The next steps in Bionics

With the bionic leg, “I go leg over leg,” says Vawter. “The bionic leg listens to the various signals from my nerves and responds in a much more natural way.”

BBC Health News published Two blind British men have electronic retinas fitted this week, and it prompted me to re-post an article from last October, which includes a very good video by CBS News that hinted at electronic retinas. Now it’s starting to happen. I’ll let you follow the link above for details but encourage you to watch the video below for a sense of what technology is enabling for people with disabilities, as well as those who just want to enhance their abilities.

Step by step, bionic engineers are transforming lives in ways that barely could have been imagined until recently.

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eLegs is the creation of Berkeley BionicsThis CBS News story is about bionic limbs that replace wheelchairs, retinal implants that bring sight to the blind, and synthetic telepathy that reads thoughts and transmits them electronically through a computer and wireless network to control bionics or communicate without formal language.

Intel-GE Care Innovations, a critique

Care Innovations™ is a unique joint venture that brings together GE’s expertise in healthcare and Intel’s technology expertise 
— to help change the way health care is delivered.

I’ve worked with Intel before in the wireless standards area and have great respect for the company. And I also like their approach to market development, which often starts with ethnographic market research to understand the people who use technology products rather than starting with what’s technically possible. But in this case I question their design choices, because I think they ignored widely accepted standards and mainstream opportunities. Let me explain. Read More …

How Universal Design is influencing Architecture

Could Universal Design Be the Next Mainstream Movement in Architecture, Planning?

Click on book image, Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments, to learn more at Amazon.comNew textbook provides the first comprehensive introduction to a growing field

Release Date: April 20, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Universal design, which employs design to encourage health and wellness and other quality-of-life improvements, may be poised to become the next mainstream endeavor in architecture and planning, according to two leading experts in the field.  (I hope they’re right. – Wayne)

Edward Steinfeld, director of the University at Buffalo’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), and Jordana L. Maisel, the center’s director of outreach and policy studies, are authors of a new textbook, “Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments.”

“We believe we are close to a watershed moment,” the authors write in the preface to the book, which was released on April 10 and includes chapters on housing, interior design, transportation and more. “Whether they know the term or not, the work of leading architects and design firms reflects the adoption of universal design concepts.” Read More …

Occupational Therapists Help Modify Homes for Life

This article was originally published at 1 Call Bath Solutions and is re-posted with permission.

Click image to visit 1 Call Bath Solutions website at http://www.1callbathsolutions.com/I love working with occupational therapists. Why? Because we have the same goal of helping people live longer, fuller and more comfortable lives at home.

Occupational therapists are big picture experts.  Let’s take Mary.  She’s 85, lives at home and is challenged with Parkinson’s.  Sue, her occupational therapist, assesses her physical strengths and weaknesses, how the natural aging process is affecting her (things like eyesight and hearing that affect everyone over time), her medical condition and any psychological issues.  And the psychological part doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with Mary—it could be just the typical fears of losing control over her own life and the lack of privacy that comes from depending on others.

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The Economic Value of a Good Night’s Sleep

Bruce Meleski, PhD, explains how technology that lets you get restful sleep improves your energy and health.We live such busy lives that we’re stressed out and try to fit too much into each day, ignoring our sleep in hopes of getting more accomplished, but that’s effecting our health, work productivity, and sports performance.

What if I told you that not getting great sleep could easily cost you — an extra $300,000 in medical bills and more than $700,000 in net worth? Not getting great sleep could even cheat you out of some $8 million in lifetime earning capacity? Do I have your attention yet? Read More …

How Wearable computing could take off

The 1"x1" WIN One shown here is an Android-powered wrist computer.After decades of tech evolution consistent with Moore’s Law, you can now wear a $3.5 million mainframe computer on your wrist. The WIMM One is much faster than the IBM System/370 Model 158-3 mainframe that I worked on in the 1970’s, and in some ways it’s better. It’s got sensors, an accelerometer, and wireless connections to connect with other digital devices and remote services. So, it’s not just a wristwatch; it’s also a wrist-doc that can monitor, track and report vital signs to help keep you healthy.

I’ve already written several articles about the role of smartphones in healthcare, including:

But now here’s an Android-based wearable computer that complements the smartphone, tablet, PC and medical devices you may already have. It’s just entering the market now but points to what we may expect — wearable devices that are always with you to unobtrusively monitor your activity, sleeping patterns and vital signs such as heart rate.

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ZOMM’s Lifestyle Connect wins 3 CES Innovation Awards

ZOMM Lifestyle ConnectZOMM earned 3 CES 2012 Innovation Awards this week for Lifestyle Connect™, a credit card sized accessory for any Bluetooth®-enabled phone, including the one you have right now. With a touch of a button or an alert from wireless sensors, the device can summon assistance from a Personal Safety Concierge™ or your trusted network of friends, family and health professionals. If needed, the concierge will dispatch police, fire or medical rescue personnel to the user’s location.

