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Live-tweeting and Instagram Cochlear Implant/Hearing Restoration Surgery on October 2, 2012

You may have seen a post (Forbes) or two (CNET) in your various newsfeeds recently about the fact the Swedish is live-tweeting and Instagramming a cochlear implant (hearing restoration) surgery tomorrow, on October 2, 2012. (Check it out at www.swedish.org/swedishhear.)

A question we've gotten is why live-tweet or Instagram a surgery? Haven't you done that already? (Yes, we've used Twitter and video before (to educate patients about deep brain stimulation and knee replacement procedures, among others), but not Instagram.)

We're learning from our patients how hard it is to access information if you are deaf or have hearing loss, and, per a study in The Lancet, how this impacts the quality of healthcare. And so we decided to create additional resources to help raise awareness about the option of cochlear implants. (In this Mashable postDr. Backous said only 10% of people who qualify for cochlear implants end up receiving them.)

Here's an example of one of the many stories that inspired this series:

(For closed captioning press the CC button located in the middle of the action bar that appears at the bottom of the video when it is playing. For the best results, watch the video in full screen by pressing the full screen button located in the right hand corner of the action bar.)

People with hearing loss are not able to call on the phone to get more information or ask questions, so we decided to document via text (tweets) and images (Instagram photos) the cochlear implant procedure.

We're also hosting two text-based chats next Wednesday on October 10, 2012 (at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Pacific Time). The chats will enable patients and interested viewers to talk directly via the chat (text based - no audio) to Dr. Backous, audiologists, patients who have had the procedure, and patient advocacy groups. If you have unanswered questions about hearing loss or cochlear implants, we hope you'll join us for the discussion. (You can ...

(Click 'read more' to see a full recap from the live event)

Essential Tremor: What it is and how to treat it

Do you or someone you know shake when raising a glass of water to drink or have problems writing a check at the grocery store?

If so, essential tremor may be the cause. Essential Tremor (ET) is the most common movement disorder and those suffering from it experience uncontrolled movement , usually of the hands and arms. Over 10 million Americans are diagnosed, yet many people have never heard of it. Some assume shaking is just a sign of aging or they fear they may have Parkinson’s disease. ET differs from Parkinson's in many ways, one being ET is an "action" tremor (more pronounced when trying to complete a task) where a person with Parkinson's has tremors more often at rest and the shaking may actually lessen during activity.

Essential Tremor is caused by overactive cells in the area of the brain called the thalamus. The thalamus is about the size of a walnut and within the brain there are two of them. If there are overactive cells in the right thalamus, the person will have signs of tremor on the left side and vice versa. Some patients suffer from tremor on both sides.

It is important to know Essential Tremor is a treatable condition.

There are three common methods of treatment:

Be a Brain Surgeon for a Day!

Dr. Greg Foltz, a brain surgeon from the Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle is inviting 25 people (including students) to join him on Friday, Aug. 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to become a “Brain Surgeon for a Day.” (Enter by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, August 9, 2012.)

Randomly selected individuals will spend time learning about the brain and its key parts. These individuals will see how Swedish surgeons are using the latest research to find new treatments for brain cancer. As part of the event, these individuals will:

  • Walk away with their own pair of Swedish medical “scrubs”, just like a doctor
  • Participate in a behind the scenes tour and gain special access to places within the hospital most visitors do not get to see
  • Rub elbows in the confides of the “green room” and meet some of the smartest physicians of the Pacific Northwest region
  • Learn about brain tumors and why some are so deadly

At the conclusion of the tour, Dr. Foltz and other neuroscientists will host a lunch session with participants about his every day battle against brain cancer, a disease he hopes will be cured one day soon.

“Brain Surgeon for a Day” Schedule of Events:

  • 11:00 AM: Scrub Up with your new pair of medical scrubs
  • 11:05 AM: Meet and Greet with Dr. Greg Foltz of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Swedish
  • 11:15 AM: Take part in an interactive session with brain tissue samples at the Seattle Science Foundation
  • 11:50 AM: Guided behind-the-scenes tour of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center research lab, clinic and research partners
  • 12:05 PM: Visit a behind-the-scenes location
  • 12:20 PM: Lunch and Q&A session with Dr. Foltz and other special guests
  • 1:00 PM Conclusion

Other possible events during the two-hour event:

  • See the first commercial Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Core Facility in the U.S. and how it is being used for brain cancer.
  • Explore the genome sequencing machines that help decode DNA in tumors.
  • Meet ....

