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Friday, 30 September 2011

Yoga Reduces The Physical And Psychological Symptoms Of Chronic Pain In Women With Fibromyalgia

The study is the first to look at the effects of yoga on cortisol levels in women withfibromyalgia. The condition, which predominantly affects women, is characterized by chronic pain and fatigue; common symptoms include muscle stiffness, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal discomfort, anxiety and depression.

Previous research has found that women with fibromyalgia have lower-than-average cortisol levels, which contribute to pain,fatigue and stress sensitivity. According to the study, participants' saliva revealed elevated levels of total cortisol following a program of 75 minutes of hatha yoga twice weekly over the course of eight weeks.

"Ideally, our cortisol levels peak about 30-40 minutes after we get up in the morning and decline throughout the day until we're ready to go to sleep," says the study's lead author, Kathryn Curtis, a PhD student in York's Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health. "The secretion of the hormone, cortisol, is dysregulated in women with fibromyalgia" she says.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Back Pain Recovery Time Unclear, Causing Many Problems To Become Chronic

According to professionals at the 7th EFIC Congress - Pain in Europe VII Hamburg, the prognosis for unspecific back pain which is already an epidemic in industrialized countries, has been worse than commonly recognized. This pain, which cannot be linked to any specific disease, needs further research and rehabilitation efforts if treatment methods are to be increased and enhanced. There is some hope that such efforts may develop.

(EFIC stands for European Federation of IASP® Chapters. A multidisciplinary professional organization in the field of pain research and medicine.)


Cardiac Rehabilitation Improves Heart Rate Recovery, Boosts Survival

For the first time, researchers have discovered cardiac rehabilitation can train the heart to quickly return to its normal rate after exercise.

In a study reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers said heart disease patients with normal heart rate recovery live longer than those with slow heart rate recovery. A heart that returns to normal rate more quickly works better than one that stays revved up for a while.

"There's no medicine that can do that," said Leslie Cho, M.D., lead author of the study and director of the Women's Cardiovascular Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. "Especially in terms of mortality, if we had a medicine that could make this dramatic an impact, it would be the blockbuster drug of the century." 


Friday, 23 September 2011

Researchers Move Closer to Objectively Quantifying Pain

Pain management is one of the most difficult areas of medicine. Clinicians have little to go on beyond patients' self-reports, which can be highly variable. If doctors underestimate a patient's pain, they risk causing unnecessary suffering, but if they employ a better-safe-than-sorry approach, they risk over-medicating with drugs that are increasingly associated with abuse.
There have been various attempts to quantify pain as a physiological phenomenon, but none have proved effective enough to replace self-reporting. Now researchers at Stanford University have published a study of a promising fMRI-based solution.
The researchers used a machine-learning algorithm to recognize specific patterns in the fMRI data. They then found an association between certain patterns and pain in both self-reporting and non-reporting patients, implying a high degree of similarity across subjects. Although specific brain areas, such as the secondary somatosensory cortex, were implicated in the study, the researchers found that a whole-brain approach was more accurate at predicting pain than any individual brain region on its own (86.6 percent, compared to 71.9 percent for the secondary somatosensory cortex and 64.3 percent for a region called the mid-insular cortex).
The next step is to try to make the model robust enough to distinguish between different types of pain--for example, thermal versus mechanical--and to localize where on the body the pain is being experienced. Physicians will probably always have to rely on patient descriptions of pain to some degree, but experiments such as these offer hope that they will soon be able to bolster those qualitative ratings with more objective measurements, which should improve treatment outcomes.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Older Brains Benefit From Learning By Trial And Error

Canadian researchers have found the first evidence that older brains get more benefit than younger brains from learning information the hard way - via trial-and-error learning.

The study was led by scientists at Baycrest's world-renowned Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and appears online in the journalPsychology and Aging, ahead of the print edition.

The finding will surprise professional educators and cognitive rehabilitation clinicians as it challenges a large body of published science which has shown that making mistakes while learning information hurts memory performance for older adults, and that passive "errorless" learning (where the correct answer is provided) is better suited to older brains.

"The scientific literature has traditionally embraced errorless learning for older adults. However, our study has shown that if older adults are learning material that is very conceptual, where they can make a meaningful relationship between their errors and the correct information that they are supposed to remember, in those cases the errors can actually be quite beneficial for the learning process," said Andreé-Ann Cyr, the study's lead investigator. Source:

Virtual Reality May Help Adults Recover From Stroke

Early results suggest that using virtual reality (VR) human-computer interfaces might help adult stroke patients regain arm function and improve their ability to perform standard tasks, when compared to patients who don't use VR. The findings are reported in a new review published in The Cochrane Library.

