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Health technology

A recent study led by the renowned neuroscientist Dr. Miguel Nicolelis from Duke University in North Carolina and published in the journal Scientific Reports has showed once again the high power of technology and how it can impact in our lives. Researchers have discovered an innovating technique called Brain-Machine Interface, which allows patients with spinal cord injury recover sensation in lower limbs after many years paralyzed.

The experiment has been performing with 8 people, 6 men and 2 women who had been completely paralyzed from the waist down for many years. The treatment has lasted for 2 years and they spent at least 2 hours per week and 2,000 training sessions connected to electronic devices including VR software connected directly with patients’ brain to simulate full control of their legs. In order to decode and record the brain’s signals, patients had to wear fitted caps lined with 11 non-invasive electrodes and they were asked to imagine them walking in the real world. During all this time, experts could discover that patients had muscle movements and feeling in their lower limbs, which they could not move at all before cause of the spinal cord injury. The device was transforming their thoughts in real muscle movements and according to the good results doctors could upgrade patients’ status to partial paralysis.

Previous studies claim that a large percentage of patients who are diagnosed complete paraplegia may still have some spinal nerves intact. For this reason, researches especially focused on these inactive nerves to try to stimulate them and after having 7 month of therapy, 4 of the patients surprisingly started to react and they improved sensation and control over their muscles. Furthermore, they saw improvements in bowel and bladder functions and advances in their independence at home such as being able to move themselves from wheelchairs to the toilet. But the biggest change was experimented by a 32 years old woman when she was able to walk by using a walker as well as moving her legs voluntarily after being 13 year paralyzed.

The facts show that patients who use brain-machine for a certain period of time can significantly improve motor behavior, tactile sensations and visceral functions. After such an impressive results, more resources were invested in this research and more physical equipment’s as walking devices or overhead harnesses were introduced to test patients’ control over their posture, balance and ability.

At the moment, researchers keep on studying about paralysis and testing by using the very first technologies with new patients who were injured recently to prove if providing an earlier treatment could allow a quicker recovery. This could be considering other evidence of how new technologies applied to health care helps to improve people’s lives and what researchers are wondering right now is how they could make this type of technology accessible if results continue being as good as now.



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Cognitive Computing, Health technology, Projects, Software Nation

About every 43 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack. That means each year, approximately a million people have a heart attack in the United States alone and about half of them die. In fact, about one-half of those who die do so within 1 hour of the start of symptoms before reaching a hospital.

Emergency personnel can often stop arrhythmias with emergency CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), defibrillation (electrical shock), and prompt advanced cardiac life support procedures. If care is sought soon enough, blood flow in the blocked artery can be restored in time to prevent permanent damage to the heart. Yet, most people do not seek medical care for 2 hours or more after symptoms begin. Many people wait 12 hours or longer.

What causes a heart attack?

Heart attacks are caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart. A heart attack (or myocardial infarction) refers to death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply, not necessarily resulting in the death of the heart attack victim.

Your heart muscle needs oxygen to survive. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow can slowly become narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that together are called plaque. When a plaque in a heart artery breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. This blood clot can block the blood flow through the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is starved for oxygen and nutrients, it is called ischemia. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs as a result of ischemia, it is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI).

heart-beat-watson-MD

How is a Heart Attack Diagnosed?

Diagnosis and treatment of a heart attack can begin when emergency medical personnel arrive after you call 9-1-1. But, many people put off calling 9-1-1 because they are not sure they are having a heart attack.

At the hospital emergency room, doctors will work fast to find out if you are having or have had a heart attack. They will consider your symptoms, medical and family history, and test results. Initial tests such as an Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) and blood tests (Troponin, CK-MB test) or Myoglobin test) will be quickly followed by treatment if you are having a heart attack. Depending on the results of these tests you would likely proceed to do the following: a nuclear heart scan, cardiac catheterization, or coronary angiography.

How can you reduce damage?

Promptly receiving aid from a medical professional is the best way to prevent permanent damage. The only way to ensure that there is no irreparable damage is through restoring the blood flow to the blocked artery within a timely manner. For example, drugs must be administered within one or two hours of the heart attack to decrease the amount of damage done.

There are some over the counter drugs that have also been shown to have positive side effects such as Aspin and other anti-platelets, and Thrombolytic therapy; however, these are not a supplement for medical care.

So what can you do?

At the moment the best that you can do is know all of the major symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea lightheadedness, or cold sweats.

In a survey reported by the CDC only 27% of people were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call for medical help when someone was having a heart attack.

The Good News

We are working on a project with Dr. Henry Wu, a physician scientist and practicing cardiologist in New York City, to change all of that.

Welcome to Watson MD, an artificial intelligence app tool based on IBM Watson to help estimate the risk of a heart attack based on the characteristics of a person’s chest pain and “risk” profile.

Our mission is to help improve the chance of surviving a heart attack and guide patients with chest pain toward a diagnosis.

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Health technology, Projects

For many years, the health industry has been a closed system. Today we are seeing innovative new entrants challenge the traditional healthcare ecosystem, setting the stage for a New Health Economy. These new entrants come from the technology, consumer product, retail, telecommunications, and automotive industries. One thing they all have in common is that they are taking advantage of the expanding healthcare market. Healthcare Tech is an industry to watch because it provides many valuable benefits to both medical professionals and their patients.

