Merits and Value of Different Treatments for Chronic Pain Management

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It is a natural part of life that as we get older, our bodies begin to behave differently. Aches and pains sometimes begin to take effect, changing the way that we go about our lives. For some individuals, the disruptions of experienced pain to daily life are relatively mild (if they experience disruptions at all, that is), however for others what starts out as mild to moderate aches and pains eventually become more sinister, negatively impacting an affected individual’s life in undesirable ways. Over time, if not properly dealt with in due time, these progressing pains can become chronic, festering into debilitating pains that make life incredibly uncomfortable (to say the least) for the affected individual. Dealing with chronic pain is never a fun experience (to say the least). As one gets older, it is a natural part of life that pain begins to come into life sometimes, however it is also important that everyone acknowledges that there are ways to address chronic pain, each of which have merits.

There are multiple different treatments for chronic pain out there, each of which have their own merits and value. More than ever, it is important to not only pay attention to this fact but to work wholeheartedly towards a healthier future in regards to not only chronic pain management, but practically every other aspect of health, wellbeing, and overall quality of life. As individuals struggle with managing their own experiences with chronic pain, it helps to have even a basic understanding of how others handled chronic pain and if their approaches could possibly work. However, first and foremost, anyone experiencing chronic pain should always see their doctor so that they approach chronic pain from a professionally accredited and prescribed approach. Failure to do so can in fact make the chronic pain even worse. However, it never hurts to have an idea of your chronic pain management options.

Prescribed medicines and treatments are obviously one approach to handling chronic pain. For decades, this has been the primary approach that westerners have taken to addressing not only chronic pain but practically all other examples of health and wellbeing ailments and struggles. Whether it is a prescribed medication, a physio consultation, or even an acupuncture appointment, the underlying point is that these are all treatments and solutions for chronic pain management that are well practiced and strikingly familiar to the majority of individuals – especially westerners. While these traditionally recommended and prescribed methods and models of chronic pain management are highly effective for many individuals suffering with chronic pain, the simple fact is that they are not always entirely effective. This is why other treatments and solutions for chronic pain management are necessary. What does not work for one individual will be the perfect solution for another, and so the necessity for options is more predominant than ever.

This is where the relatively fresh (at least, by western standards) controversial treatments for chronic pain come into play. Said controversial treatments and solutions for chronic pain are not any less effective or genuine than the western medicines that we are so familiar with. The only difference is that there is a distinct gap in the level of understanding that we have surrounding alternative medicines and treatments. Over time, this gap will steadily close. These days, more and more individuals suffering with chronic pain are opting towards more natural treatments. From investing in the best CBD oil on the market and opting for ancient Chinese herbal medicines to investing in reiki healing sessions, the point is always the same. That point is that alternative approaches to adequately and appropriately treating and even healing chronic pain are becoming more popular over time. For so many individuals, these more alternative approaches are working their magic. At the end of the day, it essentially comes down to a case by case basis. 

As the human body ages, it inevitably begins to go through the motions of ageing, one of which is the aches and pains that sometimes begin to work their way through an individual’s body. While some individuals are fortunate enough to make it through their lives without experiencing little more than some mild aches and pains, for other individuals aches and pains can gradually become worse and worse over time, becoming chronically painful. This is exactly how, when, and where treatments and solutions become so important for affected individuals. And more and more these days, alternative medicines like CBD oil and other herbal medicines are quickly becoming more and more popular while traditional approaches to treatment for chronic pain are getting better and better all the time. Regardless of the approach that one takes to addressing their chronic pain, appropriately addressing chronic pain is necessary to both work through the pain and work towards a painless future.

The Growing Number of People Shifting to Healthier Alternatives to Smoking

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When it comes to taking care of one’s health and wellbeing, it is fair to say that individuals unfortunately do not always have their priorities in order. Of course, your health and wellbeing should always be at the top of your list of priorities, but many people unfortunately do not hold the same regard for their health and wellbeing, as others do. There are many different ways that individuals choose to treat their bodies, not all of them ideal. One of the worst things you can do for your health is smoke, and yet there are millions of people around the world to practice this habit everyday. For some people, smoking is a stress reliever, while for others it is simply a bad habit they find challenging to kick to the curb after so many years of carrying it out. Regardless of the reason, the fact is always that smoking is an unhealthy practice that is not only irresponsible but inherently dangerous for one’s health and even their very mortality. So, what can smokers do to shift themselves away from this bad habit?

