Author: liran

Cosmic Mihaiu “Physical therapy is boring — play a game instead

What’s the main problem of current physical therapy? The therapy is boring and painful so that patients are not able to follow the prescription to do repetitive movements for recovery. As a result, patients need more time to recover. Most of the patients feel boring, frustrating, and confusing for the exercise.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 9.08.19 PMHowever, Mihaiu declared that video game can fix this problem by making the exercise more interesting and engaging.

When he was a child, he climbed a tree but fell from the tree and broke his arm. At first, his physical therapist worked with him, but then it’s up to him to do the exercises at home. At that time, he thought doing repetitive movements was boring, so he barely did it. As a result, he had to have another six weeks to regain the range of movement lost due to the injury.

In order to fix this problem, Mihaiu created a software — MIRA to make physical therapy interesting and engaging. This software is a platform where physicians are able to change prescription for physical exercises to digital video game. On this platform therapists can easily program video games in accordance with different needs from various patients. By making the physical extension and flexion more interesting, patients feel more engaged and more confident so that they are more likely to do the exercise.

In addition to the customization, this software also has three different categories targeting at different patients: children, adult, and senior. Most importantly, this platform provides data collected during patient’s exercise. The gathered data not only gives patients a sense of achievement, but provides valuable information for the physical therapist to adapt patient’s treatment.

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Removing HIV with laser

Could HIV will be cured by laser?

Patience Mthunzi, a research group leader at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria, South Africa, stated a thought-provoking idea on eradicating HIV by shooting laser beams on membrane of infected cell. Personally, I really love this idea, although the laser technique is not seem very feasible for current situation and is in an earlier stage before an “early stage.”

What’s the advantage of laser compared to current treatment for HIV patients?According to Mthunzi,  the potential advantage of laser with the comparison to current treatment is that laser does not suffer from drug bioavailability. Currently, swallowing pills is the treatment for HIV carriers. However, swallowing pills to get medication is a quick, painless but often not entirely effective way of treating disease. The drug bioavailability decreases as the pill passes through different organs and finally reaches the bloodstream. Nevertheless, unlike swallowing pills, laser is able to deliver drugs directly to cells infected by HIV. There is no dilution for this treatment. As a result, laser treatment will be more effective than swallowing pills for HIV patients.

How is it possible? Laser scientist shoot a vey powerful but tiny laser beam onto the membrane of HIV infected cells. With a three-head device, anti-HIV drugs will be delivered directly within the cells. The first head is laser, by using the first head, this device will make an incision of the targeted cell. The second head camera is able to monitor the whole process. Finally, the third head: drug sprinkler is able to directly deliver the drugs to the cell while using the first head to poke the cell again.

Although this treatment for HIV patients might not seem feasible right now, laser will be an effective treatment to eradicate HIV in the body one day.

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who contributes to the poor care coordination in the U.S. health system?

The organization of the private health sector contributes to the poor care coordination in the United States health system.

Firstly, with different purposes to provide health care service, it’s difficult for public and private health sector to cooperate. Unlike public health care providers, the purpose of private providers is to make a profit. The payment of private providers is not transparent and the health care costs rise rapidly, leaving patients with little choice but to go into debt to pay for the care. As a result, private health care is too expensive for Americans. Some patients may decide not to seek help because of the financial problem. However, with the goal of promoting health status of entire population, the payment for public health sector is relatively law with the comparison to private health sector. Due to the existing inconsistency of the payment, the care coordination is a serious challenge.

Secondly, due to the disparate competitors, the cooperation between public and private health sector is difficult. Private health care provider needs to compete with other providers. Thus, in order to attract more consumers, several health services with low price but poor health care quality will be created. However, the competitor for public health care sector is health problem. With the purpose of addressing health problem successfully, the public provider will provide high health care quality with relatively high price. Therefore, a potential competition of price between private and public health care may harm the care cooperation.

