Category Archives: Work

Multiple Sclerosis researchers aren’t phoning it in

This is recent Science Node article of mine. I’m still learning to be okay with an editor’s tweaks. My style is probably a little drier than his.
Duke researchers use smartphones to paint a clearer picture of multiple sclerosis.
Speed read

Multiple sclerosis is a multifaceted neurological disorder that can perplex scientists. To fill in the gaps in their knowledge, researchers are now looking to mobile phone technology.

In Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a condition that affects an estimated 2.3 million people worldwide, the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, interrupting and distorting impulses traveling between the brain and the body.

MS symptoms can include fatigue, numbness and tingling, weakness, walking difficulties, bladder and bowel problems, and cognitive changes. Some less common symptoms are speech problems, tremors, breathing problems, headache, and seizures.

MS symptoms vary and can be triggered by things like stress or temperature extremes. Because every person who has MS experiences it differently, it is difficult for scientists to grasp.

That’s one of the reasons  F. Lee Hartsell and researchers at Duke University launched MS Mosaic, an iPhone app to gather data from MS patients.

MS Mosaic will help researchers better understand how patients live with MS from day to day.

Got smartphone?

Designed by Thread Research, MS Mosaic employs surveys and tasks to record and track MS symptoms.

To get involved, participants download the app, sign up for an MS Mosaic account, and start answering health questions. Each day, the app will prompt users to rate the severity of 19 symptoms on a scale of zero to five.

The app also asks if the user feels he or she is having a relapse. A relapse, also known as a flare-up or exacerbation, is marked by the occurrence of new symptoms or a worsening of existing symptoms.

On some days, MS Mosaic assigns physical tasks to complete. One activity has participants walk 25 steps forward and back with the phone attached to the body to test the functionality of the walk.

Another task is tapping the iPhone screen repeatedly to test fatigability, motor speed, and coordination.

There is a test that involves adding a series of numbers, another that requires the person to move a virtual peg across the phone screen, and a game that tests short-term memory.

Smart machine?

Hartsell says the app will soon incorporate artificial intelligence to improve predictive ability. “AI will prove invaluable,” he says. “Very soon we hope to use machine learning to identify patterns in our data that can help explain the seemingly random symptom fluctuations people with MS experience.”

Hartsell believes that AI will help the researchers identify related symptoms, and generate algorithms that can predict symptom changes. He hopes that as the data becomes larger, the app will be able to deliver personalized insights to users.

Researchers also hope that insights gained from the Mosaic study will help customize symptom management and one day influence all MS care. One of the study’s goals is to understand why some people with MS experience different symptoms than others, and why symptoms can vary over time.

The study is open to anyone 18 or older (with or without MS) who lives in the US and is comfortable reading English. There are currently around 300 people enrolled, and enrollment is increasing each week, Hartsell says.

Hartsell is seeking to increase participation in this study and also to recruit members to the Mosaic research team. The MS Mosaic Artisans Project aims to assemble the skills of MS patients, care partners, researchers, and clinicians to share information in the areas of platform development, data science, disease education, and care improvement.

If you would like to help or learn more about this study and find resources about Multiple Sclerosis, visit the MS Mosaic web site.

Lost My Mojo

For the last few weeks I've been getting my spiritual groove on. I was secure in the knowledge that I am at one with the universe and that my thoughts have the power to shape reality. I felt as if everything was fine because everything I see is only an illusion. I was feeling infinite and eternal with no beginning and no end. Something happened to make me lose those feelings.

Could it be that I subject myself to too much noise? I have been spending too much time on Twitter. I get free access to the Washington Post online edition with my IU credentials, so I've been spending too much time there. I listen a lot to the Thinking Sideways podcast. Maybe I've got too much of other peoples' stuff in my head.

I've been working on wrapped loops.

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I started a couple of collage collage projects. I hope to find some greater meaning through these works.

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I finished writing a piece for work that I'm proud of.

Now to take some time for myself. It's time to start meditating. It's time for silence.

Back to work

Today is the official New Year’s holiday. Tomorrow, I go back to work. I don’t wanna! The work week won’t even be semi-normal. I take my car for an alignment tomorrow and then take my dad to an appointment on Wednesday. I also have to go to Comcast and swap Dad’s malfunctioning router for a new one. The good thing is that I’ve got some fish and vegetables pre-cooked, and I’m well stocked on veggies for a while.

Last month, Riley destroyed my Wii Fit disc, so I ordered another one.

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An innocent sleeping Riley.

I also bought Zumba Fitness World Party. I haven’t tried it yet. Maybe I’ll write a review after I’ve given it a spin. It’s important that I get two days of strength training into each week. I have everything I need to accomplish this goal, but for some reason, I’m not good at seeing it through. I should make sure to do it on Mondays. That way, I’ll be half-way to accomplishing the goal. I may have to set a weekly schedule. Ideally, I would have my workouts set up for a whole month. The Evernote Moleskine notebook I ordered might help me to get moving on a workout schedule. We’ll soon see.

I forgot to post this picture of a tree ornament at my neurologist’s office. Is that Gandalf the White?

gandalf

Must be Gandalf!

Work work and food

I worked a fair amount of hours last week. I finished a blog post about personal digital archiving and started one on digital painting. I go to work with the mindset that I am a writer. Then I sit down and write. The topics I write about require some research, and I feel a little guilty when I’m searching the Web and not writing, but that’s part of the process.

This week, I want to finish the latest blog post. I also want to learn something that I can make a video tutorial about.   Those are my work goals.

In my personal life, I want to write more in my real paper notebook. I think this will help to alleviate my depression and anxiety. I recently read yet another article about how journaling is a good way to deal with depression. I’ve got stuff I need to say that I don’t want to share with the world.

Another personal goal is about food. I have to improve my diet. I eat vegetables most days, but I’m not getting anywhere near the recommended five per day. I think that I have to eat well so that MS doesn’t get the better of me. There are recipes I want to try, but the idea of going to the grocery store and getting the ingredients stops me. I considered trying Blue Apron, but it’s too expensive for my budget. What I think I can do is work with the food I have at home. That seems reasonable.

Illustration-Carrot, Broccoli, Red Pepper

 

Good People

When my husband’s co-workers heard about my MS diagnosis they were terribly concerned for me and for him. They understood he’d be missing work a bit, and they said his number one job is to take care of me. They said they would pray for me. So many people are praying for me, and keeping me in their thoughts. People are good.

Get well card and people illustration.They signed a get-well card for me and even collected money. The money  wasn’t at all necessary, but I can use it to buy up-market “frou-frou healthy” food at our local co-op Bloomingfoods. It can be a little pricey there. We have a Lucky’s Market in town now too. Whole Foods is coming soon, and there are rumors that another of this type of store is coming to the west side of town?  Is this too much for Bloomington?

We’ll see.

We’re bombarded these days by news of horrific things happening in the world. But when I look around at my little universe, things are not so bad at all.

New Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow Ernie goes back to work. I was going to have him take me to class, but I decided that I’m just not up for sitting in that warm room and listening to the lecture. I’ll stay home and finish my essay and maybe do some work.

Art journal spread.

Art journal spread.

Take it easy. Don’t do too much.

I will do the regular leg strength stuff, and stretch.

I will take the dogs out, but be careful.

I might do some art journaling.

HeartMath

Maybe think about food planning.

Already too much.

 

 

 

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