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Holistic activation of the senses

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Soothing sounds and relaxing vibrations are incorporated into the innovative inmu  sound cushion, activating the senses of people with brain injuries.

The human body responds to music. What feels like a healing sound to some can be unbearable noise to others. After suffering brain injuries or a stroke, music and sounds can put tremendous strain on patients. In such cases, even something as subtle as a birdsong can become intolerable.

These findings are the reason that in recent years, music therapy has become increasingly significant in the process of neurological rehabilitation of brain injuries.

Meditational Soundscapes Regulate the Nervous System

The Attruphøj residential facility, located in Denmark, has recently been testing a new and unique therapy tool called inmu.

The facility houses 28 patients with acquired brain injuries and is an institution provided by the municipality; employing 90 professionals from the fields of pedagogy, nursing and occupational therapy.Specialists work on the rehabilitation of the residents with the help of music therapy. Attruphøj applies neuropathic methods within their rehabilitation programme.

“Most of Attruphøj’s residents suffer from an increased sensory arousal level. This means that they have difficulty regulating environmental stimuli. They are exposed to a steady stream of sensations and the nervous system is not able to regulate the reaction,” explains Gitte Hundstrup Nielsen, head of the facility.

Closeness and Communication Without Words

inmu, which is the abbreviation for ‘interactive music’, is a non- invasive tool to help making a patient’s everyday life easier. In developing the inmu, different perspectives were taken into account: those of the users, the nurses and the relatives.

This created a new type of aid that supports holistic, body-related communication and promotes perception, communication and movement skills.

“inmuRELAX promotes tranquility and joy. The music helps the resident to remain balanced, avoiding conflict as a result. This is a dignified method to help people and above
all it is versatile in its application.”

inmuRELAX can be used to lower or increase the sensory arousal level (activation level).

The soft sounds, pleasant vibrations and smooth fabric of the sound cushion have a relaxing and soothing effect on the body.

By moving and touching the sound cushion, the user activates the musical soundscapes, which stimulate the senses.

When asked how inmu improves patients’ everyday lives, Hundstrup Nielsen explains: “We work with systematic risk assessment. This means that we respond on the basis of the signs that the residents exhibit. If a resident raises their voice, screams or tries to threaten someone, it is due to them experiencing discomfort. For example, we have one particular resident for whom our employees ensure to avoid sensory overstimulation.

ut in case of staff being unable to personally tend to the patient we resort to inmu. As soon as they hold inmu, we can observe a state of relaxation and tranquillity.

The level of comfort and well-being, which are achieved through the meditational soundscapes, becomes visible and it also aids many residents in falling asleep.”

Musical Stimulation for a Self-determined Everyday Life

Depending on the severity of brain damage, tremendous restrictions to everyday life can occur. Psychological changes and disorders can have a significant effect on a person’s perception, lead to motor disorders as well as speech impediments.

The person cannot participate in regular everyday life, which affects them and the people around them. The self-image of the affected individual often deviates from reality – a discrepancy that is difficult to accept.

The recovery process is tedious, accompanied by a strong desire for a normal life. Recovery and inner balance can be promoted by music and vibrations: “We receive regular visits from a music therapist who incorporates inmuDANCE into their work, using it as a ball to play catch. While inmuRELAX has soothing and low sounds, inmuDANCE uses cheerful and animating music – the residents automatically dance, move or sing along.

“The results are impressive: inmu elicits an alert gaze, more relaxed facial expressions and improved posture.”

With 25 years of experience in the Danish health sector, Gitte Hundstrup Nielsen has yet to come across anything she can compare to inmu: “I would recommend inmu to all professionals working within rehabilitation. This includes work with elderly people, psychiatric patients, people with physical and mental disabilities and acquired brain injuries.”

Intelligent Interaction of Human and AI

The practical handling of aids plays an important role. The adaptive design of the inmu is decisive, because it takes into account the need for intuitive usability of technical devices as well as the requirement to adapt individually to each situation. The handling is simple and intuitive. Especially weak people or people with a disability benefit from it.

There are no confusing switches, nor is a remote control or app required. Pleasant vibrations – precisely matched to the music – enable even people with severely impaired hearing to use the inmu.

Functioning

The inmu works with multisensory stimulation. It offers the possibility to regulate the stimulation of the senses as well as the level of arousal – by the user himself. Inside the round, soft sound cushion is an advanced software with artificial intelligence (AI), which reacts actively to touch and movement.

