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Raising stroke awareness one cup at a time

A Scottish coffee company owner is using his experiences with stroke to raise awareness and money for a charity that helped him when he needed it.

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Paul suffered a stroke in 2018

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland is a charity designed to help victims of these conditions.

It is currently running a campaign called #NoLifeHalfLived, which is particularly applicable to Symposium Coffee founder Paul Haggath.

He has been using his love for a brew to help run his Peterhead-based company since 2005.

In December 2018 he was hosting some family members for the weekend where they would be visiting one of his stores for breakfast.

He had been feeling particularly under the weather in the weeks previous to this, resulting in numerous trips to see his GP.

Because of this Paul was considering giving the family outing a miss, but while he was getting ready he suddenly felt the right side of his body completely paralysed.

From here he says his memory of what happened next is relatively blurred.

Paul’s wife Wendy found him lying on the floor and instantly recognised he was having a stroke.

Thankfully he made a very strong recovery from this, partly due to the support he received from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.

Now he is combining his experiences with his love for coffee to give back to the charity that helped him.

Symposium Coffee have released a range of specially designed cups themed around Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, with 25p from every one sold being donated to the charity.

Speaking to NR Times, Paul explained more about this unique fundraiser.

“We order maybe 10,000 of these sized cups every three weeks to four weeks anyways,” he said. “So I started thinking maybe we could do other custom cups.

“Then I thought maybe it’s time I did something to try and raise money for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, just to give back a bit and raise awareness.

“I really want to push the fact that people can have a coffee and help because for the customer they’re not making a donation, they’re just buying coffee like they usually would.

“But the big thing was just to raise this awareness, as there seems to be a lot more younger people having a stroke these days.”

Symposium customers can also make a donation when ordering online, with every cup featuring the charities logo as well as #NoLifeHalfLived.

Although he is happy that the campaign is raising money, Paul stressed that the recognition of a stroke is crucial.

“I think it’s really important,” he said. “There’s a four hour window where someone can be thrombolysed and if it’s not recognised as a stroke, it can be really unfortunate.

Symposium Coffee

“If I hadn’t been to breakfast that morning I possibly would have just had a stroke in my bed and  by the time everyone came home it could have been too late.

“So we need to raise the awareness to act fast and get them to hospital where they can be thrombolysed so hopefully they can make a full recovery.

“There’s loads of things in life but this is something that’s happened to me. It’s really just so people are aware that it does happen and they know what the signs are.”

Initially Paul suspected that his busy lifestyle with his business was the main factor, but tests later revealed that he had a hole in his heart which could also have been a contributor.

He has since had surgery to correct this but admits he still feels the effects of his stroke even now.

“I still get tired and I do get a really sore brain sometimes. For example yesterday I had two meetings, just for an hour.

“Then I was on the computer for a few hours and it just felt like my brain was fried. I still do get fatigued, mentally and physically.”

Paul also said the Symposium’s customers have been great in regards to the fundraiser with a number of them sharing the cups on social media.

From this he is hoping that other charities will look to do something similar and use the company to get their messages out.

Paul and his family

Charity work is something he has been involved with for a long time now even before his, from running a marathon to raise funds for JDRF to doing a skydive for CLAN Cancer Support.

He has also used Symposium to help those in his local community in the past, giving out vouchers to vulnerable children and preparing food parcels for those who need them.

Being a father of four it is clear that helping people is what Paul is all about, as he was very keen to stress how people-centric his business is.

The brand now has stores in over nine different locations as well as a tenth store set to be opened in June.

For Paul this expansion is only seen as an opportunity to start helping more people.

Despite the fact that he did not even drink coffee when he started the business over 15 years ago, he is now using it to help change the lives of others.

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Osteoarthritis: breaking the cycle

Medical technology company Ottobock shares its expertise on approaches to the condition.

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Sponsored feature

Why is Cartilage Important?

