Brain injury research study: progress is ‘ordered, predictable’

This past week, brain injury once again has made sad headlines in the US this weekend with the public suicide of an NFL linebacker, following his murder of the mother of his child. Reportedly, Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs had been recently concussed, was on painkillers and had been drinking the prior evening. Thus the release of an academic research study on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive disorder that occurs as a consequence of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury such as experienced by contact sport athletes and soldiers, could not be more timely. Published in this month’s Brain: A Journal of Neurology (Oxford Journals), a research team drawn from the Boston VA, Boston University and the Mayo Clinic details the four progressive stages of CTE with symptoms progressing from headache and loss of concentration to dementia, depression, and aggression. This was based on (post-mortem) analysis of 85 brains — 64 athletes and 21 military veterans with a history of repetitive concussions. 68 had CTE and the group also had other neurological diseases. The study was funded by seven organizations, including the VA, the National Institute on Aging–and the NFL. Certainly this will be a key reference in the NFL-funded research being started by the FNIH and the US Army-NFL helmet sensor program to help detect cumulative injury [TA 7 Sept] CTE a Progressive Condition, Brain Study Shows (MedPageToday) The spectrum of disease in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (Brain): Abstract and full study (PDF)

A baby monitor that ‘socks’ it to you

owlet-1211-40Students at Brigham Young University in Utah have developed a prototype ‘smart sock’ for babies that alerts for low levels of blood oxygen, irregular heartbeat and stopped breathing during sleep. This is to help detect for early signs of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) or other dangerous situations. The information is sent to a smartphone app that serves as the alert monitor. The Owlet Baby Monitor won first place and crowd favorite awards, with cash prizes totaling $6,000, at the Student Innovator of the Year competition. The inventors have filed for a patent (pending), more prototypes and testing, and undoubtedly FDA, but if you’re an angel looking for a highly marketable telehealth item–and with adult uses in hospitals and nursing homes–a trip to Utah may be in order. “Smart Socks” Helps Parents Sleep Easier (Smart Phone Healthcare) BYU news release (video)

Health Service Journal: Telehealth Supplement (UK)

TA readers will wonder whether the Health Service Journal (HSJ) can deliver anything fresh or worth reading in its 19-page supplement We have the technology ? an HSJ supplement on telehealth. Well, it’s a comprehensive roundup of what’s happening in the UK and an in-depth introduction if the recent Canadian piece is too lightweight. More interestingly, it contains two articles on an often overlooked topic; telehealth in prisons and in offender management.

3millionlives: Newsletter and video (UK)

November was a busy month for the 3millionlives (3ML) team, as reported in their November newsletter (PDF). They have also released a video, below. (7½ minutes) The video contains interviews with doctors, patients and a nurse. It was made to be shown at the Making Sense of Commissioning conference held on 27 November 2012 at the Royal College of General Practitioners, London, which may explain the focus on telehealth and the absence of any references to the contribution telecare technologies can play in supporting people at home.

3ML is also showing up alongside the Digital First initiative as one of six ‘high impact innovations’ on the NHS innovation website. Coverage of the Digital First launch seems to have confused many commentators. Not just the UK press, but in the US too, e.g. FierceHealthIT: U.K. telehealth model, smartphone prescribing unlikely to take hold in U.S. mHiMSS: Adoption of mHealth technologies: UK vs. USA.

Are you a Supra Hero?

“Doris has had her telecare equipment, including her Supra KeySafe, successfully installed around her home. But now she is in danger! Our Heroes need you to direct them safely from their secret headquarters to Doris’s house. Along the way they must collect as many of Supra’s service packages as possible. Every week Supra UK is giving a C500 KeySafe to one player.” Play the Supra Heroes game here. (Editor Steve’s score? Don’t ask!)

The point of this game may baffle non-UK readers…in short, it is an online game to introduce people to some of the resources that are around for making better use of key safes which, if fitted at a property, allow people responding to a telecare alarm call to enter someone’s house without having to batter the door down. It follows on from Supra UK’s game ‘Save Doris‘, released last year.

Telehealth over satellite broadband confronts the issue of latency

Pulse IT carries excellent coverage by Kate McDonald of a report presented at the Australian Global Telehealth conference* concerning the effect of satellite transmission latency for videoconferencing via broadband. As one of the commenters points out there are also coder/decoder latency issues too. The point of the report by Dr Sarah Dods and colleagues from CSIRO was, it seems, a plea to take these matters into account when designing systems and not to assume that because a system works over a landline it will be equally good by satellite. Telehealth over satellite broadband confronts the issue of latency.

* Storified Twitter posts from the conference.