One of the biggest unhealthy practices that millions of individuals around the globe do everyday is smoke. This much is certain. Millions of individuals smoke every day, and while the practice itself is inherently and undeniably unhealthy, this does not seem to be enough of a fact to stop people from choosing to pollute their bodies with the toxic smoke inhalation that is the direct response of the practice. Even as the years have gone on and the health issues and unfortunate fatalities have continued to climb in many individuals who smoke, there has been little to no shift in the way that smokers approach their unhealthy habit from the onset. Yes, the rise in awareness and research has resulted in some individuals taking the active and consistent steps to quit, but for the most part, there has been considerably less impact that one might reasonably expect.

The biggest scope of impact – and the one that continues to make more and more of a positive impact across the board and around the globe – is the healthier alternatives to smoking that are now globally available to the market. Thankfully, there are more and more of them all the time, nearly all of which are constantly evolving and being driven to their next iteration where they function and thrive in even more healthier and wholesome ways. From the controversial e cigarette to nicotine gum and patches, and even switching out cigarettes for joints, there are many healthy alternatives to smoking available these days. And more to the point, they are always evolving. Whether it be the new flavours of e liquid available on the market, or the advancements in the latest nicotine-focused hypnotherapies, the fact of the matter is that the healthier alternatives to smoking are not only well and truly here, but they are getting bolder, better, faster, and stronger all the time.

This is a new era in the fight to shift smokers away from the toxic habit of smoking and towards healthier alternatives. We are gaining more awareness and insight than ever before, and it is a growing pool of awareness and related information that is driving the point home more cleanly and more vividly than ever. While the odds of getting the entire global population to quit smoking in the near future is slim to none, there is a growing number of smokers around the globe that are beginning to put down the cigarettes, instead shifting towards the healthier alternatives that are now so widely distributed across the international market. The fight is not over yet, but the winning side is steadily shifting to become the side dedicated to a healthier future for all – including, of course, individuals who smoke. This is just the start, and the best innovations and revolutions are yet to come.

When it comes to discussing issues of health and wellbeing, it is fair to say that there are many points that are decidedly controversial, to say the least. While health and wellbeing is indeed one of the biggest priorities for so many of us, not everybody holds that same standard and prioritisation that most of us reserve for these crucial points. There are many unhealthy practices that millions of people practice everyday, the most dangerous and even life-threatening being the habit of smoking. There are many reasons why people smoke, but at the end of the day there is always the weight of knowing what you are choosing to do to your body and put your health and wellbeing through. There must be a better way to approach this. And thankfully, there is. In fact, today there are multiple healthier alternatives to smoking available on the market around the globe. We are finally providing the much-needed healthier alternatives to one of the biggest contributors to poor health ever.

Technology and Wellbeing: Are They Totally Incompatible?

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The Global Wellness Summit just released its annual Future of Wellness list, and among their predictions of the biggest health trends anticipated for 2020 sits the increased integration of health (especially mental health) and technology. You know, the rise of things like virtual therapy, mindfulness apps, and wearable devices to decipher your moods, feelings and blood pressure. That kind of thing.

I am deeply worried.

On one hand, technology has provided the healthcare community with valuable tools for improving patient care, from apps for booking appointments and delivering appointment reminders, to more specific medical technologies that have improved the quality of healthcare delivery, increased patient safety, decreased the frequency of medical errors and strengthened the interaction between patients and healthcare providers. Technology has led us to where we are today, with access to new and better-than-ever diagnostic tools, cutting-edge treatments, access to remote consultations with specialists, and intuitive mobile apps that lead to better healthcare results overall. 

Without advances in technology we wouldn’t be celebrating the success of the world’s first robotic surgery in China last year, where a patient suffering from numbness received robotic surgery from robot Tinavi, the world’s only orthopedic robotic system capable of carrying out surgery on the extremities. The 42-year-old patient recovered in record time as a result – he was able to get up from bed the next day and had recovered within one week.

But on the other hand, when it comes to individuals rather than healthcare providers, there are now virtual reality apps that claim to help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and devices that can help people with their postoperative recovery process. There are sports and fitness apps that help you hit weekly fitness targets, pregnancy apps that help you along the journey and menstrual period trackers that can help couples conceive.

I am most certainly not denying that technology has disrupted the healthcare industry in the way it desperately needed to be, nor that technology should be celebrated for its remarkable capacity to save lives and prevent suffering. What I am saying, however, is that technology is a double edged sword when it comes to our personal health, and the two are – in my opinion – wholly incompatible.

Take the influx of health and wellbeing apps like sleep cycle analysis, and meditation apps, for example. Do people honestly expect that by closing their eyes and clicking START on a meditation app they will experience that same powerful, spiritual, yogic state of relaxation meditation promises its devoted practisers? Meditation is premised on using one’s breath to reduce the adrenaline, cortisol and other stress-related chemicals constantly pulsing through our body – but mobile phones themselves emit a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation capable of causing changes to brain activity. At the same time phones been proven to cause anxiety, frustration and impatience in mobile users.

