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Technology and Health Care is intended to serve as a forum for the presentation of original articles and technical notes, observing rigorous scientific standards. Furthermore, upon invitation, reviews, tutorials, discussion papers and minisymposia are featured.
The following types of contributions and areas are considered:
1. Original articles:
Technology development in medicine: New concepts, procedures and devices associated with the use of technology in medical research and clinical practice are presented to a readership with a widespread background in engineering and/or medicine.
Significance of medical technology and informatics for healthcare: The appropriateness, efficacy and usefulness deriving from the application of engineering methods, devices and informatics in medicine and with respect to public health are discussed.
2. Technical notes:
Short communications on novel technical developments with relevance for clinical medicine.
3. Reviews and tutorials (upon invitation only):
Tutorial and educational articles for persons with a primarily medical background on principles of engineering with particular significance for biomedical applications and vice versa are presented.
4. Minisymposia (upon invitation only):
Under the leadership of a Special Editor, controversial issues relating to healthcare are highlighted and discussed by various authors.
Abstract: Previous surveys showed a poor quality of the web sites providing health information about low back pain. However, the rapid and continuous evolution of the Internet content may question the current validity of those investigations. The present study is aimed to quantitatively assess the quality of the Internet information about low back pain retrieved with the most commonly employed search engines. An Internet search with the keywords “low back pain” has been performed with Google, Yahoo!® and Bing™ in the English language. The top 30 hits obtained with each search engine were evaluated by five independent raters and averaged…following criteria derived from previous works. All search results were categorized as declaring compliant to a quality standard for health information (e.g. HONCode) or not and based on the web site type (Institutional, Free informative, Commercial, News, Social Network, Unknown). The quality of the hits retrieved by the three search engines was extremely similar. The web sites had a clear purpose, were easy to navigate, and mostly lacked in validity and quality of the provided links. The conformity to a quality standard was correlated with a marked greater quality of the web sites in all respects. Institutional web sites had the best validity and ease of use. Free informative web sites had good quality but a markedly lower validity compared to Institutional websites. Commercial web sites provided more biased information. News web sites were well designed and easy to use, but lacked in validity. The average quality of the hits retrieved by the most commonly employed search engines could be defined as satisfactory and favorably comparable with previous investigations. Awareness of the user about checking the quality of the information remains of concern.
Keywords: Internet, low back pain, quality of information, HONCode, search engine
Abstract: Purpose: Public health data is typically organized by geospatial units. Routine geographic monitoring of health data enables an understanding of the spatial patterns of events in terms of causes and controls. GeoVisualization (GeoVis) allows users to see information hidden both visually and explicitly on a map. Despite the applicability of GeoVis in public health, it is still underused for visualizing public health data. The objective of this study is to examine the perception of telehealth users' to utilize GeoVis as a proof of concept to facilitate visual exploration of telehealth data in Brazil using principles of human centered approach and…cognitive fit theory. Methods: A mixed methods approach combining qualitative and quantitative assessments was utilized in this cross sectional study conducted at the Telehealth Center of the Federal University of Pernambuco (NUTE-UFPE), Recife, Brazil. A convenient sample of 20 participants currently involved in NUTES was drawn during a period of Sep–Oct 2011. Data was gathered using previously tested questionnaire surveys and in-person interviews. Socio-demographic Information such as age, gender, prior education, familiarity with the use of computer and GeoVis was gathered. Other information gathered included participants' prior spatial analysis skills, level of motivation and use of GeoVis in telehealth. Audio recording was done for all interviews conducted in both English and Portuguese, and transcription of the audio content to English was done by a certified translator. Univariate analysis was performed and means and standard deviations were reported for the continuous variables and frequency distributions for the categorical variables. For the open-ended questions, we utilized a grounded theory to identify themes and their relationship as they emerge from the data. Analysis of the quantitative data was performed using SAS V9.1 and qualitative data was performed using NVivo9. Results: The average age of participants was 28 years (SD=7), a majority of them were females and 100% were professionals with graduate degrees. The users had diverse backgrounds including nursing, computer science, biomedical informatics, statistics, dentistry, administration and engineering. The users had varied roles and responsibilities, used computers frequently but only 5% of them were familiar with GeoVis. Google maps were the most common GeoVis application that the users were familiar with. Despite having minimal spatial skills, there was a strong motivation and relevance among the telehealth users to use GeoVis to facilitate visual exploration of telehealth data for better informed decision making. Results also showed that of the 60% participants with no GeoVis familiarity; 33% had moderate to large data exploratory role, 83% had no spatial skills but 58% preferred analyzing both spatial and temporal dimensions of the data. Majority of the participants agreed to have maps as the first choice to represent the data as it will be able to display the events both in place and time. Discussion: The results demonstrate a potentially growing need for the use of GeoVis applications to evaluate telehealth data. Understanding of user needs is essential to ensure that the technology is appropriately functional and will be useful to complete the tasks.
