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Using technology to help educate, prepare, and distract kids in the hospital

The hospital can be a scary place for any patient, and even more so for children. iPads have been around for nearly four years and in that time they have expanded the way children are educated, prepared, distracted, and provided normalization in the pediatric areas of the hospital.

Educating kids

An iPad allows staff to teach patients about a new diagnosis while making it fun and interactive. An iPad provides a visual and hands on way to teach about a diagnosis and also make sure the patient understands their diagnosis. There are many apps designed by healthcare professionals for diagnosis education with kids. Some of these applications include: “Medikidz explains Type One Diabetes”, “Blast Those Blasts” (for children with cancer, specifically leukemia), “Flow Breather” (for children with cystic fibrosis) and “Wellapets- Asthma Education Pets for Kids.”

Helping kids prepare for a procedure or experience

Most pediatric patients ...

Technology can assist in diagnosis of heartburn, acid reflux and GERD

You may frequently interchange the terms heartburn, acid reflux and GERD, but it’s important to know if your heartburn is chronic and recurring.  Heartburn is a symptom we experience when acid from the stomach passes up through the esophageal sphincter into the esophagus, known as acid reflux.  For some people this can be acid that passes only a few inches up the esophagus or all the way to the mouth.  When acid from your stomach comes up as high as your mouth, you run the risk of aspiration (when fluids either going down to your stomach or coming up from your stomach enters your trachea and into your lungs). 

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is described as severe or chronic acid reflux. Severe means that it happens when we have had a change in our body, like a pregnancy that causes pressure on our stomach forcing stomach content up into the esophagus. Chronic may mean there is a mechanical problem like a weak esophageal sphincter or a hiatal hernia that allows leakage into the esophagus. 

Whether intermittent, severe or chronic, acid reflux can feel miserable if it is not controlled and it can also cause cancer. We all suffer from heartburn from time to time, but when heartburn happens regularly or does not resolve with lifestyle or diet changes you may need to seek the assistance of a physician who can help you resolve it. Thankfully over the last 20 years, physicians’ ability to diagnose and treat these conditions has benefited by some excellent technology.

The first step to ...

What are the options when lung cancer is inoperable?

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and for those who have been diagnosed with lung cancer, one dreaded word is inoperable. Many feel defeated when they hear they are not candidates for surgery, but promising non-surgical treatments are available. CyberKnife, a form of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), is one of these options.

Radiation treatment to a moving target adds a level of complexity. However, CyberKnife tracks a tumor and directs targeted radiation via a state of the art robotic arm. Most patients complete their treatment in 3 to 5 days.

Highly focused radiation has become the standard of care for treating medically inoperable early stage non-small cell lung cancer with excellent results.

This video demonstrates the robotic real-time tracking of the CyberKnife.

Why do hearing aids cost so much?

Some may be reluctant to pursue amplification based on comments from friends and relatives reporting that hearing aids are “expensive”.  These statements can be misleading.  The costs associated with amplification upon the initial fitting can sound intimidating, but it is important to consider that the average life expectancy of a pair of hearing aids is 5 to 7 years.  Breaking down the cost of amplification over this period is often comparable to a monthly cell phone or cable television bill. 

The costs associated with a hearing aid fitting include not only the device itself but also the professional skills and time associated with appropriately fitting the device through verification and follow-up. Verification refers to measurements made to determine that the hearing aids meet a set of standards which includes volume, output, cosmetic appeal, and physical comfort. Using evidence-based practices, real-ear measurements are obtained using a small microphone placed in the ear with the hearing aid to ensure that appropriate volume is provided for different signals (such as speech). If earmolds or custom hearing aids are ordered, it is necessary to ensure that their characteristics (type of tubing, venting, style and material) are appropriate for the degree of hearing loss and physical characteristics of the ear.

Hearing aids are available in a wide range of makes and models, and a hearing aid solution that works for one person may not work for another.  Additional costs include ...

Robotics and the future of rehabilitation for multiple sclerosis

I am pleased to write some of my thoughts after attending the International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR) in June. This bi-annual meeting brings together biomedical, design, and mechanical engineers as well as providers that work in the field of rehabilitation robotics.

Robotic devices are part of the future of neuro-rehabiltation for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.  ICORR displayed designs and prototypes of upper extremity devices and lower extremity gait orthosis devices that hold promise for MS patients.

Using these devices in clinical rehabilitation practice would improve patients’ ability to perform the frequent, repetitive movements that we know are essential for the brain to adapt to change, re-grow myelin and build connections between neurons (all parts of healthy neuroplasticity). It would also help address ....

Life-saving technology and getting the word out about radiosurgery

Twice last week I received phone calls from grateful family members thanking us for taking care of their loved ones when treatment options were dwindling. One patient is now 4 years past his CyberKnife treatment for inoperable lung cancer and is going strong and living life to the fullest. The other patient was recently treated and is feeling great and planning a European vacation. Both families are extremely appreciative for the care they received but both voiced frustration that they stumbled upon this treatment option by chance and that we need to do a better job of publicizing the radiosurgery modalities. As the person receiving these calls, I am thrilled to hear how our center has positively impacted so many lives but struggle with how to get the word out to those who may benefit from radiosurgery in the future. So with our patients’ stories fresh in my mind, here is an introduction to radiosurgery.

Stereotactic radiosurgery is targeted radiation therapy delivered to nearly any body part with precision while utilizing real time image guidance. The ....

Fecal incontinence: New treatment options

If you have been living with incontinence, you may have modified your daily activities around bowel movements.  Some people become homebound, fearing an accident in public. 

The good news is that you don’t have to live with incontinence.  Over the last few years, more treatment options have become available which can provide additional ways of improving lifestyle.

What is the cause of incontinence?

Both men and women can be affected by incontinence.  There are several causes of incontinence.  The most common causes include damage to the anal muscles or nerves during childbirth.

After a thorough history and physical examination, you and your physician will formulate a treatment plan that is right for you.  One or more treatment options may be recommended to address your particular symptoms:

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