Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Practicing soccer football heading while reducing impacts

Recent research is starting to show athletes don't have to sustain a concussion to suffer brain injuries, mild repeated bumps to the head even from heading can cause injury over time.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-heading-a-soccer-ball-cause-brain-damage/
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soccer-players-show-signs-of-brain/
http://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200131050-00006

As a brain injury researcher myself I don't think we should wait for the research to complete to take action because research is never complete and many athletes will already have sustained injuries. 

Some soccer football programs are going so far as to ban heading: 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2202960/Youth-soccer-program-BANS-heading-players-age-head-injury-concerns.html

As an alternative to an outright heading ban is to practice heading with a lighter rubber ball to develop technique, strengthen neck muscles, and reduce the total number of heading impacts. This is especially important for younger players who's brains are still developing. With light rubber ball practice the players will have the strength and control to use correct form possibly reducing the risk of injury when they are older and in games and do head the ball. 

[Possible heading practice ball: http://www.amazon.com/Spalding-High-Bounce-Ball-Pack-4/dp/B001R58J1Y/ref=pd_sim_t_5?ie=UTF8&refRID=1GQWVBTMATB132WB4QXE]


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Medical pyramid

I view medicine as a pyramid. Starting with how we live and eat to how we take care of our own health to regular checkups to basic medical care to treatment and to emerging treatments. In America we are good at the top of the pyramid but we lack a base. If fact we have a negative base. We engineered daily exercise out of our lives by building our country for cars not people. And through the farm bill we subsidize farmers to grow endless amounts of starch and corn syrup. But at the top of the pyramid the government funds cutting edge medical research. If our intention is our health we need to encourage exercise within our daily routines by rebuilding for people first, people walking and cycling and encourage farmers to grow a variety of whole foods instead of focusing on starch and oil.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Get out of the road business

The federal government subsidizes roads by adding income tax money to the highway fund since the gas taxes are insufficient. This causes the federal government to subsidize suburban sprawl and driving which naturally increases air pollution and discourages alternatives to driving. Since raising gas taxes is unlikely to happen we don't we propose getting the federal government out of the road business completely. Eliminate the gas tax along with federal highway subsidies. States have smaller budgets and less ability to borrow than the federal government so states can't endlessly subsidize roads. The states will figure out how to pay for roads, and it is likely to be gas taxes and tolls. If a state chooses to fully subsidize it's own roads it will not affect other states much. Liberals and conservatives could agree on this strategy, it eliminates federal taxes, increases state control, and in the end makes a fairer playing field between cars and other modes of transportation in the states that choose to make this fairer playing field. Light rail, subways and buses could raise fairs to pay for themselves reducing their own dependency on government subsides and still be price competitive against the most likely less subsidize state controlled roads.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Public databases

There are some many public databases available. They become even more powerful when we connect them together. This is from PCR probe and primer design. http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/network/2002/01/04/deodas.html

Friday, March 21, 2014

Connecting the parts

We have the parts and the experts to do amazing things. We have experts in genetics, medicine, surgery, anatomy, electronics, physics. The experts have developed amazing tools and knowledge. If fact experts often know their field in such depth an outsider has trouble understanding. The lack of outsider understanding prevents the expert knowledge and tools from being combined together in new ways. The specialists need to learn to explain their fields to each other so they can connect the parts together to solve new problems in medicine and beyond.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Motion is easy to see

In this image I am visualizing where the perfect centerline is unclear by motion. I generated several centerlines for the same arteries from multiple starting points. The places you see moving are where the centerline algorithm was unsure where to put the centerline and drew different centerlines based on the starting point. The motion in the image makes it clear to the eye where the centerline is ambiguous. Making your data move is a great way to see what's going on.
Centers of the same arteries, moving centerlines are where the algorithm is less sure
3D brain arteries

In a great place - make a great place

This is my recommendation for Swampscott's town development meeting. Swampscott is a small town in beautiful place by the ocean and I would love to be able to walk around town more. Walkable communities are healthier having lower rates of obesity and diabetes, property values are higher because people want to live in walkable communities and there aren't enough of them. To get to a walkable community we need to develop infrastructure for walking and bicycling like more sidewalks and trails. We need to build mixed use higher density living/working/shopping/recreation zones so that people live and work close to things they want to walk to. Higher density mixed use development is made by permitting taller buildings with street level shopping, office and condo living at higher levels. The higher density needs to be offset by more public green spaces which will benefit the entire community more than individual back yards. And higher density living frees up more space for public use. And we should supply paid parking. Charging market rates for parking ensures that there is parking when you need it and discourages driving when you don't need to. Switching people from cars to foot creates a positive feedback loop because when more people walk drivers expect walkers and reduce pedestrian accidents which makes more people want to walk. Mixed use development is also lower crime because multiple uses like living/working/shopping put more eyes on the street at different times keeping a watch on things. Swampscott is in a great place - let's make it a great place.
King's Beach
King's Beach

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Arterial art and science

I submitted this image of an MRI to a photo contest. It blends art and science. If you are part of University of Utah Biomedical Informatics program please vote to put this image on the wall of their new department.

