Over the past few years, therapy dogs have improved the lives of the handicapped. They’ve eased the pain of those suffering from PTSD and even helped baby cheetahs improve their social skills. In another attempt to aid those in need, dogs from Tail Waggin’ Tutors are helping children with anxiety learn to read.
The new “dog-friendly” atmosphere makes use of the same principles used with therapy dogs… It relaxes the child and allows them to focus on reading instead of waiting for… feedback. Patting or petting the attentive dog also helps put the child at ease.
If cute puppy videos are helping the entire population of Facebook get over Monday blues, these dogs must be doing wonders. Fortunately, the dogs cater to children anywhere in the world, as the program is international. And for the most part, it seems to be working.
“When [people] ask why the kids read to a dog, I say, because a dog is not going to correct them,” said Shilo Perlman, a library assistant in youth services. “We’ve heard from many parents who will say, ‘You know, my child will not read at home, won’t pick up a book. She’s afraid she’s going to make mistakes. But she will read to the dog.’”
Looks like man’s best friend may also be man’s top educator!
With alternative treatments for cancer on the rise, we’re also seeing an increase in unusual remedies. If anything from avocado husks to flexible batteries are on the market, using livestock should be no surprise. At least not to engineers in Japan. Researchers are genetically modifying chickens to lay eggs filled with cancer-preventing drugs.
The eggs were developed using genome-editing technology to produce a protein called interferon, which is used to treat hepatitis, multiple sclerosis and malignant skin cancer.
Injecting it into cancer patients three times per week can prevent cancer cells from multiplying, while also boosting T cells to fight tumors.
Conventionally, interferon costs anywhere between $250 to $900. Interferon from chicken eggs, on the other hand, won’t have patients clucking up more than half the price. What remains to be more dangerous than cancer itself is the price tag that comes with therapy.
“Cancer drugs are not a luxury item, like an expensive car, that people can choose to buy or not to buy…. When prices come down, mortality rates will surely follow.” [said Brian Bolwell of the Cleveland Clinic.]
Perhaps, one day we’ll all agree that curing cancer isn’t about the money. Kudos, Mr. Bolwell. Kudos.
A mere month ago, locked-in patients were given the opportunity to communicate via a computer interface. Now, researchers are using nerve therapy to revive the consciousness of patients in a persistent vegetative state.
The vagus nerve, which the treatment targeted, connects the brain to almost all the vital organs in the body, running from the brain stem down both sides of the neck, across the chest and into the abdomen. In the brain, it is linked directly to two regions known to play roles in alertness and consciousness.
The study, led by French scientists, brought a 35-year-old man out of PVS after being unresponsive for nearly 15 years. He can now track objects with his eyes and even turn his head when asked. Head of study Angela Sirigu believes the research can provide hope for families of locked-in patients.
“Personally I think it’s better to be aware, even if it’s a bad state, to be conscious of what’s happening. Then you can have a decision if you want to go on or if you want [euthanasia].”
At the very least, those in a locked-in state can be in control, which eliminates the nightmare of muscle loss.
With the destigmatization of mental illness in a digital playing field, many are turning to the Internet for treatment. Apps like Koko allow patients to seek help virtually, and now many can use DIY kits to self-diagnose. More alarming cases may call for medication, but a U.K. research team thinks the psychedelic ayahuasca plant may be able to treat depression.
“The psychedelic state induced by ayahuasca often makes users reflect on personal concerns and memories and produces intense emotions,” note Dr. [Will] Lawn and colleagues. “These effects are highly valued by ayahuasca users who characterize the drug experience as similar to a psychotherapeutic intervention.”
The brew does contain addictive compounds but proved in last year’s Global Drug Survey to be psychologically beneficial. Furthermore, users tended not to gravitate towards alcohol.
“Recent research has demonstrated ayahuasca’s potential as a psychiatric medicine,” [Lawn] adds, “and our current study provides further evidence that it may be a safe and promising treatment.”
As a purely observational study, Lawn and his team will have to commit to (possibly years) of additional research about the plant’s potential to treat depression. While their analysis has been the most in-depth to date, controlled trials make for a safe bet. The world could use another upper.
Even after the war, veterans continue to be heroes for us, animals (Google Lt. Col. Faye Cuevas!), and each other. Moved by the staggering number of PTSD-sufferers, air force veteran Donnie Davis decided to dedicate his retirement to building homes for other vets.
“The whole idea is to give them a chance to stabilize,” [says] Davis… “They don’t want handouts, but we are offering a hand.”
The cabins stand at only 300 square feet but are part of a 277-acre lakeside community. It may not be spacious, but it comes with a view — and at no cost. Organizers also assist in job hunts and counseling, and with no timeline on healing, there is no pressure to leave the village. Completely run by volunteers, funding is scarce, but Davis remains hopeful.
