Tag Archives: Medical

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You can do these things in your sleep

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You never go to bed early because you’re trying to get stuff accomplished, right? Rethink that strategy.

Science is proving that your brain is surprisingly good at multitasking while you sleep — and your body functions at a surprisingly energetic level, too. Here are just a few of the surprising things you can do in your sleep — your mental and physical health will thank you!

Prep for that presentation.

Trying to memorize data for a big work project? Take a 20-minute nap in a hammock or rocking chair or recliner.

A study from the University of Geneva found that sleeping while your body gently rocks or sways activates the memory consolidation channels within your brain, sharpening your ability to recall facts quickly and efficiently. Rocking also helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep, too.

Learn a new language.

University of Bern researchers found that during the phase of sleep known as slow wave, new vocabulary is efficiently cemented in your memory due to specific brain cells repairing themselves from your busy day.

Play a recording on your phone of those French phrases you’re trying to learn for that upcoming vacation to Paris while you snooze, and when you wake up, you’ll know them.

Heal that wound.

European researchers report that during sleep, your immune cells attach themselves to “targets” in your system — like the cold virus or the infection you might have gotten from a cut.

Sleep super-powers your immune cells to kill what’s making you sick. Give these immune cells a boost by making sure you get at least seven hours of uninterrupted ZZZZs.

Stop those aches and pains.

Research published by the Society for Neuroscience found that just one night of decreased sleep can adversely activate the brain’s perception of pain. If you get 7-8 hours of shuteye, though, you may experience less pain the next day — so sleep can help you get control of those aches and pains you deal with from hunching over your computer and phone as you work.

Enjoy a better outlook.

Good sleep can help cement a positive attitude once you wake up the next morning. When your brain is rested, you feel clearer about the possibilities and potential of what you can achieve. So, turn in early, and wake up tomorrow ready to meet those goals and more!

Here are five additional strategies for good sleep hygiene to help you get the highest quality rest, according to the American Sleep Association:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  • Don’t nap, which can throw off the amount of sleep you get later.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon each day.
  • Exercise before 2 p.m. each day; it will help you sleep through the night.
  • Put your alarm clock or phone in a place you can’t see it when you go to bed to avoid checking the time constantly.

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Teens and noise-induced hearing loss: Educating to a growing problem

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Young people love loud music, and they’re not alone.

As adults, how many of us take the edge off a long rush hour commute by blasting music in the car? Or motivate ourselves at the gym or while working around the house by listening to tunes on our personal stereo system?

The attraction to loud music is of increasing concern to audiologists, who are seeing more cases of hearing loss linked to noise at younger ages.

Consequences of teens’ attraction to loud music

Nearly 17% of 12-19-year-olds in the U.S. have documented evidence of elevated hearing thresholds — in other words, hearing loss — directly attributed to noise exposure. More than 5 million young adults suffer from some sort of hearing loss that frequently comes from prolonged exposure to loud music or some other type of loud noise, reports the Centers for Disease Control.

Nearly half of 500 youth between 13 and 19 who participated in a nationwide survey in 2014 already noted ringing, roaring, buzzing or pain in their ears after listening to excessively loud music or using tools with no hearing protection, according to an article in the Hearing Review.

In his paper, “The unexamined rewards for excessive loudness,” Barry Blesser, Ph.D., explores the function loud music serves and why — along with teens who listen to too-loud music in their earbuds — people who depend on their hearing for their livelihood still don’t protect their hearing. He argues that this human tendency doesn’t arise from ignorance of the consequences, isn’t the result of people being manipulated for commercial profits, nor is a temporary fad.

Findings of the 2014 study support Blesser’s premise that that teens are aware of the risks, yet still choose not to protect their hearing. A whopping 88% of the teens surveyed admitted to participating in risky activities they know could damage their hearing — listening to loud music was the most common.

Blesser’s discoveries shed light on the incentive that may drive teens to neglect reason when it comes to loud music. Not only does loud music transport the listener to another dimension, it has been shown to activate the same brain regions that are associated with euphoria drugs, such as cocaine. Additionally, there is evidence that loud music elevates endorphins connected with pleasure centers in the brain.

