All ‘Health’ Posts

29 jul

Work Your Body, Work Your Mind

JennaSmithIt took me a long time to admit that I wasn’t successfully coping with my depression and anxiety on my own. It took even longer to come up with a plan to fight back against my own lying brain. It has taken even longer still to fully adopt that plan because it turns out that fighting back against your own brain is not like fighting back against other types of conditions. Anti-depressants and other meds can work wonders but they don’t fix everything.

This blog has talked before about dealing with depression. Today I want to talk to you about living with and living through depression and anxiety. Before I do, though, it is important to note that these conditions manifest differently for everybody. What works for me may not work for you so it is important that you work with trained doctors and therapists to figure out the best way to help yourself feel better.

That said—here are the two things that have helped me the most:

Establishing A Routine

For me, depression often manifests itself as an inability to make even small decisions without feeling overwhelmed. For example—I know that I need to get up but deciding what I should do first makes me immediately anxious. What if I pick the wrong thing? This combined with the fact that mornings are often the hardest time of day for people with depression means that a morning routine is essential. Britt Reints, a favorite blogger and author, talks about her morning routine in Every Day Health.

For me, I need the structure that Reints uses in the mornings all day. For example: I make sure that I eat lunch at the same time every day and try to eat dinner at the same time on most days. I do X at this time, Y for this long and Z on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The fact that I don’t have kids and that my friends are also creatures of habit helps with this. Scheduling as much of the mundane as possible gives me incredible peace of mind. It also helps me feel like I am more in control of what is happening each day and that gives me a (small, sure, but still important) confidence boost.

Exercise Regimen

Yeah, yeah, endorphins. Exercise increases endorphins—the happy making hormones—which is why one of the first things people are told to do when they even mention symptoms of depression is to work out. For some people this is something that they can do passively. I’m not one of these people.

Exercise is part of my daily routine and I’m not going to lie: it is not my favorite thing in the world. By nature I’m a sedentary creature, preferring reading to running every darn day of the week. Still— sticking to the routine and working to help my body feel strong is an important confidence and mood booster.

What worked for me was figuring out a way to keep my workouts short and, sure, okay, cheating the system. Typically, a workout will take an hour: twenty minutes of strength, twenty of cardio, twenty of endurance training. I decided to devote just twenty minutes a day to elliptical training. One of the (many) benefits of elliptical training is that the elliptical machines or bikes work all of the areas of your body at once. It’s like I’m killing three birds with one stone.

Remember: depression and anxiety manifest differently for everybody. You might find that deviating from a steady routine helps you feel better. Or maybe you prefer to run and swim for your exercise. Or you might have entirely different coping mechanisms. What matters is that you find what works for you and stick with it!

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on July 29th, 2014 in Diet and Fitness, Health, Personal Stories | No comments

27 jul

Different Approaches to Ending Drug Addiction

RobertCordrayThe problem of how to end drug addiction is as old as the human race, with many varied and complex solutions put forward over the years attempting to deal with it. However, this range of approaches generally fall into three main categories:

Prohibition

The most common and widely used means of dealing with drug addiction is to pass laws that prohibit the sale or use of addictive substances. Prohibition is accompanied by penalties that are designed to punish those who use or sell drugs, with the penalties generally more severe for sellers than users.

Advantages of Prohibition

Making addictive drugs against the law makes it more difficult to obtain them. The penalties associated with using and selling drugs also discourage people who might be tempted to experiment with addictive drugs, but who refrain because of fear of the consequences of getting caught.

Disadvantages of Prohibition

Some people argue that prohibition is actually ineffective, pointing to how the problem persists no matter how much resources are devoted to law enforcement. Critics also argue that the resources spent on prohibition would be better spent on more serious crimes.

Legalization

At the opposite end of the spectrum from the prohibitionists are those who favor the legalization of addictive drugs. Supporters of legalization argue that much of the harm done by drug addiction is created by the fact that drugs are illegal, driving them underground where they cannot be regulated or controlled. Legalization supporters argue that drug addiction can never really be eliminated from society, so the best society can do is monitor and control it by making drugs legal.