To me, I am at a loss as to why anyone would think meditating via one’s mobile phone is a good idea. Not only are you being constantly tempted to flick open your phone when you see texts and emails coming in from friends, but you are also being tempted into distraction by pop up advertisements for white Label CBD products and PatPat outfit ensembles for you and your partner. It is surely impossible to get through a full meditation without sneaking a glance at the screen.

Studies have literally proven that the blue light on mobile devices and computers restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep cycle or circadian rhythm. In other words, looking at a screen – even if dim – can physically have an effect on your body clock, in turn affecting our physiology and behavior.

Psychologically, overuse of mobile phones has been scientifically proven to increase anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and low self-esteem, as well as frustration, and impatience in instances where the technology fails. So, the polar opposite of the outcome desired from meditation and calming apps such as Buddhify and Headspace. Personally, I get a tight chest, feeling of shortness of breath, and the beginnings of a headache whenever I am even close to my phone. Having spent years trying to self-diagnose this ‘tech disorder’ I have finally concluded that while it mightn’t have yet been definitely proven, the mental anxiety that comes with cell phone addiction (which I clearly have) is manifesting physically within me.

Over to smartphones and exercise, and there are more studies proving that rather than helping people exercise in the gym, smartphones can have a negative effect on physical fitness levels. Recently researchers from Kent State University found that college students tended to be less fit when they spent as much as 14 hours a day on their phones, compared with those who spent just an hour and a half a day on their phones. The study, which was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, followed more than 300 college students and studied the correlations between smartphone usage and fitness and body composition.

The evidence is there – technology (smartphones specifically) and mental health and wellbeing just aren’t meant to go hand in hand. Spending time in nature, on the other hand, has been proven to have measurable benefits on a person’s wellbeing, as well as provide symptom relief for health issues like heart disease, depression, cancer, anxiety and attention disorders. Spending 40 minutes walking in a cedar forest can lead to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is required for blood pressure and immune-system function. So rather than download that meditation app or fitness tracker, why not put down the phone and just for a walk outdoors instead? Let’s take a step back, in order to keep progressing as humans were intended.

The Important Role of Sleep Health and Wellness

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Sleep is one of the most important contributing factors to one’s overall health and wellbeing. In fact, a growing pile of studies and subsequent research point to the fact that these are ideals that are not only expected to be directly correlated with the habits of your sleep, but are in fact literally connected. The impact that sleep (or lack thereof) has on the health and wellbeing of the human body is crucial. We often pay (rightful) attention to physical health and now also mental health and emotional health, but the surrounding factors that impact these aspects of overall health are too often overlooked or underestimated. In recent years, more awareness has been mounting. The result of this consistently climbing level of awareness and understanding is that individuals are becoming more and more superbly aware of the impact that our daily habits have on the state of our existence. Especially in this modern time, individuals lead lives that are busier than they have ever been. This means that they sometimes end up sacrificing a few hours of sleep here and there in favour of getting in more time to work and enjoy life. This is how the problem manifests.

While some individuals might not pay adequate attention to their sleep habits, it has become increasingly obvious in recent years that sleep is crucial to overall health and wellbeing. However, it was obviously not always this way. In fact, for so long there was an ongoing trend that most individuals spent less and less time sleeping and more and more time trying to focus on the surrounding aspects of their waking lives. This is not necessarily wrong, but the ways that they were choosing to go about it were not at all healthy. Losing out on sleep can actually have some devastating effects on the human body. For instance, when we go to sleep, the brain gets a much-needed rest to replenish from the day that has just been, as well as to revitalise for the coming day ahead. When you sleep, your brain gets to work cleaning out the gunk that builds up during the day, as well as replenishing your stores of basic cognitive function and metabolism.

The quality of sleep is important, of course, but so is the consistency of that quality of sleep. More than ever before, people are becoming more aware of how their sleeping habits impact the quality of their life. If you do not have a healthy sleeping pattern, the gunk that builds up during the day does not have the chance to be cleared out. This is especially important because this gunk is directly correlated to increased risk of diseases of the mind like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Additionally, when you go not get enough sleep, your natural metabolism is messed around, which in turn can lead to unhealthy weight gain. And finally, your cognitive functions thrive at their best when you are well rested. If you do not get enough sleep, your cognitive functions suffer. These are just some of the examples of the impact that inadequate sleep can have on the human body. There are many, many more.