“While much of the evidence is inferential and speculative, there is no question that loud music is complex stimuli that, under certain conditions, can significantly change the mind body state,” he writes. “Simply put, loud music is more stimulating than soft music.”

Opening dialogue on the social and emotional rewards of loud music

In light of the strong hold loud music has on teens, how do educators influence adolescents to care for their hearing?

Opening up an empathetic discussion that not only outlines the dangers but acknowledges the rewards of loudness is a suggestion Blesser says could work well as a high school class activity.

Excellent background information for discussion includes recent research on the attitude of youth toward musical event sound levels and more strict noise regulations, and a 2017 study, “Why do people like loud sound?”

Such an open dialogue can to help teens negotiate between the rewards and costs of loud music, leading to contemplate Blesser’s concluding question, “If loudness produces immediate social and emotional rewards, are there less damaging alternatives that produce the equivalent rewards?”

Encouraging younger children to care for their hearing

For audiologist Jennifer Phelan, initiating education about noise-induced hearing loss when children are still young is key. That way, before hitting adolescence, they are already developing good listening habits that will sustain them.

“We expose kids to this information when they are young so hopefully when they are older and out making their own decisions, they’ll make good ones knowing their choices will impact them down the line,” says Phelan.

She highly recommends the group Dangerous Decibels, which provides extensive resources for teachers as well as training. Trademarked to Dangerous Decibels is a fashion mannequin named Jolene who doubles as a sound level meter to help young people determine if their personal stereos are up too loud.

Relatable activities that illustrate the abstract concept of sound in a concrete way make the program stand out and so effective. The program which is aimed at third- and fourth-graders can be adapted to younger children and adults.

Three ways to protect your hearing — at any age

Through Dangerous Decibels, educators and audiologists are not only raising awareness of the inherent danger of loud sounds, but helping kids answer the question: “What can I do about it?”

Crux to the program are three things young people — and everyone else can do to protect their hearing.

First, turn it down. If you can control the sound

If you aren’t in control of the sound, move away. Every time you double your distance from the sound, the decibel level of a sound will decrease by 6 dB, according to information on the site. “For instance, if you stand 10 feet from a sound source and experience a 90 dB reading, at 20 feet you would experience an 84 dB reading in the absence of echo.”

Finally, if the other two aren’t options — protect your ears. For example, if you’re at a concert that you paid a pretty penny to attend and you can’t move to a quieter place, then put earplugs in. To make it easier, Dangerous Decibels provides an instructional video on how to fit earplugs properly.

“We can’t tell people not to go to concerts and sporting events. These events are enjoyable and there’s evidence that the sound at these events causes endorphins, so people will continue to go. We just let people know they have the ability to do something to prevent damage,” she explains.

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Is hearing well in one ear enough? A look at unilateral hearing loss

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Not being able to hear so well in one ear shouldn’t significantly affect school performance nor social development for a child since the other ear functions properly. Right?

Wrong.

For May — National Better Speech and Hearing Month — we’ll explore some important yet frequently overlooked areas in the field of audiology.

Unilateral hearing loss impacts quality of life for many children

The mistaken belief that a hearing deficit in one ear or unilateral hearing loss (UHL) is no big deal has been shown by research to have dire consequences for children when they reach school age and adolescence.

Prevailing misinformation about mild hearing loss — the umbrella category that UHL falls under — has prevented many children who would have benefited from intervention from receiving it. In many states, for example, these children do not qualify for early intervention and other programs open to children with bilateral hearing loss.

“When communication access is denied through misinformation, minimization, neglect, stigma, or where there are financial barriers to communication access, then it is likely that children with untreated or undertreated hearing loss may eventually join the ranks of adults with untreated hearing loss, leading to lives of underperformance and broken dreams,” state authors of a study based on a 2005 survey of the parents of 225 dependents who reported having hearing difficulty but didn’t use hearing aids.

In the survey, three out of four parents indicated their dependent experienced minor to serious problems affecting their quality of life. The most serious problems experienced in rank order were social skills, grades in school and language development, emotional health, followed by relationships with peers, self-esteem, and relationships with family.

