Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Best Life: Nick Chisholm The Death and Life of Nick Chisholm

Best Life: Nick Chisholm

The Death and Life of Nick Chisholm

A decade ago, he lay in his hospital bed, unable to move but alert enough to overhear doctors telling his family he wouldn't survive. That made him angry. Angry enough, in fact, to prove them wrong
By Oliver Broudy, Photographs by Tom Holland, Posted Date: September 14, 2010
Boyd was the last person you'd expect to turn all serious, but that day he left the jokes at the door. Pulling a chair up to Nick's bed, he steadied himself and then did for his friend what only a best friend would do. He offered to kill him.
The proposition was not altogether unreasonable. A few weeks before, Nick Chisholm had been a vigorous 27-year-old, a fearsome rugby player who pumped iron three times a week and on weekends tamed mountains with his Diamondback Zetec bike. Now he lay in a hospital bed, submerged inside a body he no longer controlled. And yet he knew this body was his, for it never stopped screaming at him to attend to it. An unsoothed calf spasm felt like a spear wound; an unscratchable itch like a spider gnawing his flesh. He longed to cry out—but his voice was gone, too. All that remained was the terror.

They call it locked-in syndrome. The phrase conveys a certain mechanical accuracy, but a nearer description might be "hell." It's usually brought on by a stroke when the neural isthmus connecting the brain to the body is catastrophically blocked, leaving the body unresponsive but all cognitive faculties intact. For a long time the doctors didn't know Nick was even conscious. No hope of recovery, he heard them say. Better if he'd died. And perhaps this was true. In many respects he was dead already, his consciousness orphaned. Pinching out that spark might even be an act of mercy. More read....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Virtual reality game can greatly help stroke victims

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A new technology is helping some elderly patients regain their balance and flexibility. It works by allowing the patients to work out with their virtual selves.

At 74-years-old, Beale Hughes doesn't play quite as much beach volleyball as she might like, but her avatar does.

Beale is rehabbing from cancer at the Rheem Valley Convalescent Hospital in Contra Costa County. She's strengthening her balance with the help of a new interactive exercise system called the Omni-VR.

"It feels, believe it or not, like fun," said Hughes.

As Beale moves, an infrared camera mounted on top of the monitor is capturing her entire body in 3D. Her movements are then relayed via software to her avatar -- the character playing the game on the screen. When Beale twists, bends and moves her arms, the avatar does the same.

"I'm a little tired, but happily so," said Hughes.

Ernie Escovido is an occupational therapist with Accelerated Care Plus, the company that developed the system. He says the games engage the patient's upper and lower bodies far more than simple gaming controls used in earlier systems, encouraging them to stretch and move in natural motion.

"It enables us to really engage the patient's true movements and then drive the actual rehab programs we're using," said Escovido.

Beale needs the help of a therapist to complete some of the movements, but says she's already made strides using the system.

"like my friends who come and visit, noticed a difference in my balance. You have to have balance and I certainly need more of it," said Hughes.

There is new research backing this type of rehab. A study from the University of Toronto found using virtual reality games led to significant improvement in patients who suffered a stroke. They found that patients who played virtual reality games in therapy had nearly a five time higher chance of recovering strength in their limbs than patients who did not. more read...

Voice for the voiceless

CHENNAI: Innovation sprouts only when a strongly-felt need arises. Ajit Narayanan sensed such a need two years prior, when he visited Vidya Sagar, an organisation that works with children and young adults with neurological disabilities and speech disorders. As  a result of his device, Avaz, hundreds of such children are now able communicate with ease.“Avaz is a handy hardware device for people with speech disorders such as cerebral palsy, autism and aphasia that translates their muscle movements into speech,” says this 29-year-old city based innovator. Lacking controlled movements makes communication hard for people with neurological disabilities and Avaz works on the principle of scanning their movements. It displaysvarious options on a screen and presents a highlight that moves between the different options. When a full sentence has been constructed, Avaz converts the message into speech.  more read...

Coffee studies should warm your heart

Just last month, Swedish researchers announced results of a large study showing that coffee seemed to reduce the risk of stroke in women by up to 25%. (Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times / April 10, 2011)
Looking for a reason to not give up your coffee habit? Here's one possibility: heart health.

