Friday, December 14, 2012

Presents for the kids

A post from Debbie Anderson on the important topic of presents:

Just in time for holiday shopping—some educational materials to help children learn more about their brains and brain fitness.

I believe that children should be taught, at an appropriate level with engaging media, to understand important concepts about their brains and learning. If you are a parent, educator, or therapist who wants to teach children information that will allow them to better understand themselves and empower their thinking (how they can control and modify their minds and behavior; a Growth Mindset), it is nice to know that a variety of groups have recently developed engaging books, videos and apps regarding the human brain and brain training or plasticity.  I recently discovered two sources of material that are worth attention.

The Adventures of Ned the Neuron is a free iPad app.  This well constructed app is 34 full color pages of material.  


The app includes:
  • Read to Me function with voice over and soundtrack
  • §Interactive educational diagrams
  • Three mini-games
  • Over 30 neuroscience concepts introduced
The original version crashed on original generation one iPads, but that has now been fixed and it works without a hitch on my iPad (generation one).  A brief introductory video is available for viewing.  Additional information regarding this free app can be found at the Kizoom website.  The app can be found at the iTunes App Storelink at the Kizoom website.  Below are a few select screen shots (the last being a collage of all screens). 


Your Fantastic Elastic Brain:  Stretch It, Shape It is a multimedia resource by the DEAK Group.  It includes an app, a book, posters, and other education related resources.  These materials are not free, but the costs are minimal and, in my opinion, are good investments in the education of children.  My only complaint is that the app frequently crashed when I tried to navigate from one page to a different section of the program.  I am using a generation one iPad, so I don’t know the extent to which this generalizes to later iPads.  Visit the link above to learn more and to find a link to the iTunes App Store.




The book is also available at Amazon.com.  A brief introductory video is available for viewing at the web site or on YouTube

A brain hat

A terrific website with printouts and instructions on making an anatomically correct brain hat can be found here. A great resource for teaching kids.
cheers,
Izabela

PS: The website belongs to Ellen Johnston McHenry, who is a home-school curriculum author.  Among others she published The Brain: An introduction to neurology for ages 8-14 - a very nice, comprehensive book that starts from zero and ends somewhere at the early undergraduate level while explaining everything gently. Worth having a look (here)!

Les' biofedback gizmo - a follow-up from the conference

After the workshop I co-presented with Les Posen, quite a few people were interested in the little nifty biofeedback system he presented. For those interested, the name of the system is EmWave and detailed information about it can be found on www.heartmath.com.

For those who did not attend the workshop: the system had very little to do with neuropsychology, but was very impressive, and useful for those who are doing treatment. It is mostly used for stress reduction and improvement in emotional self-regulation. A very nice gizmo for under $200. Good amount of information on the website.

cheers,
Izabela

Monday, December 3, 2012

Testing on an iPad - Part 3

It was my birthday and I have a new toy!

iPad mini is a darling! And so is my husband.



The screen 'feels' the same size as the full- sized iPad and is much crisper to view - I think it may be using smaller pixels.
Typing is also quite comfortable, much more comfortable than on my netbook, which also has a small keyboard.
I admit that typing may not be as easy for the guys.

Also, the main advantage of the iPad mini (fits easily into a handbag) may not appeal as much to the male of the species.

Anyway, on to the third, and arguably the most important, part of testing on the iPad:


The Q-interactive from Pearson.



For those who didn't go to the conference, or were too busy to visit the Pearson stand while there, Pearson is releasing a new way of administering tests.

WAIS, WISC, CVLT and four subtexts of D-KEFS are being released on an iPad. Soon to be followed by Children's Memory Scale, NEPSY and WMS. If you go to www.helloq.com/home/ you can watch a video that tells you how much this new technology will change our way of doing things.
However, I would not worry about any drastic changes yet. For this release, Pearson is using the old normative data, so the administration needs to be very similar to that performed using the old booklets and pen. So, instead of writing on paper, you write with the stylus on the iPad screen. The are a few benefits: information about discontinuation is clearly provided, you can record audio during testing (but not save it with the rest of the data), and the scoring criteria are provided with each question.

On the minus side, to use the system, you need 2 iPads. So why would you buy them just to do the same testing in a more showy way?

