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“Smart” patient rooms at UPMC

Six rooms at UPMC Shadyside have been installed with interactive flat panel screens that display information such as the patient’s vital signs, medications, and dietary preferences.

The new system also identifies medical professionals walking through the door and reminds them to wash their hands before approaching the patient.
The screen is beneficial to the patient because it provides reminders to patients to ask for help while getting in and out of bed, thus reducing the risk of accidents.

At the same time, the screen helps doctors by displaying the latest patient information based on lab results and medications.

This latest innovation promises a safe and effective medical environment, and easy accessibility to patient information that is, in other situations, difficult to reach.

Source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Calcium-enriched carrots

Researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife’s Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center and Baylor College of Medicine have designed a new type of carrot with a plant calcium hydrogen transporter gene, known as sCAX1, which allows the carrot to contain more calcium.
According to Jay Morris at Texas A&M, the main goal of these cultured carrots is to boost calcium intake from fruits and vegetables in order to ensure a healthy and nutritious diet.

Source: Agricultural Communications, Texas A&M University

Contact lenses give superhuman vision

Engineers at the University of Washington have created “flexible and biologically safe” contact lenses with integrated electronic circuits and LEDs.
To test the grounds for potential superhuman vision, the contact lenses were tested on rabbits. The experiment led to no harmful effects. While the prototype itself does not rectify the contact lens wearer’s vision, the technology could be applied to corrective lenses.
Also known as the “bionic eye,” this new contact lens will be as simple to wear as the conventional soft contact lens that exists today. The wearer will barely feel that the gadgetry exists. The current prototype — which is not yet functional — is made up of an electrical circuit and red light displays. Scientists have built the circuits from layers of metal only a few nanometers thick.

Source: University of Washington Office of News and Information

A good night’s sleep retains memory

A recent study suggests that sleep is crucial for memory retention.
Scientists from the Medical Research Council’s Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit at the University of Oxford have discovered that, as we sleep, neuronal activity patterns in the hippocampus — the region of the brain responsible for long-term memory — are reactivated.
Memory retention in rats was tested by allowing them to browse their environment and then tracking their sleep patterns. Chemical activity was recorded in the rats’ hippocampi to observe neuronal patterns. The results indicated that memory activation, which allows for memory storage, occurred as the rats slept.

Source: Medical Research Council