Posts Tagged ‘neurosurgery’

Fear of Falling

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Fear of falling in the elderly often due to psychological factors and not physiological.Older people are naturally concerned about falling because of the consequences a tumble can involve. A recent study by Neuroscience Research Australia has found that to much worry about falling – even if physiological tests indicate low risk – increases the probability that an individual will fall.  The study also found that older people who are at high physical risk of falling but tend to not think about it, fall less often than their more concerned counterparts.

Published in the British medical journal BMJ, the study followed 500 Sydney residents with an average age of 78 who underwent medical, physiological and neuropsychological tests.  The majority of participants were able to correctly evaluate their likelihood of falling, though one-third were wrong in their self assessments.  This group felt more or less susceptible than their strength, balance, reaction time and other physical characteristics indicated.  The research team labeled 11 percent as the “anxious” group, who had a higher perceived risk than was physiologically true.  Another 20 percent were called “stoics” and were at risk of falling even though they didn’t think about it very often.  Over the year of the study, the anxious people did have more falls, with 40 percent suffering injuries.  Only 33 percent of the so-called stoics fell, despite the fact they were at higher physical risk.

According to Stephen Lord, an applied physiologist who was part of the research team, “These anxious people were more likely to be depressed, to have restricted their activities, and it looks as though these factors feed on each other.  People who are fearful do less, and that leads to deconditioning, to a loss of strength and balance.  They become preoccupied with the possibility.  The stoics, by contrast, maintained more positive attitudes and more active lives despite their physical problems.

Challenges Impact Physicians’ Choice of Specialties

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Patrick Sweeney, M.D., spinal surgeon, inventor and owner of the Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery in Mokena, IL, believes that private surgerypractitioners are under enormous stress right now, primarily in terms of overhead and contracting with insurance companies and other referral sources.  Dr. Sweeney says there is a strong possibility that traditional private practitioners may become a thing of the past over the next five to 10 years, given the way the healthcare system is evolving.

In a recent interview for the Alter+Care Podcasts on Healthcare, Dr. Sweeney noted that “A few powerful payers control a good share of our reimbursement market.”  Reimbursement issues also are luring younger physicians to work in large hospital-owned practices — where the financial risk is limited — and in lower-pressure specialties with less legal exposure and shorter work hours.  That’s bad news because it means that fewer new physicians are choosing to specialize in essential fields like general surgery, OB/GYN, ENT and neurosurgery, areas where critical shortages already exist.

To listen to Dr. Sweeney’s full interview on the challenges facing today’s and tomorrow’s physicians, please click here.