A cup of coffee each may reduce number of falls in older people says “Rotterdam Report”. But is this true for people with a medical condition?

Coffee and gait
Coffee and gait
gaitAs many of you know I have been studying healthcare , as a researcher, for nearly ten years.

Mainly I look at the ignored of hidden problems which impact people with various different conditions such a multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia.

So I was very interested in a report which dropped into my in-box a couple of days ago.

According to the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that consuming more than one cup of coffee per day is associated with better gait – an important health indicator that relates to the risk of falling, morbidity and mortality, and is influenced by the nervous and cardiovascular systems, as well as musculoskeletal structure.

This research which was conducted at the Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, investigated associations of alcohol, coffee and tobacco consumption with gait, using 2546 participants from The Rotterdam Study with a median age of 68 years.”

Co-author Dr. Arfan Ikram said “Until now, research into the impact of coffee consumption on gait has looked at specific groups and has therefore not provided information on the associations of overall coffee consumption with gait. With this study, we wanted to explore the associations of coffee consumption on gait to assess the beneficial, or detrimental, effects of coffee on general health.”

It seems that 1 in 3 people over 65 have a serious fall, mostly in their home. The impact of falls can result in injuries such as hip fractures and head trauma and often begin the end of independent living for many.

The study used a large population-based sample of non-demented participants with a average age of 68 years and includes all patients who underwent gait assessments between March 2009 and March 2012.

Coffee consumption was assessed as part of a food frequency questionnaire. The results showed that consuming more than one cup of coffee daily was associated with better gait when compared to drinking one or less cups of coffee. Consuming one to three cups of coffee daily was associated with higher Pace (or length of stride) and consuming more than three cups daily with better variability in stride length, pace and turning time compared with consuming one or less than one cup of coffee. Such effects may have important implications on the risk of falling in older populations.

To read the study abstract, click here.

Well so far so good. My interest is how does this apply to you especially if you have a condition such as multiple sclerosis does drinking coffee have any effect.

It would be great if you could share in the comments section below.

Faces of the F.A.C.E. Lab – the Importance of Autism Research

Faces of the F.A.C.E. Lab – the Importance of Autism Research
Faces of the F.A.C.E. Lab – the Importance of Autism Research

A guest post from Julia Mertens, FACE Lab Research Assistant

Who do you think made the first stone spears? The Asperger guy. If you were to get rid of all the autism genetics, there would be no more Silicon Valley.

We have got to work on keeping these children engaged in the world.

-Temple Grandin, Autism Advocate

These two quotes by Temple Grandin summarize why we at the F.A.C.E. Lab are


so passionate about what we do, and why we hope families will participate in autism research. I’ve only been with the F.A.C.E. Lab for a month and a half now, and I have already been humbled by the intelligence and creativity of 10-16 year olds with and without autism. It has been centuries since the human who created the stone spear died, but I can see their legacy in the faces of these kids.

But sometimes our geniuses with autism have to struggle in order to be accepted by society. Research shows that social communication is directly related to success. When almost every job requires an in-person interview, social difficulties can conceal the unique talents and potential of someone with an autism spectrum disorder.

I work at the F.A.C.E. Lab so that I can help improve therapy, and so that those geniuses are in the best position to contribute to our society which desperately needs them.

F.A.C.E. Lab
F.A.C.E. Lab at Emerson College

Currently, our research needs children ages 10-16 with and without autism to participate in our studies. Our study takes place in two sessions, 2-3 hours each. Participants are compensated for their time, and parking is subsidized.

The tasks the child will complete include: standardized tests, watching videos of people talking, answering some questions about the videos, and having a conversation with one of the F.A.C.E. Lab researchers. During some parts of the study, the child will have small stickers on their face to track facial expressions and pain-free electrodes on their hands, clavicles and a rib in order to measure heart rate and skin conductance.

Please check out our website and Facebook for more information:



If you’d like to participate, have any ideas as to how we can reach out to families, or think of any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact us at facelab@emerson.edu or (617) 824-8710.

On a diet? Watch this video and find out how it can give you bad breath!

Protein drink after exercise?
Protein drink after exercise?
With summer here and millions getting ready to head away on their long-awaited holidays, new research reveals that one in six Brits are following extreme celebrity-favoured diet plans in an effort to shift those last few pounds.

A quarter of us cut down on or cut out carbohydrates, or even skip breakfast, whilst 15% are following eating plans like the Atkins, 5:2 or raw food diets.

What’s more, many are well into their summer body plans with one in three Brits exercising four or more times a week.. But we’re not just exercising more in our efforts to get beach-body ready – one in ten of us are eating a high protein diet, with a similar number drinking protein shakes after they exercise.