When it comes to taking adequate responsibility for the quality of one’s sleep, it is important to note that consistency is key. There is no point in getting in a few perfect night’s sleep here and there if you are going to lack consistency with this healthy habit. At the end of the day, consistency is key. If your sleeping pattern is consistent (most of the time, of course), then you have the best possible chance of being your healthiest self. If you have an unhealthy relationship with sleep, that instability is more likely to manifest in unhealthy ways in your body. This obviously has negative impacts on the sleep health and wellness you live out and your quality of life in general. Thankfully, individuals are beginning to take more notice of their sleeping habits and are being more actively engaged in transforming them into healthy habits. It is an ongoing process that takes time, but when you only have one body and one life, it is entirely and without exception worth it – every single time.

Understanding the impact that healthy habits have on our overall health and wellbeing is not always given the attention that it ought to be given. Over the years, it has been a continuous trend that people often sacrifice necessary healthy habits in the name of staying on track with their exceedingly busy lives. Unfortunately, sleep is one of the most significantly overlooked healthy habits there is. However, in recent years there has been a growing body of research and subsequent studies that experiments that have proven time and again that sleep is not only recommended for the utmost quality of life possible, but it is absolutely crucial. Sleep health and wellness is so often overlooked that it can swing under the radar for far too long. That is, until individuals become aware and decided to take appropriate action. Now, thankfully, the importance of sleep health and wellness is finally being given the attention to detail that it deserves and needs. There is still work to be done, but this is a very positive step.

Blurred Lines: When HIPAA, HITECH, FinReg and Medical Financing Collide

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In the Internet Age, the medical lending industry has changed greatly due to the proliferation of financial technology, which increased safety and security of both transactions and patient information. Companies are disrupting a multibillion-dollar industry by allowing patients to obtain funding for their care providers and treatments of choice, including cosmetic surgery financing, which is one of the top requests from prospective patients. They also work to educate patients on their rights and responsibilities under the law, and ensure patients have access to all the legal and financial information they need to make suitable decisions about their healthcare. 

However, the ever-changing nature of technology and the often-precarious regulatory landscape means patient-facing providers often occupy a treacherous middle ground between patient privacy, effective healthcare and oversight regulation. The lines are often confusing or contradictory, forcing these companies to think six moves ahead of current regulation to help ensure they stay current on the regulations impacting their niche market without sacrificing patient care. 

In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, was created to meet the challenges of maintaining patients’ rights to privacy and confidentiality concerning their healthcare in the burgeoning Internet age. One of the key exemptions in HIPAA affected the financial sector in Section 1179, which reads:

To the extent that an entity is engaged in the activities of a financial institution, or is engaged in authorizing, processing, clearing, settling, billing, transferring or collecting payments for a financial institution, then the HIPAA statute and the accompanying rules do not apply.

In 2012, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, was passed, tightening restrictions and regulations for companies dealing partially or wholly in patient healthcare, as well as enhancing the obligation of these companies to ensure the protection of the individual consumer information generated by same to the maximum possible extent. Under HITECH, the exemptions in HIPAA for financial-side companies providing payment or funding to healthcare-side entities for individual patient treatments were tightened almost into nonexistence. This meant finance companies which had previously relied on the Section 1179 exemption no longer had that cushion between HIPAA requirements and their daily operations, and incurred the same obligations toward private medical information as healthcare providers, medical staff and support personnel.  

However, government officials and advisory panels have often noted technology is far outstripping the ability to regulate it. Legislation intended to safeguard consumers from the unknown consequences of updated technology is frequently obsolete before it’s ever deployed due to the rapid pace of innovation. Because regulation tends to lag years behind emerging tech, regulators find themselves in a binary position of either being forced to embrace reckless action which risks stifling competition and innovation without having adequate access to the information required to make informed policy decisions, or a paralytic scheme in which nothing is regulated to the detriment of the consumer. These issues are only magnified by conflicting or competing legislation which spans multiple disciplines, such as the healthcare credit industry.

The educational sector has produced a blizzard of white papers, policy analyses and speculatory pieces concerning this paradox between the rapid pace of innovation and the relative crawl at which regulation can consider new technology and privacy paradigms. Scholars in the fields of law, medicine, public policy and technology have all considered how their fields are intertwined and what may come next, and the inescapable consensus is that regardless of what it will be or what it will look like, policymakers will almost certainly not be ready.

Healthcare lending companies and brokerages live in the battleground between these disciplines. They also exist in a state of constant government and civilian watchdog scrutiny as they navigate a spaghetti bowl of regulations and statutes which contradict, negate and enhance each other, often in unexpected ways. As a result, they have adopted ongoing patient confidentiality and protection protocols which meet or exceed the existing regulatory requirements and often go far beyond them, in a bid to ensure they are and remain compliant with evolving regulation for years to come. For patients, this means they can shop with confidence, knowing whatever regulatory hurdles may come in the future, their information will be protected.