Virtual reality interfaces allow people to become immersed in a computer-generated environment. Most people are used to these in the form of video games, but they show potential as a therapeutic tool. "Virtual reality and interactive video gaming may have some advantages over traditional therapy as they may give people an opportunity to practice everyday activities that cannot be practiced within the hospital environment," says the review's leader Kate Laver, who works in the Department of Rehabilitation and Aged Care at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia....Source:

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Help For Stroke Patients Who Can't Swallow

A simple function that most of us take for granted - swallowing - is the focus of University of Adelaide research which could help thousands of stroke sufferers around the world.

In an Australian first, researchers from the University's Robinson Institute are using magnetic stimulators to jump start the brain after a stroke and repair swallowing functions which break down in more than 50% of stroke patients.

Speech pathologist Dr Sebastian Doeltgen, who is part of the University's Neuromotor Plasticity & Development Research Group, has been awarded $300,000 in Federal Government funding to investigate revolutionary techniques to treat swallowing disorders....Read full article:

Monday, 5 September 2011

Rise of 175 pc of ADHD among kids in last 6 yrs

Rise of 175 pc of ADHD among kids in last 6 yrs: ASSOCHAM

New Delhi, Sep 4 : Prevalence of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in 3-17 age group have gone up from 4 per cent to 11 per cent from the year 2005 to 2011, due to genetics, diet, social, physical and parental behaviour environments, according to an ASSOCHAM study.
ADHD makes it hard for kids to pay attention and control impulsive behaviour.
It's often treated with drugs, behavioural therapy, or both.

The study titled 'Rising numbers of ADHD kids in metropolitan cities' revealed that more boys are affected by ADHD than girls.

"The occurrence among boys increased to 11 per cent from six per cent, while among girls it rose to 5.5 per cent from 2 per cent over the six years," the industry body said.

While releasing the study, Dr B K Rao, Chairman, ASSOCHAM Health Council said about one-third of the children who have ADHD are on medication. The estimate comes from a survey that found an increase in ADHD of about 11 per cent from 2005 to the most recent survey in 2011.

Nearly, 46 per cent of doctor or health care provider found that children at the age of 4 are more prone to this disease, he said.

Dr Rao said every day, they receive 3 to 5 cases of ADHD.

"It is hard to believe that so many kids have been affected by ADHD. It is the most common behavioural disorder among children seen in the recent times. The children with ADHD are sure to have problems staying focused, and often suffer learning and behavioural problems as a result of a tendency to engage in hyperactive and/or impulsive behaviours," Dr Rao added.

The survey was conducted in 10 major cities of Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Lucknow and interacted with around 1,000 of school teachers and said in every single class, they have 1-3 children who are diagnosed be suffering from to ADHD.

Impulsive symptoms of ADHD are: -- restless feeling, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or they squirm.

-- run, climb, or leave a seat, when they are expected to sit quiet or remain silent.

-- blurting out answers before hearing the whole question.

-- have difficulty waiting in line or for their turn.

True Love: Marriage Helps Couples Survive Medical Heart Ailments

So how's your marriage? A new study recommends you do your best to make it work as there are several health related benefits that stem from a happy union aside from the emotional rewards. However, the bond does not affect both genders the same and the study from the American Psychological Association goes into some detail especially as it pertains to heart ailments. Of interest is the discovery that the advantages of marriage are different for men and women.

In fact, Harry Reis, a coauthor of the study and professor of psychology comments that:

"...the effects of marital satisfaction are every bit as important to survival after bypass surgery as more traditional risk factors like tobacco use, obesity, and high blood pressure. Wives need to feel satisfied in their relationships to reap a health dividend, but the payoff for marital bliss is even greater for women than for men.".......................

Research Reveals Parents' Stress Leaves Lasting Marks On Children's Genes

Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the Child & Family Research Institute have shown that parental stress during their children's early years can leave an imprint on their sons' or daughters' genes - an imprint that lasts into adolescence and may affect how these genes are expressed later in life.

The study, published online in the journalChild Development, focused on epigenetics - the expression of genes as opposed to the underlying sequence of DNA. A central component of epigenetics is methylation, in which a chemical group attaches to parts of the DNA - a process that acts like a dimmer on gene function in response to social and physical environments.

