Every week Shefali S. Kulkarni selects interesting reading from around the Web.
The Miami Herald: Bringing The Smells Of War Home, Via Virtual Reality
On an Orlando college campus, veterans and active duty soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder inhale the unmistakable smell of burning tires, rotting garbage and Middle Eastern spices as part of a virtual reality treatment for the psychological wounds of war. Participants sit in a chair wearing a head-mounted display and video goggles connected to a computer system and a scent machine that puffs out the odors, recreating their memories of war. ... The Trauma Management Therapy program, now available to South Florida active duty soldiers and veterans with PTSD who volunteer, is part of a clinical study at the University of Central Florida that uses sights, sounds and smell to help ease the episodes of anxiety, sleeplessness and nightmares. With new waves of soldiers returning as American forces withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, researchers are hoping the combination of traditional therapy and virtual-reality simulation -; with an emphasis on smell -; to help decrease post-traumatic symptoms (Audra D.S. Burch, 9/9).
The New York Times: Door To Door In The Heartland, Preaching Healthy Living
Like a missionary, Michael Bailey, a county health worker, spends his days driving his beat-up Nissan around (Okalahoma City's) poorest neighborhood, spreading the word in barber shops and convenience stores about the benefits of healthy diet and exercise. "Look at the kids," he said. "Overweight, huffing and wheezing. Their lives will be miserable if this doesn't change." Mr. Bailey believes that food is slowly killing his community here, and signing people up for a program to prevent heart disease is his way of saving souls. Local governments across the country are creating dozens of such experiments with money from the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act. It is part of a broad national effort set in motion by the law to nudge a health care system geared toward responding to illness to one that tries to stop people from getting sick in the first place. To that end, the law created the $10 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund, the largest-ever federal investment in community prevention (Sabrina Tavernise, 9/10).
The New York Times: How My Mother Disappeared
In 2005, as my mother began the torturous process of disappearing in plain sight, I retreated to my kitchen, trying to reclaim her at the stove. Picking up a pot was not the instant panacea for illness and isolation and despair that I wanted it to be. But it helped. When I turned to my mother's recipes, I felt grounded in her rules, and they worked every time. I could overcook or undercook the meatloaf, and it still tasted the same. ... A CT scan ... showed that she had suffered ministrokes, transient ischemic attacks. The scar tissue the strokes left in Mom's brain was anything but mini; because of its location, it was not only impairing her memory but ensnaring her in a state of depression (Alex Witchel, 9/7).
The Atlantic: The Fallacy Of Treating Health Care As An Industry
On September 6 the well-respected Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its report, "Best Care at Lower Cost." Its authors argue that the U.S. health-care system is falling far short of its potential and continuing to rack up unsustainable cost increases. ... The solution, they argue, is for the health care system to adopt practices already in use by other industries. ... One problem with a patchwork approach to reforming healthcare is the danger that we may produce a sort of Frankenstein, a monstrosity made up of parts that look strong when viewed in isolation but turn out not to fit well together. We cannot merely mix up two-thirds of a cup of banking, a quarter cup of manufacturing, and two tablespoons of airline policies and procedures and expect to produce well-integrated patient care. No matter how good each of the individual ingredients that go into preparing a meal are, if the components are not mixed in the appropriate combinations and proportions, the result is more likely to prove stomach churning than appetizing (Dr. Richard Gunderman, 9/10).
Los Angeles Times: The Doctor-Patient Relationship Is Evolving
(This story is part of a series of health care stories in a special section of the Los Angeles Times called The Future Of Healthcare)
Until now, doctors have pretty much called the shots in the doctor-patient relationship. But change is on the way. Patients, say ahhhhh -; it's about to be all about you. The new approach is called patient-centered care, and it's a very good thing, according to Dr. James Rickert, the founder and president of the Society for Patient Centered Orthopedics in Bedford, Ind. "It will mean better outcomes, more satisfied patients and lower costs," he says. Here are just a few ways your relationship with your doctor may evolve in the not-too-distant future:Your doctor won't be the boss of you. "Physicians are experts on likely outcomes, likely effects and side effects," says Dr. Elliott Fisher, a professor of community and family medicine at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine in Hanover, N.H. "But patients are experts on their preferences"...You and your doctor will spend more time on the Internet. That's because e-visits will replace some traditional kinds of appointments. "It's so easy," says Dr. Redonda Miller, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. "Patients love it -; 50% of what we do in the office could by done by email" (Karen Ryan, 9/13).