Cool Science

Spinal cord stimulation brings back mobility to patients with Parkinson’s

Dr. Mandar Jog and his team were the first in the world to implant a stimulator device on the spines of Parkinson’s patients, helping them walk again. They have found that stimulating signals that move from the body towards the brain can greatly improve movement. The stimulator is an efficient and cost-effective therapy, with the patients in the clinical trial experiencing much better quality of life.

Neuro Course: Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

To improve outcomes for patients with neurological disorders who are also experiencing mental health challenges, Drs. Swati Mehta (pictured left) and Eldon Loh (pictured right) are studying an internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy program called The Neuro Course. This therapy teaches skills to self-manage mental health symptoms. Those living in remote areas can access the course online and it removes the traditional barriers of face-to-face approaches.

New device for feeding tube insertion

In collaboration with medical device company CoapTech LLC, Lawson researchers are the first in the world to trial a new method of feeding tube insertion. By combining magnets and ultrasound, the PUMA-G System allows feeding tubes to be inserted at the bedside rather than needing specialized imaging or endoscopy suites. Unlike traditional methods, the PUMA-G System allows physicians to see the space between the skin and the stomach, minimizing the risk of puncturing other organs.

Vaping can cause lifethreatening lung disease

Lawson researchers published the first reported case of vaping-related lung injury in Canada. The case describes a new type of vaping-related lung injury that appears similar to ‘popcorn lung,’ a condition seen in microwave popcorn factory workers exposed to the chemical diacetyl. After ruling out other causes in the previously healthy teen, the team suspects flavoring in vaping products as the culprit.

Air pollution associated with adverse birth outcomes

Researchers in London have found that pregnant women exposed to higher amounts of sulfur dioxide are 3.4 times more likely to have a low birthweight baby and two times more likely to have a preterm birth. The study suggests that toxic air enters the placenta after traveling through a pregnant woman’s lungs and blood stream. The research team is now working on identifying clusters or ‘hotspots’ of exposure that can help inform future health promotion interventions.

Stopping discharges to homelessness

For some people, the experience of homelessness starts with a hospital discharge. The No Fixed Address (NFA) strategy has proven successful in providing people with critical support when they have been discharged from hospital and are re-integrating into the community. With a study funded by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy and led by Dr. Cheryl Forchuk, the expanded NFA strategy reduced discharge to homelessness by half for medical patients at LHSC.

Women face poorer outcomes following aortic surgery

In the largest study of its kind, a research team led by Dr. Michael Chu found that women experience poorer outcomes following aortic surgery when compared to men. Women are 40 per cent more likely to experience a complication, 90 per cent more likely to experience a stroke and 80 per cent more likely to die. The study highlights the importance of better screening for heart conditions in women and taking a different approach when treating female patients with aneurysms.

Transitional support program empowers youth with diabetes

In the first multicenter randomized controlled trial of its kind, teams from across Ontario led by Lawson researchers found that young patients with Type 1 diabetes benefit significantly if they have a transitional plan when moving from paediatric to adult care. Those assigned a transition coordinator attended more care visits, were more satisfied with their care and better managed their diabetes on a daily basis, while suffering less distress and emotional burden. The program has the potential to ease young adults into being able to comfortably navigate the health care system on their own.