The News – 08 April 2015

Overview

  • In a competitive world, some parents are prepared to do whatever it takes to give their child an academic edge, even if it means zapping their young brains with an electrical current.
  • AMA Vice President, Dr Stephen Parnis, said the new Position Statement outlines the appropriate considerations in taking a palliative approach to the care and management of patients who reside in residential aged care facilities.
  • The Indian government has launched the country’s first air quality index amid growing concern over the impact of air pollution on public health.



News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 8th April 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-05/experts-concerned-about-diy-brain-zapping-for-school-marks/6368998

In a competitive world, some parents are prepared to do whatever it takes to give their child an academic edge, even if it means zapping their young brains with an electrical current.

For just a few hundred dollars, you can buy your own brain stimulation kit online.
Pop on the headset and, if you believe the marketing, you should see an immediate improvements in tasks like solving maths problems and learning a language.
Professor Colleen Loo from the Black Dog Institute has been researching what’s known as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for 20 years.

“Used in the right way it can make very useful changes to your brain functioning, but if you get it wrong – if you, for example, reverse the position of the two electrodes – you could actually have the opposite effect,” she said.
“I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing it to yourself at home.”
Professor Loo and her colleague and fellow researcher Dr Donel Martin are concerned about online advertisements promising to get children through a calculus test and even treat students suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
“There is some evidence to suggest maths ability and learning may be improved, but in order to do this we must stimulate certain parts of the brain in a certain way,” Dr Martin said.
“Devices like this where you just plonk it on your head, it’s really unclear what areas of the brain are being targeted.”
A study at Britain’s Oxford University found that students performed better in mental arithmetic after their brains were zapped for five consecutive days.

But Dr Martin cautions parents against experimenting on their children.
“There’s been very little research conducted in using these devices on children,” he said.
“Without medical supervision there could be unwanted and unexpected side effects.”
Dr Martin said in a clinical setting the dose of electricity and duration of treatment were carefully controlled.


Trials were also under way into its use in the treatment of schizophrenia, eating disorders and post traumatic stress disorder.

https://ama.com.au/media/ama-calls-palliative-care-plans-aged-care

The AMA[has]… released its new Position Statement on Palliative Approach in Residential Aged Care Facilities.

AMA Vice President, Dr Stephen Parnis, said the new Position Statement outlines the appropriate considerations in taking a palliative approach to the care and management of patients who reside in residential aged care facilities.

“The AMA would like to see the introduction of templates for palliative care plans in aged care. Palliative care plans are an excellent way to ensure that everyone involved in the person’s care follows the same agreed approach.”
Dr Parnis said that, according to research by the Grattan Institute, 70 per cent of Australians want to die in their home, which includes in their Aged Care Facility.

At present, up to 70 per cent of people die in acute care hospitals, and many are actively treated right up until the moment of their death.
By contrast, a palliative approach to care for residents of aged care facilities, living for extending periods of time with life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s, neurodegenerative and renal diseases, aims to maximise quality of life through appropriate needs-based care.
The Position Statement is available [on the ama website] at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/palliative-approach-residential-aged-care-2015
 
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-07/india-measures-air-quality-in-world27s-most-polluted-capital/6374274

The Indian government has launched the country’s first air quality index amid growing concern over the impact of air pollution on public health.

The government said monitoring stations with air quality index display boards would be set up in New Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
The aim is for the index to eventually cover 66 cities.

A government website for the index, which will grade air quality using a colour-coded chart, went live on Monday but could not be accessed.
Officials said it had likely collapsed under high demand.
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar said the new index could drive efforts to ease air pollution.
He gave little indication of what the government would do except to promise new rules on disposing of construction waste.
Greenpeace welcomed the new index but said it had expected the government “to address the issue with more rigour and responsibility”.

The Indian government is under intense pressure to act after the World Health Organization (WHO) last year declared New Delhi the world’s most polluted capital.
Last year, the Environmental Preference Index ranked India 174 out of 178 countries for air quality.
At least 3,000 people die prematurely every year in the city because of air pollution, according to a joint study by Boston-based Health Effects Institute and Delhi’s Energy Resources Institute.

This has been the news on Health Professional Radio. For more information on today’s items head to hpr.fm/news and subscribe to our podcast on itunes.