Wednesday August 15, 2018

Human Touch Can Rehabilitate Patients

The researchers are particularly interested in how their findings could help people performing exercises for rehabilitation, for example when recovering from stroke

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Human Touch Can Rehabilitate Patients
Human Touch Can Rehabilitate Patients. Pixabay
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It does take two to tango when it comes to performing a physical task better.

According to a new study, human touch is the key and people improve their performance more when they practise with a partner rather than on their own.

Scientists from Imperial College London and two Japanese institutions explored whether physical interaction improved the way people performed in a computer-based task where they were using a joystick-like device.

They were connected by a virtual elastic band to the same type of device operated by another person, who was hidden from view.

Most of the participants were unaware that they were working with a partner, but in spite of this they subconsciously used information transmitted through their partner’s touch to enhance their performance.

“Participants achieved noticeably better results in the task when working with a partner than they did working on their own,” said Etienne Burdet from the department of bioengineering at Imperial College London.

Improvements were most noticeable when the individual was practising with another human and not a robot.
Improvements were most noticeable when the individual was practising with another human and not a robot.

The researchers are particularly interested in how their findings could help people performing exercises for rehabilitation, for example when recovering from stroke.

“Our study says touch plays a vital and very subtle role in helping people to transmit information to one another,” added Burdet.

The researchers discovered that where one person was physically connected to a partner when learning a task, they consistently improved their performance regardless of how well their partner performed.

Improvements were most noticeable when the individual was practising with another human and not a robot.

Also Read: Googling About Symptoms Can Predict Disease

“It’s fascinating that this kind of communication can be so powerful even when people cannot see each other. Getting robotic devices to mimic this process could help people make bigger improvements when they are carrying out exercises in rehabilitation,” stressed Atsushi Takagi, co-author of the study from Imperial College London.

Robots are increasingly used for rehabilitation and physiotherapy and the researchers believe that these robots would be more effective if they could react to patients through touch in the same way that people do. (IANS)

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To Treat Brain Cancer Scientists Taking Polio’s Help

The result is a longer life for patients whose brain cancer returned

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A radiologist examines the brain X-rays of a patient. In a small study, patients with brain tumors were given genetically modified poliovirus, which helped their bodies attack the cancer.
A radiologist examines the brain X-rays of a patient. In a small study, patients with brain tumors were given genetically modified poliovirus, which helped their bodies attack the cancer. VOA

There’s an exciting new breakthrough in treating some types of deadly brain tumors, that uses, of all things, a polio virus. Doctors at Duke Health in North Carolina genetically altered the virus because it produces such a strong immune response in our bodies. The result is a longer life for patients whose brain cancer returned. All had glioblastoma, an aggressive and lethal type of brain cancer. Of the 61 patients in the study, 21 percent who got this new treatment had were alive three years later.

While that number is low, the survival rate for glioblastoma is normally even lower, usually, a year and a half after diagnosis. The researchers compared the study group to a group of patients drawn from historical cases at Duke. Only four percent of these patients survived three years after treatment.

Dr. Annick Desjardins, one of the authors, said not all patients respond, but if they do, they often become long-term survivors. Desjardins said, “The big question is, how can we make sure that everybody responds?”

Stephanie Hopper was the first patient in the Duke study. She was diagnosed with glioblastoma eight years ago. She had the tumor removed, but two years later, it returned. The modified virus is directly injected into the brain during surgery. After treatment, Hopper’s tumor shrunk to the point where it’s barely noticeable in her brain scans, and the tumor is continuing to shrink.

Dr. Darell Bigner is the senior author of the study which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. He explained that by modifying the virus, it destroyed its ability to infect nerve cells and cause polio, but the virus retained the ability to kill cancer cells. In fact, the modified virus targeted the tumor cells.

Prior to the study, the researchers decided they needed a different approach to treating glioblastomas which is why they looked at experimenting with the polio virus.

There's an exciting new breakthrough in treating some types of deadly brain tumors, that uses, of all things, a polio virus. Doctors at Duke Health in North Carolina genetically altered the virus because it produces such a strong immune response in our bodies
There’s an exciting new breakthrough in treating some types of deadly brain tumors, that uses, of all things, a polio virus. Doctors at Duke Health in North Carolina genetically altered the virus because it produces such a strong immune response in our bodies. Flickr

One of the goals of a phase one trial is to find a dose that is safe. In some patients, the therapy caused their brains to swell and they experienced seizures and other bad side effects so the dose was lowered. Study participants were selected according to the size of their recurring tumor, its location in the brain and other factors designed for patient protection.

For five of the 61 patients in the trial, the cancer returned. They were treated a second time and Bigner says, “Those that we’ve been able to follow long enough have responded to the treatment the second time. That’s extremely important.” Combining the polio virus with other approved therapies is one approach already being tested at Duke to improve survival.

Also read: A One-Shot Nanoparticle Vaccine for Polio is Developed by MIT scientists

The researchers are continuing their work on treating glioblastomas and planning other studies as well. They want to test the therapy on children’s brain tumors. The therapy may also expand beyond brain tumors to include breast cancer and melanoma patient as well. (VOA)