Keywords: GeoVisualization, Human Centered, public health, cognitive fit theory, telehealth
Abstract: Background: Public health data is typically organized by geospatial unit. GeoVisualization (GeoVis) allows users to see information visually on a map. Objectives: Examine telehealth users' perceptions towards existing public health GeoVis applications and obtains users' feedback about features important for the design and development of Human Centered GeoVis application “the SanaViz”. Methods: We employed a cross sectional study design using mixed methods approach for this pilot study. Twenty users involved with the NUTES telehealth center at Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), Recife, Brazil were enrolled. Open and closed ended questionnaires were used to gather…data. We performed audio recording for the interviews. Information gathered included socio-demographics, prior spatial skills and perception towards use of GeoVis to evaluate telehealth services. Card sorting and sketching methods were employed. Univariate analysis was performed for the continuous and categorical variables. Qualitative analysis was performed for open ended questions. Results: Existing Public Health GeoVis applications were difficult to use. Results found interaction features zooming, linking and brushing and representation features Google maps, tables and bar chart as most preferred GeoVis features. Conclusions: Early involvement of users is essential to identify features necessary to be part of the human centered GeoVis application “the SanaViz”.
Abstract: Healthcare staff face significant challenges while caring for hospitalized patients experiencing sudden inability to verbalize their needs (sudden speechlessness). Familiar methods of communication such as non-verbal strategies are limited and often fail to assist suddenly speechless patients (SS) communicate their needs. Consequently, strategies tailored to the needs of hospitalized speechless patients are necessary, and must consider factors intrinsic to the patients and the complexities of the acute care environment. The feasibility and usability of a multi-functional prototype communication system (speech-generating device) tailored to the needs of hospitalized SS patients was evaluated in this pilot study. Adult SS patients admitted to…the intensive care setting (n=11) demonstrated independent use of a multi-functional communication system that integrated messages and strategies tailored to the needs of the hospitalized SS patient. Participants reported high satisfaction levels and considered the use of the technology of high importance during an SS event. Additional research should focus on evaluating the impact of technology specific communication interventions on enhancing the communication process between SS patients and healthcare staff.
Keywords: Communication intervention, sudden speechlessness, acute care setting
Abstract: Introduction: This study aimed to evaluate if use of an activity promoting computer game, used in the home (Nintendo Wii Fit; Nintendo Co Ltd, Japan), could influence balance related outcome measures in children with cerebral palsy. Method: Eighteen children with hemiplegic or diplegic cerebral palsy were recruited for the study. A randomised cross-over design was used with children tested at baseline, after five weeks of playing Wii Fit games and after five weeks without any intervention. Outcome measures of interest included: performance on the modified sensory organisation test, reactive balance test and rhythmic weight shift test.…Results: No significant difference was observed between testing occasions for any of the balance measures investigated (p > 0.05). Conclusion: Our results suggest that use of a Nintendo Wii balance board and Wii Fit software for a minimum of thirty minutes per day in the patient's own home, over a five week period, is not effective as a balance training tool in children with cerebral palsy.
