (Physical Therapy), looked at a random sample of 1,000 tweets from a collection of 30,000 tweets gathered over a 12-week period. Researchers sorted out each message according to its author, intended audience, tone, and theme, and—when it occurred—the “pattern” of the twitter conversation, which includes shares as well as actual online exchanges. The collection was based on 9 search terms: physical therapy, physiotherapy, physical therapist, physiotherapist, #physicaltherapy, #physiotherapy, #physical therapist, #physiotherapist, and #physio. Hashtags associated with “known physical therapy campaigns,” such as APTA’s #ChoosePT, were not included in the searches.

Full story at APTA

Regenstrief/VA scientist to co-lead $21 million study on chronic low back pain management

Matthew J. Bair, M.D., M.S., a research scientist with the Regenstrief Institute and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will co-lead a $21 million national study to find the best approach to manage chronic low back pain. The Department of Veterans Affairs is funding the 20-site trial.

Dr. Bair is leading the study along with David Clark, M.D., PhD, a pain management physician at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University.

Low back pain is the most disabling chronic condition in the world. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives. About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain develop chronic low back pain, which is defined as pain that lasts 12 weeks or more. Treating the condition is very challenging.

Full story at news-medical.net

More Steps Per Day Tied to Lower Mortality in Older Women

Walking as few as 4400 steps per day may decrease the risk for all-cause mortality among older women, according to a study published online today in JAMA Internal Medicine and presented simultaneously at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 2019 Annual Meeting.

The risk for death fell with increasing number of steps per day, and these benefits leveled off after 7500 steps/day.

The study is the first to evaluate the association between step intensity and long-term health outcomes, and it found the intensity of walking did not seem to have an impact on mortality.

“These findings may serve as encouragement to the many sedentary individuals for whom 10,000 steps/day pose an unattainable goal,” write author I-Min Lee, MBBS, ScD, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues.

Full story at Medscape

Repetitive knee stress and lack of rest can be major causes of ACL failure

Repetitive knee stress and failure to accommodate sufficient rest between periods of strenuous exercise may be key factors behind the rapid rise in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in world sport, a new international study has found.

While it is already well recognized that a single supramaximal force can cause ACL failure, it has been assumed that sub-maximal forces could not cause ACL failure.

But this world-first research, published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, has found that a series of submaximal forces can indeed cause damage to accrue in the ACL, in a process called low-cycle material fatigue, and that same damage is found in ACLs which have failed.

Full story at news-medical.net