Approximately 15% of the health apps are marketed to medical professionals. This percentage could rise quickly due to the number of eager entrepreneurs, the speed of development and the ongoing improvement of the health apps. By 2018, GlobalData estimates that the size of the health information technology market will reach beyond $8 billion. This is largely due to the rate of development of mobile healthcare apps, thus producing many new useful medical apps for both healthcare providers and patients. The possibilities of these health apps seem to be endless. They range from an app that lets you search for information on specific medications, to looking for an answer to a medical question in a hurry. Some let you download relevant medical journals, audio and video sources. The list goes on and on from getting feedback on a rare condition, connecting patients with another person in their proximity if they have forgotten to take their medicine, fitness goal achievement, pregnancy tracking, patient – doctor video chatting and many more. The health tech industry is booming, and there is an app for everyone depending on what your specific health needs or goals are.

Today, most of the health apps on the market focus on challenges in hospital settings, but are not interested in the mental state of the patient following a traumatic accident. The pool of highly innovative apps is enormous, but there is a specific mobile health app type that stands out from the rest. Smart Bytes’ Super Patient mobile health app provides medical professionals with the ability to track their patients’ post-traumatic stress levels, cognitive capabilities and anxiety levels, all in real time.

To take on the technical side of the project, Smart Bytes turned to Software Nation for the actual development of the mobile application. In an effort to produce the best possible user experience, Software Nation kept in mind that the focus group for the health app was recovering ICU patients in active therapy.

Luckily, one of the lead designers of Super Patient shared his insights and experience with us. Without any medical background, it was a unique situation for him to be put into, so the project required more supervision from the client. This was necessary to decide on a subtle pallet of shapes, colors, and animation. The Software-Nation team focused their attention on in-game sound with very minimal animation and main avatar motion. The artist who worked only on avatar creation was under strict supervision of the client and their team. His inspiration came from a medicine pill as a way to present the app as a path to recovery. The actual gamification and game flow was completely built from scratch. The game section of the application was developed in cohesion between Software-Nation and Smart Bytes. Together we created a perfectly balanced game session that was tailored to help monitor the mood and cognitive functions of the user (patient). Software Nation’s team of developers and designers were given constant feedback from the medical staff. After a knowledge driven session of trial and error, the building of the health app from scratch proved to be a success.

The games are adequately balanced in an effort to make medical professionals comfortable with tracking their patients’ progress after leaving the ICU, whilst making the patients comfortable with using it on their part. Super Patient allows patients to choose one out of five mind games to play or a journal to communicate how they are feeling at the moment. Simple changes in behavior over time provide medical professionals with invaluable insight. There are a number of additional benefits that come from this unique mobile health app such as decreased health care costs, a better patient-doctor relationship, possibility to help treat patients in various situations (post-traumatic stress, brain injury, dementia, etc.), and a global system-integration potential.

The team at Software Nation is thankful for the opportunity to work on a project of this kind. It was a great experience getting to combine design, animation, games, and mobile development. Software Nation developed Super Patient for the greater cause of making someone’s healing process a little more pleasant and a little less painful.

 

To download the Super Patient whitepaper click here.

 

Software-Nation LLC developed the mobile application and admin panel as well as made the graphics for Super Patient in cooperation with Smart Bytes LLC.

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Health technology, Projects

Heart diseases are the number one cause of death in the United States, accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths. However, 80% of heart diseases and strokes could be prevented with proper treatment. Many heart attacks happen due to a late diagnosis or a misdiagnosis. Being aware of and lowering the risk factors can be a key point in saving a life. Heart disease prevention should start early in life and those over the age of 40 should take action in order to calculate their risk of developing a heart disease.

Technology is changing healthcare and making it possible to give better treatment for patients. With cognitive computing, doctors are able to better understand the causes behind heart diseases and how we can better prevent them. The use of technologies has even been proved to reduce the Framingham risk score estimating the 10-year risk of having a first heart attack.

IBM has also extended its big data supercomputer Watson to the healthcare vertical. In 2015, they launched the Watson Health initiative. IBM Watson Health aims to help patients and caregivers by providing them with healthcare related data needed to make better decisions. Watson is able to understand natural language, so it can read electronic health records, structured and unstructured text, and even health related images. By entering the patient’s symptoms to Watson, it can come up with an accurate diagnosis based on all the medical literature and health records it has “learned”. Watson is able to read 40 million documents in 15 seconds, so a diagnosis will be provided faster and more accurately than any human trying to do the same.

Software Nation, together with a cardiologist, is developing a risk calculator for heart attacks. What is unique about this product is the use of Watson and cognitive computing. 80% of health data is unstructured and thus invisible to current systems, but Watson Health is able to analyze it. Patients suffering from chest pain are able to choose from certain risk factors and symptoms and Watson will be able to calculate their risk of having a heart attack. Patients will then be able to either make an appointment or find out more about heart attacks or other causes of chest pain. A Watson based heart attack risk calculator is more accurate than anything before and this will both save time and reduce healthcare costs.

Watson will continue to learn and improve every time new data is inserted. The question of privacy is always on everyone’s mind when talking about digitalized health data. However, most of the data used by Watson Health is anonymized and used for analyzing across large populations. Personalized data is available to provide the best care for individuals, but it will be encrypted on the cloud and decrypted only for the use of the individual and their doctor.

The design of the heart attack risk calculator will be very modern with an exceptional user experience design. The user interface is simple, with all the big data and calculations hidden on the back end. It will also be optimized for every platform and device to ensure comfortable usage where ever and whenever.

Technology has the power to totally transform healthcare. With the help of cognitive computing, doctors will be able to give better and more personalized treatment faster. They will be able to expand their knowledge, improve productivity and deepen their expertise.

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