For these reasons, most pediatric audiologists today are in favor of using assistive devices to reduce a child’s listening effort, according to audiologist Jennifer Phelan, AuD, CCC-A, specialist in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss in children at the Center for Audiology, Speech, Language and Learning at Northwestern University.

“The child with unilateral hearing loss has to exert more effort to be able to do what peers with normal hearing can do, that effort often ends up manifesting as fatigue for that child,” she explains.

Children with UHL trail peers in school performance

In a study of 74 pairs of case-control siblings in elementary school, the children with UHL, fewer than half of which had trialed amplification and/or assistive devices, demonstrated significantly worse oral expression and language comprehension scores compared to siblings with normal hearing. While the authors of the study note that “speech-language scores do not translate directly into school performance, the secondary outcomes of speech therapy and Individual Education Plans suggest that the children with UHL had significant problems in school.”

“These findings suggest that the common practice of withholding hearing-related accommodations from children with UHL should be reconsidered and studied, and that parents, pediatricians, and educators be informed about the deleterious effects of UHL on oral language skills,” they concluded.

As the children with unilateral hearing loss progress into adolescence, the developmental gap between children with UHL and children with normal hearing does not resolve — it may even widen, according to a 2014 case-control study of 20 adolescents ages 12-17 who were compared to siblings with normal hearing. The adolescents with UHL demonstrated worse overall and expressive language scores as well as significantly lower full scale, verbal and performance IQs than the control group.

Amplification proves beneficial for many with UHL

While it is true that a child with unilateral hearing loss has the ability to hear, hearing in a noisy environment or at a distance can be particularly challenging.

Infants or toddlers often miss the incidental speech surrounding them in their daily life, which is so vital to their learning and social development, writes Audiologist Karen Anderson, Ph.D., on Supporting success for Children with Hearing Loss, a website with extensive resources for teachers.

“Because most rules of social interaction are learned via subtle auditory and visual cues, rather than direct teaching, it isn’t a surprise that about a fifth of these children will develop behavior or social issues,” emphasizes Anderson. To prevent some or all of the possible language delays, behavior and social issues, she highly recommends balancing out hearing in infancy by fitting the worse ear with a hearing aid.

Not all children with UHL will have difficulty, explains Phelan, but research has shown that there will be a definite subset that struggles. Since there’s no way to know how a child will be affected, it makes sense to explore amplification with each child to see if it works.

She shares one case where parents chose not to pursue treatment for their daughter with UHL. The girl seemed to be doing well in school but came home tired at the end of day and needed down time before doing homework. It wasn’t until she was in second grade and began to struggle on spelling tests that the family reconsidered and brought her to Phelan for a unilateral fitting.

“The 7-year-old girl loved the hearing aid from the start!” shares Phelan.

Her listening effort was reduced and it was much easier to perform on spelling tests because she could easily hear what word was being said. Her family reported she no longer needed down time after school because she wasn’t fatigued at the end of the day.

“A lot of time the UHL cases aren’t the ones where the difficulty is very obvious — it can definitely be more subtle,” says Phelan. “When it comes to kids, they don’t know that they don’t know — that they have to put in a lot more effort than other kids sitting in the room with them. So once they get the assistance it becomes very evident to them that wearing a hearing aid gives them a lot of benefit.”

How teachers can support students with unilateral hearing loss

  • First and foremost, check that students with UHL are receiving routine audiological assessments to monitor the status of their hearing and proper amplification based on type of hearing loss they have.
  • Optimize seating so that the student’s better hearing ear will almost always face the teacher.
  • When classmates are speaking, encourage student to move to face and direct better hearing ear toward the speaker. Summarize key points spoken by classmates or in videos.
  • Listen from different parts of classroom wearing noise protection in one ear to test hearing with and without background noise and with back turned.
  • Have student use a personal FM system.
  • Facilitate in-person or virtual contact with other children who have similar hearing loss
  • Be aware of the potential impact of unilateral hearing loss on socialization and behavior. Provide support when natural opportunities occur to help the student to fit in and be seen as a valuable group member.