No matter how gentle the interaction is, a meditative world of sound unfolds, which changes and intensifies constantly depending on movement. The award-winning design was developed to be suitable for every hand and body. Small haptic elements invite to be explored.

Helping People Help Themselves

The residents of Attruphøj are adults aged 18 to 85, with different types of and often severe acquired brain injuries.

They all share a common wish and goal that reflects basic human needs: a self-determined life and the recovery of their identity.

inmu treads a new path within the rehabilitation sector. Dependence and the need for constant care decreases and sensory abilities increase without external support.

Mobility is another key factor: inmu is easy to handle, lightweight and hence can be effortlessly incorporated into everyday life; whether for use during the night, in critical situations or while travelling.

Usage During COVID-19

Isolation, restlessness and fear are shaping the current situation more than ever.

The inmuRELAX can help to find moments of peace and relaxation in loneliness. In this particular time, good hygiene is the priority.

The inmu is designed to be touched and in close physical contact with the user, which is why it is also easy to wash and maintain.

The interactive sound cushion inmu is available online: www.inmutouch.com/webshop

For further information contact: info@inmutouch.com

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Smoking linked to stroke in new study 

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Guido Falcone, assistant professor of neurology at Yale School of Medicine, was the senior author of the study

Adults who smoke, or are genetically predisposed to smoking behaviours, are more likely to experience a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), new research has revealed.

The study found that while smokers are at a higher risk of SAH, that rises to over 60 per cent among those with genetic variants that predispose them to smoking.

The research, published in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, establishes a link between smoking and the risk of SAH for the first time.

While it has been proven in other types of stroke, this is pioneering research in its link with SAH – a type of stroke that occurs when a blood vessel on the surface of the brain ruptures and bleeds into the space between the brain and the skull.

Results of the study show:

  • the relationship between smoking and SAH risk appeared to be linear, with those who smoked half a pack to 20 packs of cigarettes a year having a 27% increased risk;
  • heavier smokers, those who smoked more than 40 packs of cigarettes a year, were nearly three times more at risk for SAH than those who did not smoke; and,
  • people who were genetically predisposed to smoking behaviours were at a 63% greater risk for SAH.

Researchers also stated that while their findings suggest a more pronounced and harmful effect of smoking in women and adults with high blood pressure, they believe larger studies are needed to confirm these results.

“Previous studies have shown that smoking is associated with higher risks of SAH, yet it has been unclear if smoking or another confounding condition such as high blood pressure was a cause of the stroke,” says senior study author Guido Falcone, assistant professor of neurology at Yale School of Medicine.

“A definitive, causal relationship between smoking and the risk of SAH has not been previously established as it has been with other types of stroke.”

During the study, researchers analysed the genetic data of 408,609 people from the UK Biobank, aged 40 to 69 at time of recruitment (2006-2010).

Incidence of SAH was collected throughout the study, with a total of 904 SAHs occurring by the end of the study.

Researchers developed a genetic risk scoring system that included genetic markers associated with risk of smoking and tracked smoking behaviour data, which was collected at the time each participant was recruited.

“Our results provide justification for future studies to focus on evaluating whether information on genetic variants leading to smoking can be used to better identify people at high risk of having one of these types of brain haemorrhages,” said lead study author Julian N. Acosta, neurologist, postdoctoral research fellow at the Yale School of Medicine.

“These targeted populations might benefit from aggressive diagnostic interventions that could lead to early identification of the aneurysms that cause this serious type of bleeding stroke.”

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New campaign to reduce stroke risk launched on Stroke Prevention Day 

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Almost nine out of ten strokes are associated with modifiable risk factors

A 12-week campaign is being launched today – Stroke Prevention Day – to help raise awareness of how the risk of stroke can be reduced. 

The campaign encourages people to make one small positive change to their lifestyle to reduce the possibility of stroke, which is the fourth highest cause of death in the UK. 

According to the Stroke Association UK, 89 per cent – almost 9 in 10 – strokes are associated with modifiable risk factors in the Western countries, including lifestyle elements that can be changed to reduce risk, such as weight, diet and blood pressure. 

New research commissioned by the charity, which is leading the campaign, has also revealed: 

  •  Only 1 in 20 (6%) UK adults think they’re at high risk of a stroke, despite the fact that the global lifetime risk of stroke from the age of 25 years onward was approximately 25% among both men and women
  • Almost half (47%) of the country don’t know that high blood pressure is a top risk factor for stroke 
  • 3 in 4 people (73%) said that they have had no information about stroke reduction recently, which rises to over 4 in 5 (85%) of over-65s, who are most at risk of having a stroke.