Lifestyle Connect utilizes Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy wireless technology to connect with Bluetooth Smart devices such as health monitors, heart monitors, glucose monitors, fall detection sensors, and activity trackers.

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Home Improvement Trends

eLocal Home Improvement Badge

 

Modern Health Talk founder Wayne Caswell is an eLocal.com home improvement expert and contributes to their industry surveys. Their first survey for 2012 is the same as for 2011 – What are the top Home Improvement Trends.  Below is an infographic that summarizes answers from 50 eLocal experts, followed by what I submitted for this year’s survey.

 

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A Consumer Electronics Christmas

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year in 2012. As for me, I can hardly imagine a better one, filled with family… and electronics.

Our son visited for 3 days with his pretty wife and our 7 month old granddaughter. What a treat. It ended too soon, and Yvonne and I miss them already. That helps explain our Electronics Christmas.

We’re like baby boomers split between keeping up with their adult kids and grandkids while also caring for elderly parents, but since our parents are long gone our attention is laser focused on our only son and his family. That’s why I’ve long wanted a good video conference system – to lessen the need for 4-hour trips to Dallas to see them.

Apple FaceTime Read More …

Innovator’s Prescription: Disruptive Healthcare Solution

book cover of The Innovator's PrescriptionHarvard Business School’s Clayton M. Christensen — whose bestselling book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, revolutionized the business world — now presents The Innovator’s Prescription, a comprehensive analysis of the strategies that will improve health care and make it affordable.

In this meaty 87-min lecture at MIT, Professor Christensen explains how you can’t believe everything you learn in business school and reveals insights into such socially significant and complex industries as health care. “It’s the principles of good management that can cause successful companies to fail,” he says.

The lecture introduced concepts from his latest book, where Christensen applies his principles of disruptive innovation to the broken health care system. With collaboration from two pioneers in the field — Dr. Jerome Grossman and Dr. Jason Hwang — he examines a range of symptoms and offers proven solutions.

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Jawbone UP wristband & iPhone app tracks your wellness

image of Jawbone UP, a motion sensing wristbandUP by Jawbone (http://www.jawbone.com/up) is a revolutionary system (wristband + iPhone app) that tracks your activity and sleep and inspires you to move more, sleep better and eat smarter. UP also integrates a social experience and open content platform to motivate you with personal and team challenges tailored to help you achieve your goals.

UP is Jawbone’s first step in giving people tools to become engaged as consumers of their own health. It integrates an accelerometer to sense motion and track how much you’re walking, exercising, or sleeping; and it then uploads that data to an app that shows progress charts and lets you photograph and log your meals, even sharing all this with friends for additional motivation if you wish.

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Forecasts for the Future of Healthcare

World Future Society's special report on 20 Forecasts for 2011-2025FORESIGHT may be the single most critical skill for the 21st Century.

Knowledge quickly goes out of date, but foresight enables you to anticipate and navigate change, make good decisions, and take action to create a better future. It’s why I’ve been a member of the Central Texas chapter of the World Future Society for years, where I meet interesting people with widely varied perspectives of the future. It’s also why I participate in so many Linkedin discussion groups on emerging healthcare issues.

9 Forecasts for the Future of Healthcare

The following nine forecasts came from the World Future Society’s special report, 20 Forecasts for 2011-2025. It’s a promotional piece to attract new members who then get a subscription to The Futurist magazine.

Forecast #1: The Race for Genetic Enhancements Will Be What the Space Race Was in the 20th Century. Genetic therapies and biomedical enhancements will be a multibillion-dollar industry. New techniques will enable doctors to change your DNA to revitalize old or diseased organs, enhance your appearance, increase your athletic ability, or boost your intelligence.

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Accessible iPhone Apps

screen shot of VoiceOverThe following article is adapted from some iPhone training material that Pat Pound created for special education teachers in June 2011. It describes over 70 accessible iPhone apps, and I thank her for permission to publish it here.

Vision: A Guide for iPhone Users who are Blind was one of the first articles on this blog. It’s short but has several good links to more info, and this YouTube video demo shows how a blind person would use the VoiceOver feature.

And visit http://www.apple.com/accessibility to learn more about assistive features in iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV and to discover other 3rd party add-on products and apps for all sorts of needs, including visual, hearing, dexterity, and learning.

By Pat Pound

Apple’s iPhones (starting with the 3GS) are accessible to people who are blind as they come, complete with a screen reader, “VoiceOver”, and print enlarger “zoom”. As you know, the iPhone is famous for its touch screen so this is a very new experience for most blind users.  Apple reps are well prepared to sell these phones and to explain their accessibility features in their stores, although it’s a noisy environment so it can be somewhat challenging. Similar accessibility is experienced on iPod Touch and iPad devices.