The benefit is in the pricing. You pay $300 per year for the use of the system, and then you only pay for the tests or subtests you use. The price per subtest is currently set at $1.50, which adds up to $15/client, considerably more than the cost of the booklets (these are current prices from the US, that may change on travelling all the way across the ocean to Australia).
So far, not that good. BUT I understand that there is no upfront cost for any of the batteries. And this is where it gets worthwhile. For people who are starting a practice, and for those times when we need to update a test battery to a newer version, the iPad administration is suddenly very worthwhile. Add a little glamour that comes with shiny new electronic toys, and with time we will all move over to the new way of testing.
Cheers,
Izabela


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Medicines List

With thanks to Katie Kirby - a useful app to keep track of medications on an iPhone - Medicines List.
A neat way to record all your current medications. Keeps a history of medication changes and lets you set reminders to take your pills.
Simple - but so useful. Don't we all love the clients that come to our offices with all their medications nicely listed for us? Let's spread the word and we'll get more of them.
It is a nice app, and free.
Thank you Katie,
Izabela

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Google Books

I have just discovered a new google feature that maybe most of you already know about, but I need to share anyway.

Google Books

I needed detailed information on significance of WISC-IV test-retest differences, and there is not that much available on that topic. So I looked through a few books, a few google searches, and finally found a treasure trove.

Google books lets you look up a few pages of a book that deals with a topic that you are searching on. So I finally found the tables giving me information on significant differences between two assessment scores in Pediatric Forensic Neuropsychology by Sherman and Irooks. The book was published in 2012, and is not available electronically. Well, apart from these precious few pages that answered my question. Brilliant.

Be careful using this resource, though. Google Books need to abide by copyright laws, and there are viewing limits for books. Once you exceed them, you cannot look up things in that book any more.

Still, it is worth it for these tricky questions.

cheers,
Izabela

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Look

Over here is a website where you can buy over 300 different brain-themed T-shirt. Yes! I have to admit, some of them have more to do with zombies than neuropsychology, but no matter.

Mind you, when having a talk about neuropsychology at my 3-rd grader's class, I told them that we are interested in the brain and showed them this image.

Now I tend to be greeted with 'braaaaaiiinnns'

cheers,

Izabela


PS: and here is another website with brain T-shirts and gifts. Very nice artwork. And there are a few here as well.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Testing on an iPad - part 2

Testing visual neglect:

Star Cancellation by NeuropsychApps - free
This is an iPad version of the paper star cancellation task. Because an iPad's  screen is smaller than an A4 page, there is fewer stars to be found. It automatically scores omissions and repeated touching of stimuli. Unfortunately, no normative data. Nevertheless, I copied it down for the times when a test of neglect appears suddenly very useful and have nothing to hand. I have now checked it out and it is nicely intuitive and easy to use.

neglectTest by Jan Greve - $19.95
This one converts the pen and paper tests we  love and use for testing visuo-spatial function and neglect (e.g. a copy of a cube) into an electronic format. Results are converted to PDF so that they can be emailed or printed.
However, the description provided no information about any normative data, and the screen shots were in German, so considering the price I did not buy it. If somebody is interested enough to buy this app, please post a review in the comments.

cheers,
Izabela

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Testing on an iPad - Part 1

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There are quite a few neuropsychological tests on the iPad, which are well hidden in the medical section of the AppStore. I've got a few posts coming on the topic. The first installment will describe apps by WhiteAnt Publishing run by Professor David Darby - a Behavioural Neurologist from Melbourne who recently presented his apps during our CCN seminar:


AustinMaze - $12.99
An app that  mimics the original mechanical maze and provides both error and time scoring. There are also two demo mazes, a Milner's pathway on 10x10 maze and a version with a random selection from 40 different pathways of the same length as the original Milner's one. 
The maze notifies you when the client reached two error-free trials.
Unfortunately, there are no normative data for the iPad version of the maze - wouldn't it be lovely if somebody collected some normative data? I think it would make a nice thesis...

ColorFormSort - 0.99
A nice reproduction of the old classic that is close to the original. A good buy for those of us who still occasionally use the test

TokenTest - $2.99
This one is an iPad version of a the Token Test. It is better than using coloured cardboard shapes that some of us (me included) have somewhere in their test library. Yes, norms for the electronic version would be lovely, but I got it anyway and now I'm ready for the odd client that presents with a language impairment.

SpanTests - $2.99
An electronic version of verbal and visual span tests. Quite a few version of visual span tests. Its main advantage is the fact that we don't have to demonstrate and score the longer visual spans - a task that always got me worried that the client will turn out to be better than me.