Full article Link:

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Physical Activity Goals Can Greatly Benefit Lives Of RA Patients

According to an investigation now available inArthritis Care and Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), investigators from The Netherlands report physical activity goals are more likely to be achieved if the patient with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has a higher level of self-efficacy for physical activity. Achievement of physical activity goals is linked with lower self-reported arthritis pains and increased health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

RA is a chronic autoimmune disease which causes inflammation in the lining of joints and The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that it affects almost 1% of the worlds population. The ACR reports that in the U.S. 1.3 million adults suffer from RA. Investigations revealed that patients cite pain and stiffness as the biggest limiting factors of their illness, and report lower HRQOL than healthy individuals. Those with RA who do not engage in regular physical activity have a more pronounced effect from the disease. 


Friday, 2 September 2011

Peas and Carrots: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and A Stiff Neck

 An article[1] in the The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) recently discussed a possible new hallmark of carpal tunnel syndrome – a stiff neck. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition in which a nerve in the wrist is compressed, causing symptoms of numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand.  It can cause considerable pain and debility in the hand and many patients complain of it waking them at night or causing them to drop objects.  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is most commonly thought to be caused by compression of the median nerve within the “carpal tunnel” in the wrist.  Or so we think.   In the JOSPT article, neck mobility was assessed in women with CTS and a second healthy group.   The research showed that women with CTS had less neck mobility, essentially a stiff neck, compared to the healthy counterparts.  The research also discussed previous studies that also found the presence of abnormal posture, arthritis, spinal stenosis, and pain in the neck and shoulder in individuals with CTS.   Apparently, CTS and conditions of the neck hang out well together like peas and carrots.  Hmmm.  One of my patients made a relevant comment this week, “You mean one part of the body is connected to another?!”

A New Lower-Limb Prosthetic Allows Amputees To Walk

A New Lower-Limb Prosthetic Allows Amputees To Walk Without The Leg-Dragging Gait Characteristic Of Conventional Artificial Legs

he device uses the latest advances in computer, sensor, electric motor and battery technology to give it bionic capabilities: It is the first prosthetic with powered knee and ankle joints that operate in unison. It comes equipped with sensors that monitor its user's motion. It has microprocessors programmed to use this data to predict what the person is trying to do and operate the device in ways that facilitate these movements.

"When it's working, it's totally different from my current prosthetic," said Craig Hutto, the 23-year-old amputee who has been testing the leg for several years. "A passive leg is always a step behind me. The Vanderbilt leg is only a split-second behind."

The bionic leg is the result of a seven-year research effort at the Vanderbilt Center for Intelligent Mechatronics, directed by Michael Goldfarb, the H. Fort Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering. The project was initially funded by a seed grant from the National Science Foundation, followed by a development grant from the National Institutes of Health. Key aspects of the design have been patented by the university, which has granted exclusive rights to develop the prosthesis to Freedom Innovations, a leading developer and manufacturer of lower limb prosthetic devices. 

Read full article:

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Shrinkage! Bad Heart Habits Lessen Brain Volume Over Time

Want a full sized brain for life? Avoid smoking, excessive drinking, keep your weight, blood sugar levels and blood pressure all under control and you should be able to avoid brain volume mass shrinkage over time a new study suggests.

Persons with high blood pressure experienced a more rapid worsening of test scores of planning and decision making, which corresponded to a faster rate of growth of small areas of vascular brain damage than those with normal blood pressure.

Those study participants with diabetes in middle age experienced brain shrinkage in an area known as the hippocampus faster than those without, and smokers lost brain volume overall and in the hippocampus faster than nonsmokers, with a more rapid increase of small areas of vascular brain damage.

Finally, persons who were obese at middle age were more likely to be in the top 25% of those with faster declines in tests of executive function and were among the top 25% with a faster drop in brain volume. 

courtesy/ Source:

Older Brains Benefit From Learning By Trial And Error

Canadian researchers have found the first evidence that older brains get more benefit than younger brains from learning information the hard way - via trial-and-error learning.

The study was led by scientists at Baycrest's world-renowned Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and appears online in the journal Psychology and Aging, ahead of the print edition.

The finding will surprise professional educators and cognitive rehabilitation clinicians as it challenges a large body of published science which has shown that making mistakes while learning information hurts memory performance for older adults, and that passive "errorless" learning (where the correct answer is provided) is better suited to older brains.  Read full: