Friday, October 30, 2009

A Rare non-stroke recovery entry: Hand washing

I'm a big fan of hand washing. Eliminating bacteria and viruses from hands makes sense. It doubly makes sense because my home is often infested with a problem of a much bigger size: Children. My kids, their friends. Their friends friends friends friends. I am the steely-eyed Great Wall of China of bacterial and viral stoppage! Mean! Wash your hands I say. Most kids go in to the bathroom. My kids could go anywhere in the house to clean their hands.

We generally use iso-propanol rubbing alcohol to clean our hands. There are mist spray bottles in the bathrooms, kitchen and on desks. The rule is, if the dirt is visible, wash your hands. No visible dirt? Use the alcohol. I implemented this house rule a couple of years ago. I based it on the fact that children will not follow the "sing your ABCs" length of washing rule. They get in, sorta wash, and then sorta dry. I had read an article--which I am having trouble re-locating-- which said that using alcohol killed more germs than hand washing.

Then a few weeks ago, this from Kathleen Sebelius (nÊe Gilligan-- She'll will be working closely with the Professor and MaryAnn.") "Lil' Buddy Gilligan taught us all how to sneeze. After she teaches the proper sneeze she endorses a brand-name gel hand sanitizer. She is an expert on all things medical because, hey, former governor of Kansas--hello! And then c'mon-- she names the brand? Why? I'm sure she was just trying to ride a moment of cuteness. Or maybe she owns stock? As Glen Beck would say, "I'm jus' saying..."

What is best for washing hands? Well, it would be nice if there was one answer. But there are several. It's science. If you want definitive answers, try religion.

Part of the problem is that most research focuses on hand-washing Vs. alcohol gels. But there are many other options. So who should we really trust? Dentists! They've been grappling with this issue since the 80's. And what conclusion have the come to? Its neither hand-washing or gel. In fact, hand washing and alcohol gel do worse than everything else tested in dentistry.

For the rest of us non-dentists it is a given; Hand washing is effective. But in some tests, the gel hand sanitizers do better. However, there are many chemicals in the gel, including the gel itself, that make me wary.

Propylene Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aminomethyl Propanol, Carbomer, Fragrance, Glycerin, Isopropyl Myristate, Propylene Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aminomethyl Propanol, Carbomer, Fragrance (Parfum), Blue 1 (CI 42090), Yellow 5 (CI 19140). (Thanks Sanjay!)
So I choose straight alcohol. But unlike the former governor of Kansas , I am not an expert in this field. So trust your doctor!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation: A Head Game.

Mental practice. Athletes do it, musicians do it, anyone who does highly skilled movement benefits from it. It's inexpensive, takes little to no equipment and little energy, and it's well researched.

Mental practice ties into my entire philosophy of stroke recovery: If it works in athletes, then it works in stroke survivors.

Here's an article about our team that outlines a new study that were doing. We've done many mental practice studies before.

But this is the big kahuna.


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