All in all, I think these are very good apps, nicely close to the original tests. They would be fantastic if someone could collect normative data. 


Cheers,
Izabela

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Best neuroscience blogs

A list of supposedly best neuroscience blogs can be found here. Please be aware that blog reading is  extremely addictive and may lead to increased procrastination and elongation of report writing times.

cheers,
Izabela

NIH Toolbox

Excuse my repeating this information, but I have lost it dismally for a while and only just found it again after a long search of my email. Therefore, it is going on this blog, where I can find it easier!.

NIH toolbox is a tool being developed by the National Institute of Health - a computer based test of various aspects of cognitive emotional, sensory and motor functions. It is extensively normed, and available free, at least to the research community. To be unveiled in September.

A short Lancet article on it can be found here.

cheers,
Izabela

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Online Learning

With thanks to Les Posen for the information, here is a sampling of some interesting courses that can be found online.

The Open Culture website has a list of online psychology courses here:


Samples:

Get free Psychology courses from the world’s leading universities. You can download these audio & video courses straight to your computer or mp3 player. For more online courses, visit our complete collection of Free Courses.
  • Brain Structure and its Origins - iTunes - Gerald Schneider, MIT
  • Buddhist Psychology iTunes - Eleanor Rosch, UC Berkeley
  • Clinical Psychology - iTunes - Ann Kring, UC Berkeley
  • Cognitive Neuroscience - iTunes - Richard Ivry, UC Berkeley
  • Communication and Conflict in Families and Couples YouTube - Benjamin Karney, UCLA
  • Developmental Psychology - iTunes - Alison Gopnik, UC Berkeley
  • General Psychology - iTunes Audio - John Kihlstrom, UC Berkeley
  • How to Think Like a Psychologist - iTunes Video - Multiple profs – Stanford
  • Human Emotion iTunes Audio - Dacher Keltner, UC Berkeley
  • Human Happiness - iTunes - Dacher Keltner, UC Berkeley
  • Introduction to Psychology - YouTube - iTunes Audio - iTunes Video - Download Course, Paul Bloom, Yale
  • Introduction to Psychology - iTunes - MP3s - Jeremy Wolfe, MIT
  • Introduction to Psychology - YouTube - John Gabrieli, MIT
  • Neural Networks and Biological Modeling - Web Video - Wolfram Gerstner, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • Neuroscience and Behavior - iTunes - Download Course - Gerald Schneider, MIT
  • Research and Data Analysis in Psychology - YouTube - iTunes Video - Frederic Theunissen, UC Berkeley
  • Scientific Approaches to Consciousness iTunes Audio - YouTube - Professor John F. Kihlstrom, UC Berkeley
  • Social Psychology: Self and Society iTunes Audio - Robb Willer, UC Berkeley
  • The New Psychology of Depression iTunes Audio - Web Audio - Mark Williams and Danny Penman, Oxford
  • The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food - Download Course - Professor Kelly D. Brownell, Yale

Assessments over Skype or via videoconferencing

Liz Mullaly has recently sent an inquiry about people's experience of performing neuropsychological assessments using videoconferencing (I enclose her original email at the end of this post, with her permission, in case you have something to add to the topic).

At first, it seems to be unfeasible to perform an assessment via videoconferencing or Skype, with all the blocks and paperwork to manipulate. However, I have conducted quite a few assessment through a glass pane  and microphone/speaker arrangement in custody, where I can only move assessment materials across at the beginning and the end of a session - I thought that it parallels a video-conferenced assessment quite well and was thinking that if I can do this, I can surely do the same thing looking at a monitor.

I think that it could be done by Skype/videoconferencing quite successfully. The main thing would be having the camera show both the person and the desk at the same time, and having somebody present at least at the beginning and end of session to hand out and take away the materials. Although theoretically, this could be done by opening a sealed envelope during the session and re-sealing it in a secure way after the assessment is completed.

I believe that there is at least one Neuropsychologist may be doing assessments over Skype, and another who is thinking of doing initial interviews over Skype to screen people that are unsuitable for a formal assessment.