Carbohydrate Macronutrients And Their Impact On The Body

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Health is something that, like it or not, is not so easily tracked some of the time. It is a known fact of life that despite the best of intentions, sometimes things just do not go according to plan. As life gets busier, it becomes more of a challenge to stay on top of everything. Even though this is very much the case, it is fundamentally important that people try their absolute best to prioritise their health – even if they feel like they are too busy to put the necessary emphasis on doing so. An individual’s quality of life is very much (at least partially) dependent on their overall health. So, how can we best care for our health? What are the fundamental building blocks that form the basic foundations of positive overall health? While of course exercise is important, it rings undeniably true that diet is the ultimate core contributor to overall positive health. How you fuel your body says a lot about your commitment to your health not only in the moment, but long-term.

What you eat has more of an impact on your quality of life than you might realise. Nutrients, for example, play a pivotal role in the body. Take macronutrients (or macros) for instance. One of two types of nutrients the human body needs (the other being micronutrients), macronutrients are essential for not only the perseverance and maintenance of physical health, but also mental health. Within macronutrients lie the three main food groups (carbs, fats, and proteins). Understanding the role that macronutrients play in the overall health of our bodies starts with breaking down their foundational uses. More and more often as of late, people are realising the incredible impact that nutrients like micronutrients and the like have on our bodies, and a lot of that is thanks to the steadily growing body of research and studies on the topic. 

It seems that, no matter where you look these days, there are more articles and case studies surrounding the importance of nutritional intake and its impact on our bodies. While calorie intake is more or less responsible for weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance, macronutrients play a greater role in overall body composition because of their internal properties. Carbohydrate macronutrients, for example, provide the body with four calories per gram and are the primary energy source for the body. Carbohydrate macronutrients not only fuel the muscles throughout the body but also the brain, digestive system, and other important bodily functions as well. When you fuel your body with the right carbohydrates, your body is designed to metabolise them quite quickly, meaning that they are the body’s preferred energy source. Carbs are broken down into glucose that then provides your body with precious energy.

The best types of carbs to choose from are beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition to providing the body with energy, carbohydrate macronutrients also provide the body with fibre. This improves heart and digestive health. So, carbohydrate macronutrients can genuinely have a positive effect on the human body, so long as you are smart about portion control and which carbs you eat in your general diet, and which ones you allow as treats. The body digests and processes carbs differently than it does fats and proteins, but that does not make it any less important for individuals to stay firmly on top of their calorie intake. At the end of the day, carbohydrate macronutrients are all about fuelling the body so that it can go and go and go, without much (if any) lag. More than anything else, understanding the crucial role that carb macros play in an individual’s overall physical and mental health can (and often does) work wonders for an individual’s wellbeing and quality of life.

Health is an aspect of our existence that, at the end of the day, has a significant impact on overall wellbeing and quality of life. The way that we treat our bodies is important because you literally get out what you put in when it comes to overall health. There is a lot to be said about practicing healthy habits to help bring about a sense of utmost health and happiness. One of those healthy habits is maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Giving our bodies the nutrients and nourishment that they need to function and perform at their best is all about treating our bodies with the respect and love they deserve, and ultimately reaping the rewards for that consistent and ongoing chain of actions. At the core of healthy eating lies nutrients. Macronutrients like carbohydrate nutrients are the framework that help the body to get everything it needs from dietary intake. Without carb macros, the entire system can fall into a state of chaos, which is why they are such a fundamental building block for overall health.

Prosthetic Technology Advancements Further Revolutionise Healthcare

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For those of us who are able-bodied, it goes without saying that sometimes we unfortunately fall into a pattern of taking our physical health for granted. So many of us are so used to having complete control and use of our bodies, that we simply do not leave room to consider what life would be like if we suddenly lost the use of a part of the body. Some people use organic treatments like marijuana (to look at the most beneficial strain of cannabis for your health needs, view these) to deal with physical pain, while others use pills and more chemically-based treatment methods. But when there is a loss of movement in a limb – or the loss of a limb altogether, for that matter – more complex treatments and solutions are necessary to bring back a sense of control and a heightened quality of life. In the beginning, these types of solutions were not only revolutionary, but expensive by nature, which made it understandably difficult for them to be realistically and widely accessible to everyone who could benefit by utilising them. Prosthetic technology is one of those solutions.

