Thursday, October 17, 2013

Exergames: Or As Freddie Mercury Might Sing "I Want to Ride My Bicycle"

Bike Race 1A company called CyberCycles sent me an advertisement recently. Normally I would resist promoting a product on our Blog, but I have to say that I enjoyed using these interactive cycles at university gyms while on my sabbatical, especially when avoiding the rains of Oregon and Northern Ireland. You could keep track of your results, compare them to other riders' times, and there were different "courses" for new challenges.  I became quite fond of the competitive circuits on the interactive programs and found myself riding just a bit harder every session.  (The photo here, howevver, is from a sunny day, watching the pros in Belfast.  Yes, there are sunny days in Northern Ireland!)

As it turns out, there is research to support use of such "exergames," not just for the bodies but the brains of  older adults, according to a study by the Healthy Aging and Neuropsychology Lab and Department of Psychology at Union College in Schenectady, New York. The article is "Exergaming and Older Adults Cognition: A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial," by C. Anderson-Hanley and colleagues, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, February 2012.

So, CyberCycles, do you still have the scary Abominable Snowman ride? 

October 17, 2013 in Consumer Information, Health Care/Long Term Care, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Research Challenge: Keeping Up with the Big Business of Aging

Lisburn Bike Stop on EasterTo keep up with commercial developments affecting elder law, one of my favorite e-news sources is McKnight's Long-Term Care News.

In a recent newsletter, McKnight's reported on developments from a company that distributes a new generation of hip protectors. The description of the technology strikes me as remarkable, involving a moldable layer that hardens only at the moment of impact, thus seeming to combine wearability with protection. The product takes advantage of refinements in technology used for high impact sports such as football. Indeed, while the underwear-like garment described has clear application in nursing homes and other care facilities, I can also see where it might come in handy on some of my bike trips. And yes, if I dig far enough down, I could probably find a picture of me on crutches instead of a picture of one of my bikes.

At the same time, the growing wave of entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize on the aging boomer dynamic by turning "silver into gold," raises the importance of outside research and independent evaluation, key roles for academics.  Will the understandable desire of commercial developers for profit conflict with researchers who seek to analyze cost or efficacy of new apparatuses, drugs, medical procedures, long-term care options and other age-related commerce?   

A recent Massachusetts Supreme Court decision may provide researchers with some greater reassurance that their critical review of technology for "older adults" will not make them an easy target for Big Business backlash suits.    In HipSaver Inc. v. Kiel, 984 N.E. 2d 755 (Mass. 2013), the high court affirmed summary judgment in favor of a Harvard professor.  The doctor had been sued by a device manufacturer (described as "one of at least 23 companies that markets hip protection devices") following publication in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) of an article on research into the efficacy of certain devices in nursing homes.  In a detailed opinion, the court concluded the manufacturer had failed to demonstrate a reasonable expectation of proving all of what the court described as four essential elements of the cause of action for  "commercial disparagement," also known as "injurious falsehood," "disparagement of property," "slander of goods," and "trade libel."  

There is certainly room for a good law journal article or two on this same topic.  Let us know if you are a recent author on a related topic!

-- Katherine C. Pearson, Penn State Law 

August 21, 2013 in Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)