Advantages of Legalization

The chief advantage of legalization would be that the effort and money that is currently devoted to policing drug activity could be redirected to other uses. It would also make using drugs safer by bringing drug use out of the underground economy and into the open where it could be regulated for safety and dosage.

Disadvantages of Legalization

Critics of legalization suggest that the total number of users of addictive drugs would only increase if drugs were to become more easily available. They fear that a legalized environment would actually encourage drug use through advertising or other promotional techniques commonly used by suppliers of legal products.

Recovery

A third approach is provided by those who feel that the focus should not be on prohibiting or legalizing drugs, but on addiction recovery services that would allow addicts to recover and resume normal lives. Supporters of the recovery approach believe that the best way to deal with drug dealing is to eliminate their customers by ending their addictive behavior.

Advantages of Recovery

Recovery saves lives by ending the destructive cycle of addiction before it ruins or ends the life of the addict. It also deprives drug dealers of customers, thereby lessening the problems that are associated with prohibition without encouraging drug use as feared by those opposing legalization.

Disadvantages of Recovery

Unfortunately, there is no agreed upon means for how to recover from drug addiction. Successful treatment usually requires techniques that are geared to the needs of the specific individual, which can make it time consuming and expensive. It is also not always clear what to do when the addict simply doesn’t want to stop using drugs.

The Hybrid Method

In the end, no one has all the insights into how to end drug addiction. That is why most societies use a hybrid approach employing all three approaches – some prohibition and law enforcement, semi-legalization of the less harmful drugs, and recovery services for those who seek them. The hope is that over time, this combination approach will work to control and eventually end drug addiction.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on July 27th, 2014 in Health | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

22 jul

Treating Knee Problems

JennaSmithA swollen knee is a common condition among the elderly as well as those with an active lifestyle. Many refer to it as water on the knee, although determining the cause is often challenging and pain is often associated with a recent injury.

Athletic and slip and fall injuries are common instances that result in swollen knees, but swelling can also be a sign of long-term knee problems, known as chronic injuries. The swelling can be in the soft tissues surrounding the knee or within the knee joint. Excess fluid build-up causes stiffness, which makes it more difficult to move the knee in proper motion.

Can swelling cause bleeding inside the knee?

While some injuries do result in knee bleeding, such injuries are less common than the majority of knee swelling causes. In case of a ligament sprain or a meniscus tea, the fluid inside the knee is not blood; it is created by the body naturally to help the injured area and provide cover to soft tissues.

The length of time in which the knee stays swollen is determined by the extent of the injury. Minor injuries cause knees to swell for only a few days while more severe injuries could result in swelling for several weeks.

You should consult a doctor if you’re experiencing extreme pain with swelling, while light to moderate swelling can be treated with the following remedies:

Massage therapy

If not contraindicated, gently messaging the area around the knee can reduce swelling. Use circular, light pressure movements on the skin over the knee in circles for stretching the connective tissue just below the skin, where the majority of vessels are located.

Continue to massage in circular motions until the skin is warmer, software and stretches with ease. Then use alternative hands to stroke from the knee to hip joints in the location of lymph nodes. Massaging with oil relieves pain and reduces the water inside the knee. It is also a great way to promote blood flow to the damaged soft tissues.

Light exercise

Light exercise and mobility of the lower body is essential to prevent repetitive injuries. It also helps in strengthening muscles around the knee joint to prevent further and future harm to the injured tissues. Swimming is a great way to work out your legs and knees, but you can also go for a brisk walk if you do not feel pain in the swollen area. Ice should be applied immediately to the affected area to prevent onset of inflammation.

Mens compression products and women compression clothing can assist the recovery process and also complement the exercise session. Compression knee high socks can improve blood circulation and relieve modern swelling and fatigue, in the knee, ankles and legs. The modern ones feature true gradient compression, which decreases at the top of the garment to promote blood flow.

A healthy diet

Diet can make a significant difference to how quickly your knee recovers. Eating a nutrient-dense and balanced diet reduces pressures on the joints and improves the overall flexibility of the knee. Foods high in Vitamin C such as citrus fruits and berries increase collagen production, which is an important component of knee cartilage and bone and can prevent swelling.