This is an exciting topic, I'd love to get a discussion going.

cheers,
Izabela


Original message:



"Elizabeth Mullaly" <mulltwom@melbpc.org.au> Aug 02 11:03PM +1000

Dear colleagues,
Has anybody had experience of conducting assessments via videoconferencing?
I have been asked to look into this as part of a project at Caulfiel  Hospital. My email is e.mullaly@cgmc.org.au
 
Many thanks, Liz

Camera Mouse

With thanks to Faye Simpson, I'd like to introduce:
    Camera Mouse
This is a mouse controller for people who cannot move their hands well, but have control over head movement. It is free and uses a web-camera and head movements to move a computer mouse. It should work with any Windows program. For more information, visit http://cameramouse.org/about.html.
Faye suggests that it could also have uses in adapting tests such as blocks, Rey Figure or Wisconsin Card Sorting Test for people who do not have hand control. 
cheers,
Izabela

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

ABI resources and apps

Thank you to Faye Simpson who forwarded a very interesting pdf list of iPhone and iPad apps for people with an Acquired Brain Injury. As it was a bit hard to attach, I followed its trail and found a website that contains a variety of excellent resources.
Check out http://www.brainline.org/. It is an excellent website for our clients and their family members, with lots of information about brain injuries, from locked-in syndrome to concussion. Use the search feature to discover a lot more resources than initially visible. Apart from iPhone and iPad apps, there are also apps for the Android system, and a whole lot of other goodies.
cheers,
Izabela

Another interesting blog

This is a blog by an American Neuropsychologist and Positive Psychologist. It is quite readable and while not really meant for Neuropsychologists, is still worth a visit. He has a particular interest in tricks of maximizing productivity and minimizing attentional problems in ADHD. These are quite useful for the rest of us, too. Also, I like his, slightly different, angle on neuropsychological disorders. Worth having a look.


http://www.drnowell.com/blog.html

cheers,
Izabela

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reading for fun and professional development

Browsing the internet is such a wonderful way of procrastinating. If you are ever in need of interesting (non-neuropsychology) reading, I recommend TYWKIWDBI (read 'tai-wiki-widbee, which is an acronym for 'things you wouldn't know if we didn't blog intermittently') for a variety of tasty bits and pieces. For a somewhat more scientific good read I recommend Not Exactly Rocket Science.

If you are prefer concentrating on neuropsychological topics, I would suggest this article on how to use various technological tools to keep up with literature.

Also, I will add another reminder here about the fact that  APS has access to full-text articles at http://www.psychology.org.au/publications/journals/ (for members only, unfortunately).

Good reading,
Izabela

Assistive Technology in the Workplace

The credit for this information goes to Katie Kirby and Gloria Smith-Tappe.

This seems to be an excellent, very thorough compilation of various technologies of which, I believe, we need to be aware. A whole range of gadgets and services that I was not aware of. For example, did you know that sign language interpreting is available via Skype?

Assistive Technology in the Workplace for People with a Disability

University of Ballarat

Exploring the use of assistive technology in the workplace can be the difference between getting or missing out on a job. This needs employees, potential employees and all those who help them getting to know about the wide range of assistive technology available, how to access it and how to source potential funding. Employers also need this information to best assist current and potential staff.

This booklet includes sections on assistive technology for people who are deaf/hearing impaired, are blind/vision-impaired, are deaf/blind, have physical disabilities, and have a learning disability. It also includes a section on the accessibility features of smartphones/iPads/tablet computers and a section on JobAccess and the Disability Employment Service.



cheers,
Izabela 

A new study on smartphones in rehabilitation - subjects needed

I am re-posting a message I have received from Dana Wong. I think this study is worth supporting.


Dear all,

I'm writing to ask for help recruiting participants for a study that is being conducted by Elizabeth Seabrook, who is currently completing her Psychology Honours at Monash University and is being supervised by Jennie Ponsford, Adam McKay and I. We are looking at the way in which people who have sustained a TBI are using smartphones (e.g., iPhones, Blackberrys, Android phones) in everyday life, what their attitudes and experiences have been with these devices, and how cognitive, social, emotional, and occupational functioning may be related to the patterns of use, and barriers to the use of smartphones.  We're doing this study because we think smartphones have a great potential to be applied in TBI rehabilitation as a platform on which a number of assistive strategies may be integrated. We are therefore hoping that our research will not only show us what the patterns of smartphone use are in the TBI population, but also provide us with an indication of the functional barriers that may need to be addressed when designing effective interventions for clients using smartphones.
 