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Aging-in-Place advice for Contractors

Don't just say, "Trust Me." Earn Trust.In this recessionary economy, home construction is slow, but one bright spot is home modifications for aging in place. I was happy to meet a reputable local contractor who is adopting Universal Design principals and embracing the Aging-in-Place market. They’re going to Houston next week for a Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) class, which covers low-tech construction projects but not high-tech solutions like environmental and medical sensors and telehealth services. Our discussion got me thinking about advice for builders and remodeling contractors that I created  several years as Communications Director for HOT. Homeowners of Texas is a non-profit consumer advocacy that helped get an abusive State agency abolished. But until we can produce our own video tutorials for contractors, I’m including several shorts (~5 min) from 5min Media, a leading syndication platform for broadband instructional, knowledge and lifestyle videos.

Housing Options: Retirement and Independent Living Communities

Housing Options: Aging-in-Place

How to Choose a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist

Peter Pan housing – for people who won’t get old

Peter PanNPR host Michele Norris explores housing options for America’s aging population in her interview with Jon Pynoos, a professor of gerontology policy and planning at USC. (Listen to the broadcast or read the transcript HERE.)

Pynoos describes the high costs of nursing homes and assisted living facilities and the insurance options that pay for them, including Medicare & Medicaid. He then promotes aging-in-place at home as a much lower-cost option, but most homes were designed for people who aren’t old. He calls them Peter Pan homes. They have stairs, inaccessible bathrooms, and inadequate lighting, and they lack many of the safety features that would help people avoid falls.

“I won’t grow up.    I don’t want to go to school.
Just to learn to be a parrot,    And recite a silly rule.”

To help you assess your home and make modifications, contact a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS).

Related Articles:

The next steps in Bionics

Step by step, bionic engineers are transforming lives in ways that barely could have been imagined until recently.

eLegs is the creation of Berkeley BionicsThis CBS News story is about bionic limbs that replace wheelchairs, retinal implants that bring sight to the blind, and synthetic telepathy that reads thoughts and transmits them electronically through a computer and wireless network to control bionics or communicate without formal language.

Home Modifications can Change Lives

cropped image of Danise Levine

Danise Levine has helped hundreds of people with disabilities or reduced mobility live more comfortably in their homes by designing home modification that fit their needs.

Home Modifications: UB-Designed Renovations Are Changing Lives, One Home at a Time

For people with disabilities, modifications can mean the difference between comfort and frustration at home

Release Date: September 29, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Even the smallest of home renovations can change the life of someone with a disability. Widening a doorway or adding grab bars around a toilet can mean the difference between independence and dependence — between comfort and discomfort in one’s own home.

That knowledge is what has driven architect Danise Levine to design about 475 home modifications over the past 15 years as a member of the University at Buffalo’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center).

“You see people in their homes, and they’re restricted by their environment. To try and overcome this, they tend to adapt their behavior to their environment instead of adapting their environment to fit their behavior. It’s very rewarding when you can help change that,” Levine said.

Levine, now the IDeA Center’s assistant director, began working on home modifications in 1996, soon after graduating from UB’s architecture master’s degree program.

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Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Aging & Independent Living Lab

Mayo Clinic Creates Healthy Aging and Independent Living Lab

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation (CFI) is pleased to announce a new “living lab” within the Charter House, a continuing care retirement community in Rochester. Charter House has 400 residents and is physically located in Rochester and physically connected to Mayo Clinic. Rochester is one of the nation’s best cities in which to reside, according to Money Magazine.

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TeleHealth: The Doctor Will See You Now, Remotely

Basic Telehealth System, connecting patients, sensor devices, caregivers, and healthcare services

Derived from a paper by Iboun Taimiya Sylla, Texas Instruments

There’s a fairly new option for after-hours medical care that connects you with practitioners anytime, anywhere.  It’s called Telehealth or Telemedicine, and it’s offered by companies like American WellMyNowClinic, and OptumHealth.

Hospitals already use high-speed Internet connections to share medical information among specialists within the facility or in different locations. And they can even put a rural patient in front of a big city specialist miles away. But as Internet use permeates people’s everyday lives, health care professionals are able to connect with patients in real time over any distance without traveling or scheduling an office visit. Previously when you were sick, you had to go to the doctor. Now she can come to you, electronically 24/7. Some services also provide in-home visits by physician assistants to supplement telehealth.

“While having access to a doctor outside of normal office hours is a popular telehealth service, it isn’t the only one. Doctors can also Read More …

National Demonstration Home for Universal Design, Part 1

Rosemarie Rossetti

Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. (used with permission)

Thirteen years after a freak accident left her paralyzed, Rosemarie found a new mission in life: sharing what she has learned about Universal Design. She founded Universal Design Living Laboratory and is building a national demonstration home that will be opened to the public this fall. I’ll be writing a series of articles about her project and start with this, her story.

About The Demonstration Home Project

My Story

By Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.

On June 13, 1998 my husband, Mark Leder, and I decided to celebrate our anniversary by going on a bicycle ride. It was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky, perfect biking weather. I was riding down the path ahead of Mark, when he heard a loud crack and yelled, “Look over there something is falling!” I glanced back at him and suddenly a 3 1/2 ton tree came crushing down on me, leaving me injured on the bike path. My life was changed in that instant! I was paralyzed from the waist down with a spinal cord injury.

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