Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Cochrane Library - Staying Informed On Healthcare

How can the Cochrane Library help you make more informed healthcare decisions?

We all have to make decisions about healthcare at times. Should I try this treatment or that one? Is this drug better for my condition, or does it cause unpleasant side effects? What is the evidence that this is the best treatment choice for me? It’s important to review research results, but first you have to find them. Then you have to wade through all the technical language these peer reviewed papers are written in. And of course there are usually several published papers from different researchers on any topic, and they don’t always agree. You will need help to interpret all this information.

The Cochrane Library comes to the rescue! They are an international network of independent volunteers who collect and summarize research evidence, producing reliable evidence-based information related to a specific question. These comprehensive reviews are written in plain language, and published online at the Cochrane Library. (LINK:

Interested in evidence-based answers to questions such as the following?
  • What are the effects of personalized care planning for adults with long-term health conditions?
  • How does virtual reality compare with conventional therapy during stroke rehabilitation?
  • What are the effects of antioxidant multivitamin and mineral supplements in people with age-related macular degeneration?
  • What are the effects of gabapentin in adults with chronic neuropathic pain?
  • In people with fibromyalgia, how do psychological therapies affect outcomes?
Cochrane asks and answers hundreds of questions like the above. Browse their list of Clinical Answers on topics ranging from Allergy & Intolerance to Wound Care and learn more about content that will aid you in making important decisions about your medical care. (LINK:

Monday, November 5, 2018

Four Tips for Healthy Eyes

  1. Get an annual eye exam. An eye doctor can detect problems before you notice them, when they may be easier to treat.
  2. Protect you eyes from sunlight. Wear sunglasses that cover your eyes fully and wrap around the sides of your head to provide side protection. Check that the lenses protect against UV-A and UV-B radiation, that can increase your risk of developing cataracts.
  3. Eating more green vegetables and fruits will keep your eyes and the rest of your body healthier.
  4. Stop smoking, or don’t start. Smoking increases your risk of several eye problems, including cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, Dry Eye Syndrome, and age-related macular degeneration.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Tip - Caring for Smart Chip Cards

New credit and debit cards have a small metallic microchip embedded on the front, which can be read by special card readers when inserted properly.  This allows for more secure transactions than the older cards.  But the smart chip can be damaged and will then malfunction in the reader.

Be sure to protect the microchip on your credit or debit card from physical damage by scrapes from items with sharp edges, such as coins and keys.  Don’t spill liquids on it.  Protect the card in your wallet or a card holder.  If your card is rejected by one card reader but does not seem to appear damaged, the fault could be in the machine, not the card.  Try it out in another machine before contacting the card-issuing company for a replacement.  The customer service phone number to get a replacement card sent is on the back of your card.  If you manage your card account online, look on the company website for a link to “replace lost or damaged card.”

When you get your new card in the mail, be sure to compare its information (e.g., expiration date) with the old one.  You may need to update stored payment information or automated bill payment settings.  While you are waiting for a replacement for a damaged smart chip credit or debit card, you can still use the card for online purchases.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Bicycle Safety

Biking is fun and it is good exercise.  It is also a safety challenge.  Meet the challenge by following these four suggestions.
  1. Dress properly for bike riding.

    Always wear a bike helmet.  This is the most important measure for keeping yourself safe when riding a bicycle.  Most head injuries suffered by bike riders are preventable if they had used the proper gear.
    • You should always use a helmet that is safe and reliable. Here’s what to look for when purchasing a bike helmet:
      • A label showing that the American Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation has certified the helmet as safe.
      • Outer shell is colored bright yellow, white, orange, or red (to maximize your visibility to drivers).
      • Outer layer is constructed of hard plastic or polycarbonate, with a waterproof finish.
      • Lining is stiff polystyrene.
      • Strap and fastener are securely attached to the helmet.
      • If your helmet becomes damaged, replace it.
    • Think about the possibility of road rash if you crash.  Wear closed-toe sturdy shoes.  You might want to consider a long sleeve shirt and long pants.  Consider wearing lightweight gloves to protect your hands in the event of an accident.

  2. Choose the right bike and maintain it.
    • When seated properly on the bike, you should be able to put one foot on the ground without leaning the bike to one side or the other. Adjust the seat height if necessary.
    • Your bike should have red reflectors on the sides, rear, and pedals that are visible for 500 feet.  It should also have a headlight.
    • Examine the bike tires before each trip.  Inflate the tires to the recommended pressure.  Look for worn spots and punctures.  Fix or replace tires or tubes before setting out.
    • Check your brakes.  If they are in proper working order, you will be able to stop within 15 feet when riding at 10 miles per hour.
    • Rearview mirrors are optional, but many bicyclists find them helpful.