Title: Arterial art and science
Description: Intracranial arterial and aneurysm segmentation from magnetic resonance angiogram with colors changing at each arterial bifurcation to identify branch points in the arterial tree shown in shaded surface 3D display

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Freer housing market = jobs + health

We start with so many restrictions on new housing like height limits, parking minimums, restrictions on rental units, trouble getting a building permit that there is no free market on housing. If we had a freer market on housing in developers would buy up older buildings, knock them down and build taller apartments or condos. And they would be built in the areas where people can get to good jobs and walkable neighborhoods because that's where property values are highest and the developers would make the most profit. A freer market would put housing where it is most needed. I say freer because perfectly free is probably impossible. Housing access to the best job markets would lower unemployment and stimulate the economy and access to more walkable neighborhoods would reduce obesity, diabetes lowering healthcare costs. People with more money would probably take this new housing but then that would free up older housing a little farther away for people with less income. Lowering the market price of housing would also lower the amount of subsidies needed by the lowest income people to get housing.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Information more than power

The network of things will connected medical devices to computers in the "cloud" giving them access to immense computing power but more importantly access to information for comparison. Thermometers, blood pressure bands, stethoscopes, X-rays and other devices will be able to send their measurements to the cloud for comparison with collections of measurements that will be able to suggest what these measurements mean. If the devices are all talking to the same data repository we could suggest what a combination of medical measurements means for a patient.

PhD Generalist

A PhD degree actually makes you a generalist. This is because for the dissertation you are in charge of the total project. It turns out any project is made of multiple components. As the project leader you have to plan, order supplies, schedule, deal with people, plan experiments, execute the experiments, analyze the data, write papers, promote your work. Because as a graduate student you won't have a staff working for you, you get to do a little bit of everything. When I needed access to clinical data I had to work through the administration to get myself permission. When I needed computer hardware I had to set it up. When I needed software I either downloaded and installed it or wrote it myself. I had to collect data, measure the data, analyze the data, write papers, and then promote the work at conferences. I found at earlier levels of education I could focus exclusively on laboratory experiments or on developing computer software tools but then at the highest level of education where you are supposedly focused on just a specific topic I became a generalist.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Same everywhere

We live about the the same everywhere, even though there are so many things to take advantage of locally. In sunny places like Utah and California I sill rarely see solar panels on houses - certainly little more than in rainier places like New England. Then we also grow green lawns in the desert, desert cities look just like rainy weather ones. Places with warm mild sunny weather rarely have more bicycle commuters (or even less) than rainy places like Portland, Oregon or cold snowy places like Madison, Wisconsin. Portland and Madison actually have more bicycle commuters than most places despite their weather to the credit of their cyclists. We eat about the same north, south, east or west. Different vegetables and fruits grow best in different places but we actually vary little in what we eat. Most of our vegetables and fruits are trucked from San Joaquin Valley, CA requiring lots of diesel. This is getting dangerous because San Joaquin is having a drought possible being made worse by the warming caused by the burning of the diesel used to truck the fruits and vegetables trucked from there.  We could take much better advantage of sun, warm weather and local foods by looking at what our environment has to offer.

Air pollution, diabetes, global warming - same problem

Air pollution, diabetes, global warming  and are highly related problems. Much of our air pollution comes from how much we drive everywhere. This air pollution includes CO2 driving global warming. Our traffic clogged streets and towns make it hazardous to walk so we don't walk and we put on weight and develop diabetes. I am a die hard cyclist and walk commuter and live right by a shopping center that I can see from my apartment but even I never cycle or walk there because the entire center is a parking lot and I would probably get ran over. If we rebuilt are towns and cities for walking we would walk more, reduce air pollution, global warming and diabetes all at the same time.

Agile iterative lab and analysis

Laboratory work and computer based analysis need to be done in an agile iterative process. The analysis people should participate in the design of the lab experiment so they can add hooks in the lab experiment that will ease analysis and so that the analysis people realize the constraints faced by the lab. The lab can't make everything we want, the lab faces time, cost, and logistical constraints. Having the analysis people there to help plan the experiment can also make the analysis easier and more powerful but planing the capture and analysis ahead of time.

No one will be able to foresee every possible problem so the best solution is to do the smallest, shortest, cheapest lab experiment first, then analyze the data. Then go back and enlarge the scope and size of the experiment using the lessons learned for the earlier experiment and analysis in larger and large iterations.

