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A Biofeedback Pen For Managing Stress

Miguel Bruns Alonso, a graduate student at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, has developed a pen that detects how much twitching and twirling it’s being put through.

People under stress tend to move and shake a pen more than someone who is calm. In order to try to get a therapeutic effect out of the pen, Bruns built in counter motion feedback that makes the pen a bit more difficult to move around. Though initial experiments have shown a marginal benefit, further studies and development may prove the benefit of the technology. From TU Delft:

Bruns, who studies industrial design, carried out various experiments during the course of his research, which showed that people tend to play with their pens in their hands when they are tense. It also seems that when they are encouraged to check these nervous movements, or make more gentle movements, it is possible to gain more control over a situation. “Sensors in a pen could provide an unobtrusive way of measuring stress levels. Giving users the right feedback could then help them deal with their stress in a constructive way,” says Bruns. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

MD Seniority Determined By Pocket Content?

Long, long ago, when I was a medical student, we joked that you could tell how senior a physician was by how much junk was in their lab coat pockets.  As students, we tended to carry around big bags full of every medical gadget we could think of, plus a few reference texts.  The attendings were slim and graceful in their long white coats with empty pockets.

When I became an intern and moved into the hospital full-time, all that crap became just too much to lug around.  I ditched the bag, and my short white coat (with interior pockets, thank god) became loaded down with tons of stuff: reflex hammers, pocket reference guides, photocopied research papers for reading, patient lists, a procedure log, a PDA with epocrates, a bit of a snack maybe, and more.  The coat weighed at least ten pounds fully loaded.  As a junior resident, I pared it down to the few references and gadgets I actually used frequently, and the coat got a lot lighter.  With each succeeding year I have lightened the load somewhat, down to the absolute essentials.  I shed the white coat years and years ago.  Now the only things I bring with me to the hospital are:


Three items.  It’s very liberating.  Of course, I have epocrates and more on every computer workstation, so the references are there in the ER for me, but still, it’s something of a victory over inanimate junk and my own packrat tendencies that I can go to work with only three things in my pockets.

The downside is that if I happen to forget any one of these three sacred totems, it totally ruins my whole day.

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

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