A year in the life of the Swedish blog

For those of you who don't know, today is the official anniversary of the Swedish blog - this means Swedish has been blogging several times a week for a complete year!

What have we been blogging about?

Who's been blogging?

We've had people from all around the organization blogging (more than 60 the last time we checked), including:

  • Surgeons

  • Nurses

  • Family Medicine and Primary Care Physicians

  • Dietitians

  • Educators

  • (And many others!)

Why are we blogging?

We started the blog as a way to connect with you (our community), whether you're a current patient, a past patient, a future patient…or just someone who stumbled across our site looking for health information. We believe our role is to be a resource of information, both online and off. Blogging gives us an easy way to keep you up to date, informed, and engaged on a number of health topics…and to help you and your family stay healthy.

What comes next?

Actually, if you're reading this, we hope you'll help us answer this question! What do you want to see next from this blog? Do you have a favorite doctor or nurse that you'd like to hear from? Are there certain topics or questions you'd like to learn more about? Do you like videos? We'd love to know what you think anytime, but especially in light of our anniversary, we hope you'll leave a comment below and let us know if there's anything in particular you'd like to see next.

Thanks for reading the blog, and thanks for being a part of the Swedish community!

Swedish and Minor & James at the Northwest Women's Show

Come to the Northwest Women’s Show held this Friday, March 2 through Sunday, March 4 and visit the various Swedish and Minor & James booths. Come learn about Weight Loss Services, try your hand on the daVinci robot at the Robotics Surgery Program booth, visit Minor & James and ask skin-care questions or learn about the women’s health services available. Or, take a look inside the Swedish Mobile Mammography van and learn about mammograms and breast care.

(Make sure you take advantage of a $2 off coupon for admission to the show!)

We'll also have the hands-on daVinci robot device so you can test your hand skills on the robot and get an idea of what it would be like to be a robotic surgeon at Swedish - you can also meet our gynecological surgeons and ask any questions you have.

Traditional and New Technology in Treating Vascular Disease

On a daily basis, we see patients who are seeking treatment for hardening of the arteries, typically in the legs or neck (PAD-peripheral arterial disease); weakening of the main artery in the abdomen (AAA-abdominal aortic aneurysm); and varicose veins. In each case, there are traditional ways of being treated (what we call “Open” Vascular Surgery) as well as innovative alternatives (what we call “Endovascular” Surgery).

How do we arrive at our recommendations and how do you decide what’s best for you?

It helps if your Vascular Surgeon performs both types of procedures rather than just one since s/he can draw on personal experience as well as the results of research, to tailor treatment to your specific needs.

You have to consider the trade-offs between short and long term risks and benefits.

  • For AAA and varicose veins, endovascular techniques have virtually replaced traditional treatment given their low risk of complications and excellent outcomes, and both are well supported by the literature.
  • In PAD – from the carotid arteries in the neck to various arteries in the legs – results of newer technologies are a “mixed bag.”

If you are referred to and seen by a Vascular Surgeon, be sure and discuss traditional and endovascular treatment options before you make your final decision.

Paging Dr. Google

You may have decided to create family resolutions, or have a personal new year’s resolution. But, as parents our biggest resolution is to do our best to take the best possible care of our children.

One of the more nerve wracking moments is when a child develops a cough, rash, or earache. We don’t want to overreact and rush to the doctor, but what if it’s serious? How do you know? Unfortunately, a lot of parents turn to Google to find out. While searching online may result in some helpful information, it can also be uber-scary because you can find all these unique, rare, serious possibilities.

In my job in community education, I run into several people a week who have Google-diagnosed their health concerns. They might be right but they are often looking at some of the remotest of possible conditions. There are good resources online for searching for health information.

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