Monday, February 17, 2014

There is no housing tech

This post is about housing technology. Basically there isn't any. There is technological and other improvements for housing but in the US basically none of them are put into widespread use. There are heat exchangers that keep warmth in houses while letting fresh air in I have heard they are getting more and more common in northern Europe. There floor heating system using electricity or hot water. Floor heating is one of the most efficient systems around and are standard in South Korea. Housing can have thick walls like strawbale houses, if you don't like these modular houses built in factories have excellent insulation. There are passive heating systems that face most of the windows south and have a long overhanging roof that shades the windows from the high summer sun and lets the low winter sun in. Leaf trees planted on the south side of a house shade the windows with there leaves in summer and their bare branches let the sun in while north side planted trees keep cold breezes off the house all year. Houses close to public transit reduce energy usage and people who live in them get more exercise walking to the train, have less obesity, and less diabetes. The measure of how good a neighborhood is is basically a measure of how much you can walk. Everything is better in walkable neighborhoods: healthier people, less crime, higher property values (because people want walkable but there aren't enough neighborhoods like this). We know how to make walkable neighbors. There are also solar panels, solar water heaters, rainwater purifiers and so on.

We know lots of ways to improve housing using technology or better planning. Now try finding a house that has any of these improvements - you can't, not at any price, not even in most new housing, most is built just like the older housing. You would have to build it yourself but anywhere near public transit or just near where you probably work doesn't have any open space. So the only way to get a house with any of these advancements is to buy a old house, knock it down and build a new one. This is very expensive, time consuming, and difficult for a individual who is not in the construction business. And you probably can't get a permit to do this anyway. What we are doing is restricting replacing existing housing and driving the price of the old inefficient housing up (because people have to live somewhere) to fund the current owners retirement when they finally sell it and move out into the countryside.

The only way we will get any advances in housing is to allow developers to knock down older housing and then encourage them to build something better in it's place in areas where people can get to work, using all we have already learned about building better housing and neighborhoods. The older stile of housing can still exist, it will just be further out from where jobs are if you really want it. Knowledge is useless if we don't act on it and make it available to more than just a sliver of people.

Exercise variation

Varying your exercise is extremely important. Different exercises and sports train different muscle groups and teach different skills. Varying will also help reduce single muscle overuse while allowing you to keep exercising.Variation is important for older people so they don't inflame old injuries and for children to keep from getting the injuries that turn into nagging injuries later in life. Variation of training is really good for children, each sport teaching something different and skills cross over. I coached soccer and taught our soccer team to turn on a dribble with a martial arts turn. There are basics to sports and movement that cut across sports. Also variation keeps children and adults interested and reduces burn out on one thing. For my kids we look for general sports camps and classes instead of just drilling one sport over and over.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Most efficient ways to build fitness

Some of the most efficient ways to exercise are weight lifting about 24 repetitions of each exercise to complete exhaustion and interval training like some kind of sprinting.

Lower weight higher repetition weight lifting (meaning about 24 reps) done to complete muscle exhaustion (lift until you can't lift a single time more) can actually build muscle even faster low repetition with a heavier weight. A study on this is here: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0012033 N. A. Burd, et al. “Low-Load High Volume Resistance Exercise Stimulates Muscle Protein Synthesis More Than High-Load Low Volume Resistance Exercise in Young Men,” PLoS ONE, vol. 5, no. 8, p. e12033, 2010.

Interval training works so well partly because you move fast turning on more fibers. Each muscle fiber in a skeletal muscle either contracts fully or not at all. You lift heavier weights or move faster by contracting/engaging more muscle fibers. So fast motions in interval training engages as many fibers as heavy lifting but also trains your heart, lungs, circulatory system, and intra-muscular glucose storage. And intervals take less time than long cardio sessions or heavy weight room workouts with lots of long breaks. Exercising efficiently for less time could also reduce injuries, less time exercises means less chance to get injured and less time to cause a repetitive stress injury while still having the positive effects of intense interval training.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Code that moves

The next phase in computer code is to make things move and interact with the physical world. Most computer programs involve making programs that run on screens and people stair at the screens. Mobile computing like laptops, tablets, and smart phone made those screens we stair at portable. The next phase is to make code that moves robotic devices and devices that sense our physical world and interact with it. The computer processor brains that now fit in our smart phones will be embedded in devices with cameras, wheels, legs, arms, light and touch sensors and start interacting with us.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Where smart medical devices should go

Smart medical devices that use automated image processing to assist clinicians especially in low resource healthcare systems can be developed and have an immediate impact in low resource healthcare systems. Algorithms and software are available to assist medical clinicians in diagnosis and treatment planning. Not many of these system are in clinical practice because high resource developed healthcare systems have human experts that can do an excellent job. Low resource healthcare systems lack the necessary experts and the software that exists today could make an immediate impact.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Arterial Tortuosity PhD defense

I picked a topic that created lots of pictures and graphics so hopefully my PhD defense presentation looks somewhat cool.