Healthcare Engineering

The Healthcare Engineering Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about Infrastructure, Healthcare Devices and Products, Information Management, and Patient Safety and Security. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

The Relationship Between Lack of Sleep and Risky Behavior

Posted September 09, 2017 12:00 PM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: behavior sleep

According to a study that will be surprising to…well…no one, we aren’t getting enough sleep. Whether this lack of sleep is work–related or due to the fact that we cannot tear ourselves away from distracting technology, we simply are not getting the recommended amount.

Doesn’t seem like a big deal, right?

It can be, according to researchers from the University of Zurich who have determined that this lack of sleep can lead to risky behaviors (imagine a long-haul truck driver forgoing sleep as a challenge to drive across the country in a shorter amount of time).

The study, which observed four men between the ages of 18 and 28 years old, determined that riskier behaviors occurred in the weeks with fewer hours of sleep than in those weeks where the participants slept for at least eight hours a night.

According to the researchers, risky behavior was measured in terms of participants’ selecting between a scenario where they received an amount of money tied to a specific outcome versus a scenario where they were paid a lower sum regardless of the outcome.

Those with fewer hours of sleep, unsurprisingly, selected the offer with the promise of more money than the scenario offering the guaranteed amount.

So while risky behavior may increase in relation to lack of sleep, it seems an entirely separate study is necessary to define risky behavior. After all, one man’s long haul sleepless trip across the country might be another man’s sleep-deprived trip to the store without a shopping list.

Do you take more risks in relation to the amount of sleep you get?

15 comments; last comment on 09/17/2017
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Worrying About Your Health…and Everything Else

Posted May 13, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: cancer Health Worry

Worried about the state of the country? Worried about meeting a work deadline? Worried about being kidnapped walking through your neighborhood in broad daylight? Worried that you are worrying too much?

There is, according to research from the University of California, Riverside, a worrying sweet spot. Worrying too much may be paralyzing, keeping you from doing anything productive or helpful. Not worrying enough could leave you vulnerable and exposed to the unexpected. So where is this desirable middle ground?

According to the study, some worrying is actually productive and may result in preventive and protective behaviors. The right amount of worrying may benefit both mind and body.

An example of the motivating benefits of worrying just the right amount: Researchers found that women who worried moderately about cancer were more likely to conduct regular breast examinations and go for regular mammograms and other cancer-screenings.

Worrying prepares one for action, according to the research. If a person is concerned about an event or an outcome, they will create a “plan b” or seek out other ways to prevent the undesirable outcome or a worried-about result from happening, often making them successful problem solvers.

And the right amount of worrying isn’t only beneficial to your health. Researchers found that oftentimes people who report frequent worry may also perform better in school and in the workplace.

Worrying, as any sufferer will tell you, is by no means an enjoyable feeling and often thought (especially by annoyed non-sufferers) to be a negative behavior.

However, worry can be a positive motivator: Worrying about completing tasks on time at work may motivate you to finish your work in a timelier manner. Worrying about the state of the country may motivate you to become involved in your community. Worrying about being kidnapped in broad daylight may…uh…motivate you to run faster.

What kind of worrier are you?

Image credit:

Alon / CC BY-SA 2.0

7 comments; last comment on 05/14/2017
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Drones Deliver Lab Samples Between Two Swiss Hospitals

Posted May 09, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Drone logistics vendor Swiss Post and drone maker Matternet are contributing to the project, which aims to modernize transport delivery, using autonomous drones to replace the current on-road system. The integration of drones will make transport faster and more efficient, and will improve patient care.

Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Healthcare Technology eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox.

8 comments; last comment on 05/13/2017
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Go Ahead! Pick Your Nose!

Posted May 06, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: Dental Care immune system Nose

Remember your parents constantly reminding you to remove your finger from your nose? Remember the abject horror of the adult who had the great misfortune of witnessing your nose-picking? Remember the blood flooding your cheeks as you shamefacedly removed your finger?

Now, if you are so inclined, you could sit down and write a letter (or letters depending on how avid a nose-picker you were) to that adult explaining that your nose picking was all in good health.

According to a recent study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, there are health benefits to picking and eating the contents of your nose.

Among the health benefits: Mucus is full of healthy bacteria that helps in the fight against respiratory infections, stomach ulcers, and HIV.

Researchers describe the nose as a bacteria-collecting filter. Ingesting the mixture, according to research, gives it medicinal qualities upon reaching the intestines, and it helps to strengthen the immune system.

Another benefit to picking (and consuming the contents of) your nose is that the act may ward off cavities. Researchers believe in the connection so much so that they are investigating ways to create synthetic mucus for use in chewing gum and toothpaste.

Researchers are also making the case that those picking their noses might be happier because they are better in tune with their bodies.

Do you think we are likely to see the stigma associated with nose-picking disappear in light of this research? Will it become a healthy activity?

Image credit:

Fscopel / CC BY-SA 4.0

17 comments; last comment on 05/22/2017
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Engineering Undergrads Develop A Revolutionary Seizure Detection System

Posted May 04, 2017 12:00 AM by Hannes

Engineering students at Rice University recently developed a system designed to detect and possibly stop epileptic seizures before they occur. The system first feeds neurological signals into a customized piece of hardware via intracranial electrodes. The hardware uses a custom machine-learning algorithm to monitor for signs of seizures. If a seizure’s detected, the hardware relays neurostimulation signals back to the electrode to stop the seizure from occurring. The team’s project was ultimately successful, detecting every seizure at least two minutes before its occurrence, with 3.9 false positives per hour.

The research took place as part of a competition Rice calls the Engineering Design Showcase, in which the students took the top prize and won $5,000. A team member called the project a “vertically integrated” one, meaning that the team mixes upperclass and lowerclass undergraduates and uses grad students as mentors.

On a personal note, my daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy last year, and prior to that I knew almost nothing about it. I’ve since learned that it’s one of the most common neurological diseases (it affects 1 in 26 Americans) and is often difficult to treat. Many cases respond to medication, but the side effects of anticonvulsant drugs can be extreme and include personality changes, mental deterioration, and hormonal problems. Up to 40% of epilepsy cases are refractory or “intractable,” meaning the seizures do not respond to medications. If alternative therapies like ketogenic diet and cannabinoids are ineffective, these patients face the removal of offending parts of the brain via surgery, which is completely successful in only 60-70% of cases.

In light of these statistics the system developed by the Rice team is a remarkable breakthrough. Interestingly, it’s not the first time Rice students have made developed an innovative epilepsy tool. In 2013 students developed a seizure detection belt that monitors electrical conductance on the skin and respiratory rate to alert a caregiver that a seizure is occurring. Since that time a few companies like Empatica have commercialized similar seizure detection watches that many parents of pediatric epilepsy patients find useful.

Still, these devices only alert a caregiver that a seizure is happening in real-time. Although the new system might be five or ten years from commercialization, having a system to detect seizures and stopping them before they occur would be a game-changer for the millions living with an untreatable neurological condition.

16 comments; last comment on 05/08/2017
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