We are hoping to recruit participants to complete a survey about smartphone use, as well as questionnaires addressing daily functioning.  These measures may be completed at Monash University, Epworth Hospital (Richmond), at the participant's home, or over the phone. We are looking for individuals who:
  • Are over 16 years of age
  • Have a history of TBI
  • Have no other premorbid neurological condition
  • Have an adequate ability to speak and read English
Potential participants do NOT need to have any prior experience with smartphones - we need both people who use smartphone and those who don't.  Clients with a history of psychiatric disorder and/or alcohol/substance use can be included.  Participants will go into the draw to win an iPod shuffle.

The process of recruitment would be that clinicians would give the attached flyer to clients who meet the above criteria, and obtain their permission to be contacted by Liz, and/or ask them to contact Liz directly.  If you are willing to give the flyer to your clients, we would be most grateful - please contact Elizabeth Seabrook at emsea1@student.monash.edu for further info.

We have ethics approval for this study from both Epworth HREC and Monash University.

 
Many thanks,
Dana
 
 
unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to attach a file to a blog post, but I suspect that Elizabeth Seabrook will be happy to forward an electronic copy of the brochure. 
 
cheers,
Izabela 

literature on technology in rehabilitation

Thanks to Katie Kirby and Gloria Smith-Tappe, below is a collection of articles on the use of technology in rehabilitation:


De Leo, G., Brivio, E., Sautter, S.W. (2011). Supporting Autobiographical Memory in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease Using Smart Phones. Applied Neuropsychology, 18:1, 69-76.


Svoboda, E.,  Richards, B., Leach L., &  Mertens V., (2012).PDA and smartphone use by individuals with moderate-to-severe memory impairment:Application of a theory-driven training programme, Neuropsychological Rehabilitation:An International Journal, 22:3, 408-427

De Joode, E.A., Van Boxtel, M.P.J., Verhey, F.R., Van Heugten, C.M. (2011). Use of assistive technology in cognitive rehabilitation: Exploratory studies of the opinions and expectations of healthcare professionals and potential users. Brain Injury, 2012, 1-10.




Apart from theory of smart phone applications, Gloria sent us a source of information about practice of implementing smart phones in brain injury rehabilitation. This website, supporting Implementing and evaluating Smart Phone Applications technology across the NSW Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program (BIRP) contains several useful documents offering practical advice.




Happy reading,


Izabela

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Another study on smartphone use in rehabilitation

PDA and smartphone use by individuals with moderate-to-severe memory impairment: Application of a theory-driven training programme

PDA and smartphone use by individuals with moderate-to-severe memory impairment: Application of a theory-driven training programme

Neuropsychological Rehabilitation: An International Journal

Volume 22, Issue 3, 2012, pages 408-427

by

Eva Svobodaa*, Brian Richardsa, Larry Leacha & Valerie Mertensa


a link is here
unfortunately, it is a pay by view article, at least using this link, but don't forget that APS has access to free psychology articles for all its members.


Cheers,
Izabela


 

Virtual, mixed and ambient rehabilitation

Another interesting link courtesy of Katie Kirby:

 
Advanced technology in health care (including rehab) website:

I had a look, and it all feels almost like reading science-fiction, with a wealth of information about virtual reality, mixed reality (mixing of real world and virtual reality), ambient intelligence  ('a seamless environment of computing, advanced networking technology and specific interfaces. It is aware of the specific characteristics of human presence and personalities, takes care of needs and is capable of responding intelligently to spoken or gestured indications of desire, and even can engage in intelligent dialogue' - sounds pretty nice) and other things I confess I haven't heard of before. 

A site that seems to have a lot of good information, but will take a few hours and some spare brain capacity to explore. I am storing it as a treat for the next holidays.

Cheers,
Izabela

 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A very worthwhile seminar

I have the pleasure to announce a seminar that will take place in August in Melbourne.


New Technology and Neuropsychology:
A multidisciplinary panel presentation and discussion.

With the recent explosion in the number of IT products in the marketplace, it is important that neuropsychologists remain up to date with the technologies available. This education seminar will provide an update as to some of the recent advances in IT and how they may benefit neuropsychologists. Four speakers will cover a variety of topics and a panel discussion will follow. Audience members will be encouraged to contribute to the discussion with their own IT experiences.