Bones that come in contact with other bones are covered by cartilage at their contact points. Cartilage does not have blood vessels – it is supplied with nutrients through movement of the joint. That’s why regular exercise is so important!

Cartilage ensures that the joint surfaces move against each other in the most efficient way and with little friction. It absorbs shock, cushioning the joint, and distributes the forces acting on the joint.

If cartilage is damaged and its gliding properties are affected, it can no longer serve its purpose and the joints range of movement can become limited.

Typical Progression of Osteoarthritis

When osteoarthritis of the knee develops due to joint malalignment, an accident, advancing age, obesity or excessive strain, the damaged cartilage is no longer able to properly fulfil its function.

This results in pain and re­duced mobility. The affected patient instinctively assumes a relieving posture to reduce strain on the knee.

However, this often leads to new prob­lems in other places, such as the hip, and reduces the supply of nutrients to the cartilage, for which movement is required – sparking a vicious circle.

The cartilage develops cracks and begins to break down. At the same time, the bone thickens at the site of the damage.

When the cartilage layer is completely worn away, the affected bones come into direct contact and rub against each other causing joint pain and inflammation.

The thickest joint cartilage is located behind the kneecap (patella). This is an area of high stress. Osteoarthritis occurring in this area is known as patellafemoral osteoarthritis

Signs and Symptoms

There are several common symptoms that signal knee osteoarthritis. They can occur individually or together. However, with the initial onset, you may not notice any of these symptoms

When symptoms appear they usually occur in the following order:

  • Cracking in the joint
  • Pain during load bearing activities, such as carrying a heavy object
  • Pain during every day activities, such as climbing the stairs
  • Reduced mobility
  • Swelling and inflammation

Non-Invasive Treatments

Joint specific exercises: with regular exercise mobility can be maintained and muscle strengthened, ensuring the cartilage is supplied with the nutrients it needs.

Temperature: with acute inflammation, cold relieves pain and reduces swelling. Heat relaxes the muscles and tendons and increases the flow of nutrients. Heat may only be applied when the joint is not inflamed.

Creams: various over the counter products are available at your local pharmacy including gels and creams that can help relieve pain.

Orthopaedic devices (braces and supports): these are applied externally to the knee, reducing pain and improving mobility.

Lifestyle: living a healthy lifestyle can help to combat osteoarthritis. A healthy diet and an active lifestyle reduces the chance of obesity, putting less stress and strain through the knee joints.

Orthotic Options

An orthotic fitting is a key component in the treatment of osteoarthritis. It can provide the following:

  • Pain relief
  • Support daily activities
  • Support during activities that affect the joint, whether at work or during sports

Did you know?

An osteoarthritis patient takes an average of around 1,200 tablets a year to manage pain. But this can lead to damage to the stomach, bowel and liver.

An orthosis from the Agilium line is therefore a good alternative. It’s worth-while for anyone with knee osteoarthritis to test the effectiveness of the orthoses themselves.

The Agilium Line

The braces in our Agilium line are designed specifically to target the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Each works in a different way to address the various characteristics of osteoarthritis of the knee. At the same time, we placed great emphasis on their comfort and suitability for daily use.

The Agilium Freestep, the Agilium Reactive and the Agilium Softfit are used to treat unicompartmental osteoarthritis of the knee.

The Agilium Patella is used for patients with patellofemoral arthritis.

The Agilium Freestep is used to treat OA, although it is not applied directly to the knee. Instead is worn on the foot, right inside the shoe! For targeted relieve, it alters the load-line of the knee – the point where the body weight impacts the cartilage.

The Agilium Softfit is a pull on knee brace with a textile base and single upright that stabilises and relieves the knee using a three point force system to offload the affected compartment (side) of the knee.

The Agilium Reactive also uses a three point force system to offload the affected compartment (side) of the knee. However, the innovative closure system in the upper calf provides comfort while sitting without compromising the stable position when standing.

The Agilium Patella combines a textile structure and stabilising component with a dynamic re-alignment mechanism enabling it to maintain the central alignment of the knee cap, reducing pressure behind the knee cap.