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Researchers present new implications for treating sickle cell disease

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In sickle cell disease (SCD), hemoglobin molecules form into fibers that act like stiff rods within the red blood cells. The changing shape from disc-shaped to crescent or sickle shape, contribute to blockages in blood vessels that slow or stop the flow of blood. When oxygen can’t reach nearby tissues, patients suffer severe pain as well as the risk of stroke and infections.

Millions of people throughout the world are affected by SCD, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Central America, Saudi Arabia, India, and Mediterranean countries. SCD occurs more often among people from parts of the world where malaria is or was common.

SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans and occurs in about 1 out of every 365 black births and 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic births. About 1 in 13 black babies are born with sickle cell trait (SCT).

Recent decreases in SCD mortality in black children under age 4 may be related to the introduction of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in 2000. The lack of any significant reduction in SCD mortality in older children indicates a need for new treatments.

Although the causes of SCD have been known at the molecular level for decades, the disease has never been studied at the level of detail it recently was by biomedical engineers in the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering.

According to David Wood, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the university, the researchers were surprised at what they discovered at the nanoscale — that the disease self-assembly process is less efficient. This means that developing new medicines that are effective at lower doses and cause fewer side effects might be easier than originally thought.

In this study, researchers performed the highest-ever resolution measurements of single sickle hemoglobin fiber assembly in action using microscopes and cameras that can measure the molecules at the nanoscale. Their measurements show that the rates of sickle hemoglobin addition and loss have been underestimated in previous studies.

The new results reveal that the sickle hemoglobin self-assembly process is very rapid and inefficient. They found that the process is 4 percent efficient versus 96 percent efficient, as researchers previously thought. Wood likens the process to stacking Legos, explaining that for every 100 Legos, only four actually stay on as part of the tower. Another 100 Legos would need to be stacked to get another four to stay on.

In other words, according to Wood, the process of sickle cell formation is much less efficient than previously thought. He claims that it would not take as much medicine to disrupt the process.

Only two FDA-approved medicines are currently available to treat those with SCD. Newer alternatives to existing medications are in development, including stem cell transplants and gene therapy.

The researchers in this study are hoping that the new information revealed in their research could make a big impact in developing medicines and other treatments for the millions worldwide who suffer with this painful disease.

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Staying young with RVing

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When I go camping, I see many older people that are still active. We’re hiking the trails, paddling rivers, and generally getting outside. I’ve realized that RVing helps people stay active and feeling young.

Research has shown there are several methods to extend your life and keep your brain and body in the best condition. RVing provides the opportunity to experience these ways every day.

Hiking the Flatiron Trail in Arizona.

Exercise Regularly

There is nothing like hiking, biking, swimming, or kayaking for tremendous exercise. Visiting new parks pushes us to get out there and enjoy the scenery and explore. It doesn’t make sense to travel the country if you don’t get out and see it. Most state and national parks have miles of trails along with all levels of difficulty and many RV parks are located near walking trails.

The scenery motivates us to go farther. I know the time my husband and I hiked the Flatiron Trail in Superstition Mountains pushed our limits but was well worth it with the view at the end. However, even the easiest trails help us keep active.

Keep Learning

Scientists say that learning new things like a new language or a musical instrument reduces the chance of dementia. Traveling is all about constant learning.

This may be at a museum, a ranger program, or learning the name of wildflowers or cactus. It may be studying the geology of an area or the ecology of a wetland. Traveling the country allows us to visit historical sites and experience demonstrations like blacksmithing or cooking monkey bread.

Even just learning the names and locations of towns, rivers, and lakes have been interesting. We are amused how many times we could answer a question on “Jeopardy” based on things we’ve learned during our travels.

Paddling the Mississippi River in Charles A. Lindbergh State Park in Minnesota.

Try New Things

Traveling in an RV allows you to try new things and meet new people. This might include kayaking or mountain biking. Or it might be just figuring out the controls of the shower at the new campground. All these things keep our minds nimble and our lives exciting.

Some things that I’ve tried that I would never had done if I stayed home include paddling the Mississippi, throwing a spear with an atlatl, archery, identifying and eating wild plants, exploring a cave with just flashlights and no tour guide, rock climbing, and eating bugs! Life is always an adventure on the road.