Professor David Darby
Lightening the load - iPad oriented task design for the 21st century
Prof Darby graduated from Medicine at the University of Melbourne in 1981, completing a PhD in neurology and neuropsychology in 1990, and his neurology training in 1991. Prof Darby has published over 80 research papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals and has co-authored a neuropsychological textbook with Prof Kevin Walsh. He is a consultant for CogState Ltd , which he helped found in 1999, to develop computerized cognitive testing instruments for early detection of dementia in the earliest stages and is also Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne.

Dr. Edward Theologis
Medications made simpler with your iPhone
Dr. Theologis is a consultant psychiatrist with the Brain Disorders Program at Austin Health. His private practice utilises ‘Telehealth’, focussing on the delivery of health consults via services such as Skype.

Libby Callaway
Current considerations in the use of smartphone technology for people with ABI.
Libby Calloway is an Occupational Therapist with extensive clinical experience in ABI rehabilitation. She is also a researcher/lecturer at Monash University and the Research Manager at the Summer Foundation.

Izabela Walters
Technical tricks and gadgets for enhancing professional efficiency in clinical practice.
Izabela Walters is a neuropsychologist who works full time in private practice, is the National CCN webmaster and “resident geek”.


Yes, I will be there sharing my tricks for running a private practice, and I am looking forward to hearing all the geeky information that the other speakers will impart.

Come along to the Geek Fest!

It is taking place Tuesday 28th August 2012 at Michael Chamberlain Theatre, St Vincents Hospital:

6pm - cocktail party
6:30 - presentation
8:00 - cocktail party continues


For those of you that haven't received the information through e-mail, go to http://www.psychology.org.au/Events/EventView.aspx?ID=10548 to register. For those who have received the e-mail, apologies for cross-posting, but how could I not?
 
Cheers,
Izabela

Monday, July 16, 2012

Controlling a computer with your eyes

Forwarded by Katie Kirby. Who also adds that the source article can be accessed free for 30 days after publication by creating an account with the Journal of Neural Engineering.
Thank you Katie


Device Lets Disabled Control PC With Eyes
AAP, Herald Sun, July 13,

Engineers say they have built a cheap device that lets disabled people control a computer with just their eyes. The gadget comprises two video-game cameras, costing less than $A10 apiece, attached outside the line of vision to a pair of ordinary glasses, reported the team from Imperial College London.

The cameras relay the eye's movements to an ordinary computer, wirelessly or via USB, and use one watt of power Test subjects control a cursor on a screen just like a computer mouse, it was reported in the Journal of Neural Engineering

"We have achieved two things: we have built a 3D eye tracking system hundreds of times cheaper than commercial systems and used it to build a real-time brain machine interface," said co-author Aldo Faisal.

"This is frugal innovation; developing smarter software and piggy-backing existing hardware to create devices that can help people worldwide ..."It also allowed patients to interact more smoothly and more quickly than more expensive technologies that require electrode implants in the brain.

"...by using mass-produced video game hardware, it is possible to produce an ultra-low-cost binocular eye-tracker with comparable performance to commercial systems, yet 800 times cheaper," the researchers wrote. The technology offers hope for restoring some level of independence to people who do not have use of their hands.

Other low-cost eye-tracking systems developed in the past had much lower performance, they added, while commercial-grade systems mainly used in research cost more than $20,000.

The researchers said they solved the problem of involuntary blinking in controlling the computer. Many systems use a blink to represent a mouse click, but the team calibrated their system to work on a single-eyed wink instead.

They were also able to calibrate how far into the distance their subjects were looking, holding promise for future applications that may allow people to control an electronic wheelchair simply by looking at where they want to go.

 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Magic

This is not exactly related to neuropsychology, but such delicious geek candy has to be shared. Go here, watch the video and see why we will start looking like magicians next year - hand gestures and all. I'm looking forward to this.
Izabela

Apps for people with head injury - a nice collection

I found a nice little presentation of iphone/ipad apps recommended for people with brain injury here. I do not necessarily agree with all their recommendations, but there are some good ideas. I was particularly impressed with ClearRecord Premium app which is an audio recorder that suppresses ambient background noise and lets you control the replay speed without the voices sounding like depressed androids or chipmunks. This seems like the sound recorder to get - for both our clients and ourselves.
cheers,
Izabela

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another interesting blog

For those with a medico-legal bent, I can recommend an interesting blog:

http://www.braininjurylawblog.com/

It  deals with American law, but also offers some good references to interesting articles, especially about mild head injury.