Yet did you know that many of these lifestyle changes can actually affect how your breath smells?
Watch our video with nutritionist and lifestyle expert, Amanda Hamilton, and dentist Dr. Luke Thorley to hear them explain how some of these diet changes can affect not only your health and wellbeing but could also give you unpleasant breath.

International Gastroschisis Awareness Day 2015 – like and share to show your support!

Gastroschisis  Awareness
Gastroschisis Awareness

Thursday July 30th is International Gastroschisis Awareness Day 2015.

Gastroschisis is a medical condition in which the baby has a hole at the front of the abdomen. Normally  just to the side of the umbilical cord which is attached to the womb. The hole has some of the bowel (intestine or guts) is coming out. This bowel is easily visible on the ultrasound scan.

This is a very rare problem, which occurs in around 1 in every 3000 births. At present there is no certain cause.

It would be really great if you could share this page to help us raise awareness of the condition.

Thanks very much in advance for your support

Online diagnosis – find out how telemedicine is taking the globe by storm!

  • Data from 61 million health internet searches, reveals the trend for self-
    Dr Dawn Harper
    Dr Dawn Harper

    diagnoses is on the rise

  • The top ten of most common health searches reveals back pain, diarrhoea and depression as our leading concerns
  • One in four people in the UK admit to self-diagnosing illnesses rather than make time for a doctor’s appointment.
  • UK Digital Health Report from PushDoctor.co.uk, reveals Internet UK’s first port of call when feeling unwell

One in four people in the UK admit to self-diagnosing illnesses rather than make time for a doctor’s appointment.

Research reveals that 22% of people have chosen to diagnose their symptoms on the web because they were unable to get a doctor’s appointment (11%) or because their GP wasn’t available quickly enough (10.8%). The report also reveals that the internet is now the first place people go for advice when starting to feel unwell, more so than their partner or a medical professional.  This is true for all age groups under 65 years old.

The report, published by PushDoctor.co.uk, suggests the UK is becoming a nation of impatient patients, who are not willing to change plans to accommodate appointments to see their GP.

When asked what they would not be prepared to cancel in order to fit in a doctor’s appointment for a health issue causing them ‘moderate concern’, 47% literally weren’t prepared to get out of bed, saying that they wouldn’t miss the opportunity of a lie in to see their doctor. An additional 50% wouldn’t cancel a gym session, 46% would keep arrangements to meet friends for lunch and 38% wouldn’t even be prepared to rearrange plans for a shopping trip.

Analysis of data from 61 million UK internet searches for 160 leading health issues, reveals the trend for self-diagnoses is on the rise, up 19% over the last 12 months (an average of an extra 848,000 searches each month).

The most common health searches reveal that back pain, diarrhea and depression are our leading concerns.

To find out more PatientTalk.org interviewed Dr Dawn Harper and Eren Ozagir to find out more.

PATIENTTALK.ORG – I’ve just got a few questions for you, so first question is what is the history of online self-diagnosis?

DR DAWN HARPER -As an NHS G.P I can tell you that actually the use of the internet is relatively recent in terms of health care but it has increased majorly, so I am at the point now where I can’t remember the last time I did a surgery when somebody didn’t come in having already consulted Dr Google and they usually come in and have printed a wodge of paper , they have often diagnosed something very rare but almost always quite serious and they are frightened or really terrified so I think we need to be very realistic about the fact that online diagnosis is here to stay with that said its relatively  speaking a good thing and I also can’t remember the last time I did a surgery without using the internet, we are very time pressured in the NHS and I’ve only got around 10-12 minutes to deal with your problem so quite often I would either direct people to specific websites that I know will give them reliable information or I print things off for patients there and then so that they know they have got other information / back up information to take home and I know that they know what the next step should be.

PATIENTTALK.ORG -With online self- diagnosis what type of technology does that use?

EREN OZAGIR – So Push Doctor uses really simple technology because it needs to appeal to the majority of people , people like you and me to use our old mobiles / tablets / phones depending on where we are and what we need and so the technology is actually a standard website but behind that is a complex secured digital consultation software but the video quality is really interesting as a technical piece  , unlike other technology that you may have used on something like skype or FaceTime well actually Push Doctor uses HIPAA Proved, which is the United States health human services approved secure technology which means that the video consultations that the patients and Doctors enjoy on Push Doctor are encrypted and secured and at the end burned and trashed so that there is no recordings of patients and clinicians. So it’s an innovate piece of kit and its same kit actually that google uses across the world for billions of video transactions across android devices so we know that it works on scale with 3G, 4G and on WIFI.

PATIENTTALK.ORG Back  to self-diagnosis what are the risks of miss-diagnosis?