The beach at Fort Clinch State Park in Florida.

Manage Stress

When you listen to meditation tapes, the calming sounds used are normally waves on the beach, birds in the morning, or a waterfall. It’s even better to actually be sleeping near a waterfall or to hear birds outside your window.

To me, there is nothing better to relieve stress than a walk through the woods or enjoying a great view. Or, just sitting outside watching squirrels play in the trees or reading a good book is relaxing. Getting away from it all is at the heart of RVing.

Do you stay young by RVing? Do you think it has kept you healthier?

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Study: Teeth whitening products may do more harm than good

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Oh, the things we do for beauty. Remember the curly perms that took our hair from naturally straight to permanently kinky curly, but came with chemical fumes that nearly took us out in the process?

Go back one generation before that and you’ll find our moms ironing (yes, ironing!) their own hair to make it stick straight. On actual ironing boards. Using the same iron they used to press their clothes. Is something burning?!?

Good times.

Home teeth whitening kits are a popular and easy way to brighten your smile. You can buy a variety of teeth whitening strips at the grocery store and you can get more potent, faster-working formulations from your dentist. You place the strips over your teeth and leave them in place for a few hours.

A few days or weeks later? Voila! Brighter, whiter choppers.

Americans spend more than a billion dollars a year on these teeth whitening products. But a new study shows that while these products do whiten teeth, they may also be damaging them.

In three new studies, researchers at Stockton University in New Jersey found that hydrogen peroxide, the active ingredient in over-the-counter teeth whitening strips, can damage the protein-rich dentin tissue found beneath the tooth’s protective enamel.

Tooth Structure 101

Your teeth are made up of three distinct layers: outer tooth enamel, the underlying dentin layer, and the connective tissue that binds the roots to the gum. Previous studies have focused on the outer enamel layer, which is reasonably hardy and unbothered by the peroxide in teeth whitening strips.

The dentin layer is where the problems begin. In addition to making up most of the tooth structure, the dentin layer is also high in protein and collagens. In the most recent study, the researchers demonstrated that the major protein in the dentin is converted to smaller fragments when treated with hydrogen peroxide, which weakens the overall structure of the tooth.

The Results

To strip or not to strip? Teeth whitening strip, that is. Well, the researchers point out that their experiments did not address whether collagen and other proteins in the teeth can be regenerated, so it is unknown at this stage if the tooth damage is permanent.

So, you’ll have to decide for yourself if having brighter teeth is worth the risk of potentially weakening them in the long run.

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Pediatricians key for critical early intervention in speech, language impairments

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School and social successes hinge more on language ability than any other factor for the vast majority of children.

Pediatricians and family doctors who have regular contact with infants and their parents are uniquely positioned to help identify young children who demonstrate delayed development within the speech, language and hearing realm.

A quick referral to a corresponding specialist for evaluation can make the difference between these infants and toddlers experiencing years of struggle and having the tools to navigate the normal challenges of childhood.

Intervention prior to 3 years enhances language development

Nearly 8% of children 3-17 years of age in the United States have some voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder, according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).

“The earlier a deficit is identified the better,” says Amy Sindelar, pediatric speech and language pathologist (SLP) at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Illinois, and adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University. “Research supports the positive impact early detection within the critical birth to three window has on long-term prognosis for speech and language.”

A child’s speech and language skills are in their height of development between birth and 3 years of age. Additionally, the formation of the neurological connections that will be maintained throughout that child’s lifetime is occurring simultaneously — intervention during this time period takes advantage of the brain’s plasticity, explains Mark Batshaw, MD, in his book, “Children with Disabilities.”

Research shows gaps in “wait and see” strategy

While newborn screening for hearing loss is performed in all hospitals across the country, early screening for language development is not. In its absence many pediatricians recommend wait and see approach for this population, recently brought to question by a study of early intervention for toddlers with language delays conducted by Ann Kaiser, Ph.D., and Megan Roberts, Ph.D.

The researchers note that while approximately 60% of toddlers with expressive language delays do recover without intervention, only 25% of toddlers with receptive and expressive delays are likely to recover spontaneously.