You can also increase Vitamin D intake as adequate amounts of Vitamin D delays the onset of degenerative disease like osteoporosis. Research also says that omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon can speed up the healing process of knee swelling.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on July 22nd, 2014 in Diet and Fitness, Health | No comments

20 jul

Taking the Steps to Addiction Recovery

RobertCordrayDual diagnosis treatment is a relatively new development in mental health care and addiction recovery. Until recently, clinicians treated mental illness as a separate condition from drug or alcohol addiction. When the conditions overlapped in a dual diagnosis, mental health treatment came only after addiction rehab. This was known as “sequential treatment.”

The Problem with Sequential Treatment

Sequential treatment was the norm as recent as a decade ago. Until then, most clinicians subscribed to a division between mental health treatment and addiction recovery. This meant that people with a dual diagnosis were excluded from one treatment area until they were stable in the other. For example, a depressed alcoholic could not receive therapy for depression until he went through detox and rehab.

Since addictions often stem from psychiatric disorders, people with a dual diagnosis need different types of therapy. When research showed that sequential treatment led to high rates of addiction relapse, its popularity diminished. Today, dual diagnosis treatment centers combine successful aspects of mental health care with substance abuse treatment. The clinicians have credentials and training in co-occurring disorders.

The Benefits of Dual Diagnosis

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), only 12 percent of the four million Americans with a dual diagnosis in 2002 were treated for both conditions. Today, many rehab centers offer personalized treatment services for those with dual conditions. Nevertheless, finding the right program is a challenge.

Rehab centers that offer parallel services increase recovery chances. They offer supportive therapies that bolster self-esteem and build self-confidence. The most effective treatments bring spouses and other family members into therapy for individual and group counseling.

Many addicts feel immense relief when they receive a dual diagnosis, especially if they lived with an undiagnosed condition for a long time. If they suffered with long-term depression, severe mood swings, painful flashbacks, hallucinations or suicidal thoughts, giving their condition a name can give them hope. A properly trained rehab team can help them can help them recover from mental illness while they battle their addictions.

Dual Diagnosis Therapy Options

People who meet the criteria for a dual diagnosis are classified when they enter treatment. They generally suffer with a condition such as depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder as well as alcoholism, drug addiction or another addictive disorder. The most effective treatment considers both conditions.

No single treatment works for everyone with a dual diagnosis. There are many mental health disorders, and the relationship between mental illness and addiction is complicated. Individual recovery plans address specific disorders as well as personal histories of addictive behaviors.

Residential Treatment

People with severe mental illness or heavy drug or alcohol use may benefit from residential treatment programs. This type of therapy offers intensive, 24-hour care and monitoring. It is especially helpful for those who experience psychotic episodes or suicidal thoughts.

Outpatient Treatment

Addicts who are physically and mentally stable may benefit from outpatient treatment, where they can live at home and go to work during their rehabilitation. Because of the minimal supervision, outpatient therapy requires a high level of dedication to recovery to prevent relapse.

Pharmacological Therapy

Pharmacological therapy is usually a key component of dual diagnosis treatment. People with mental illness usually require medications to stabilize their moods, reduce anxiety and prevent flashbacks or hallucinations. While psychiatric medications are often discouraged in substance abuse treatment programs, dual diagnosis patients can benefit from pharmacotherapy during rehab.

Family Counseling

Family counseling is an important part of addiction recovery. This type of therapy educates spouses, children and siblings about addiction and mental health. As they begin to understand their loved one’s condition, they are more likely to provide support for recovery.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is also essential to the recovery process. Peer support groups and 12-step programs are available for addicts, friends and loved ones. Group sessions remind those with drug and alcohol addictions that they are not alone in their struggles.

Most people benefit from a combination of treatment therapies. Getting their lives back on track requires help and hope, and dual diagnosis treatment provides both. Relying on members of their treatment team as well as their loved ones can make rehabilitation easier and more effective.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on July 20th, 2014 in Health | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

17 jul

Sneaky Ways to Exercise for Stress Relief

JennaSmithIt’s no secret that exercise is a great way to relieve stress. It works off nervous energy, releases endorphins, and helps you focus on something other than whatever is stressing you out. The problem is that not everyone likes, or is able, to do traditional exercises. For some people exercise itself could be stressful, making them adverse to even trying. For others it could be a simple matter of time and access.

