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Health Updates 23 July 2012

  • Really?  You can spot a lie by watching a person’s eyes:  “According to an old theory  about body language, it is easy to catch someone in a lie.  When right-handed people move their eyes up and to the left in response to a question, they are picturing a real memory.  When their eyes go up and to the right, the theory goes, they are accessing the creative corners of the brain and visualizing an imagined event – therefore concocting a lie.  The theory, dating back to the 1970s, is widely repeated and frequently taught in neuro-linguistic training courses.  But it has never been thoroughly substantiated, and new research suggests it is little more than pseudoscience.  In a controlled study published in the journal PLoS One, British researchers monitored the eye movements of 32 right-handed people as they told lies and truths about recent events to an interviewer.  The scientists found that there was no pattern of eye movement that predicted lying.  In a second experiment, 50 people were asked to look for signs of lying among interviewees.  Although half were taught to look for eye movements, they fared no better at lie detection than an untrained control group.  But what about in more serious, real-life situations?  To answer that, the researchers examined archival news video of 52 people making public pleas for a safe return of a missing relative – with half later proven to be lying.  Researchers found no evidence that eye movements predict lies or truths.  The bottom line: Research suggests that it is not possible to detect lies based on eye movement.”  (Anahad O’Connor, NY Times)
  • Distractions in OR make errors more likely: “Surgery residents committed eight times as many errors during simulated procedures when realistic distractions and interruptions were introduced than when they completed procedures without interruption, investigators reported.  The residents made major surgical errors during eight of 18 simulated procedures with distractions versus only one of 18 operations that occurred without intrusions.  Additionally, more than half of the residents forgot a key memory task related to the surgery when they were interrupted as compared with 22% during uninterrupted surgery, as reported online in Archives of Surgery.  ‘This study provided statistically significant evidence  to support the  hypothesis that realistic operating-room (OR) distractions and interruptions increase the likelihood of errors in a simulated laboratory setting with novice surgeons,’ Robin L. Feuerbacher, PhD, of Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend, Ore., and co-authors wrote in conclusion.  ‘This finding is important because it implies that OR distractions and interruptions may lead to adverse patient outcomes,’ they added….Interruptions and distractions during surgery are common occurrences that are generally acknowledged by healthcare professionals.  However, efforts to quantify and describe OR interruptions and the errors they induce have been few and uninformative, Feuerbacher and colleagues wrote.  In particular, prior studies have introduced atypical distractions (such as mental arithmetic) or confounded the OR environment with substandard conditions or circumstances (such as faulty equipment).  The authors sought to examine the impact of realistic distractions and interruptions on the performance of novice surgeons during clinical simulations”.  The interruptions included unexpected movement by an observer; a ringing cell phone answered by an observer; an unrelated conversation between an observer and a third-party; noise from a dropping tray; asking the surgeon about a problem that had arisen in an already recovering patient; asking a question about the surgeon’s career choice.  These interruptions were timed to occur at critical decision-making points during the simulation.  (Charles Bankhead, MedPage Today)
  • Inactivity may kill as many worldwide as smoking: “Inactivity is a major cause of death worldwide, with new research suggesting that a sedentary lifestyle is on par with both smoking and obesity when it comes to raising the risk for disease and mortality.  In four research papers published online July 18 in a special physical activity-themed series in The Lancet, a number of investigating teams peg the number of inactivity-related deaths at 5.3 million worldwide as recently as 2008.  This figure attributed to an inactivity-related risk for major killers such as breast and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease amounts to roughly one out of every 10 ten deaths globally, a tally more or less equivalent to the number of people who die as a result of smoking.  Although the report cites the inactivity-mortality association as most critical in low- and middle-income nations, researchers depict the situation as a problem with global dimensions.  One third of all adults – globally amounting to about 1.5 billion people – face a 20 percent to 30 percent greater risk for disease due to failing to engage in a kind of routine physical activity (150 minutes of moderate exercise per week) typically recommended by public health authorities.  This figure rises dramatically among adolescents, among whom foru in five engage in a risky sedentary lifestyle….Not all parts of the world are affected equally, however, as inactivity patterns vary widely region-by-region.  For example, while about 43 percent of North Americans are deemed to be inactive, that figure is just 17 percent among southeast Asians.  In Europe, inactivity figures run the gamut, ranging from a high of roughly 70 percent in Malta and Serbia to a low of 17 percent to 18 percent in Estonia and the Netherlands. Accordingly, inactivity-related disease incidence differs by region as well.  Heart disease deaths brought on by a sedentary lifestyle appears to be more problematic in Europe, the researchers noted, where 121,000 fatalities were linked to inactivity in 2008.  By comparison, there were 60,000 such deaths in North America and 44,000 in the eastern Mediterranean area.”  It wouldn’t take much to turn the corner, however.  If physical inactivity rates were cut by as little as 10 percent globally, as many as 533,000 lives could be saved.   “Because even moderate physical activity such as walking and cycling can have substantial health benefits, understanding strategies that can increase these behaviors in different regions and cultures has become a public health priority,’ Gregory Heath, of the University of Tennessee, said in a journal news release.” (MedlinePlus)
  • Hip reconstruction technique provides good outcomes for athletes: “A common, painful hip condition in elite athletes may be able to be repaired with an improved surgical technique, according to researchers presenting their work at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine‘s Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.  ‘In our review of 21 male, elite athletes who had a hip pain and instability issues (hypoplastic or labrum tear), 81 percent returned to play at a similar level as before they were hurt, after receiving an arthroscopic reconstruction technique using in ipsilateral iliotibal band autograft,’ said research author, Marc J. Philippon, MD, of the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, Colorado.  Researchers followed 17 of the 21 patients who had an average age of 28, for more than 32 months.  The professional athletes participated in soccer, hockey, football, skiing, baseball, basketball and ice skating.  During this time all but two of the patients had improved clinical outcomes on various mobility indexes.  Patient satisfaction was also increased.  Labral tears in the hip are often associated with a traumatic injury, such as dislocation, but researchers say they are increasingly seeing hip issues due to repetitive motions and underlying structural abnormalities.  ‘The proper function of the labrum in the hip is a critical component of mobility for any athlete.  When this area gets hurt, repair can be difficult.  Our review study highlights that a majority of athletes can return to a solid level of play utilizing the ipsilateral iliotibal band autograft and physical therapy.  While additional research needs to be performed on the technique, we are hopeful that its increased use will allow more athletes the ability to return to the sports they love,’ said Philippon.” (AOSSM news release)
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