3 posts categorized "Science"


The App That Teaches CPR in Emergency Situations



There are apps for business, there are apps for entertainment, there are apps for the weather, and there are apps that help save lives. One app that falls into the life-saving category is PulsePoint, a nonprofit application endorsed by the Red Cross and the American Heart Association, among others. The app provides updated CPR guidelines and otherwise encourages citizens to be active during emergency situations, rather than standing and watching them unfold. 


Using The Training

Nearly 60 percent of adults in the United States have undergone training to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or use an automated external defibrillator (AED). These people have acknowledged their willingness to help during times of emergency, yet only about 11 percent do. Those behind PulsePoint have used mobile technology to streamline CPR guidelines while simultaneously finding ways to appeal to this trained segment of the population. 

Think of the time it takes for paramedics or an EMS team to arrive at the scene when someone’s having a heart attack. Beginning the CPR process quickly doubles if not triples the individual’s survival rate; therefore, a mobilized, trained population could provide life-saving assistance during said window. 


How PulsePoint Works

So, how does PulsePoint work? Those trained in CPR or AED use register with the app and receive notifications whenever they’re near someone suffering from cardiac arrest. The app also lets these people know where the nearest public AEDs are located. 

EMS workers take over the emergency situation once they arrive; however, having a trained individual provide assistance until that time could easily be the difference between life and death. The app alerts anyone nearby who has PulsePoint the moment 911 is called. 


Crossover Potential

PulsePoint is currently working in small and large cities, including Fargo, North Dakota and Cleveland, Ohio. The app also offers extensive crossover potential in areas of public health, security, and education. This naturally depends on PulsePoint’s level of success; however, variations of the innovative software could provide assistance to assorted civil service functions. 


Creating Citizen Superheroes

The official PulsePoint website stresses that the app is a way to create superheroes out of regular citizens with CPR training who are interested in putting their skills to excellent use. The site notes that SCA can happen any time, at any location, and the more citizens are aware of the health of their community members, the more they become helpful partners to paramedics and similar service agents. 

PulsePoint is challenging those trained in CPR and AED to be proactive instead of looking the other way when they see an ambulance go by or hear those familiar sirens. The website notes this is even more imperative when an ambulance or fire truck is stuck in horrendous traffic. Rather than depriving cardiac arrest victims of the help they need, PulsePoint is encouraging the average person with CPR training to help his or her fellow citizen when it’s direst. 

Will the app become the new standard in cardiac arrest cases? 



Text Messaging as a Weight Loss Tool?



Is text messaging the next big weight loss tool? Very possibly. Research has clearly indicated people take better care of their health when they keep track of their eating and exercise habits, and text messaging can function as a modern-day food diary. Researchers at Duke University published a study on texting and weight loss in the online edition of the Journal of Medical Internet Research in 2013, which found that tracking health and wellness through text not only saved people time, but potentially made staying with a diet and exercise plan more likely. 


More On the 2013 Study

Duke University researchers studied 50 obese women for six months, with 26 of the women utilizing daily texting as part of the school’s Shape Plan weight-loss intervention. The women lost nearly three pounds each. The other 24 women did not use text messages to help with their weight loss efforts, and gained an average of 2.5 pounds each. The average age of the participants was 38. 

Daily text messages revolved around tips, tailored recommendations such as “no sugary drinks,” and taking 10,000 steps per day, as well as feedback. Participants received text messages every morning from an automated system, such as "Please text yesterday's # of steps you walked, # of sugary drinks, and if you ate fast food." The automated system sent customized feedback based on what the participants replied, as well as a tip. 


The Benefits

Dori Steinberg, a post-doctoral obesity researcher in the Duke Obesity Prevention Program and the study’s lead author, remarked that text messaging offered a number of benefits with which other self-monitoring methods cannot compete. Such benefits include the fact that data is easily and quickly entered into a text message compared with other web-based diet and exercise diaries. This ability results in (almost) real-time tracking, portability convenience, and increased personalized feedback. 

Another benefit is the limited number of characters involved with text messaging, which reduces the “detail and cognitive load” traditionally associated with keeping track of exercise and diet. Previous research indicates that long-term health monitoring is lackluster due to time and labor, extensive numeracy and literacy skills, and general burden. 

Study participants noted that texting helped them reach their goals in part because it was so easy. 


More Studies

Other studies concerning text messaging as a weight loss tool came up with similar findings. One study published in the Computers, Informatics, and Nursing journal in 2013 found that participants who utilized text message services lost more weight than those who did not, with texts including motivational messages, healthy snack ideas, and other tips. As with the Duke University study, texting was an interactive process that required participants to text “yes” or “no” regarding whether or not they put the advice into practice. 

Another study looked at text messaging as an “intervention medium” for weight loss, and found that SMS is an informative, encouraging, easy-to-use, affordable tool for managing weight and overall health. The study called for more substantial, randomized trials to determine optimal use for text messaging as a weight loss tool, among other things. 

Will text messaging become synonymous with weight loss? It certainly looks that way...



Text Message Flu Vaccine Reminders a Success

A recent study by the Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center explored the effectiveness of text messages as reminders for parents of children who required flu vaccinations. These reminders served to inform parents of a deadline to administer a second dose of the influenza vaccine: a very important booster that helps to protect children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years of age from the flu. Here are the details of the study, originally published in the journal Pediatrics.

The trial conducted between 2012 and 2013 sampled children of 660 families who needed the vaccine booster. The study randomized the families involved, dividing them into three specific groups. Each group received a different kind of correspondence: an “educational” text message, a “conventional” one, or else they received a letter in the mail informing them of the second flu shot. All of the parents were informed of the importance of the second shot upon their first visit; all of the families involved had text message capabilities on their phones.

Each of the three messages had a different method of reaching the parents. In the “conventional” text message and the letter, the parents were only informed of the date in which the next dose should be administered. On the other hand, in the “educational” text message, parents were given additional information about the effects of influenza upon children, and the value of preventative medicine.

The results of the study show the influence that text messages have in marketing campaigns. Families that received the “educational” text message reminder were significantly more likely to turn up for the second dose of the flu vaccine. Over 72% of parents who were in the “educational” condition responded, as compared to about the two-thirds who responded to the “conventional” text message. The families who received reminders in the mail were only 57% likely to respond.

Parents claimed that text message reminders were helpful because they not only provided pertinent information quickly, but they showed that someone actually cared about the well-being of their child. Also, most parents claimed they brought their kids in for the dosage directly because of the reminder (about 60% of the parents in the study). While 70% of the parents involved said it made them bring their children in for a vaccination sooner.

Naturally, this information is very influential for both mobile marketing campaigns and the medical industry. The informative text message is turning out to be the modern day appointment reminder call. Marketing campaigns can take a page out of the medical manual on this one: inform the client of an upcoming appointment, and educate them about the importance of keeping it. Clients are grateful and feel cared for, while organizations yield higher turnouts.