The good news is that there are several activities that supply you with sneaky ways to acquire the stress-relieving benefits of exercise.

Gardening/Yard Work

Yardwork gets you outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and can be one heck of a workout. You do a lot of bending, digging, lifting, and hauling that gets your heart rate up, builds your muscles and endurance, and releases endorphins. Plus, at the end of it, you have a beautiful yard where you can relax and enjoy the scenery.

If you plant food crops, like vegetables or fruit trees, you have the added benefit being able to harvest the produce for your table. If you buy apple trees and other food crops online, you can often get special varieties, such as heirloom plants, that you wouldn’t normally find at your local garden store.

House Work

Cleaning your house from top to bottom is an excellent way to burn a lot of energy. Depending on how thoroughly you clean, you could end up doing a lot of bending and lifting that strengthens your muscles and raises your heart rate. Plus, at the end of it, you have a nice clean house to relax in.

Plus, mess can actually cause stress, so having a clean home can greatly improve your state of mind. You can try cleaning in one marathon session, or stretch it out over days so you can get activity in multiple sessions. You can also include your family in the act so that you can have some quality time, and get more done.

Dancing

The great thing about dancing is that you can do it almost anywhere. You can enjoy a night out at your favorite club or, if you are self-conscious about dancing in public, bust a move in the privacy of your own home. Dancing raises your heart rate, improves your endurance, and releases endorphins. If you want to go high-tech, you can invest in one of those dance video games and play alone or with friends and family.

Playing With Your Kids

Kids are little bundles of energy – wind them up and they can go for days. Play a game of hide and seek or tag and you will get your heart rate going, the endorphins flowing, and spend quality time with your kids. As an added bonus, if you tired them out enough, they’ll probably go right to sleep at bed time.

Walking the Dog

If you don’t already have a dog, you shouldn’t get one just for exercise unless you are also willing to be a good pet parent. However, you can volunteer to walk your neighbor’s dog, especially if your neighbor works earlier or later than you do. If you have your own dog, you can extend the length of your walk, to get more activity. You can also volunteer at an animal shelter that has dog play groups. You might need to get special training, but you would be helping dogs in need get forever homes.

Window Shopping

Whether you walk through an indoor mall, a strip mall, or a street with a lot of shops, window shopping gives you something interesting to look at while also getting you moving. To get more out of your session, consider making at least one circuit of the area before you pause to look at all the shop windows, that way you have a period of continuous movement to really get your heart going and the endorphins flowing.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on July 17th, 2014 in Diet and Fitness, Health, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in

08 jul

Young Adults and Addiction: The Benefits of Inpatient Care

For many young people, drug use and experimentation is a rite of passage of sorts. However, experimenting with drugs and alcohol is far from harmless, and can often result in lifelong problems with substance abuse and addiction. In turn, addiction can lead to difficulties in virtually every aspect of well-being, including physical health, relationships, education, careers, finances and more.

Due to the devastating effects of prolonged substance use, effective treatment is necessary in helping young people break the ties of addiction, improve physical and psychological health, and learn to live without the crutches of drugs and alcohol.

So, which type of treatment is most effective? The answer to that question often lies in inpatient, or residential care. Keep reading to learn more about inpatient addiction treatment, including its advantages, common practices and more.

What is Inpatient Treatment?

Unlike outpatient facilities, inpatient care involves residential treatment for substance abuse and addiction. Patients will spend their days and nights in the facility, and will receive intensive, ’round-the-clock care. And while facilities differ according to methods and practices, most offer services like the following:

  • Supervised detox. During this stage of treatment, drug use is discontinued and the body to rids itself of addictive substances. Since detoxification can lead to the onset of painful withdrawal symptoms, inpatient therapy can provide patients with the adequate care and support during this stage of recovery.
  • One-on-one counseling. Talk therapy plays an extremely important role in effective rehabilitation. During one-on-one sessions, patients can discuss their problems with addictive substances, as well as formulate coping strategies in the interest of sustained sobriety. Also, counseling allows mental health professionals to diagnose and treat underlying psychological illnesses that may contribute to substance abuse.
  • Group therapy. Like one-on-one counseling, group therapy provides patients with a platform on which to discuss their thoughts and feelings. Plus, group sessions provide the added benefits of support and accountability from peers, which has been shown to promote a healthy, more effective recovery.
  • Family counseling. Some facilities offer counseling for patients and their families. This can help addicts and their loved ones open the lines of communication, as well as learn about factors such as codependency, guilt and more. For young people, this can help open the doors for better familial relationships, as well as effective communication and continued support.
  • Aftercare. Followup treatment is often included in inpatient care. Aftercare methods typically include continued counseling and support, as well as assistance with housing, employment, continuing education and more.

Choosing an Inpatient Facility

While different facilities offer similar rehabilitation services, they often vary according to atmosphere, location, price, etc. For example, many treatment centers cater to only men or only women, while others incorporate religious teachings into their rehabilitation methods.

Further, some facilities are designed for young people, specifically. Treatment programs that cater to young adults aim to enrich the lives of young people by addressing their unique needs regarding health and rehabilitation. For example, young adult rehabilitation programs often include classes and seminars relating to life skills, decision making, family communication and more.

Combined, the efforts of these inpatient facilities significantly enhance the chances of recovery, as well reduce the risk of relapse with addictive substances.

Although addiction can have devastating effects on young people and their loved ones, the proper treatment can promote sobriety, prevent relapse and enhance both physical and psychological health. With the intensive care provided by inpatient therapy, young adults can beat addiction, improve wellness and enjoy a better, healthier life.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on July 8th, 2014 in Family, Health, New Directions, Teens | No comments

27 jun

Is Your Company Depressed?

Kerrigan2Of all the business problems companies have, I think they become more magnified when the chief executive officers lose sight that their organization is made up of people.

In my experience, when things go wrong, the focus is primarily on finance or strategy, or both: but, not on people.

This is a big mistake—to ignore the people who will actually implement any new strategy, especially if they feel disconnected and overwhelmed by your last plan.

I’ve written about marketing from the inside out and the importance of inclusion over coercion. But, is the C-suite listening?

When your employees feel disconnected and that no one cares, they begin to shut down. Unhappy employees are unproductive employees, and this loss of interest affects every area of your business, particularly your customers.

It may be time to come down to ground level and ask:

Is my company depressed?

Here are some signs of which to be aware:

—Low energy and self esteem (Projects often seem to lose direction)

—Poor concentration (Costly errors are escalating)

—Difficulty making decisions (Deadlines are missed)

—Feelings of hopelessness (Recurring thoughts of layoffs)

—Social withdrawal (More conflict, less collaboration)

—Excessive negative thinking (Quality suffers. After all—why bother?)

—Loss of interest in jobs your employees used to enjoy (Productivity slows down or comes to a halt)

If your business is not accomplishing its goals, take a good look within, and invest some time focused on your greatest asset—people.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace confidence and performance who advises clients how to become stronger and more successful. From growing businesses and exceptional leaders to enhancing careers, Michelle develops the 3 keys you need to succeed. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on June 27th, 2014 in Career, General, Global/Social Change, Health | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

26 jun

What You Need to Know About Skin Tags

JennaSmithSkin tags are quite common, and a person may have anywhere from one to hundreds, though the latter is not as common. While they can occur anywhere on the body, the most common locations include underarms, the base of the neck, under the breast, groin folds and the eyelids.

What Causes Skin Tags?

Skin tags result when collagen and blood vessels accumulate in the thicker parts of our skin; you may be more likely to develop skin tags if you are obese, have diabetes, suffer from HPV, are pregnant or use steroids excessively. There may also be a heredity component. Further, skin tags can form when the skin is irritated and scratched by things such as clothing, shaving and jewelry.

Are Skin Tags Tumors?

Don’t worry. Skin tags are not little tumors growing all over your body. These growths are benign. But, like any other part of the skin, there is a chance a precancerous or cancerous growth can form on them, though this is quite rare. If you notice any growths on your skin that bleed, are increasing in size or are colored pink, red, black or brown, make an appointment with a dermatologist, who can examine the growth, and biopsy it if necessary.