Find the appropriate brace with Agilium Select.

Visit our website or go to ottobock.com/agilium-select

If you would like to know more about any of these products please get in touch via orthoticsuk@ottobock.com or visit our website for more information: www.ottobock.co.uk

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News

Masturbation linked to stroke in medical case study

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Doctors in Japan have reported how masturbation sparked a bleed on the brain of a 51-year-old man; as published in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases.

Doctors at the Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Japan explained that the man attended hospital after orgasming, with the sudden onset of a searing headache that lasted for around a minute. This was followed by an intense bout of vomiting.

A CT scan showed an acute subarachnoid hemorrhage in the left hemisphere.

The researchers note that masturbation causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and noradrenaline plasma levels – which are likely to contribute to the risk of splitting a blood vessel in the brain and result in a hemorrhagic stroke.

The man was treated with stents and coiling, two techniques used to bolster the blood vessel and maintain blood flow to the brain, and he went on to make a full recovery.

The study authors say that they found just two other cases of masturbation-linked strokes in other scientific literature.

The Japanese man survived and was discharged after nearly two weeks in hospital in an “excellent” condition.

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News

Engineers develop ultrasound patch to monitor blood flow

Breakthrough could help to better predict stroke and other cardiovascular conditions earlier.

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Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed an ultrasound patch that can be worn on the skin. It monitors the blood flow through major arteries and veins deep within the body.

It is hoped that it could help clinicians diagnose cardiovascular conditions faster. It could also help to diagnose blockages in the arteries which could lead to strokes or heart attacks.

The ultrasound patch continuously monitors blood flow as well as blood pressure and heart function in real-time. Assessing how much blood flows through a patient’s blood vessels could help diagnose blood clots, heart valve problems and poor circulation in the limbs.

For many patients, blood flow is not measured during a regular visit to their doctors. It is usually assessed after a patient shows signs of cardiovascular problems.

The patch can be worn on the neck or chest and can measure cardiovascular signals up to 14 centimetres inside the body non invasively with high accuracy.

How the patch works

The patch is made of a thin, flexible polymer that sticks to the skin.

There is an array of millimetre-sized ultrasound transducers on the patch known as an ultrasound phased array.

These are individually controlled by a computer. Another feature is that the ultrasound beam can be tilted at different angles to areas in the body that are not directly below the patch.

It can operate in two modes. In one, all of the transducers can be synched together to transmit ultrasound waves which produce a high-intensity beam that focuses on one spot.

This can be up to 14cm deep in the body.

A wearable ultrasound patch on the skin

The other mode allows the transducers to be programmed to transmit out of sync producing beams at different angles.

In being able to manipulate the beams, it gives the device multiple capacities for monitoring central organs as well as blood flow with high resolution.

When the electricity flows through the transducers, they vibrate while emitting ultrasound waves that travel through the skin into the body.

When they penetrate a blood vessel, they encounter the movement of red blood cells flowing inside. The cell movement changes how the waves are transmitted back to the patch.

This change is recorded by the patch and creates a visual recording of the blood flow. It can also be used to create moving images of the heart’s walls.

The benefits:

Sheng Xu, professor of nanoengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering said:

“This type of wearable device can give you a more comprehensive, more accurate picture of what’s going on in deep tissues and critical organs like the heart and the brain, all from the surface of the skin.”

Xu added: “This is a first in the field of wearables because existing wearable sensors typically only monitor areas right below them.

“If you want to sense signals at a different position, you have to move the sensor to that location. With this patch, we can probe areas that are wider than the device’s footprint. This can open up a lot of opportunities.”

The researchers say that the easy to use patch could allow patients to wear the patch and monitor the results themselves. It doesn’t depend on a technician to read the results

The next stage

The patch is not yet ready for clinical use. The researchers are currently working on a way to make the electronics wireless as it currently needs a power source and benchtop machine.

Image credit: Nature Biomedical Engineering

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