Numerous studies in recent years have reported that drinking coffee may be good for the cardiovascular system and might even help prevent strokes. Just last month, Swedish researchers announced results of a large study showing that coffee seemed to reduce the risk of stroke in women by up to 25%.

Not long ago, researchers thought quite the opposite about coffee and the heart, says Dr. Thomas Hemmen, director of the UC San Diego Stroke Center: "Coffee is fun and it tastes good, so people assumed for many years that it would be bad for you."

Studies conducted in the 1970s and 1980s offered little in the way of confirmation or refutation. Several suggested an increased risk of heart attack among coffee drinkers. Others showed a lowered risk of heart attack and stroke. Still others found no connection at all.

Many of these early studies were criticized for being too small or too brief. In response, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health decided to look at coffee consumption, heart disease and stroke risk among more than 45,000 healthy men enrolled in the school's ongoing Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Their analysis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1990, found that coffee drinking had no effect on the men's risk of heart attack or stroke.

But in the last few years, a spate of studies has revisited the question, and many of them have found — unexpectedly — that coffee drinking is linked to a decreased stroke risk.

A 2008 study of more than 26,000 male smokers in Finland found that the men who drank eight or more cups of coffee a day had a 23% lower risk of stroke than the men who drank little or no coffee. And a few other reports suggest the effect applies to healthy nonsmokers too. Researchers at UCLA and USC examined data on coffee consumption and stroke prevalence among more than 9,000 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Sur  more read...

Coffee and stroke risk in women

  Print | Comments: Read | Post Increase the font size Decrease the font size
Women who have coffee everyday reduce their risk of stroke by as much as 25 percent.

Coffee consumption has been inconsistently associated with stroke incidence and mortality in previous studies. To investigate the association between coffee consumption and stroke incidence, researchers studied 34,670 Swedish women, aged 49 to 83 years, who took part in the Swedish Mammography Cohort, which looked for associations between diet, lifestyle and disease. Between 1998 and 2008, 1,680 women had a stroke. But it was found that coffee drinkers had a 22 to 25 percent lowered risk.

Women who reported drinking 1-2 cups a day, 3-4 cups a day or 5 or more cups had similar benefits, compared with women who drank less than a cup of coffee. The results remained unchanged even after taking into account smoking, weight, diabetes, high blood pressure or drinking. Although the women in the study were not asked whether they drank decaffeinated coffee, most Swedes drink caffeinated coffee.

The researchers speculated that coffee might reduce inflammation, lower oxidative stress and improve insulin resistance, which in turn could lower the risk for stroke. However, the findings are preliminary and need further research.

Read more at:

Study reveals increased inequality in stroke deaths across Europe and central Asia

There is growing inequality between different countries in Europe and central Asia in the proportion of people who die from stroke, according to a study published online today in the European Heart Journal.
Barracuda Spam Firewall - 50,000 customers worldwide. No Per User Fees. Free Eval! -
In countries where the proportions of stroke deaths have been low at the end of the 20th century, the death rates are continuing to decrease sharply; these countries include most of the western European nations. But in countries where stroke deaths were moderate or high, there has been "a further unprecedented increase in this cause of death" say the authors of the study; these countries include many in Eastern Europe and central Asia, such as Russia, Poland, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
The authors of this multi-national study say that, as previous research has shown a strong correlation between the prevalence of and deaths from stroke, their findings given an indication of how well blood pressure is controlled in different countries.
"Stroke mortality reflects the status of hypertension in the different regions of Europe. Monitoring changes over time can be extremely useful to watch the status of hypertension, the most important cardiovascular risk factor," said Professor Josep Redon, the first author of the paper and scientific director of the Research Institute (INCLIVA) at the University of Valencia, Spain.
Stroke is a major public health problem; it is the third most common cause of death after heart attacks and cancer; it is responsible for 3% of adult disability; and, because of the progressive ageing of the population and the increasing prevalence of major risk factors for stroke such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, the rate of stroke is predicted to double by 2020. The study's authors say this underlines the importance of controlling the risk factors responsible for the majority of strokes, "above all hypertension".
Prof Redon and his colleagues from Spain, Denmark, USA, France, Czech Republic and Italy, analysed stroke data from the World Health Organization (WHO) for 35 countries between 1990 and 2006. The countries were grouped according to WHO classifications into three demographic categories: group A, countries with very low child (under five years) and adult (15-59 years) mortality; group B, countries with low child and adult mortality; group C, countries with low child and high adult mortality.

