Monthly Archives: August 2015

Dementia

I’ve been doing volunteering for the past year at a care home for the elderly with dementia and yet, I don’t have too much knowledge about the mental disease.  I felt that researching into dementia would allow me to empathise more as well as being able to adapt my other interpersonal skills in an appropriate manner when communicating with the residents.

So what is dementia?

You’ve probably heard of Alzheimers, which is a type of dementia. Dementia is the umbrella term which includes a vast array of mental disease.  The word dementia a describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These changes are often small to start with, but for someone with dementia they have become severe enough to affect daily life. A person with dementia may also experience changes in their mood or behaviour. 

According to the Alzheimers society, there are around 800,000 people with dementia and unfortunately there isn’t any cure. A lot of people have argued that there isn’t enough funding which goes into looking for a cure for dementia however current research includes;

Gene Therapy- This aims to stop brain cells from dying or even replace them

A dementia vaccine- This would inject abnormal amounts of proteins, activating an immune response which would lead to the immune system sensitising to that protein

Stem Cells- They could be used to replace the brain cells, they could also be manipulated so they mimic some of the body’s processes that may cause the development of dementia. Doing this will help scientists to better understand dementia. It also allows researchers to predict the effects of potential dementia drugs more accurately.

I feel sometimes mental diseases are taken a lot less seriously compared to things like cancer, however they are just as dangerous.

 

Linking Brains

Recently, research has been carried out in North Carolina at the Duke University Medical Centre in which the brains if three monkeys was connected, forming a living computer. Through this and brain-machine interfaces, they can carry out tasks such as controlling machines and prosthetic limbs purely with the thought of their brains. This can be done as the computer translates the brain’s electrical impulses into it’s own language that it can use.

In the experiment of linking monkeys brains, they isolated one dimension of movement of a mechanical arm to each monkey (for example, one monkey can control its vertical movement and the others it’s horizontal) , the goal was that the monkeys work together to move the arm to a dot on the screen. Amazingly, they were able to coordinate to carry out this task forming a super-brain.

So what benefits does this hold for humans?

Unfortunately, the methods used currently are ethically inappropriate to use on humans as they are invasive, however when non invasive methods are created, things like different languages need not exist. This is because a person could send their thoughts from them to another persons brain in a manner that isn’t represented by sound or words. Also, it could lead to an elevation in the quality of mathematics, we could connect the brightest mathematical minds to solve complex problems. However, it also has a medical use. It can be used in surgery; generally, only one surgeon in a surgical team uses the scalpel to operate on a patient, however like the monkeys did with the prosthetic arm, various team members could coordinate to control the procedure.

However, there are disadvantages;

Thoughts that don’t want to be shared can be shared unintentionally, this could be detrimental as everyone has thoughts that they don’t really want shared with others.

It may be possible for one person to manipulate the brains of others again which could could lead to some unsafe situations.

Medical advances as such are an extremely exciting prospect, it would be amazing to see how far we are in ten’s and even in hundred’s of years.

Look forward to posting again!

 

Jeremy Hunt’s 7 days a week proposal?

Recently, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has been the centre of a controversial discussion as he proposed some very interesting plans,  that all NHS hospital consultants must work 7 days a week with out extra pay.

Regarding the first change, I feel that this is an insult to doctors working in the NHS, many have expressed their anger through social media. Jeremy Hunt himself has never worked in a hospital or really had much experience in a clinical setting, in fact his degree is in PPE. Most consultants DO work 7 days, in that if they are called, they will go to the hospital with out complaining. The fact that it is without extra pay is something that I find annoying, yes it would be expensive to pay all the doctors, however doctors aren’t exactly payed extravagantly  (contrary to popular belief), in fact  junior doctors work extremely long, physically and mentally arduous hours for less pay than a manager at pret a manger. It is extremely easy to say that doctor’s need to work 7 days a week yet for it to happen is extremely difficult. Being a doctor is a strenuous  job, both physically and emotionally so doctors need some sort of break. To make it even worse, Jeremy Hunt has said if consultants do not agree to working weekends within 6 weeks, he will impose the 7 day rule as well cutting the pay of the extra time worked by consultants.  But would this 7 days a week strategy improve current situations? According to Jeremy Hunt, 6000 people die every year due to a lack of  doctors at the weekends, however experts argue that this is not necessarily due to a lack of consultants. The problem lies further down the line with getting blood tests, scans, pharmaceutical availabilities ect.

My opinions is that it could be a good idea, however due to a lack of clinical experience, he is targeting the wrong group. Instead of consultants, there should be more availability for the services above which could be beneficial.

Look forward to posting again!