Currently, a variety of pharmaceutical, surgical, and behavioral interventions are used to treat freezing, but none of them are very successful.
What if there was a method to completely avoid freezing?To assist people with Parkinson's disease in walking without freezing, researchers from Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) used a soft, wearable robot that is placed around the tightened hips to gently press the hips when the leg swings.
The patient may walk with a longer stride thanks to the robotic garment, which is placed around the thighs and hips and gently presses the hips when the leg swings, helping the patient to achieve a longer stride.
The wearer was able to walk faster and farther than they could have without the assistance of the garment because the technology totally removed their freezing while they were indoors.
Conor Walsh, the Paul A. Maeder Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SEAS and co-corresponding author of thestudy,y stated that it was found that the small amount of mechanical assistance from the wearable robot made an intermediate effect and consistently helped improve walking across a range of conditions for the individual.
The research showed the potential of soft robotics used to treat the dangrous symptoms of Parkinson disease, giving people the ability to regain both their mobility and independence.
The research is published in Nature Medicine.Walsh's Biodesign Lab at SEAS has been developing technologies to improve life.
The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering supported some of those technologies, including an exosuit for post-stroke gait retraining, and Harvard's Office of Technology Development arranged a license arrangement with ReWalk Robotics to commercialize the technology.
SEAS and Sargent College received a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to support the development and translation of next-generation robotics and wearable technologies in 2022. The Move Lab's goal is to support advancements in human performance and enhance them by providing the R&D infrastructure, funding, collaborative space, and experience needed to transform promising research into mature technologies that can be translated through industry partnerships, which serves as the focal point for the research.
Three months were spent by the team working with a 73-year-old man who had Parkinson’s disease and had significant and incapacitating freezing episodes more than ten times a day. Despite using both surgical and pharmaceutical treatments, he still had frequent falls, making him rely on a scooter to move around and prevent him from walking around his community.
In previous research, Walsh and his team made use of human-in-the-loop optimization to demonstrate that a soft, wearable device can be used to augment hip flexion and assist in swinging the leg forward to provide an efficient approach to reducing energy expenditure during walking in healthy individuals.
The researchers addressed freezing using the same approach. It is worn around the waist and thighs, and it is powered by actuators and sensors. With the motion data collected by the sensor, algorithms determine the phase of gait and produce assistive forces in sync with the muscle contraction.
The result was immediate. The patient was able to walk without freezing indoors and with just sporadic episodes outdoors without the need for any extra training. Without the gadget, he was also able to walk and talk without freezing, which was unusual.
The team was quite thrilled to observe how the technology affected the subjects' gait," stated Jinsoo Kim, a co-lead author of the study and a former Ph.D. candidate at SEAS.
Ellis went on to say, "We don't really know why this approach works so well because we don't really understand freezing." This study, however, points out the potential benefits of approaching gait freezing from the "bottom-up" rather than the "top-down" perspective. The recovery to nearly normal biomechanics alters the peripheral gait dynamics and may influence the processing of central gait control.
Socializing has been linked to a lower chance of dying young, among other health benefits. However, how much socialization might prolong one's life? On March 6, 2023, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health published a sizable Chinese study online that suggests—possibly not at all. Researchers assessed the well-being, way of life, and self-reported social engagement of almost 28,000 individuals (average age: 89) whose survival was monitored for a mean of five years or until they passed away. People lived longer during the first five years of life, the more socialized they were. The people who socialized daily, weekly, monthly, or infrequently all lived longer than the previous group.
Recent research has reignited the discussion on the impact of alcohol on health. The question remains: is moderate drinking beneficial for your heart, or should you abstain as you get older?
A new study suggests that women who suffer from migraine headaches prior to becoming pregnant may be at greater risk for pregnancy complications that could endanger their health or that of their unborn child.
The Harvard-led research, which was published online by Neurology on January 19, 2023, analysed 20 years' worth of data from Nurses Health Research II, which included 30,555 pregnancies among 19,694 nurses in the United States. The number of women who reported being diagnosed with migraine, as well as the form of migraine, were evaluated by the researchers. In addition, participants reported whether they had experienced medical complications during pregnancy.