In general, the private health sector makes care coordination a serious challenge by largely fragmenting the health care delivery system. This fragmenting leaves patients with poor-quality health care outcomes. Medical errors can occur as a patient moves from one care setting to another, or is prescribed different medications that interact.

James R. Knickman and Anthony R. Kovner (2011). Jonas and Kovner’s health care delivery in the United States. Springer Publishing Company.

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Drunk driving: completely preventable crime (2)!

The high rate of death related to drunk and drugged driving can be dramatically reduced by the installation of ignition interlock device (IID) for all convicted drunk drivers, including first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater. States with this restrictive law have witnessed a significant decline in drunk driving deaths compared to states with laws requiring only repeat offenders or first-time offenders with a  BAC of .15 or greater to install IID. With the implementation of this more restrictive law, drunk driving fatalities of Arizona and Oregon decreased 43.2% and 42.7% respectively. To the contrary, states with law requiring the installation of IID among only repeat offenders or first-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or higher had slow declines. The fatality reductions concerning DUI in Florida and Nevada were 21.7% and 26.8%.

A report published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also confirmed the effectiveness of IID for all convicted drunk drivers, including first-time offenders with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. It also found that focusing on convicted drunk drivers with .15 BAC or greater is a bad policy because the target population of this bad policy is too narrow to make sense. Moreover, the research from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that first-time offenders have driven drunk for at least 80 times before being arrested. Therefore, asking all convicted drunk drivers including first-time offenders with a BAC of .08 or greater to install IID is an effective way to reduce the fatality rate related to drunk driving.

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Drunk driving: completely preventable crime (1)!

An 18-year-old man was charged with driving while intoxicated in a fatal crash. On October 12th, a man was killed by an underage drink and drugged driving crash in High Point. It was a head-on crash happened around 2 a.m.. Although both Turner and Yeomans were transported to Mose Cone Hospital immediately after the collision, Yeomans died while receiving treatment and Turner had serious, but not life-threatening injuries. As a result, 18-year-old Turner was charged with not only driving while intoxicated (DWI) but also driving after consuming under the age of 21. Why this vehicle crash deserves our attention? Because this accident did not simply destroy two people, instead, it destroyed two families.

Almost 30 people every day died of motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver in the United States in accordance with the article published by CDC. “Over 10,000 people every year are killed and another 290,000 are injured as a result of drunk driving,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehpey-Church, who lost her 18-year-old son in an underage drink and drugged driving crash. Do you really think these terrifying numbers are non of your business? Do you really believe that you or your family members will never meet any irresponsible drivers who drink while driving?

Hopefully, your answers for these two questions above are no.

Drunk driving is completely preventable crime!

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World AIDS Day: who is at-risk?

As the World AIDS Day is approaching on December 1, AIDS is more discussed openly and with compassion instead of in secrecy and shame.
Do you still believe population with high-susceptibility are sexual workers, drug users, and men who have sex with men? Yes or No!
Yes. They do have high risk of being infected by HIV.
No. There is a large number of teenagers being infected by HIV. According to CDC, youth aged from 13 to 24 accounted for a substantial number (estimated 26%) of all new HIV infections in the United States in 2010.
However, although previous research studied the knowledge, attitudes, practice, and influencing factors concerning AIDS among teenagers in the United States,  a group of teenagers is missing.
Chinese international students, a vulnerable group, need to be taken care!

With high-susceptibility of being infected by HIV, Chinese international students did not be studied before. Based on the report published by National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention (China), there was an increasing number of students who were infected by HIV. Those students accounted for 1.64% of the total HIV carriers and people living with HIV/AIDS in 2011, increased from 0.96% in 2006. Of those students, almost half of them (49%) were aging from 20 to 24. Therefore, teenagers, especially college students, are the most vulnerable group concerning the chance of getting AIDS (He et al., 2008; Liu, 2006; Wang, 2002). Unfortunately, most of the previous research in China studied the knowledge, attitudes, and practice (KAP) concerning AIDS among college students in mainland China, instead of studying Chinese international students in the U.S.. Similarly, there is no study mainly focus on this group of students in the U.S.. Therefore, study on Chinese international students is in demand.