Thankfully, these days, as the technology continues to become more and more easily utilised and developed, it is slowly but surely becoming more cost-effective for individuals who can genuinely and profoundly benefit from prosthetics. Advancements in prosthetic technology are becoming more and more advanced by the day, and they are having life-changing impact on those who are benefitting from the technology thus far. It is no secret that individuals who live with the loss or lack of a limb experience life differently than those who are fully able-bodied. Whether the individual was born without a limb, or has become an amputee at some point throughout their life, there is a sense of not only the physical loss, but the mental strain of having less control and physical capability than they might have otherwise had. The difference that prosthetic technology can make in the lives of these individuals is nothing short of life-changing and remarkable (to say the least).

Consider the latest bionic hand in development, for example. Up until this point, bionic hands and other prosthetic limbs have been controlled by motors that use external signs from surrounding muscles to signal movements. In this new version of a bionic hand, however, the individual’s intentions are interpreted by a human-machine interface. This inbuilt interface then sends signals to the prosthetic, which allows it to interpret the signals and provide a real-time set of instructions to move the bionic hand in a way that is both aligned with what the individual wants, but also at controlled speeds. This creates a more natural feeling in the prosthetic. In the (hopefully) near future, the hope is to have the bionic hand receive the individual’s signals through wireless technology, in a bid to instil greater control over the individual movement and speed of the digits of the prosthetic. This bionic hand is just a taste of what is possible moving forward for the healthcare industry and prosthetic technology, and it is a hopeful taste at that.

Innovations in prosthetic technology are getting better and better all the time. There is a certain type of modern magic that makes prosthetics so incredible, and that magic is the very reason that they continue to be so coveted by those who wish to recover a sense of control and capability. The introduction of the latest bionic hand has signalled a new era in prosthetic technology. It is an era that is going to elevate and enhance prosthetics and healthcare going forward, changing the lives and quality of life of millions of individuals all over the world. If ever there has been a health technology that has been life-changing, revolutionary, and unique all at once, it is prosthetic technology. And while exciting innovations in the tech are happening all the time, they are just a taste of what is yet to come for prosthetics. The best is yet to come, and the innovations in prosthetic technology are only going to continue to get better and better, in every sense, from here on out.

Physical health is one of the most important core aspects of overall health. It is the harsh reality that those who are able-bodied often take their physical health for granted, intentionally or not. For those who have suffered with the loss of a limb, either for the entirety of their live, or at some point throughout their life, prosthetic technology can and often does make the world of difference. There is a lot to be said about a technological marvel that quite literally works to establish the return of not only control, but physical capability that an individual somehow misses out on. The latest advancements in prosthetic technology – like the introduction of the latest and greatest bionic hand, for example – highlight a promising future for prosthetics. It is a future that has arrived, and it is one that continues to impress and improve over time. prosthetic technology is only getting bolder, better, faster, smarter, and stronger – and the best is certainly yet to come. This is an exciting time for prosthetic technology, and those who can and do benefit from its accomplishments.

Heavy Use of Social Media Is Linked to Mental Illness

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We live in the digital era, and in this digital era modern innovations rule. One of the most prominent modern innovations there is, is social media. Designed to be a network of global virtual platforms that allow for instantaneous and easy communication around the world, social media has more than lived up to the hype that has propelled over the years. But on the flip side of that same coin, is the dark undercurrent of social media. That decidedly negative undertone is hinged on the reality that social media has heavily impacted mental health – and not in the most positive of ways. Social media is an environment that emphasises the appeal of honest and open communication and connection, but it is also an environment that can be incredibly toxic for people to invest their energy and time into. And it all comes down to the comparative nature of social media, and how that impacts those that are struggling with themselves. This is an important issue, and finally it is getting the attention that it has always deserved. As the world hinders on the verge of a mental health crisis that borders on epidemic standard, this conversation is more important than ever.

The complication with social media is while it is intended to boost communication, it also sometimes inevitably isolates individuals from the real world and their real connections. The more energy and time that one invests in the social media landscape, the more disconnected they become with the real world around them. This is where problems often arise. Social media can be a dangerous, even fatal environment, and the reality is that there simply is not enough awareness surrounding this truth. Because of the comparative nature that has evolved over the history of social media, users can feel an inclination to mould themselves into what the social media platforms appear to find the most widely appealing aesthetic, body image, or way of communicating. This often leads to inauthentic representations of the self, which can obviously lead to some very serious health implications. The pressures of social media warrant a type of mental health strain that, quite frankly, is unparalleled to anything else.

There is a massive pressure in the landscape of social media platforms. Individuals can feel pressured to buy likes on Instagram, or try to change how they look to fit into the standard perception of what social media deems to be the most appealing aesthetic or approach. Additionally, they can spend hours and hours investing energy, time, and even money into ensuring that the representation of themselves they give out via social media, is one that puts their best [virtual] foot forward, so to speak. And while this can work for some time, it nearly always comes to a point where it becomes more of a problem than a distraction from the true self. The immense pressure to not only concede to those perceived ideals online, but to maintain those ideals over time, can be quite taxing. This is where cracks tend to appear, and if left unchecked, these cracks can bloom into dark bruises that become more and more difficult to contain. And just like bruises, it becomes obvious too often after the damage is done, that there is even a problem.

