Tag: data

Next Level Data Presentation

By Arshya Gurbani

It’s probably safe to guess that lot of people studying Health Communication feel strongly about data, how it’s presented, and the “story” it has to tell. I thought it was about time to re-watch this, one of my favorite TED talks, about using statistics effectively. Hans Rosling presents data on child mortality, but in doing so he layers it with context and bias and paints a picture that is remarkably clear and moving.  It’s good stuff–seriously, get some popcorn and a handkerchief before you watch/re-watch it!

Your Health Depends on Where You Live

Bill Davenhall presented the formula for good health as “genetics + lifestyle + environment = [health] risks” in his October 2009 TEDMED talk. The basic principle is for one to improve overall health, one must reduce health risks. Physicians routinely ask patients numerous questions about genetics and lifestyle, such as family, medication, surgical, and allergy histories, but rarely, if ever, consider the environmental component, a term Davenhall coins as geomedicine.

The environmental component is difficult to define, but Davenhall boils it down to places you have lived and where you typically spend most of you time (at work, traveling, at home, etc.). Current research and established databases measure a multitude of environmental factors, and doctors have the ability to overlay maps of patients’ environments with, for example, toxic release inventories monitored by the EPA. Doctors can then make inferences about susceptibility, schedule appropriate screenings and tests, and monitor symptoms for geo-specific health conditions like breast cancer or lung disease. In addition, they can provide patients with recommendations for reducing environmental risks.

Davenhall proposes adding a “place history” to the physician questionnaires and incorporating this data into electronic health records. This will allow for easy analysis and help health professionals and researchers understand larger environmental trends and risks and, in turn, work to mitigate these risks to improve the health of all people.

How do you think your past environments and current environment are influencing your health?

Text Source: Ted.com; Video Source: YouTube; Photo Source: Flickr

Health can’t be achieved overnight

Sleep is often overlooked when discussing health. We often focus on daytime activities like diet and exercise when trying to improve our health; however sleep has a major impact on our overall well being. Getting the recommended 7-9 hours can…

  • improve mood
  • improve concentration
  • improve reaction time
  • improve memory
  • improve immune system
  • reduce chances of accidents, particularly car accidents
  • reduce risk for obesity
  • reduce risk of diabetes
  • reduce risk for heart disease

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, what should you do? Track it!

There are many wearable fitness trackers and mobile apps that track sleep. Find one that is in your price range and start recording your data. Research has shown that simply tracking sleep levels can improve sleep habits. If you want to go a step further and self-monitor your progress, you can reap even more benefits. In addition, many sleep trackers and apps will provide feedback for enhancing sleep such as reducing caffeine intake or avoiding exercising right before going to bed. Incorporating these helpful tips can vastly improve your sleep over time.

The key to sleep tracking, or any health tracking for that matter, is to view the data over several days or weeks, try to find trends, and then make small adjustments to improve your numbers. Try to avoid seeing each night, or day, as a success or failure, but rather aim for gradual improvement. Essentially, achieving any health goal is a process, and can’t be achieved overnight (no pun intended).

Read more about which sleep trackers are best here.

Reference: mybasis.com

Image Source: wikipedia.org


Game Therapy

KinectFor children, coping with the pain of chronic illness can be particularly harrowing. They can’t well understand and articulate what they’re feeling. They can’t quite recognize how temporal pain is and that, one day in the future, it will be gone. They just want to be normal.

So, what if treating pain could be fun?

The Pain Medicine Care Complex in Washington ventures it can be. Specialists and game developers there are piloting four galaxy-themed video games that serve as a form of physical therapy. The games rely on Kinect, a motion sensor device controlled largely by users’ gestures, and aim to increase patients’ range of motion and distract children from their pain, according to a recent article in the New York Times.

There’s an upside for physicians too: the games provide them with more data on their patients. Kinect can track a patient’s movements and funnel that data directly into a database, the NYT article reports. Specialized software then automatically generates infographics, allowing physicians to grasp the patient’s angles, distance and speed with ease.

Dr. Julia Finkel, chief of pain medicine at the complex, reported to NYT that current methods to assess and treat pain rely on trial and error. Using empirical data generated by the video games could reduce doctors’ reliance on observation and patients’ self-report.

Increasingly, we see sensors cropping up to tell us how are bodies perform. A little over a year ago, Nike released the FuelBand, a wristband that tracks physical activity indicators and compiles it into a brand-specific measure called NikeFuel. Just yesterday, I learned of a wi-fi connected scale that senses weight, body fat, heart rate and even room temperature.

If we already use sensory data to monitor our health, isn’t it a logical step for trained medical professionals to use that data to monitor our health?

Image source: Deviantart.com