Additionally, the number of Chinese students studying in the United States is increasing according to the data published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Nearly 100,000 Chinese students came to U.S. universities between 2009 and 2012, which contributed to a quarter of all foreign students in the U.S..

With an increasing number and high-susceptibility of being infected by HIV, Chinese students in the United States deserve research to learn their KAP, and develop effective preventions.


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He et al.. (2008). Analysis to the effect of health education for college students’ AIDS-related knowledge and attitude. Chinese Journal of Health Education 24 (2): 102-104

(贺莉萍, et al. “健康教育对大学生艾滋病相关知识态度的影响.” 中国健康教育 24.2 (2008): 102-104.)

Liu, L.R.. (2006). Summary of health education of AIDS prevention in Beijing. Chinese Journal of Health Education 22 (2): 146-148

(刘利容. “北京地区预防艾滋病健康教育研究综述.” 中国健康教育 22.2 (2006): 146-148.)

Wang, Q.L.. (2002). 全球艾滋病流行进展. 中国艾滋病性病, 1, 000.

A Cell [organ] Therapy raises moral and ethical problem?

Recently, a baby girl with cancer was saved by a cell therapy untested in humans according to an article published in the New York Times. The girl, Layla Richards, had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer that “starts from the early version of white blood cells in the bone marrow” invading the blood and quickly spread to other parts of body. Although it is hard to say whether this girl was cured due to the short period of time (only a few months) in remission, she was rescued by a cell therapy, said Waseem Qasim, one of the doctors who treated the girl at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. “It is a remarkable outcome” because several conventional therapies did not work, such as chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and a new type of biotech drug, Dr. Qasim said.

However, there is an intense debate on whether the federal government should fund research on transplanting partly human organs or cells from animals to patients to treat illness.

There are two branches of cell therapy [organ transplantation]. One is legitimate and established, the other one is dangerous and raises ethical and moral questions. The first one is transplanting human cells [organs] from a donor to a patient; while the second one is injecting animal cells [organs] or partly human cells [organs] to treat illness.

In late September, the National Institutes of Health declared a moratorium on funding research which studies the combining cells or tissues (chimeras) or genetic information (hybrids) from partly human and partly nonhuman. NIH officials stated that the ethical and moral questions raised by this kind of research needed to be evaluated. Françoise Baylis, a bioethicist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, said that this early human chimera “would introduce inexorable moral confusion in our existing relationships with nonhuman animals, and in our future relationships with part-human hybrids and chimeras.” Moreover, Hank Greely, a bioethicist at Stanford University, said “this will somehow give the animal a human consciousness, human mental capabilities.”

However, there are very effective strategies that would alleviate the concerns discussed above, said Sean Wu, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University. Additionally, some prominent scientists worry this moratorium may hinder the development of this promising field of research, as a result, many patients may die from the shortage of this technology. “We don’t have enough organs for transplantation,” and “every 30 seconds of every day that passes there is a person that dies that could be cured by using tissues or organs for transplantation,” said Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a professor of gene expression at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.


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Ignition Interlock Device saves lives

In the United States, almost 30 people die in motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol-impaired driving every day. According to CDC, in 2013, there were 10,076 people died of alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.

Thankfully, Ignition interlock device (IID) can do amazing things to indirectly reduce the number of cases concerning drunk driving. IID is a mechanism installed in a vehicle to deter driving under the influence of alcohol. It is a breathalyzer. The driver must exhale into the device before starting the vehicle. If the analyzed result is greater than the pre-programmed level, the device will prevent the vehicle from being started. Moreover, in some programs in certain states, more restricted IID is installed. Besides the test to start the vehicle, driver has to take random retests during driving. The vehicle will not be turned off during driving, if the result exceeds the pre-programmed level. Instead, the device will give a signal to remind the driver of stopping.