  3. Adopt good bike-riding habits.
    You must obey all traffic laws as if you were driving a car. If you are not familiar with the traffic laws in your state, consult the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a printed copy.  Here are some traffic laws that generally apply:
    • Ride with the traffic, not against it.
    • Stay to the right of the lane if there is not a designated bike lane.
    • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
    • Keep a safe following distance between you and the vehicle (or bicycle) ahead of you.
    • Look behind you and use hand signals before turning or changing lanes.
    • Don’t ride your bike through intersections without traffic signals. Walk it, especially if there is heavy traffic.

  4. Other “common sense” rules of the road:
    • Choose your route so you are riding on the safest roads possible to get to your destination.
    • Ride on well-maintained roads with smooth pavement, but look out for potholes, rough surface patches and debris in the road.
    • Drive defensively. Keep your eye on motorists, pedestrians, other bikers, parked cars. Look out for children or animals entering your path.
    • Always pay attention to your surroundings. If you are listening to a radio or tape player, your full attention is not on the drive.
    • Never bike while intoxicated, either from alcohol or drugs. It is just as dangerous as driving while under the influence, and just as illegal.
These four safety strategies will keep you protected as you ride your bicycle for fun or as basic transportation.

Making Bananas Last

If you buy bananas that are “just ripe” to eat and don’t get to them within a few days, they will over ripen. You can only make so much banana bread!

Instead, buy bananas that are not quite ripe, a little on the green side.  Take them out of the plastic bag and let them sit at room temperature.  If you want some to ripen faster, put a few bananas close to other ripe fruit (apples work well). When they are ripe enough, separate each banana from the bunch. Wrap each individual stem with plastic wrap to prolong their ripening process.

Exercise and Sleep

A regular exercise program, especially cardio exercise, has been shown to help people fall asleep more easily and have a more restful, better quality of sleep.  But for many people, exercising right before bedtime does not achieve these outcomes.  Try different times of day to exercise and see what works best for your quality of sleep.  In general, you probably don’t want to work out closer then 3 hours before bedtime.

Images from Pixabay.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Getting ready for cold weather

It’s time to prepare your home for cold winter weather. Consider the following steps.
  • Have your heating system inspected by a qualified contractor. This should be done annually to ensure your safety.
  • Change batteries in both carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. (Get some and put them up if you don’t have them already!)
  • Look for spaces inside and outside where cold air can enter. Check around windows, doors, electrical outlets, and wall penetrations for cables and phone lines. Caulk holes or replace worn weather stripping.
  • Add storm windows or attach plastic film on the inside to keep out cold air if windows are drafty.
  • If possible, replace old models of electric space heaters with newer ones which have automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing heating elements.
  • Be sure space heaters are at least 3 feet away from flammable fabrics such as upholstered furniture or curtains.
  • Check fire extinguishers to be sure they are charged. Make sure all family members know the proper way to use a fire extinguisher.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Upcoming! IDRAC 2018

Virtual Ability, Inc.® will present the 7th annual International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference (IDRAC), on October 5-6, 2018. This is an annual professional conference held online, that is free and open to the public. The conference will take place in Second Life® at The Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability island.
This year's theme is "Taking Care of Us" This theme is broad and open to interpretation by the presenters we invited to this year's event. If past conferences are any indication, we look forward to lively discussions and information sharing among presenters and our very interested and interactive audience.
Below is an at-a-glance schedule of the presenters who will share their observations of the progress, benefits and challenges in disability rights in different parts of the world as applied to the current theme. We will provide more information about the speakers and their presentations as it becomes available. Note: All times are listed in US Pacific Daylight Time.

Friday October 5
Lusha Huang, a graduate student at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, will present "Enhancing Visually Impaired People’s Traveling Experience through Mobile Applications"
Coomara Pyaneandee, the Vice-Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will talk about the CRPD
Debbie Engelen-Eigles, who teaches Sociology and Gender Studies at Century College, will discuss "Learning from Korean Women with Disabilities: Lessons from the Field"
Emmy winner Jason DaSilva will discuss "Documenting Disability & Looking Towards the Future"
Lauren Bruno (Post-doctoral researcher, University of Iowa) and Cassandra Willis (Graduate student, Virginia Commonwealth University), will present "A Survey of Alternative and Traditional Special Education Teachers’ Perception of Preparedness"

Saturday October 6
Patrick McKearney, University of Cambridge, presents "Care and Visibility: Modes of Agency in L’Arche"
An Interview with Peter Catapano
Rev. Olutayo Shodipo, a Baptist minister from Nigeria, will discuss "Spirituality, Disability and Coping Strategy – Its Implication for Faith Communities"
Amra Mohammed, from the University of Jeddah, will talk about creating policies to support twice-exceptional students in Saudi Arabia

More session confirmations expected shortly. Please stay tuned!