Health Briefs

Using Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates to Help Patients with Parkinson’s Disease

Creighton physical therapy students are getting patients with Parkinson’s disease moving in a whole new way. With techniques from tai chi, yoga and Pilates, students are learning alternative methods to improve patients’ function and way of life.

“Evidence has shown movement, in general, is really good for slowing the disease,” says Kelli Wrolstad, a third-year physical therapy student. But, she adds, it’s not realistic to tell most Parkinson’s patients to “hop on a treadmill.”

Instead, alternative exercises can be modified to fit the patient’s needs. This spring, Creighton physical therapy students did just that, working with Parkinson’s patients in the physical therapy lab.

The positive outcomes can stretch beyond improving general health, says Jessica Niski, DPT’12, BSHS’12, assistant professor of physical therapy.  

“If we can maximize their function and participation,” she says, “they can maintain their independence.”

Study Examines Rural Homelessness

Data gathered by a Creighton professor and a recent School of Medicine graduate will help state and local leaders in the U.S. better meet the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness in rural communities. Their research provides insight into a public health issue that is currently understudied in research literature.

Sriram Ramaswamy, MD, professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, and Anthony Easterday, BS’15, MD’19, recently published a study in the Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless. Ramaswamy and Easterday’s study looked at the socio-demographics and physical and mental health of those experiencing homelessness in rural areas, as well as their ability to use technology and the barriers to their access to care.

Video Games May Pay Off for Surgeons

For all those parents who lament children playing video games too much, a Creighton professor may be poking a few holes in their argument.

It turns out, playing video games actually may be helpful if you want to be a surgeon.

John Cote, MD’97, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine and an avid video-game player, thinks research published in the Archives of Surgery is worth further study.

The article reported in 2007 that surgeons who played video games for more than three hours a week made 37% fewer mistakes. They were also 27% faster than surgeons who never played.

Cote, who completed medical school and residency at Creighton, admits to being a longtime gamer, “since the days of Pong,” which was one of the first video games produced in the early ‘70s. He had noticed the similarities between video-game playing and laparoscopic surgery and was aware of the 2007 study.

An “invited critique” on the original research stated that further studies “are needed before we include video-game play as an adjunct for skill training in laparoscopic surgery or before we relax our concerns about video-game playing among children.”

Cote is doing just that, with the goal of publishing his results and encouraging the adoption of video-game warmups for OB-GYN residents if a positive correlation is found.

Students Collaborate in Dental Clinic

This May, 86 dental students and 45 occupational therapy students participated in a joint activity designed to broaden their respective health care perspectives.

The “Accommodations and Transfers” activity, held in the Creighton Dental Clinic, concentrated on issues dental patients with mobility issues and other physical limitations might face, such as moving from a wheelchair to the dental chair and learning how to properly clean their teeth.

The interprofessional education (IPE) activity is part of a growing collaborative effort in health care, and between Creighton’s School of Dentistry and School of Pharmacy and Health Professions.

Another IPE activity at the dental clinic involves pharmacy and dental students collaborating on medication management of adult dental clinic patients. A pharmacist and team of pharmacy students consult with the dental students on patient care, providing medication therapy management, identifying drug-related problems, recommending medications and more.

Creighton has made interprofessional education a priority, with the Center for Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research (CIPER) serving as the hub.

NIH Grant Aids Research to Battle TB

An old drug may become important in the worldwide fight against tuberculosis, according to the research of two scientists in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions.

Justin Tolman, PharmD, PhD, and Jeffrey North, PhD, are participating in a two-year, $600,000 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to determine the potential for the antibiotic clofazimine — synthesized 65 years ago, now only used to treat leprosy, and known for adverse side effects including severe nausea and skin discoloration — to combat TB, especially as drug-resistant strains of the disease arise.

Tolman said the health care community is concerned about TB treatment options as many drugs currently used are becoming ineffective. “Clofazimine is what you might call a ‘bad drug,’ but we’re seeing if we use it in a new way, it has the possibility to be effective against tuberculosis,” he says.

The NIH grant stems from a study Tolman and North undertook with the aid of a Jack and Lois Wareham Faculty Research Award, in which they improved upon the results of a paper that showed clofazimine, when inhaled rather than taken orally, is effective against a mouse model of tuberculosis.