In 2012, governments of all 50 states enacted laws permitting the imposition of ignition interlock device as an alternative punishment for drunken drivers. But the detailed requirement on using IID varies across different states.

In addition to the device installed in a vehicle to reduce drunk driving, Mothers Against Dunk Driving (MADD) tend to reach different local governments to have more restrict law to end drunk driving. MADD gathered to call on lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 619. This law advocated by MADD would mandate interlocks for anyone convicted with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more, instead of 0.15.  Currently, there are 26 states already took the advice from MADD into consideration. The North Carolina General Assembly are discussing this very law.

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Do hormones in meat affect human health?

There is a hot debate centering around the effects of growth hormones in meat on human health. Some people advocate for the hormones-injected meat because of the productivity in milk production and meat, so that the increasing need from meat market can be met and the profitability of the meat and dairy industries will be achieved. While others insist that the residues of growth hormones in meat have human-health consequences.

Do added hormones in meat and dairy affect human health? In order to address this problem, it is necessary to learn what are hormones and what are different hormones used in current meat and dairy industry.

Hormones are chemicals produced naturally for regulating sexuality in the bodies of all animals, including humans. There are six different kinds of hormones currently approved by FDA for being used in food production in the U.S.. Three of them are “all-natural.” Estradiol and progesterone are natural female sex hormones and testosterone is the natural male sex hormone; while other three are man-made chemicals: zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengesterol acetate.

It is realized that cows injected with material drawn from bovine pituitary glands (cow’s hormone secreting organ) producted more milk in 1930. In 2013, eighty percent of U.S. cows were injected with hormones to increase the meat production.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.02.58 AMIndeed, it is reasonable for consumers to concern about hormones in foods due to previous hormones-related problem caused by synthetic estrogen drugs (estrogen is a significant hormone for the normal growth and development of the breast and tissues for reproduction). In 1960, diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen drugs, was found that it increased the risk of vaginal confer in daughters of treated women. Moreover, lifetime exposure to natural steroid hormone estrogen is associated with the increased risk of getting breast cancer.

However, in accordance with currently available scientific evidence, the hormones residue in the milk or meat of treated animals may be slightly higher than those remain in untreated animals, but the levels of hormones in milk or meat of treated animals are still within the normal range of natural variation. In addition, there is no scientific evidence to prove that drinking milk or eating meat from hormone-treated animals affect breast cancer risk.


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Eat fat to burn fat

Is it true that people can lose weight by having full-fat foods?

Traditionally, fat played a role in the development of obesity. By reviewing the results from 28 clinical trials, it is concluded that a reduction in total energy intake, especially fat, is needed to reduce weight.

However, there is a new diet that breaks weight-loss rules. The high fat diet, proposed by nutritionist Zana Morris and health writer Helen Foster, claims that dieters are able to lose up to 10 lb in 14 days and not to feel hungry by having this full-fat diet.

Like other health experts who advocate for the high fat diet, Morris and Foster believe that fat has been wrongly treated as the main cause of obesity. Actually, fat can help people losing weight. In other words, people need to eat more fat to get rid of the excess fat.

How does this diet work?

The science behind this new diet is the influence of fat on insulin, the hormone whose job is to bring glucose to cells during eating. Glucose is the sugar for providing energy in our body normally. With the fat, the level of produced insulin is very low so that there is not enough glucose brought to the cells. In order to get enough energy to work, the cells switch to using existing fat from using glucose. In this case, existing fat (“ketosis” technically) will be reduced and as a result, the fat cells get smaller and lighter. Therefore, people with full-fat foods are able to loose weight.

This new diet is proved to be effective in losing weight not only by Zara herself, but by a new article published in the New York Times. It says that Jen Miller, an amateur athlete, lost 25 pounds by having high fat diet and doing exercise.

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