Cheers,
Izabela

Neuro Film Festival 2012

A wonderful resource - a gathering of short films produced to raise awareness about brain disorders. The winning entries can be found here and the whole set of films here.

Warning: very addictive.

Izabela

Nana Technology

I am not quite sure whether to be appalled or amused by the term 'Nana Technology'. A bit of both, I think. But I spotted it on the internet trawling for some technological news for the elderly, and knowing internet, in two months everybody is going to use it. The site to blame is:

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/graphics/nana_tech/flash.htm

Worth having a look for a nice overview of new technological gimmicks to help with mobility and cognitive difficulties. Uses flash, so you have to watch it on a computer, not on an iPad.

Some other interesting gimmicks include:
- a stove sensor to prevent unattended cooking fires
- an automated medication alarm and dispenser
- motion sensor system that detects changes in routine and alerts caregivers

Some of these technologies may not yet be available in Australia, but it is always interesting to see what is coming next.

Cheers,

Izabela

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

a new delightful blog

I have just discovered a new blog: neurocritic.blogspot.com.au . Very scrumptious. Recent posts include the discussion of whether the human dorsal stream really processes elongated vegetables and a review of 2012 Neuro Film Festival entries that are available on YouTube. The short films seem extremely interesting, and I see an evening spent with YouTube in my very near future.

You can also find where to buy a realistic chocolate skull. Custom made online, allow 3 weeks for casting and time for delivery (I wonder if one can get it delivered to Australia. Without melting. Maybe in winter.)

cheers,
Izabela

Monday, March 19, 2012

A tip from a client

I have just picked a great tip on shopping apps from a client with memory problems!

The Woolworths and Coles apps allow you to scan barcodes of items you run out of to add to your shopping list. You can, of course, type stuff as well. It lets you find your nearest shop and the Woolworths app organizes your shopping list by that shop's aisle. Nice!

cheers,
Izabela

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The sound of one hand typing

This series of apps for Macintosh are designed for those who used to touch-type and lost the use of one hand.

One-Hand Keyboard lets you type the good-hand equivalent of a letter your bad hand would normally type and uses lets the computer figure out what you meant to type. So for example, instead of typing 'this', you would type 'tges' using mirror equivalent of keys you would normally type with your right hand. The computer figures out what you want to say. Apparently the substitution is easy to learn, but I reserve judgement.

The app is fairly expensive, at 133.99, but there is a cut-down free version for free practice and testing the application.
There is also a free application (Mirror-QWERTY), where you need to press the space bar every time you type the equivalent letter to let the computer know what you mean.

Well worth exploring for those who lost the use of one hand and want to do some typing.

Izabela

Thursday, February 23, 2012

An app to improve concentration

This one is equally good for neuropsychologists and their clients. Unfortunately, as it runs on Android smartphones, so I'll have to search for an iPhone equivalent.

StayOn Task app beeps at you at unpredictable intervals and you have to touch either the 'on task' or 'off task' button to get it quiet again. As we all know, monitoring a behaviour improves it, so it should result in more on-task behaviour.

As far as I am aware this app does not record data - it is just meant to remind you to keep on task. The frequency of alarms can be adjusted according to whether you chose 'on task' or 'off task' last time it checked.

A most amusing blog

I have come across a new blog (mindhacks.com), that deals with psychology and neuroscience. Most amusing. For example, it comments on a recent medical study of the Haitian zombies (here), and a law requiring psychologists or psychiatrists to wear a wizard's hats when testifying during a defendant's competency hearing. The law, intended to be a satire, was passed unanimously in New Mexico in 1995. It was, however, removed from the bill before it became law.
Interestingly, the blog mentions a legal piece that asserts that test forms are not subjects to copyright in the US (here)... An interesting legal development worth following up.
Have a look!
Izabela

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Virtual reality and neuropsychology

Thank you to Katie Kirby and Gloria Smith for a link to this interesting article on assessing visual neglect using virtual reality.

I wonder how our testing will change over the next two decades. I have to admit that while I enjoy geeky things, I will find it hard to give up the simplicity of paper and pencil tests, especially when it comes to result interpretation.

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2012 Feb;26(2):120-31. Epub 2011 Jul 11.

Mapping the neglected space: gradients of detection revealed by virtual reality. Dvorkin AY, Bogey RA, Harvey RL, Patton JL. 1Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Spatial neglect affects perception along different dimensions. However, there is limited availability of 3-dimensional (3D) methods that fully map out a patient's volume of deficit, although this could guide clinical management.