Robot Tooling - Repeatable, Flexible Robotic Solutions With Quick Tool Changes. -
The researchers looked at the number of deaths from stroke in 2002, and they also analysed trends in these countries between 1999 and 2006.
In 2002 there was a total of 1,226,144 deaths from stroke, with more occurring in women than in men (739,000 versus 487,000 respectively), mainly because more women live to older ages than men; 60% of deaths occurred in people aged over 75 and only 4% in people under 55. Higher death rates tended to occur in countries in groups B and C, than in group A (e.g. Israel had 38 per 100,000 inhabitants, Russia had 274 per 100,000), although there were some exceptions to this; for example in group A, Croatia and Portugal had rates twice the average (169 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in Croatia, 168 per 100,000 in Portugal, compared to a group average of approximately 88 per 100,000). There were also wide variations in groups B and C; for instance, in group B the highest rate was 274 per 100,000 in Bulgaria, and the lowest was 57 per 100,000 in Azerbaijan.
When the researchers examined the trends over time, they found that in group A, deaths from stroke decreased sharply from 1990 to 2006 by approximately 40 per 100,000 of the population. In contrast, death rates increased by about 35-40 per 100,000 in group B, and by about 20 per 100,000 in group C.
The authors write in their paper: "The striking conclusion that emerges is that stroke mortality has entered a period of rapidly increasing inequality between countries. Countries which had attained low mortality rates reached in the latter part of the 20th century experienced further declines, while countries with moderate as well as high stroke mortality (Groups B and C in this report) at the start of the period being examined had a further unprecedented increase in this cause of death."
They continue: "If we assume that stroke mortality can serve as a proxy for average BP [blood pressure] in a population, the data presented here clearly demonstrate the necessity to adopt actions to increase the diagnosis, treatment and hypertension control in the countries where the burden of hypertension sequelae is still growing. Policies to increase the rate of BP control offer the best approach, while primary prevention strategies must also be implemented."
Prof Redon concluded: "We hope that this paper will be a call to action in the face of the huge impact of all over Europe."
More information: "Stroke mortality and trends from 1990 to 2006 in 39 countries from Europe and Central Asia: implications for control of high blood pressure". European Heart Journal. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehr045
Provided by European Society of Cardiology (news : web)
Ads by Google

New Book for National Stroke Awareness Month from Survivor

New Book for National Stroke Awareness Month from Survivor

Stroke Survivor Jeff Kagan Is Available to Discuss Stroke Recovery and His New Book "Life After Stroke, On The Road To Recovery"

ATLANTA, April 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Jeff Kagan had a stroke in 2004. He is a stroke survivor. He has been through the long recovery process and he wants to help you understand what to expect. He wants to help you prepare for the changes to come in your life, good and bad, and also prepare for recovery.
He learned so much about recovery by living through it, and he wants to help others understand what is coming next and that recovery will happen for them. There are also things to watch out for.
Whether you are a stroke survivor, caretaker, family or friend, there are questions you need answered. The same questions Kagan asked his doctors and counselors, but didn't get answered. He searched bookstores and online and could not find the answers.
So he decided when he recovered he would write a book and help other stroke survivors and their family and friends understand and make it through these confusing times.
After seven years of recovery, Jeff Kagan just wrote and published "Life After Stroke, On The Road To Recovery." Visit to read some of the book for free.
The book is available for sale at the publisher's website,, or, and other online bookstores.
Every stroke recovery is different, but the important thing to remember is everyone recovers to one extent or another. Jeff Kagan believes to get the best recovery you have to have the right mind set and attitude. You have to work hard for it, but recovery will happen if you do. He will discuss this important point among many others.
A stroke is not your fault. There are many young and fit stroke survivors. Recovery may not entirely be up to you, but Kagan believes your hard work and attitude can make the difference between a long and weak or a quicker and stronger recovery.
Jeff Kagan has appeared on Fox News, CNBC, CNN, PBS, ABC, NBC and CBS as well as dozens of other radio and television stations, newspapers and magazines, and on the Web.
He is available to discuss stroke recovery and National Stroke Awareness Month with the media.  more read...