Researchers develop app to determine if a patient is faking alcohol tremors

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 3, 2014        

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Alcohol withdrawal tremor appA group of researchers in Toronto have developed an app that aims to measure a patients alcohol withdrawal tremors and determine whether they are real or fake.

A statement from the University of Toronto explains that tremors, which are caused by alcohol withdrawal, are commonly treated with sedatives, but addicts sometimes fake tremors to get prescriptions for the medications.

In order to prevent doctors from prescribing drugs to patients who aren’t actually going through withdrawal, PhD candidate Narges Norouzi, Mount Sinai Hospital emergency physician Bjug Borgundvaag, and University of Toronto Associate Professor Parham Aarabi developed the app, which is still being studied — it’s not FDA-cleared or available commercially.

To use the app, patients hold a phone in their outstretched hand with the app opened on the screen. The app will then set a timer and measure the patient’s tremors for a period of time. The frequency with which the user’s hand shakes is measured, based on the iPhone’s accelerometer, to determine whether the patient is actually experiencing tremors.

“Our app may also be useful in assisting withdrawal management staff, who typically have no clinical training, and determining which patients should be transferred to the emergency department for medical treatment or assessment,” Borgundvaag said in a statement. “We think our app has great potential to improve treatment for these patients overall.”

While developing the app, the researchers conducted a preliminary study at three Toronto hospitals: Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Medicine Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital, and Women’s College Hospital. During the study, the app analyzed tremors from 49 patients and 12 nurses who attempted to replicate the symptom.

They found that about 75 percent of patients who actually had tremors had a frequency higher than seven cyclers per second. The study also found that just 17 percent of the nurses who were trying to mimic the tremor had a similar frequency.

Researchers also saw that the app could assess tremor strength at the same skill level of a junior physician, though more experienced doctors could identify real tremors with better accuracy. The team plans to further develop the app and eventually improve its accuracy further.


Sanofi launches mobile game for kids with type 1 diabetes in the UK

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 3, 2014        

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Mission T1DSanofi Diabetes, a division of Sanofi-Aventis, has launched a new mobile game for iOS and Android phones in the United Kingdom. The game, called Mission T1D, is meant to be educational, to teach children as well as their parents, caregivers, and friends about Type 1 diabetes.

“Children with diabetes and their families face many challenges in their daily lives as they care for a very complex life-long condition,” Dr. Sheridan Waldron, a specialist diabetes dietician, said in a statement. “It is essential that children, parents and carers have the knowledge and skills to manage diabetes but they also need their friends, teachers and other people in the school environment to understand and support them to care for their diabetes effectively. Sharing information and fostering a caring environment at school will help children with diabetes to feel normal, happy and ensure that they reach their full potential in a safe environment.”

The game is set in a school. When players complete levels and get points, they unlock short practical messages about living with Type 1 diabetes, and longer, shareable educational videos. They can then take quizzes about the information in the educational material. The videos cover the following topics: “What is Type 1 diabetes?”, “Everyday life with Type 1 Diabetes”, “What is hypoglycemia and how to help”, “What is hyperglycemia and how to help”, and “How to have a healthy diet, with or without Type 1 diabetes”.

The whole package, which can also runs on a PC, is designed to be used either by individuals or in a classroom setting.  Keep reading>>

Axial Healthcare raises $1.75M for population health analytics platform

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 3, 2014        

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Axial Healthcare CEO John Donahue

Axial Healthcare CEO John Donahue

Nashville, Tennessee-based Axial Healthcare raised $1.75 million in a round led by BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners and Sandbox Industries, which manage health accelerator Healthbox.

While the names are similar, Axial Healthcare is not to be confused with Mayo Clinic spinoff Axial Exchange.

“Over 100 million Americans find themselves in an episode of pain each year; sadly, this is one of the most frustrating patient experiences in healthcare and highly vexing for practitioners and payers as well,” Axial Healthcare CEO John Donahue said in a statement. “Axial Healthcare is committed to helping the patient in pain with care that makes sense and moves them forward in their recovery. The additional capital will allow us to improve the health of more patients, support more practitioners and partner with more health insurers.”

Axial Healthcare has developed three cloud-based platforms. The first, axialAnalytics, measures patient risk, clinical outcomes, and a practitioner’s performance during an episode of pain. The company has also developed axialNetwork, which measures pain management clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and episode cost, and axialConnect, which is a patient engagement, monitoring and clinical decision platform.

The services will be available to patients and pain management practitioners but the company partners with insurers as well. Axial will use the funds to develop its partnerships further. It also plans to launch its axialNetwork and axialConnect platforms with early customers and start its next round of funding in early 2015.

The company was part of Healthbox’s Nashville class last year. BlueCross BlueShield in Nashville and HCA (Hospital Corporation of America), a healthcare service provider, sponsored the accelerator.

Intel CEO says new Basis tracker will launch this year

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 3, 2014        

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Basis Carbon SteelAt a recent event, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced that activity tracker company Basis Science will release a new version of its device sometime this year, according to a report from TechCrunch.

Intel acquired Basis Science in March for an undisclosed sum, but inconfirmed reports claimed that the deal was somewhere between $100 million and $150 million.

The Basis Band includes an optical blood flow monitor, a 3-axis accelerometer, a perspiration sensor, plus skin and ambient temperature sensors. In advance of CES this year, Basis unveiled more advanced sleep tracking as well as an aesthetic upgrade called the Basis Carbon Steel edition. Soon after, the company announced that the Basis Band would be available at Best Buy – the first brick-and-mortar retail channel for the company.

Krzanich also explained at the event that Intel wants to integrate Basis’ technology into other form factors. Some of these new wearable devices may be unveiled at New York’s Fashion Week, which begins September 4th, but the TechCrunch report only said to expect Intel-based wearables to hit the runway.

Intel is the most recent in growing list of companies that are focusing on making their health sensing wearable devices more fashionable. In fact, a few have even partnered with designers to help make their devices more stylish.  Keep reading>>

Apple bans iCloud and 7 other rules for HealthKit developers

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 3, 2014        

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HealthKitApple recently updated its terms and conditions for developers working with its HealthKit API to integrate health and fitness data aggregated by the platform from various third party apps and their companion devices. Earlier this week the company’s rule against selling health data collected via HealthKit to ad platforms and other data collection entities, but Apple’s rules for HealthKit developers includes eight big ones.

Given recent headlines about hacked celebrity iCloud accounts, news that Apple is banning HealthKit developers from storing users’ health information in iCloud has spread far and wide this morning.

Here are Apple’s eight ground rules for HealthKit developers, per its recently updated terms and conditions documentKeep reading>>

Study finds Nintendo Wii games may improve balance for people with MS

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 2, 2014        

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Wii Fit balance boardA small study published in Radiology found that patients with multiple sclerosis who played a high-instensity video game on a Nintendo Wii saw improvement in the microstructural changes of their brains, which in turn improved the participant’s balance.

While MS has many symptoms, one symptom is loss of balance.

Researchers conducted the trial to determine if the video game would help result in changes of a patient’s cerebellar peduncles, which is the area of the brain responsible for coordination. The specific Wii device used in the trial is the balance board, which is a Nintendo accessory that senses a user’s foot movement and incorporates it into the game.

The researchers did not develop their own game but rather used some of the games that come prepackaged with the Wii balance board.  Keep reading>>