OBJECTIVE: To test whether patients with neglect exhibit simple contralesional versus complex perceptual deficits and whether deficits are best described using Cartesian (rectangular) or polar coordinates.

METHODS: Seventeen right-hemisphere persons with stroke (8 with a history of neglect) and 9 healthy controls were exposed to a 3D virtual environment. Targets placed in a dense array appeared one at a time in various locations.

RESULTS: When tested using rectangular array of targets, subjects in the neglect group exhibited complex asymmetries across several dimensions in both reaction time and target detection rates. Paper-and-pencil tests only detected neglect in 4 of 8 of these patients. When tested using polar array of targets, 2 patients who initially appeared to perform poorly in both left and near space only showed a simple left-side asymmetry that depended almost entirely on the angle from the sagittal plane. A third patient exhibited left neglect irrespective of the arrangements of targets used. An idealized model with pure dependence on the polar angle demonstrated how such deficits could be misconstrued as near neglect if one uses a rectangular array.

CONCLUSIONS: Such deficits may be poorly detected by paper-and-pencil tests and even by computerized tests that use regular screens. Assessments that incorporate 3D arrangements of targets enable precise mapping of deficient areas and detect subtle forms of neglect whose identification may be relevant to treatment strategies.

cheers,
Izabela

Great web resource

Katie Kirby sent me a link to a fabulous Australian resource for the use of smart phones in head injury rehabilitation. The website has been a part of the Implementing and evaluating Smart Phone Applications technology across the NSW Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program (BIRP).

The site is great, with a multitude of resources for the patients, carers and clinicians. There are too many goodies to list them here. Definitively have a look.

The link is: http://www.tbistafftraining.info

Thank you, Katie,

Izabela

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Help for dyslexics and very poor spellers

Typ-O is an application that helps those with low spelling skills. It has knowledge of the most common spelling mistakes and predicts which words are likely to be used, thus being able to suggest corrections even in a very poorly spelled text.

The corrections can be read aloud by a synthetic voice to help choose the correct spelling of each word. Also, the finished text can be read through by the synthetic voice to check for spelling mistakes.

The text then can be pasted into other applications, such as Word, email, etc.

The application is available for Mac, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and one can get it from the App Store.

I am not aware of any similar applications for the PC and Android systems - we need people familiar with these systems to contribute to this blog!

If you would like to write some posts, either regularly or just once, please contact me on IzaWalter@gmail.com.

Thanks,
Izabela

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Animation of biomechanics and pathology of concussion

Faye Simpson has recently forwarded to npinoz some information from Paul Kelly about his animation of biomechanics and pathophysiology of concussions.

For those of who haven't seen the post, you can find the animation on Paul's Kelly's website at http://bmc.erin.utoronto.ca/~paul/research.html

It is a very nicely presented 4-minute film. It is free to share with colleagues, but you need to contact him if using it commercially.

Enjoy,
Izabela

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Digital gadgets outperform diaries in brain injury rehabilitation

I have always thought that a nice iPhone is better than a paper diary, both for neuropsychologists and their clients. It beeps at you when you need to do something, and unlike a paper diary, it is generally in your pocket or your handbag.

Your typical young male with head injury is particularly prone to forgetting his diary. He usually tells you that he forgot it, while he is sitting across from you at a desk on which lies his mobile phone.

Well, I have came upon a study that formally proves the superiority of electronic gizmos in a nice, controlled study. It comes from Royal Rehabilitation Centre in Sydney, and the Chief Investigator is Belinda Carr, Occupational Therapy Leader. To read a press release, go to http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/06/28/3254725.htm.

I will try to contact her and ask her about her work in this area. Watch this space.

Izabela

Monday, January 2, 2012

Some more holiday art

While we are at it, here are some art brains made from food. If you want a closer look, follow the link on the website.

cheers,
Izabela

Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art

Internet has everything. For a light holiday reading head to the Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art at http://harbaugh.uoregon.edu/Brain/index.htm . Please note that "we cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of using fabric brain art as a guide for functional magnetic resonance imaging, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, neurosurgery, or single-neuron recording."

Enjoy.

PS: for wooden brain art head to: http://harbaugh.uoregon.edu/Brain/Bachy/index.htm

Have a great 2012.

Izabela