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SCUBA Diving With A Disability

Charles James Shaffer (U.S. Navy) learning to SCUBA | Charles James Shaffer (U.S. Navy) learning to SCUBAOutdoor recreation is intended for everyone, and can be enormously beneficial for persons with disabilities. I am in awe of disabled skiers, climbers, divers, and others who have learned to coordinate their bodies and take great enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment from their wilderness activities.

It behooves everyone in the healthcare profession to be aware of certain special medical concerns for persons who are disabled physically or emotionally. Additionally, family members and friends are often well aware of what they can do to help in providing a joint effort to support the disabled.

At the 2010 Wilderness Medical Society annual meeting in Snowmass, Colorado, JenFu Cheng, MD (a pediatric rehabilitation specialist from NJ), gave a wonderful presentation on the medical aspects of (scuba) diving with a disability. He pointed out that there may be up to nine million certified recreational scuba divers in the United States alone. His presentation, rather than focusing on persons who are fully capable physically and emotionally, examined the lesser-known benefits of being in the water for individuals in need of additional support. For instance, aqua therapy (largely enacted in swimming pools) takes advantage of the buoyancy of water to allow a range of mobility that is not possible on land. For example, aquatic exercise has been shown to improve lung capacity and mobility skills in children with cerebral palsy. Read more »

This post, SCUBA Diving With A Disability, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

The Myth Of The Rich Doctor

This is my column in June’s EM News.

‘But you’re a rich doctor, right?’ Have you had that conversation? There’s a certain expectation of physicians, that we’re all just filthy rich, overflowing with boxes of cash tucked neatly away beneath our gilded beds.

When we were building our house, our builder talked with my wife: ‘Jan, I want you to meet me to look for counters and cabinets. Don’t bathe the kids. Put them in dirty play clothes and don’t wear anything nice. Don’t ever tell them your husband is a doctor.’ He’s a wise man. What he knew was that the word ‘doctor’ means ‘cash.’ Or at least, means ‘cash’ to the popular mind.

I wonder if this perception is the reason patients come to the emergency department and say things like this: ‘I don’t have any money to go to the dentist, so I came here.’ It’s the belief that we come to our jobs already in possession of large amounts of money. Granted, there are some physicians who come from wealthy families. The majority, however, do not. And no one does that to any other professional. ‘I’d like a house built to order, and I know you’re a rich contractor. I can’t pay you, so get to work! Or else I’ll sue!’

Nevertheless, from patients to insurers, real-estate agents to contractors, attorneys to government and hospital officials, the belief is straightforward. MD means ‘Mucho Denaro.’ Witness the hospital in Pennsylvania that recently began Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*

The Global Cost Of Fighting Cancer

Cancer is the world’s costliest disease, sapping the equivalent of 1.5 percent of the global gross domestic product through disability and loss of life, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Cancer cost $895 billion in 2008, and that’s before factoring in the cost of treating cancer.

Cancer and other chronic diseases cost more than infectious diseases and even AIDS, according to a report the ACS [presented last] week. While chronic diseases are 60 percent of all deaths globally, they receive only 3 percent of private and public research funding. The organization is calling for a new look at priorities by the United Nations and the World Health Organization. (Associated Press)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

A Tool To Help The Visually Impaired “See” Facial Expressions

Shafiq ur Réhman, a doctoral student at Umeå University in Sweden has unveiled his thesis project — a technology that converts facial emotions into special tactile sensations for the visually impaired.

The system uses a webcam to capture faces, and then subsequently converts the captured emotion into a series of vibrations that correspond with the expressed emotion.

The users are expected to train themselves by making their own faces into the webcam and getting a feel for how the vibrations change with the faces they’re making. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

The Game of Life & American Tragedy

A game worth learning

Three of my children love to play the game ‘Life,’ where players choose college or career and are paid, take out loans, pay taxes, have families and all the rest as they navigate towards retirement.  I especially love playing with them when they each become frantic, not for the highest income, but to finish the game with the most children.  Along the way, my daughter is even naming her kids as the tiny blue and pink pegs fill up her little plastic car.  (Talk about your parental validation!)

But after playing, then thinking back on my week at work, I fear that we could easily make a new game that was more familiar to many modern kids.  I suppose we’d have to call it ‘The Game of Death,’ or maybe just ‘The Game of Pain.’ Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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