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Supermarkets selling telehealth app visits, AR glasses support degenerative eye disease patients and more digital health news briefs

Also: Despite little confidence, Irish adults often searching online for health info; Simulated hand movement could assist stroke recovery.
By Dave Muoio
03:08 pm
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Eggs, milk, remote care. Thanks to a partnership between Texas grocery chain H-E-B and Reliant Immune Diagnostics, consumers seeking a mobile telemedicine consultation can purchase an appointment while stocking up the fridge.

The free-to-download MDBox platform offers symptom-driven video consultations and prescriptions from licensed providers for a flat, upfront fee. Now, patients can visit the grocer’s in-store pharmacy to purchase a single MDBox visit that is redeemed within the app. Appointments cost customers less that $50, according to the companies, and can be completed within 30 minutes.

AR super vision. Patients with the degenerative eye disease retinis pigmentosa could increase their poor vision with the use of “augmented reality” glasses that project brighter colors onto their retinas, according to a study published recently in Nature’s Scientific Reports. This technology-driven approach increased patient’s mobility by 50%, and their ability to grasp objects by 70%.

"Patients with retinitis pigmentosa have decreased peripheral vision and trouble seeing in low light, which makes it difficult to identify obstacles and grasp objects. They often require mobility aids to navigate, especially in dark environments," Anastasios N. Angelopoulos, study project lead at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California, said in a statement. "Through the use of AR, we aim to improve the quality of life for low vision patients by increasing their confidence in performing basic tasks, ultimately allowing them to live more independent lives.”

Paging Dr. Google. A new research survey conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) found that 50% of the country’s adults seek health information or advice online. Additionally, about 20% said that they have never spoken to a healthcare professional about their health concerns, with adults younger than 25 years the least likely to do so.

Paradoxically, 69% of these respondents said they completely distrust online sites as a source of health information, with 61% they fully trusted professional providers.

Seeing is believing. A team of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology researchers have published evidence that stroke patients relearning limb control were more successful when supported by video representations of their own hands in motion.

The motor imagery approach outfitted patients with EEG brain-computer interfaces that could identify when the wearer wanted to move their hand. At that moment, a tablet placed over their arm would display a video simulating their own hand making the intended movements.

The researchers described an experiment in IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering where 15 healthy individuals used the system, with videos of both their own hands moving and those of strangers. EEG measurements revealed increased brain activity during the former, which suggests that virtual hand recreations are likely the optimal approach for brain plasticity promotion for stroke patients.

"Visual tasks where a patient observes their own hand movement can be incorporated into brain-computer interface technology used for stroke rehabilitation that estimates a patient's motor intention from variations in brain activity, as it can give the patient both visual and sense of movement feedback,” Toshihisa Tanaka, a professor at the university and a co-author of the paper, said in a statement.

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