The Impact of Junk Food on Deep Sleep: How Your Diet Affects Restful Nights
Are you looking to improve the quality of your sleep? It might be time to reconsider your junk food habits. Recent research has revealed that consuming an unhealthy diet high in processed foods can have a detrimental effect on deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep. This particular stage of sleep plays a crucial role in the release of growth hormone, which aids in the repair and development of muscles, bones, and other tissues. Additionally, deep sleep contributes to enhanced cognitive function and memory.
A study, published online on May 28, 2023, in the prestigious journal Obesity, examined the sleep patterns of 15 healthy men with regular sleep routines, averaging seven to nine hours per night. These participants were divided into two groups: one consumed a healthy diet, while the other followed an unhealthy diet for a week. Although both diets provided the same number of calories tailored to each individual's daily needs, the unhealthy diet contained higher levels of sugar and saturated fat, along with a significant portion of processed foods.
New research suggests that individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The study, conducted in Sweden, examined the medical records of over 5.4 million people without pre-existing cardiovascular conditions. The findings revealed that 38% of those with ADHD were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, compared to 24% of individuals without ADHD. The increased risk remained even after accounting for other factors that contribute to heart problems, such as obesity, sleep issues, and heavy smoking. Surprisingly, the study also found that the use of medication for ADHD did not impact the elevated risk. The authors of the study recommend that individuals with ADHD be closely monitored for signs of heart disease. The findings were published in the October 2022 edition of World Psychiatry.
Similar brain changes are observed in individuals with obesity and those with Alzheimer's disease, according to a recent analysis. The study, published on January 31, 2023, in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, involved a review of brain scans from over 1,300 participants. Among them were 341 individuals with Alzheimer's, 341 individuals with obesity, and 682 individuals without either condition. The scans revealed comparable thinning in brain regions associated with learning, memory, and judgment in both the Alzheimer's and obesity groups. While cognitive tests taken by obese participants, defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher, did not show evident mental deficits, the researchers acknowledged that these tests might not capture subtle changes in thinking abilities related to brain alterations.
It's "buyer beware" when it comes to direct-to-consumer (DTC) men's health clinics because many of them provide pricey treatments that aren't backed by research and don't have the necessary medical oversight, according to a research study that was published online on February 1, 2023, by Urology.
Researchers found 233 DTC men's health clinics. These clinics provided erectile dysfunction treatments such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, penile shock wave therapy, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), and penile shock wave therapy. The criteria for utilizing TRT, however, are still up for debate, and the majority of clinics did not adhere to established testing and diagnosis procedures for low testosterone levels, according to the study. Penile shock wave therapy and PRP should only be used in clinical trial settings, they warned, as their efficacy is still being investigated.
We are flooded with commercials for vitamins and supplements that claim to provide a variety of health advantages, including enhanced memory. According to a May 2023 study of senior citizens, taking a daily multivitamin can do exactly that—improve your memory to the point where it performs as if you are three years younger.
What does this mean for your daily multivitamin?
Who participated in this trial on multivitamins?
This study is a component of a large study on the impact of multivitamins and/or cocoa, the primary component of chocolate, on outcomes related to cancer and cardiovascular disease. A previous substudy discovered that taking a daily multivitamin improved thinking and memory, at least when measured through phone-based cognitive tests.
3,562 individuals in this study were willing and able to complete various tests of reasoning and memory on a home computer. The other half received a placebo, while the first half received a multivitamin.
The results might not be generalizable because the individuals identified as 93% white, 2.5% African American, and 1.4% Hispanic. Additionally, they possessed a good education; more than half had graduated from college. The average age in both groups was 71.
How did researchers test memory?
At baseline, one, two, and three years later, the researchers assessed the subjects' thinking and memory.
Participants in the memory test had to memorise 20 words that were displayed on a computer screen in order. They had to immediately put in as many words as they could recall after seeing these words (this was the main test of memory). They also filled in all the words they remembered fifteen minutes later (a secondary test of memory).
Other supplemental measures comprise:
a test for distinguishing novel objects (is this thing the same as or different from the one just shown?)
a test of executive control (is the middle arrow red or blue in a row of nine arrows?)
One, two, and three years later, the subjects took all of the exams again.
In the first year, the two groups had different immediate recalls:
When given a placebo, participants' average instantaneous recall of 7.21 words at baseline increased to 7.65 words (a change of 0.43 words).
Those who took a daily multivitamin increased their word count from 7.10 at baseline to 7.81 words (a 0.70 word increase).