The links between mental health and social media are becoming more and more pronounced the more that studies and research focus on this topic, and the more that awareness becomes more prominent. When individuals spend so much time on their social media, they inevitably drain themselves emotionally and mentally. It can be exhausting to constantly see what is perceived as many people living the perfect life – especially if their own life does not feel even close to what their perceived ideal idols and friends live online. While it is easy enough to tell someone to remember that social media is often (if not always) a highlight reel of someone’s life, a snapshot of what really goes on, it is quite another to tell that to someone who is struggling with their mental health because of that reason. Mental health is a serious issue, and it is one that, quite frankly, is not given nearly as much attention as it should be. There is a very real sense of isolation that goes hand in hand with heavy use of social media, and it is important to pay attention to not only your own use of social media, but those close to you, and to do your best to let them know you are there if they need to reach out.

The digital era is absolutely rife with exciting innovations and revolutions that have changed life as we know it, in many different ways. One of the most globally renowned innovations of all has been, without a doubt, social media. A revolution initially created to serve as an all-new frontier of instantaneous global communication, social media has since ballooned to become so much more over time. While in many ways, social media is an immensely positive space, it can also be a place of dark undertones that can be difficult for some individuals to deal with. The comparative nature of social media today has resulted in the realisation that, for some, social media activity can have a devastating impact on their mental health. This is an issue that, up until recently, was given nowhere near the amount of attention that it warranted, but now that the world is bordering on a mental health epidemic, action is finally, at long last, being taken. Social media can have devastating effects on users, and it is important to pay close attention to the signs that people are struggling. Lives literally depend on it.

Awareness and Understanding of Kratom Continues to Rise in Asia

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Kratom is a plant that while not as globally renowned as marijuana, is quickly harbouring the same extent of controversy and fierce debate the world over. At first glance, this plant is seemingly non-descript. Light green in colour with red veins, Kratom plants typically stand at around two metres tall when fully grown. This endemic tropical plant is found only in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Papua New Guinea. A member of the coffee family, one could be forgiven for simply thinking that this is a plant whose nature is used for mild stimulation and pain relief. These days, Kratom is now exported and sold in powdered form. This might all seem quite safe, until you realise that Kratom stimulates the same brain receptors as morphine (though, to be fair, with significantly milder effects). Citing this exact reason, regions throughout Asia – including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand – have banned the consumption of Kratom (though Indonesia doe still currently allow for the exportation of it in an unprocessed form).

In small quantities, Kratom acts like a stimulant (or, like a less intense version of cocaine). In large doses, however, Kratom does affect the body similarly to opioids. This is obviously where the danger lies, and why there has been such a significant crack down on Kratom in recent months. In the USA, the FDA has begun to weaponize the opioid label against Kratom users, but the debate surrounding the plant extends from abroad in countries like the US, right back to its origins in Asia. All throughout the developing world – including the natural homes of Kratom (i.e. throughout Asia) – there is a rising awareness and in-depth understanding relating to Kratom. Interestingly, Kratom has been used for brain stimulation, relaxation, insomnia, and pain relief (depending on which strain one ingests) in the form of tea, for centuries.  But as time has gone on, more and more evidence to suggest there are significant risks involved in ingesting Kratom in large doses, have resulted in rising concern.

The backwaters of Indonesia’s Borneo are home to the global production and export of Kratom. And while the export is allowed only in unprocessed form, Kratom is sold overseas and used illegally in Asia in the form of capsules, tablets, powder, and even liquid (not unlike CBD oil). With many strains and forms available for sale and consumption, there are many people who have claimed in the past, and continue to claim, that it has been a tremendous help to them overcoming various ailments. The problem lies in the fact that, given the intense nature of Kratom in large doses, it can become addictive, leading to some people to abuse and even overdose and pass away from using the drug. Couple that with the fact that this is a substance that is rarely (if ever) regulated, and it makes for a dangerous drug. Asian regions are all too aware of this, with many of them taking the legal action to ensure that it is not legally available, and that strict consequences await those who do take it, in any form.

It seems that Asia has fully realised the potential risks associated with the ingestion of the plant, and now they are making moves to ensure that the same awareness and in-depth understanding they have accumulated is being extended to the rest of the world, as best they can. In the developing world, this is an action that has not always been taken in the past, and that has resulted in devastating consequences. And while many people are fighting against the newly enforced regulations, they are entirely justified. When the death toll begins to rise, a problem can quickly spiral into an epidemic, and that is something that nobody wants. Thankfully, it looks like Kratom will be illegal unless given in medicinal doses, as Thailand has recently allowed for medicinal marijuana and Kratom to be allowed within the country. The controversy surrounding the ongoing issue of Kratom and its illegality seems, for now, to be ongoing.