DR DAWN HARPER -Interestedly when patients are using Dr Google about two thirds of them have actually got their diagnosis wrong when we are looking at something like push doctor because of the clarity of the video footage and I’ve been online and obviously checked them myself actually you get a very good picture , now for most doctors I remember having a lovely professor at medical school who said ‘ a good doctor is someone who knows what’s going on at the end of the conversation, before you have even touched them’ whereas actually a lot of patients thinks that a good doctor is one who orders a whole battery of tests , so most of the diagnosis is in the story so actually using this kind of technology for the majority of cases is actually the equivalent of being in the clinic with me, I can hear your story but I can also look at your body language, I can tell whether you are in pain and see how you hold yourself because a lot of those nonverbal ques helps us in making a diagnosis  and its exactly the same using something like push doctor as it would be if I saw you in surgery.

PATIENTTALK.ORG  Can  you give some practical examples of its use?

DR DAWN HARPER -Well Interestedly 80% of G.P’s consultations do not require me to actually touch you, to examine you so 80% of the consultations I do in surgery are just about us looking at each other, picking up those nonverbal ques and me talking to you and listening to you and so for all of those sorts of consultations this type of technology is absolutely perfect. So for people who have any kind of stress related problem, a lot of some of them more minor elements that we might see, common coughs or colds, something that we don’t need to examine your chest for example then that would be a perfectly appropriate thing for me to deal with on this kind of service, rashes you know it’s very easy for me to look at a rash and very rarely do I need to actually touch a rash and what’s lovely about this is that for the patient you have got this very assessable service that’s open till 10pm at night 7 days a week and you just simple go online, you can book your appointment to fit in with you and you will get a GMT registered doctor who will give you an opinion now, if you turn out to be somebody who perhaps does need an examination then that doctor can direct you and tell you who you need to see , when you need to see them, what sort of things you need to be saying and asking.

PATIENTTALK.ORG  Which conditions are most suitable?

DR DAWN HARPER -Any condition that doesn’t need me to physically examine you, can actually be treated with this kind of service and interestedly that is the majority so 80% of the people that I see in surgery I don’t actually need to get up on my couch and physically examine them and any of those people could be helped by this kind of service.

PATIENTTALK.ORG -Can you tell us a bit more about the report? You know with the stats saying that self-diagnosis is up by 20%?

EREN OZAGIR -The push doctor national health report looks at a whole range of symptoms and traffic online and its discovered that 1 in 4 of us have been self-diagnosing on the web rather than seeing a G.P and the majority of those are consulting on the web because they have been unable to get a doctor’s appointment at all or they have been unable to get one quickly enough in their opinion and that’s because more and more of us are used to getting what we want, faster and on demand and what’s been really interesting is that some of the other data that’s come out of the report about what patients are willing to put up with and that they are willing to put up with certain conditions for a longer period of time in order for their general day not to be disturbed  so 50% of people went even willing to ditch a gym session to get the medical advice they need and deserve and 47% of the people that we spoke to were unable to give up a lay in in bed when they needed to go to the doctors, I mean those numbers are quite scary actually so one of the things that’s great about push doctor is obviously we are able to bring the doctor to patients home and work environments and give them an opportunity to fit as they expect that important medical advice into their day to prevent conditions from getting worse. Some of the other things that we have discovered along the way is that slightly more women than men are searching for their symptoms online and when people start to feel unwell the majority will research online rather then ask a partner or friend and lastly what was concerning from the statistics was that more people who used to do absolutely nothing about the things that is concerning them rather then ask a friend or a relative for their opinion so they were afraid to share and sharing your medical concerns is a really important part of you realising you need help or getting help and whether that is with a partner or friend or indeed a G.P , one of our missions at Push Doctor is to make that sharing easier and more accessible even if it’s on a private basis on a one to one discussion online using our video service.

PATIENTTALK.ORG  Given  the findings in the report does this not suggest serious weakness within the UKS’s NHS?

DR DAWN HARPER -As an NHS practising G.P I have seen huge changes really in the last ten / twenty years  and I think it’s only been very recent actually that we are a truly a national health service, I think up until recent years it’s been a national health service when people only come to me when they are poorly, we have become much better at proactive medicine, were screening more people , we are bringing more people into the surgery and testing them, that’s  really good thing but it inevitably  increases the pressure on the NHS and I think there isn’t a person in this country that doesn’t appreciate that the NHS is under pressure, I constantly hear my patients saying they had to wait two weeks for an appointment to see me , the frustrations are on both sides on the fence believe me because I find it frustrating as well and I think a service like Push Doctor actually really does add an extra boat or arm if you like , it reduces the pressure on the  NHS, it’s convenient for the patient, it frees me up to be able to see the people that I really do need to see face to face but also the policy is unless a patient specifically requests it there is communication between your Push Doctor and your G.P so then we can pick up the pieces if we need to refer on or we need to follow something up we can do that so I see it as a really positive thing for the NHS and something that we should be embracing.