Statistics showed that this outcome was significant. These minor impacts also persisted in years two and three. By the third year, the multivitamin group had an average of 8.28 words that they could recall right away, compared to 8.17 for the placebo group.
On measures of executive function and secondary memory, there were no differences between the two groups.
There were 10,788 patients between the ages of 50 and 64 included in the study that was published in the European Heart Journal Open in March 2023. Researchers calculated participants' salt intake by analysing 24-hour urine samples for sodium levels (sodium is the major component of salt). All of the study participants had cardiac ultrasounds and other imaging procedures to check for atherosclerosis.
Have two minutes to work out? Then you have sufficient time to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and potentially premature death, according to a study published online by the European Heart Journal on October 27, 2022.
Researchers examined over 72,000 adults, with an average age of 62, who lacked cardiovascular disease or cancer. The participants wore a wrist-worn activity monitor for one week. The device measured their total activity, vigorous activity, and the frequency of at least two minutes of vigorous activity. (During vigorous exertion, it is typically impossible to speak in complete sentences.)
There isn't a drug on the market right now that can reduce your chance of dementia by 50%. But according to a study that was published online on September 6, 2022, by JAMA Neurology, doing roughly 10,000 steps each day might help. More than 78,000 healthy individuals (aged 40 to 79) who wore fitness trackers continuously for at least three days and were subsequently monitored for seven years were subjected to an analysis of their health and activity data. People who walked roughly 9,800 steps per day (about five miles) were 51% less likely to acquire dementia than those who did not walk at all. The risk of dementia decreased by roughly 25% in people who walked just 3,800 steps per day, or about two miles. Since the study was observational, it is impossible to say with certainty that walking alone created the difference. However, adding a few extra steps to your regular routine wouldn't hurt. Your health will benefit from taking more steps, including your heart, brain, and ability to ward off cancer.
What was the focus of the study?
This study followed approximately 1,500 individuals for up to seven years after they underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, the two most common bariatric surgery procedures. The majority of participants were white (82%) and female (80%), while Hispanic (4%) and black (11% of participants) were underrepresented. They ranged in age from 38 to 55, and all were diagnosed with severe obesity (a body mass index of 35 or greater).
Participants completed questionnaires regarding their physical abilities, pain, health, and quality of life prior to surgery. Many were also evaluated for physical function and mobility, such as their ability to walk 400 meters in less than seven minutes. Some reported severe or even incapacitating knee or hip pain, an osteoarthritis symptom. Annual assessments were conducted for up to seven years.
What were the results?
41% to 64% of participants reported improvements in body pain, physical function, and objectively measured walking ability at the conclusion of the study. In addition, between 65 and 72 percent of those with osteoarthritis reported less knee and hip pain. In addition, 41% of those who were unable to walk 400 meters in less than seven minutes prior to surgery could now do so.
Not every measure got better. For example, the number of back pain pills taken before and after weight loss surgery stayed the same. Not everyone experienced improvements in pain and physical function, which is also noteworthy. It's also difficult to say whether the positive changes were brought on by surgery and whether one type of surgery was superior to the other because there was no control group that did not undergo weight loss surgery.
The researchers analysed 13 studies with a combined participant population of more than 5.3 million participants. They discovered that the two most prevalent mental illnesses, anxiety and depression, were linked to an increased risk of afib by 25% and 10%, respectively. Anger was associated with a 15% increase in risk of Afib and significant work stress with an 18% increase in risk.
While studies occasionally reach incorrect conclusions, researchers can assist in correcting the record.
We're keeping an eye on the research
A study published in the June 1, 2022 issue of JAMA Network Open found that the risk of stroke went up when people sat for long periods of time but went down when they moved around more, even if they just did simple things like housework.
More specifically, 7,607 adults participated in the study by wearing an accelerometer (a device that records how fast you move) on their hips for seven days. Typically, these people were 63 years old. Two hundred forty-six people had strokes during the average 7.4-year follow-up period.
It was found that people who sat for 13 or more hours a day during the first week of motion tracking had a 44% higher risk of having a stroke than those who sat for less than 11 hours a day. There was also a higher risk when people sat for more than 17 minutes at a time, compared to when they sat for less than eight minutes at a time.
If you never start your day without a cup of coffee, you may be interested to hear that a new study suggests that drinking this very popular drink may make you much less likely to die in the coming years.