Not unlike marijuana, Kratom has undergone its fair share of controversy and fierce debate, but in recent months the controversy has hit an all-time high, as more and more people are overdosing on the plant after ingesting it. An endemic tropical plant, Kratom is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, and has been used for centuries as a solution for multiple ailments, including (but not limited to) brain stimulation, relaxation, insomnia, and pain relief (depending, of course, on which strain one ingests). Over time, however, the developing world’s awareness and understanding of Kratom has resulted in much of Asia banning the ingestion of the plant. Now, Asia is hoping to set a new standard that will enforce stricter attitudes towards the plant-based drug. 

The Fight to Instil Gender Equality in Orthopedic Medicine Field

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This is 2019. We live in an age where we have worked very hard to right the gender gaps in professional settings (there is also the ongoing battle to right the ship for race biases and discrimination in the workplace, but that is a whole other topic to discuss another time). Female orthopedic surgeons have faced many gender biases and discriminations throughout their careers, but what is especially alarming is that this is one of the last remaining (and most severely impacted) career fields where this bias still exists today. There is an incredibly disrespectful and unfortunately quite common instance where female orthopedic surgeons are often approached as if they are nurses or assistants, rather than the specified surgeons they are. Now, of course, there is nothing in the world wrong with being a nurse or a medical assistant (any job in medicine is a great one), but when you have the knowledge and the instance to work for and then successfully become an orthopedic surgeon, and your professionalism is constantly doubted or disregarded entirely, it gets a little old.

Working in an orthopedic clinic is always a prestigious career trajectory, but for female professionals looking to build a career in orthopedic medicine, it can be a tumultuous journey as well. It is shockingly common for a female orthopedic surgeon to be discriminated against not only by male professionals in the field, but also by patients. This is alarming because there is an obvious disconnect between the understanding and general awareness that females not only are capable of all the same professional accomplishments and trajectories, but they in fact make up more than half (56%, in fact) of students who turn their passion for orthopedic medicine into their career. Women have always worked in this career field, but they are still today being faced with gender biases and discriminations that make it seem as though they are less worthy somehow of the same respect, admiration, value, and income as their male counterparts. How is this possible, and how has it been allowed to continue?

career in orthopedics (or any other area of medicine, really) is one that does not come easily by any means. But for women, getting to the point of becoming an orthopedic surgeon is not when it becomes easier. While it is of course a rewarding career, it is also one where female professionals are paid roughly $41,000 less than their male counterparts (around $38,000 difference among oncologists and blood specialists, around $36,000 difference among obstetrician-gynaecologists, and roughly $34,000 among cardiologists). This is quite obviously a disgustingly drastic pay gap, and it is made even more difficult to swallow when one realises that there is only one branch of orthopedics where women are paid more than men; in radiology, female radiologists are paid on average $2,000 more than that of male radiologists). To be frank, considering the blatant importance of a field like orthopedic medicine, it would make sense that all capable and passionate professionals, regardless of their gender, be given the same opportunities – in every sense of the word.

But this is not the case. How, in 2019, are we living in a world where gender or race biases and discrimination are even an issue, let alone in some of the most important industries in all the world? To discredit and hold back the professional accomplishments of a great orthopedic professional, purely because of their gender (or their race) is to disadvantage the line of work altogether. Orthopedic medicine is a field that could always use more dedicated professionals to help drive it forward, be great innovators, help people, and save lives, and it is about time that was duly noted and impressed upon. While of course this is an overdue motion, it is always better to be late than to never arrive, as they say. And with more female orthopedic surgeons coming out with their stories, the awareness of the issue is growing every time, giving rise to a promising kind of hope that could spell the end of the gender gap in this important line of work, and this whole industry.

Gender and race biases and discriminations are unfortunately not something that the world is unfamiliar with. However, as time has gone on, there has gradually been more and more movements towards the elimination of these unhealthy, unfair, and frankly disturbing (to say the least). In most industries and career trajectories, there have been big moves towards stabilising and balancing the gender (and race) gaps, but in many branches of medicine, this is not the face. In the case of orthopedic medicine, for example, there is what is perhaps the single largest gender bias in all of medicine. Female orthopedic surgeons and the likes have always contended with a distinctive pay gap between themselves and their male counterparts, as well as gender discrimination from all angles. While there is a growing awareness to the issue, there is still a long way to go. But, as the saying goes, it is better late than never.