Question for Readers

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Image courtesy anankkml @ http://www.freedigitalphoto.netI’ve lately been reading a lot about the concept of telepractice, or the idea of having patient and therapist in two completely different locations, communicating via a computer and other technologies.  This is something that has become quite popular in the medical profession, enabling a physician to consult with a specialist whom the patient may not be able to visit through more traditional means.

Recently, I’ve also seen a number of schools who are using this model for the provision of speech-language therapy to students.  Perhaps a student has a particular problem which requires the attention of a specialist, or is home-schooled.  And there is still a shortage of speech-language pathologists, with districts having to share services.

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A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

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Image courtesy phasinphoto @ www.freedigitalphotos.netWorking in the long-term care industry, I’ve encountered many people who have the attitude that one person with dementia is very much like another.  No attempt is made to identify which dementia-producing disease an individual has, or to treat him any differently from others who have similar impairments.  After all, what difference does it make?

The thing is, differential diagnosis can make a big difference.  For instance, a person with Lewy-Body Disease, if given some medications that are commonly used with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease, could suffer very serious side effects.  An individual who suddenly exhibits an altered mental status might be dismissed as having a urinary tract infection (or worse, just showing the inevitable signs of the downward spiral of dementia) may actually have a blood vessel slowly bleeding into the brain due to that fall she had the other day.

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2013 Sports Concussion Guideline Press Conference

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This clip is admittedly rather dry in its presentation, but it has a lot of important information.  Rather than write here about the highlights, I’ll let the clip speak for itself.  Pay particular attention to the numbers of persons affected by concussion every year, and also about the new app that has been released to aid in diagnosis of concussion.

Treatment of Pain in Dementia

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doctorThere has been a lot written about the various causes of pain experienced by persons with dementia, and what can be done to 1) recognize that these people are in pain, and 2) treat that pain.  But today I found a discussion of some empirical studies that have been conducted on that subject, which I found quite interesting.  Even though the studies are several years old, I thought it worth-while to share them here.

Quite a few studies have shown that, as we age, we are more and more likely to experience pain.  It can be expected that, as we grow older, we will have an increasingly greater opportunity of coming into contact with some disease or health condition that will cause us to have pain — either chronic or in the short-term.  Even the “healthy aged” often report some level of discomfort from arthritis or other common conditions.  This percentage is presumed to be even higher in the nursing home population, at least partly because these individuals often have some sort of chronic and/or debilitating condition that makes it impossible for them to live independently.

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Actors and Concussions

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moviecameraAfter I wrote yesterday’s post, I got to thinking about a few more things related to the topic of concussions and head injuries.  One of these things centered around movies and television shows about sports.  And I began to think about the actors who appeared in these movies, and wondered about the risk that they expose themselves to.  And it’s not just pieces about sports.  What about the latest action movie, with fight scenes and bomb blasts and so on?  Whether it’s a stunt man/woman, or the lead performer, people are getting hit in the head on a fairly regular basis.  And I don’t see these people wearing a football helmet, or being kept off the set if they do have a concussion. (I tried to find the clip from the “Seabiscuit” movie where a jockey is thrown from his horse and dragged through the barns at break-neck speed suspended from the horse’s saddle by his foot.)

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Call for Action

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Image courtesy Paul Gooddy @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.netMy long-time readers will probably remember that one of my big “causes” is that of preventing concussions and brain injuries in our young people.  We have heard so much, in the media, about the large numbers of professional athletes who are turning up with sometimes serious head injuries as a result of taking repeated blows to the head during play.  Some of the more popular stories are those having to do with football players and boxers, but there are participants in many other sports being affected as well.

And it’s not just seasoned veterans who are being discovered to have injuries.  More and more is being learned about how our young people are being affected by blows to the head that aren’t even serious enough to be labelled as concussions.  More and more research is coming out about how to treat victims of such injuries, so that they don’t become permanently influenced.  And, more important, we’re learning how to protect our youth from being harmed in the first place.

Now, there is something that all Americans can do to help protect our citizens from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy — the fancy name for the disease that results from repeated concussions to the brain.  Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced a bill into the U.S. Senate, called the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act, S. 1546.  If passed, this bill would strengthen schools’ procedures (from kindergarten through graduation from high school), to prevent, detect, and treat concussions incurred while playing school sports.  Schools must formulate a plan which includes, among other elements, the training of school personnel  about concussions.  They must also develop programs for helping students who are recovering from concussions, both on the field and in the classroom.

All U.S. citizens are being asked to contact their senators, and ask them to support this important legislation.  Be sure to provide your name and contact information, so that they will know that you are a constituent, and can add your  name to their list of those who are in favor of the bill.  Be sure to pass this along to everyone you know.  If anyone outside the U.S. is reading this, please let your American friends know about it as well.  Hopefully, if we all pull together, we can continue to ensure the health of our young people.

Popping Up Around Town

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I would like to offer a big, hearty “Thank you” to my faithful readers, during this time when I have been off-line for various reasons.  Moving to a new town is never easy, especially when one has to find a house and arrange for furniture to be moved in, utilities to be turned on, and so many other little details that I never would have anticipated.  Top that off with starting a new (and very exciting) job that is very work-intensive, and it might be easy to see why I’ve been tearing my hair out.  Too, my internet connection just would not cooperate.  Today is the first time that I’ve really been able to catch up on things for quite a while — at least on a consistent enough basis that I felt confident enough to write anything meaningful here.

There were a number of things that happened during this interval that made all of this worth-while.  One of them I alluded to in an earlier post, and it has finally taken place.  My professional organization, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, has begun highlighting blog posts written by their members, in their own official “ASHAsphere” blog.  A short time back, I applied to be included among their guest authors, and I was thrilled to be accepted.  After some discussion about content and style, my article was published recently, on Sept. 24.  You can see it here. (The article was previously published on this site, with slightly different formatting.)  Please do take a look, and enjoy.

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