PATIENTTALK.ORG  Can  it be integrated into a conventional health care provision and if it can how?

EREN OZAGIR – Push Doctor is integrated already into conventional health care, we are already obliged to inform your regular doctor of your conditions or the things that we have discovered when you’re in consultant Push doctor, obviously if that’s not something you want to do then you can opt out of that and your records are maintained and kept very private but actually as a matter of course we would normally write to your regular doctor and let them know what we have discovered , what we have been exploring and what we recommend and what we agreed together between you and your doctor. Additionally Push doctor is NHS commissioned and we’ve provided an enhance tech to NHS G.P’s and NHS patients who are  consulting on a platform , so there’s 24,000 that are enjoying the service and it is making up a general part of what you said conventional health care, it’s an important thing to get right, the technology that we are integrating into the NHS is proving out to safe time both for patients and clinicians , its having a brilliant access score with patients who are really feeding back with 5 out of 5 starts for accessibility but that’s really important is that we ask every patient who uses our service in the NHS whether they found that the technology made it easier to see a clinician with the exception of one, 4 out of 5 people would say it’s very likely or extremely likely that they would use the service  , sorry in the majority of cases the feedback from patients is that they found it very easy to see a clinician on Push doctor and that actually enhanced their experience of visiting and using the NHS.

World Hepatitis Day 2015 – Get the facts with is infographic

World Hepatitis Day 2015 - Know the facts
World Hepatitis Day 2015 – Know the facts

Over the course of the last few years this blog has always been a strong supporter of World Hapatitis Day. You can catch up with previous blog posts here.

This year we are sharing a brilliant infographic from he World Hepatitis Alliance which gives a very useful overview of hepatitis.

It would be great if you would consider sharing with family and friends.

Many thanks in advance.

Autism advice! Have you tried ABA therapy and how did it work?

Should we give our son ABA therapy?
Should we give our son ABA therapy?
As many of you know by now I’m not a fount of wisdom about autism. I’m simply the parent of a child who has been diagnosed on the spectrum.

But as I do run a blog one of the things I can do is to ask questions which my wife and I have and the the benefit of the experience of our readers and other members of the autism community.

So we have a question.

We are considering ABA therapy for our son (who is now eight years old). He has been described as moderately on the spectrum. Which means he is verbal and attends a specialist unit with a mainstream school for his education. Which I admit does not give you a real feel for his behaviours does give you a kind of position for him on the spectrum.

To return to ABA therapy. According to Wikipedia “Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is defined as the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior.” Which is not particularly clear you’ll agree.

So my first question is what is ABA in practice? If you could share your story in the comments box below. My wife and I would also like to know how did ADA therapy actually work for you? Again if you could share that would be great.

Finally I would be grateful if you could take the short poll on ABA below. I’m keen to understand what percentage of my readers and the wider ASD community have used ABA.

Thanks very much in advance!

Tongue Tie – can you help my daughter with some advice please?

My tongue tied daughter
My tongue tied daughter

This was not the blog I was expecting to write this morning.

Last week I planned to write a quick blog asking your advice on how to help my daughter swallowing some pill prescribed by the Doctor. Difficulty swallowing is also called Oropharyngeal dysphagia! And we have covered it in a previous blog post.

But it was Saturday afternoon that we found out the reason.

We were travelling by train to my cousin’s husband’s 40th birthday party since you ask. Now all children of any age find a 90 minute rail journey somewhat on the boring side. So my son and my daughter and another of my cousins decided to have a tongue sticking out competition.

And that is when we discovered that our daughter was tongue tied. You can see from the photo above the extent to which she can stick out her tongue.

So what next?

That is the purpose of this post. Do you have any experience of know about tongue tie? My daughter is 13 so is interested in finding out what to do now (and so are my wife and I).

We see the Doctor in 10 days but any hints on what to expect would be gratefully received. It would be great if you could share in the comments section below.

Just as a point of information the UK’s NHS define “Tonguetie (ankyloglossia) “… “a problem affecting some babies with a tight piece of skin between the underside of their tongue and the floor of their mouth (lingual frenulum). It can sometimes affect the baby’s feeding, making it hard for them to attach properly to their mother’s breast.”

“I don’t look sick” – this brilliant infographic from Donnee Spencer has now been updated!

Donnee Spencer

As many of you know we have been delighted to share the brilliant images and infographics produced by Donnee Spencer- herself a person with multiple sclerosis.

A couple of days ago one of our readers was reading the original infographic “I don’t look sick” and noticed that it included a typographic error. That is spelling to the rest of us. Then she wiped out her copy of Photoshop and made all the necessary changes. So we thought we would share with you guys.

Please do feel free to use this new version to help us raise awareness of invisible medical conditions.