Thursday, September 29, 2011

Backpain at work: Can your employer help?

Ever return home from work with a sore back? You're not the only one - and around a quarter of the UK population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives.

Many cases of back pain can be brought on by long sitting or standing periods at work, and anything from the wrong safety equipment to the height of your chair or computer screen could contribute to these aches and pains.

But there are some things that employers can do to promote back safety in the workplace, and a number of regulations are in place to ensure these standards are upheld. Here are some of the ways your employer can help promote good backcare in the workplace:

Risk Assesment: All employers should adhere to goverment guidelines perform health and safety risk assesments, which an assesment of back safety in the workplace. Knowing about these can help ensure you know what is and isn't acceptable at work.

Handling goods: There are a number of back pain regulations surrounding the manual handling of goods at work, and a few things employers can do to make things safer for the backs of their staff members, such as putting wheels on heavy crates or implementing lifts for heavy materials. Keeping yourself up to date on these regulations mean that you will know exactly what your workplace should be providing, and enable you to make informed decisions when it comes to looking after your back at work.

Chairs and equipment: All chairs and computer equipment should be appropriately levelled so as not to harm the backs of employees when sitting for long periods of time. This NHS guide offers some more information on the chair and computer adjustments that can be made to reduce back pain.

Access to medical advice: Bigger organisations sometimes give employees the chance to seek medical advice from a company doctor or offer free or affordable business health insurance so you can get checked up if you ever have back pain. Access to this advice will make sure you know what you should and shouldn't be doing at work when your back is sore - and you can also get advice about the ways to strengthen it and keep it healthy out of the office too.

Keeping active: Staying active and not sitting or standing in the same position for too long is recommended to keep backs healthy. Employers should encourage or allow movement around the workplace at regular breaks, so you are never left in the same position for too long.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Benefits of Telemedicine

Nowadays almost every person in the UK has access to the internet either at home or at work, yet it is hard to find examples where internet enabled healthcare is applied. According to a report by the NHS Confederation, the NHS is behind the rest of the world when it comes to telemedicine; the underlying part of this problem is the assumption that patients are always in favour of remote consultation.

Telemedicine is an especially attractive proposition for those patients that live in rural areas, one example of a successful application it is the remote stroke consultation where doctors can use video to talk to their patients as well as viewing their scans from a laptop. This allows them to make swift care decisions on treatment that can be provided at the local’s patient unit. A quick delivery of drugs is essential when it comes to minimizing the effects of a stroke; according to the North Cumbria University hospitals trust, the introduction of this service will mean that 24 more patients in the area will survive a stroke each year.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Healthcare UK - all we hoped it would be?

Interesting story in the Mirror recently about the child healthcare index and the UK's placing.

Being a G8 country you'd guess (not unreasonably) that we'd be in the top 8 countries worldwide for child healthcare - but no. We're 14th. That's nine places behind Belarus and 11 places behind Ireland.

Story here - what do you think of the UK's index placing of 14th?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Will calorie labeling make healthy eating easier?

This week McDonalds will start displaying calorie information in all 1,200 of thier UK fast food outlets, as part governments plans to encourage calorie labeling in restaurants - designed to help encourage people to choose a healthier option as they order in restaurants.

The goverment's responsibility deal aims to give people choice, and encourage healthy eating even in the depths of a fast food outlet - notorious for serving meals with an unexpectedly high calorie content. Coffee shops are keen to get on board too, which chains like Starbucks signing up - which the goverment hopes will help encourage more people to choose options like an Americano, with just 17 calories, over a hot chocolate with whipped cream, which can have up to 556 calories.

Some people, however, have questioned the effectiveness of such a scheme - with some claiming that anyone entering a fast food restaurant is surely aware that the calorie content of most of the food is high, meaning that they are unlikely to change their mind upon seeing a healthier option.

But for those who are trying to keep healthy, the move is likely to be welcomed - and at least this way we can be sure that an innocent enough looking coffee or sandwhich won't turn out to be half of our daily calorie intake.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reflexology heals a facial scar: But can it help you?

The word reflexology is probably most commonly known for stress reduction, or the healing of aching bones - but a recent Telegraph article has reported on the use of the treatment to reduce a scar on a woman's cheek.

Caroline Boucher was left with a large facial scar after undergoing several surgergies and a skin graft to remove and treat malignant melanoma - but after eight months of weekly reflexology treatments, the scar is now far less prominent.This has the potential to bring new uses to the treatment, which has a mixed reception in the medical world - with some praising and some dismissing the usefullness of reflexology.Often thought of as an alternative therapy, lots of private health insurance providers are now offering reflexology for conditions like frozen shoulder. So what is it? And is it any good?

Reflexology is a treatment which involves massaging hands, feet and ears with specific parts of the hands and fingers - to treat other areas of the body through corresponding 'reflex areas'.The treatment dates back thousands of years, having first been practised (albeit in a slightly different way) in ancient China and Egypt.

This BBC health video on reflexology is quite interesting, and explains the benefits and background of the treatment well. what do you think about reflexology?

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 Cancer Link

The Fire Department of New York City has carried out some research that proves that the fire fighters who were involved in the rescue efforts of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, have a higher risk of developing cancer.
The findings of this research will be published in the medical journal “the Lancet”. This research argues that the exposure to toxic debris causes an increase in cancer risk as well as developing other ailments such as asthma. Ten years after the infamous attacks the number of members of the fire and police departments who have died from cancer surpasses the death toll of those who perished on the day of the attacks.
Quite shockingly the US government does not recognize this association and as a result does not provide healthcare cover to the cancer patients who risked their lives ten years ago. This situation is likely to spark controversy on the 10th year anniversary of the attacks.