“Because of the apparent spontaneous recovery in some children, there is a tradition of delaying language intervention for this population until it is clear that the delays are persistent,” according to the follow-up study led by Roberts and Kaiser along with Laurel Hampton, Ph.D.

The study indicates that children with expressive-only delays may catch up to a typical range of language ability without intervention, but additional intervention strategies may be necessary for children with receptive-expressive language delays. Cost-effective treatment alternatives the researchers have been studying include parent training interventions that have been shown as “an effective long-term strategy for children with autism spectrum disorder.”

Recommendations include implementing language screening children at age two to identify those with the likelihood that their language impairment will persist and improving access to early intervention for children with receptive and expressive language delays.

Pediatrician-parent partnership

Absence of universal language screening can put pediatricians in the difficult position of having to alert parents to a potential problem that warrants professional evaluation — without definitive evidence to convince them.

Sindelar shares about instances where parents weren’t worried about a child’s speech or language delay because a family member may have had some early delays and recovered without intervention. In this situation, parents must be educated that every case is different, and the evaluation will give them what they need to make informed decisions on how to proceed as well as peace of mind.

A resource that Sindelar’s own family pediatrician provides are printed handouts for parents that outline age-specific developmental milestones for speech, language and learning similar to those published by ASHA. Not only do they provide helpful information for all parents, they can serve as a non-threatening means for the doctor to initiate that important conversation about how a certain child is developing.

During their doctor’s appointment some children may not open up or allow the pediatrician to observe certain behavior that would indicate a speech or language delay, so parents would serve as the primary information source.

Having first words is a common concern of parents — here Sindelar advises looking beyond the words. It is important to look at early sound play that includes babbling but also imitation of sounds and production of sound effects. Red flags to be aware of include when a child doesn’t respond to simple directions, her name or simple songs, and demonstrates limited sound play in addition to delays in single word production.

There are many red flags to be on the lookout for as a pediatrician, yet the biggest parent concerns in Sindelar’s mind are when a parent says, “I can’t understand my own child,” or “My child doesn’t respond to the sounds and/or words that I am using.”

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Alexa went to school, and now she’s HIPAA-compliant

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Alexa, ask my dentist if my prescription is ready.”

No, really. You can do that now.

Amazon announced on April 4 that its Alexa Skills Kit now enables select covered entities subject to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations to build Alexa skills that allow it to transmit and receive protected health information as part of an invite-only program.

Cool. But what does that actually mean?

It means soon you could be using your Alexa for more than weather and traffic updates and turning on music. Voice technology could be a big part of what healthcare looks like in the future.

Dr. Nima Aflatooni, a member of the ADA Council on Dental Practice, couldn’t agree more. “We are interested in seeing if Alexa can really help patients connect to dentists and get more efficient access to care while securely protecting patient information in a HIPAA-compliant manner,” said Dr. Aflatooni.

As an example of how this is going to work, Express Scripts, one of the developers of the new Alexa healthcare skills, enables its members to check the status of a home delivery prescription and can request Alexa notifications when their prescription orders are shipped.

Mark Bini, vice president of innovation and member experience of Express Scripts, said, “We are trying to make it easier for people to make better-informed health care decisions. In particular, we believe voice technology, like Alexa, can make it easy for people to stay on the right path by tracking the status of their mail order prescription, helping us further solve the costly and unhealthy problem of medication nonadherence.”

Stephen Cassell, senior vice president of global brand and customer communications for Cigna, another developer of the new Alexa healthcare skills package, said this, “We are meeting customers where they are — in their homes, in their cars — and making it simpler to create healthier habits and daily routines. Through our Amazon Alexa skill, customers can simply use voice to understand the full range of their health benefits and receive personalized wellness incentives for meeting their health goals, empowering them to take control of their total health.”

HIPAA regulations require certain health plans and healthcare providers and their business associates to meet data privacy and security standards for safeguarding health information.

To learn more about development, visit the blog post, “Introducing New Alexa Healthcare Skills.”

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New opt-out law considers all adults in England as organ donors

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In the spring of 2020, all adults in England will become organ donors, according to a new law.