Blood pressure is the biggest cause of stroke, with 55 per cent of stroke patients having hypertension when they experience their stroke. Further, around 1 in 4 adults from 55 years of age will develop AFib. 

“While these numbers are concerning, they also demonstrate that with increased awareness, we can all take simple steps to reduce our risk,” says Charlie Fox, sales director of OMRON Healthcare, who are supporting the Stroke Association campaign alongside Patients Know Best. 

“As an incredibly important risk factor for stroke, having a healthy heart should be a top priority and remain front of mind.”

AFib can be asymptomatic and may not be present during a medical appointment as episodes can be occasional, which means it is often left undiagnosed. 

But given its seriousness, those who may be at risk should routinely record electrocardiogram (ECG) measurements, according to current medical guidelines. 

Through doing so at home will enable patients to become more in control of their health, with OMRON being one of the companies developing the technology to support them in doing so. 

“The public wants and needs to be more in control of its health, which is why we create products and services that are suitable for use at home as part of our Going for Zero strokes pledge,” adds Fox. 

“OMRON Complete, for example, is an upcoming, clinically validated home blood pressure monitor with a built-in ECG which can help detect AFib which we’re excited to launch in the coming months. 

“It is our hope that through this awareness programme and by equipping the public with the tools it needs, we can make having an empowered and informed lifestyle the new normal.”

People with a Patients Know Best (PKB) Personal Health Record can also log readings to get a more complete picture of their health journey. This allows them to look back with ease and share readings with clinical teams and caregivers in a safe, secure and meaningful way.

Fox concludes: “Your blood pressure provides important health insights. Monitoring it regularly alongside your ECG readings empowers you with knowledge, helps you act sooner, and can even save your life”.

More information about the campaign and how you can make your one small change can be found here: www.stroke.org.uk/PreventionDay

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What are the IDDSI Levels and why do they matter?

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Wiltshire Farm Foods takes you through the importance of the IDDSI Levels

Sponsored feature

Dysphagia, more commonly known as swallowing difficulties, can be prevalent amongst those in neuro rehabilitation. For those in recovery, understanding how their swallowing has been affected, what solutions are available and which nutritional, delicious and above all, safe, meals they should be eating, is of paramount importance.   

When someone starts to experience dysphagia, they are most commonly seen by a speech and language therapist (SLT) and a dietitian. Together, they will create a plan for the management of dysphagia. A speech and language therapist will explain in detail the importance of texture modified food and drinks and will work with you to carefully understand the right texture modification for you. 

What is IDDSI?

This is where IDDSI can help you understand your recommended texture modified diet in more detail.  IDDSI stands for International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative. This is a committee that have developed a framework of 8 levels which provide common terminology to describe food textures and the thickness of liquids for those living with dysphagia.

The purpose of IDDSI is to create standardised terminology and descriptors for texture modified foods and liquids that can be applied and understood globally – across all cultures and age spans.

Before the introduction of IDDSI, there were national descriptors in the UK which were formed by opinion rather than international standards. Having different terminology, categories and definitions in different countries caused some instances of food being of incorrect consistency. The IDDSI framework was fully adopted by food manufacturers and healthcare settings in the UK in March 2019.

The framework consists of levels for both drinks (liquids) and foods, some of which overlap as you can see in the image above. Here is a breakdown of each category in the IDDSI FOODS framework. 

Level 3 – Liquidised/Moderately Thick

  • Can be drunk from a cup
  • Does not retain its shape
  • Can be eaten with a spoon, not a fork
  • Smooth texture with no ‘bits’

Level 4 – Pureed/Extremely Thick

  • Usually eaten with a spoon (a fork is possible)
  • Does not flow easily
  • Does not require chewing
  • Retains its shape
  • No lumps
  • Not a sticky consistency

Level 5 – Minced

  • Can be eaten with either a fork or a spoon
  • Can be scooped and shaped
  • Small lumps are visible, but are easy to squash with tongue
  • Biting is not required
  • Minimal chewing required

Level 6 – Soft & Bite-Sized

  • Can be eaten with fork or spoon
  • Can be mashed/broken down with pressure
  • Chewing is required before swallowing

How can I check my meals are made to IDDSI standards?

You can check to see whether your food is compliant with the IDDSI Framework by watching these IDDSI Food Test videos.

To discover a Softer Foods range which is IDDSI compliant and created with your patients’ needs in mind, register here for the opportunity to try some complimentary meals from Wiltshire Farm Foods.

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