How Can I Treat A Skin Tag?

Skin tags do not require treatment, but you may want to remove them for cosmetic purposes. As far as medical treatments go, a doctor can freeze it off with liquid nitrogen, burn it using electro-desiccation or electric cautery, or cut it off.

If you are interested in DIY , there are several options that may work. One of the most common methods is tying the skin tag off with some string or dental floss, and either cutting it or letting it fall off after a few days. But, if that doesn’t sound too appealing, and you are in no particular rush, here are a few more strategies in which you may be interested:

· Apple cider vinegar, and its exfoliating-like properties may help ‘dissolve’ the tag. Soak a cotton ball and hold it over the tag for a couple of minutes. After about a month, it should go away.

· Natural oils are also another method for skin tag removal, particularly ones that contain homeopathic preparations with ingredients such as calendula officinalis and thuja occidentalis. Tea tree oil is great for all sorts of skin issues, from acne to athlete’s foot, and it may work for skin tags as well. Wet a cotton ball with water, and then add a few drops of the oil. Rub it over the tags every day, two times a day; in about a week or so, it should be gone.

· Placing the inside part of a banana peel over the tag , and securing it with gauze is another popular natural remedy. Leave it on overnight, and repeat until it falls off.

· Mix together castor oil and baking soda, and apply to the skin tag. Cover and leave on overnight. Do this every day until the skin tag falls off.

Will Removing Them Cause More To Grow

As of now, there is no evidence to suggest removing skin tags somehow causes them to spread or grow back, so you should not be concerned. If you notice skin tags coming back, it is simply because some people are more prone to developing them.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on June 26th, 2014 in Health | No comments

20 jun

Robots Aiding with Disabilities, Improving Lives

RobertCordrayThe aim of technology has always been to improve the lives of people, and that is no less true of people with disabilities. That’s why so much work has gone into the application of robotic replacements or assistants for various types of disability in order to make common tasks easier and give more freedom to whole segments of the population.

But there are, of course, many different ways that robotics can be used to address the needs of people with disabilities. Here are only a few of them.

Bionic Eyes

Perhaps one of the greatest dreams of the biomedical engineering field is the ability to make eyes that can replace non-functioning organic ones. Fortunately, researchers at a number of different companies around the world have developed ways to start returning sight to those who have lost it or never had any to begin with.

Among them, the most advanced bionic eyes come from Second Sight Medical Products: the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis system. The Argus II system implants 60 electrodes into the retina, connecting them to special glasses that contain a powerful set of miniature cameras. The cameras broadcast information to the electrodes, which stimulate the retina to mimic the way natural light would. It doesn’t yet perfectly replace sight, but it does produce partial sight in most users.

Stride Assistants

There is often a misconception that there is a clean, easy line between being able to walk and not, but there is a full spectrum of disability in moving and standing. In many cases movement can be severely impaired by strokes and similar afflictions, making it necessary to employ a robotic mobility resource in order to regain a certain freedom of motion.

That’s why the Honda corporation invented the Stride Management Assist, a set of battery powered legs that can help support and mimic natural leg movement in people who have lost previously present motion. The SMA uses the angle of hip movement and matches the timing of leg motion so as to create a remarkably natural stride.

Another Japanese company, Cyberdene, took the concept even further by creating a full body exoskeleton, the HAL 5, which can be worn on all parts of the body and uses various biosignals detectable on the skin in order to predict the motion of the wearer and adjust its own motion to match and support them. The HAL 5 can help the wearer lift and carry up to five times the amount of weight they previously could, including body weight they couldn’t support before.

Secondary Manipulation Devices

Not all robotic assistants are directly attached to or implanted in people with disabilities. Rather, many of them are secondary devices that are attached to wheelchairs or other items that make the user able to accomplish tasks they otherwise wouldn’t be able to, like driving.

For example, a number of different companies have developed robotic arms that attach to wheelchairs and electric walking assistants in order to help people reach tall places that they cannot climb to or retrieve items that would otherwise be out of their reach with the medical device in the way.