On March 15, Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill 2017-19 was granted Royal Assent and became law. Also known as the “opt-out bill” and Max and Keira’s Law, the legislation means that all adults living in England are organ donors unless they record a decision to opt-out.

The bill, introduced in the House of Commons by Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson, deems that consent has been given by a potential organ donor before death unless the individual expressly states that they do not wish to be an organ donor. Families will still be involved in the process prior to any tissue or organ donation.

As was the case before the new law, National Health Service (NHS) Blood and Transplant specialist nurses will speak with donor families about their loved one’s decision.

The legislation comes as an attempt to improve tissue and organ donation in England, where 8 in 10 people say they want to donate some or all of their organs, yet just over a third of adults have told their families about these wishes. Health officials are hoping the law helps individuals and families discuss agree on donations, and increase the number of tissues and organs available for donation.

More than 6,000 people are waiting for a transplant in the United Kingdom, according to NHS Blood and Transplant. Last year, about 3,855 people received a transplant but more than 400 died while waiting.

The law does exclude people in certain groups from the automatic opt-in. Those under the age of 18 are excluded, for example, as are those who have been in England for less than 12 months. The law also excludes individuals who “lack the capacity to understand the change” from automatically opting in.

The law does not apply to all organs and tissues. The bill stated that consent would apply only to organs typically used for transplant, and would not cover “novel transplants,” such as faces and limbs.

About Max and Keira’s Law

The new law is dubbed “Max and Keira’s Law” after 10-year-old heart recipient, Max Johnson, and his young donor, Keira Ball. The donor was just 9 when she died in a car accident; doctors used her organs to save four lives. Max Johnson, who was hospitalized with heart failure following a viral infection, received Keira’s heart.

The bill passed through all of the parliamentary stages in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. A recent survey found that 37 percent of people ages 16 and over in England are aware of the new law and that 73 percent of these people understand what the new law will be.

Organ donation laws vary across each country in the United Kingdom, and this law only applies to people living in England. Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man are “opt-in,” which means residents must take steps to become organ donors. Wales is a “deemed consent” nation, where residents are automatically opted in as donors. Largely because of its “opt-out” policy, Wales has the highest donation consent rate in the U.K.

Individuals living in England can indicate their decision to opt in or out of organ donation, or learn more about organ and tissue donation, on the NHS Blood and Transplant website, by calling 0300 303 2094 or texting at 07860 034343.

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A new insight for studying dyslexia

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Dyslexia, a widespread learning disability, occurs when an individual has significant difficulty with speed and accuracy of word decoding. Those with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.

Dyslexia is a neurological condition with a genetic basis. Depending on the definition used, 5% to 10% of the population is considered to have dyslexia.

The ability of the brain to synchronize with the tone and intonation of speech influences how language is processed. Previous studies carried out by the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language of San Sebastian showed that children with dyslexia show a weak synchronization with low frequency bands, and therefore, a poor activation of the regions related to language processing.

It also has been scientifically proven that young people who do not optimally process low frequency waves have greater difficulty in decoding phonemes and words, which is directly related to reading ability and disorders such as dyslexia.

Despite different therapeutic approaches and learning strategies to address the reading and writing difficulties, there is no cure for dyslexia. And despite previous studies that developmental dyslexia is caused by dysfunction of structures in the cerebral cortex, the reasons for such alterations remain unknown.

However, a recent study conducted by Dr. Katharina von Kriegstein from TU Dresden and an international team of experts reveals that people with dyslexia have a weakly developed structure that is not located in the cerebral cortex but at a subcortical processing stage — the white matter connectivity between the left auditory motion-sensitive planum temporale (mPT) and the left auditory thalamus (medial geniculate body, or MGB).

The team conducted diagnostic tests and Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the brain of those with developmental dyslexia compared to those without dyslexia. The results showed that people with reading and spelling weaknesses have less fiber connectivity between mPT and MGB in the left hemisphere of the brain than people in the control group who showed strong fiber connectivity between mPT and MGB, particularly those who did well in the reading test.

The researchers hope that these findings will initiate major novel research endeavors because they show that brain structures that have not been sufficiently studied may be relevant for explaining developmental dyslexia.

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