“When we bought this, someone asked how I am going to do this, and I said I don’t know,” Davis [says]. “It’s just faith. Everyone’s coming together and supporting this, and it’s great.”
Vets — we thank you for your service. Now it’s our turn to serve you.
If anyone can advance universal healthcare by means of a check, it’s Bill Gates. Following up a $4.6 billion donation to undisclosed charities, the Microsoft CEO pledged $100 million to the fight against Alzheimer’s.
“I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it,” [Gates] wrote. “It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew.”
Gates’ contribution will support both mainstream and experimental research. With roughly 5 million Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. alone, the donation can at least stunt the growing number.
“This is a frontier where we can dramatically improve human life,” Mr. Gates wrote. “It’s a miracle that people are living so much longer, but longer life expectancies alone are not enough. People should be able to enjoy their later years — and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s to fulfill that.”
While $100 million may be a drop in the ocean of the Alzheimer’s Association’s $259 billion annual spend, Gates has proven to us time and again that every effort counts.
Today, health buffs are all about living both longer and happier, which is why curry is all the craze. While “healthy mind, healthy body” is the catchphrase of the year, natural cosmetic remedies have yet to surface. Or perhaps we just haven’t noticed them. In perfect cinematic fashion, Japanese scientists revealed that McDonald’s fries may actually cure baldness. Now that’s a thought.
Researchers at Yokohama National University found that when they used the chemical dimethylpolysiloxane — found in silicone, which is added to oil to cook french fries at the fast-food restaurant… — they could mass produce hair follicles that could grow hair when transplanted into mice.
Despite the slew of regenerative products in every department store’s hair aisle, baldness is more troublesome than it seems. However, incorporating the substance into transplant procedures could solve the pesky problem. And no, binging on McDonald’s fries won’t actually help.
“This simple method is very robust and promising,” [professor Junji] Fukuda said. “We hope that this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia.”
If you were picking at your wallet and considering a pit stop at Mickey D’s, you may want to think twice. A splurge on fries was clearly too good to be true.
Throughout history, music therapy has allowed children with social deficits to come out of their shells. Because of an exploding technological universe, scientists are experimenting with treatment using artificial intelligence. To help autistic children work on their life skills, a Massachusetts startup has created emotion-tracking high-tech glasses.
“Our applications are gamified and engaging, and run on smart glasses. Unlike with a tablet or phone, the person is looking up, and our software encourages social interaction with other people.” [said Dr. Ned Sahin, founder of Brain Power.]
The Empower Me glasses feature games such as Emotion Charades, which encourages users to interact with others. Seeing that emojis are all the rage with young smartphone consumers, the application is a clever one. Years of thorough testing are finally bringing the system to market.
“People on the spectrum enjoy the engaging format of the applications we have designed, and parents truly appreciate the ‘connectedness’ they feel with their child,” Sahin continued.
Developed along with MIT, Harvard, and Affectiva, Empower Me doesn’t come cheap. At $945 for the apps alone, the price tag isn’t a light one — but it surely is well worth it.
There are a rising number of communities learning to address drug addiction as a health issue. All the same, some have yet to remove the stigma (and anyway, 3D printing can repair brain damage). In a perfectly timed series of events, the FDA has approved a device that may encourage other societies to tackle addiction head on. The electronic earpiece inhibits opioid withdrawal symptoms.
“Given the scope of the epidemic of opioid addiction, we need to find innovative new ways to help those currently addicted live lives of sobriety with the assistance of medically assisted treatment,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.
The NSS-2 Bridge sends pulses to the cranial nerve, reducing nausea, anxiety, and body aches. Clinical trials showed that 88% of 73 patients experienced an easy segue into medical treatment.
“I’ve never seen it not work for an opioid patient,” [said Innovative Health Solutions president Brian] Carrico… “For us to sit on this technology, from a humanity standpoint, is incredibly irresponsible.”
As with any experimental technology, including the Bridge in addiction treatment costs an arm and a leg (and maybe a lung). So far, patients spend between $600 and $1,500. On the upside, it’s proven to many that it’s never too late to recover.
Beyond the fluff, dogs are more than just a humble companion. They act as guides for both humans and animals (including cheetahs!). However, most therapy animals are purchased from breeders, not shelters. This former marine is training abandoned dogs to help veterans suffering from PTSD, giving both a second chance at life.
In 2014, [Chris Baity] and his wife, Amanda, 35, launched Semper K9 Assistance Dogs, which provides free, trained rescue animals to be the equivalent of battle buddies for veterans suffering from physical or mental disabilities.
The dogs are trained to detect oncoming anxiety attacks and distract owners until they are calm. Because of its success, Baity’s organization has been recognized across the nation.
The volunteer-run nonprofit earned Baity the 2016 Red Bandanna Hero Award, which recognizes those whose efforts have made a difference and enhanced lives in an extraordinary way.
Remember, folks — not all heroes wear capes. Or pants.