Keywords: Balance, postural stability, interactive games, Nintendo Wii, cerebral palsy, children
Abstract: We developed a compliance monitoring system that electrically detects which drug among the multiple prescribed drugs a patient has taken and the date of drug-taking by a patient to prevent the patient from missing doses and taking drugs incorrectly at home. A conductive pattern is screen printed using conductive ink (silver paste) on the surface of a calendar-type pill organizer containing medications for as long as 1 week (4 times per day × 7 days, 28 doses) to create a sensor for detecting the opening of a pill organizer. Whenever the patient opens the pill organizer and removes a dose…of the drug (pill), information about which of the 28 locations is opened and the date of opening are recorded in nonvolatile memory. This system is applicable to patients who take multiple drugs, for whom recording of drug-taking behavior is reportedly difficult. Specific benefits are that the user needs no additional manipulation to use the system: the user can take the drug from the pill organizer according to usual procedures.
Abstract: In the United States, Hispanic populations tend to have higher incidences of chronic disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity and hyperlipidemias . They are also more likely to be underinsured or uninsured than other populations . The purpose of this descriptive technology assessment survey study was to determine computer and internet access, skill level and health education information preferences of a rural Hispanic (primarily Mexican-American) population in the United States. Among the sample, 81% of individuals who answered the survey had a computer and internet access in their home. Nineteen percent did not have computers or internet access…in their homes. Compared to the average 54% home internet access found by the Pew Hispanic Research Center the rural convenience sample in this study had a high percentage of technology access. Recommendations include using multimedia to improve the health information accessability among Hispanic persons.
Keywords: Hispanic, technology, health information
Abstract: Prostheses with single radius (SR) design were supposed to be as good as the physiological kinematic and stability of the knee. This in-vitro biomechanical study compared SR to a multiple radius (MR) design on the one hand and seven left human knee specimens were used. The SR and MR knee prosthesis where implanted with a navigation system. We measured varus/valgus deviation of the mechanical axis and the deviation of the joint-line to the epicondyle-line in different knee flexion degrees (0°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 90°) with and without 15 Nm of varus and valgus stress. Without varus/valgus-stress in…all three groups (physiological knee, SR and MR prosthesis) the results were located on the varus-site. The variation of the SR was less than the MR, without being significant. Under varus and valgus stress varus/valgus axis deviation constantly grew. From 0–60° no significant deviation between the two prosthesis models was found. At 90° flexion varus/valgus deviation with the SR component was significantly (p ⩽ 0.05) smaller compared to the MR design. This in-vitro study showed that the SR prosthesis is significantly more stable in the coronal plane than the MR in higher flexion degrees. This could have an improved effect on biomechanical stability with a higher clinical function after SR-TKA.
Keywords: Single radius, multiple radius, knee, arthroplasty
Abstract: Introduction: The present feasibility study examined the use of an ultrasound-based navigation system (UNS) for reliability of measurement the positions of both the femoral and acetabular components, a prerequisite to adjust the combined anteversion with sufficient accuracy when using a femur-first approach in total hip arthroplasty. Method: Using a UNS, five investigators performed five measurements of the posterior femoral condyles and the anterior pelvic planes (APP) of two cadavers with different body mass index. Deviations in stem and acetabular anteversion resulting from varying acquisition of the respective landmarks were determined relative to the reference measures of anteversion…determined in the same cadavers from computed tomography (CT) scans. Here, both a freehand and guided ultrasound measurement methods were used to acquire the posterior femoral condyles. Femoral and acetabular anteversion values were added in order to estimate the combined anteversion of the reconstructed hip. Results: Using an UNS, variations in the freehand technique for the acquisition of the posterior femoral condyles resulted in a mean error in the anteversion of the femoral component of −1.5° (SD 3.4°; −10.8° to 7.0°) while the mean error was −0.9° (SD 3.1°; −7.3° to 10.2°) when the UNS provided additional support to standardize the orientation of the UNS probe. In all cases, UNS navigation enabled to achieve combined anteversion values that fell within a clinically acceptable error range of less than ± 12.5° compared to the CT measures. Conclusion: Our investigations suggest that the anteversion of stem and cup can be measured with accuracy sufficient enough to utilize the concept of combined anteversion using UNS. Hence, the advantage of utilizing UNS's in a femur-first approach is the ability to intraoperatively compensate for deviations from the targeted anteversion of the stem (which is often difficult to control) by adjusting the acetabular anteversion in the final step of the implantation. In doing so, the placement of the components follows the concept of combined anteversion. Avoiding extreme anteversion values of combined anteversion could be an important step towards reducing post-operative complications following total hip arthroplasty (THA).