Similarly, the National Institute of Health just began research on a robotically enhanced cane for the visually impaired. The cane can more accurately detect potential obstacles far in advance of a standard one, relaying the information to the user via a series of intuitive signals. The NIH is hoping that this can be employed even in large crowds to present a safe method of moving about for the visually impaired.

These are only a few of the ways that robotic assistants are being employed to help people with disabilities gain some or all of the freedom they previously lacked. As the technology continues to improve, more and more of these devices will be available on the market, improving the lives of millions of people around the globe.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on June 20th, 2014 in Global/Social Change, Health | No comments Read related posts in ,

19 jun

Eat Your Way to Digestive Health

RobertCordrayProbiotics. The very name is indicative of their benefits: it comes from the Greek words pro, denoting promoting, and biotic, which means life. Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that live in our digestive systems and keep harmful bacteria at bay. A healthy level helps keep us disease-free.

However, sometimes we need a bit of help. Antibiotics treat anything from strep throat to skin infections. However, as they work their magic, these drugs have a down side. They unfortunately do not discriminate; for they kill beneficial bacteria along with the bad guys. The result is diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Too-low levels of probiotics can also lead to vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections and diarrhea from intestinal illnesses. What’s more, healthy bacteria keep immune responses such as inflammation under control, reducing the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. For all these reasons, a regimen of probiotic supplements is vital to restore healthy bacteria to our digestive tract.

There’s a more enjoyable way to bring friendly bacteria to an optimum level than popping pills. Happily, many foods are probiotic powerhouses and have the added benefit of being great sources of natural vitamins.. Here are a few that are guaranteed to keep a healthy number of the good guys in our bodies.

Sauerkraut

Mostly made from fermented cabbage (and occasionally other vegetables), sauerkraut is chock-full of beneficial live cultures. Not only that, because of probiotics’ ability to keep immune system reactions in check, it can relieve allergy symptoms. Sauerkrauts’ abundance of vitamins B, A, E and C is an added bonus. For those who like their food spicy, kimchi (sauerkraut’s Korean cousin) is one of the best sources of probiotics there is. It’s also a nutritional powerhouse: beta-carotene, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, B1 and B2 are present in ample quantities.

Kefir

Kefir (pronounced ke-FEER) is a probiotic-rich grain that, when added to milk, begins a fermentation process. The result is a beverage full of a variety of healthy bacteria, including Lactobacillus Caucasus and Streptococcus, and an abundance of helpful yeasts. Kefir milk may be a bit sour, so many add fruit or sweeteners. While you can find kefir in health food and specialty stores, it’s easy to make your own. For people who can’t tolerate dairy, almond and other nut milks, coconut milk, coconut water, and even plain water are used to make kefir that has all the benefits of the milk variety.

Miso Soup

Miso, a product of fermented soy, rye, beans, rice, or barley, is a probiotic dynamo: it has been reported to contain a whopping 160-plus strains of friendly bacteria. A spoonful of the paste added to vegetable broth or hot water makes a delicious soup that will keep your digestive system running strong.

Pickles and Olives

Lovers of these foods can rejoice: they are excellent sources of friendly bacteria. Look for unpasteurized, sodium benzoate-free, active cultured organic varieties where vinegar was not employed in the pickling process. Sea salt and water are a good medium for the growth of healthy bacteria. With a bit of effort, you can keep your digestive system strong by indulging in these can’t-eat-just-one goodies.

Yogurt

Everyone knows the benefits of this powerhouse. Yogurt made with live cultures needs no introduction. Whether plain, sweetened with fruit, or enhanced with vanilla and other flavors, this food is a delicious way to keep probiotic levels high. The protein, calcium, and other nutrients make yogurt a perfect food.

Kombucha Tea

Tea lovers, rejoice. This fermented drink, available in Japanese and health food shops, is a great source of friendly bacteria. It’s delicious hot or iced. A word of caution: it’s not a good choice for people with candida problems.

Since there’s a beneficial-bacteria-high food to suit every taste, it’s easy to keep your digestive tract–and you–going strong. You don’t need to be recovering from illness or living with a chronic condition to reap the benefits.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on June 19th, 2014 in Health | No comments Read related posts in , , ,