Tag Archives: Improves
Over the past decade, Steam has gone from an optional piece of software used to deliver updates to Valve’s games to an annoying hindrance which prevented many from playing Half-Life 2 at launch to the one and only place to purchase PC games for many gamers. It’s been a remarkable transformation, particularly when considering just how significant of a portion of the digital PC games market it commands — Stardock, which operated competing digital distribution service Impulse, estimated Steam’s market share as being 70 percent in 2009. Steam has only grown in size since then, and while it now faces more competition from Origin, Amazon, and others, it remains the preeminent source of digital PC games. Beginning very soon, it will expand into a new market that will help to ensure its future growth even if Origin and company continue to become bigger players in the games space.
Valve announced today that the first pieces of non-gaming software will be released on Steam on September 5. No names were revealed; the closest we got to any degree of specificity was a line in the press release which reads, “The Software titles coming to Steam range from creativity to productivity.” That’s still awfully vague, so it looks as if we’ll be waiting a bit longer before finding out exactly what kind of programs you’ll be able to download alongside your copies of Audiosurf and Portal 2.
Study Shows Yoga Also Reduces Fear of Falling
July 26, 2012 — Starting yoga even long after a stroke may improve the balance of stroke survivors, a study shows.
“It’s an exciting thing,” says study researcher Arlene Schmid, PhD. “People can improve their balance years after a stroke. They can change their brain and change their body. They are not stuck with what they have.”
The study is published in the journal Stroke.
Schmid is a rehabilitation research scientist at Roudebush Veterans Administration-Medical Center and Indiana University in Indianapolis. For the study, her team recruited 47 stroke survivors who’d had strokes more than six months ago. Seventy-five percent of them were male veterans, including veterans of World War II.
They were divided into two groups. Ten received no therapy. The other 37 got a specialized version of yoga developed by a yoga therapist and the research team.
At first, many of the veterans scoffed at the therapy.
“‘Yoga is for girls, yoga is for hippies,’” Schmid recalls them telling her. “A stereotypical male veteran’s response.”
After a couple of sessions, though, and with encouragement from their wives, the veterans came to appreciate yoga and the impact it had on their disabilities.
“It was a hard sell, but by the end they wanted more,” Schmid says.
They practiced seated, standing, and floor-based exercises like the pigeon pose and the mountain pose over the eight-week study period. By the end, the yoga group showed significant improvement in balance.
The yoga practice also boosted their confidence and reduced their fear of falling. According to the study, nearly three-quarters of all stroke survivors suffer from falls. Such falls can break bones. They can also be fatal. In addition to physical harm, strokes can also contribute to depression.
Stroke Survivor’s Recovery Is Ongoing Years After Stroke
The study sends an important message about the ability of stroke survivors to improve well after their first post-stroke year.
“I get really concerned when patients are told that improvements made after the first three to six months are the extent of the recovery they will see,” says Andrea Serdar, PT, NCS, who reviewed the study for WebMD. “That’s the old way of thinking, not the new science.”
Serdar is a physical therapist who specializes in neurology at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. In her practice, among long-term stroke survivors, she sees similar positive results as those reported in the study.
“I’m not the least bit surprised,” she says about the study’s results.
Complex, progressively challenging activities such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi help the brain and the body readjust after a stroke, and, says Serdar, participating in a group improves quality of life.
“The interaction of the class is really beneficial,” she says. “There’s real camaraderie. They bond rapidly over their shared experiences, and there are benefits regardless of what exercise they do.”
Study Shows Alzheimer’s Patients May Sleep Better, Be Less Depressed After Cataract Surgery
That’s the recommendation of researchers who found that people with mild Alzheimer’s disease who have cataracts may benefit from vision-correcting surgery. The benefits include improved sight, better sleep, and less depressed mood.
Also, people with Alzheimer’s often had better communication and interaction with others after the surgery.
According to Brigitte Girard, MD, a professor of ophthalmology at Tenon Hospital in Paris, treatment improved the patients’ lives and also the lives of some caregivers.
Girard reported the researchers’ findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) at the end of October.
Despite fears to the contrary, Girard says, surgery did not worsen patients’ general condition or dementia.
William Thies, PhD, scientific director of the Alzheimer’s Association, reviewed the findings for WebMD. He says that general medical care, including vision problems, are often overlooked in people with Alzheimer’s.
“The assumption is made they won’t benefit,” Thies says. The assumption, he adds, is wrong. “The fact that they do benefit is very much the message from this study.”
Improvements in Mood and Sleep
More than 1.5 million cataract surgeries are performed annually in the U.S. One in three Americans, most of them older people, will have the surgery at some point in their life.
The surgery is performed to remove the natural lens of the eye, which sometimes becomes clouded over time. A permanent artificial lens is then implanted to replace the natural lens.
The study involved 38 people with mild Alzheimer’s disease who underwent cataract surgery. The average age was 86; nine were 90 or older. The majority (82%) were women.
Three months after surgery, all but one patient could see better. Three in four patients had improved or unchanged scores on tests of mood, memory, and their ability to wash, dress, and otherwise function independently. Sleep, in particular, improved, Girard says.
Six of the seven people with depression before surgery were less depressed afterward. The other person’s depression was about the same as before.
As rated by the patients and their caregivers, social lives improved or were unchanged in two out of every three people studied.
Girard says “unchanged” scores were considered a mark of success. “As one neurologist told me,” she says, “if people with Alzheimer’s disease don’t get worse over three months, it’s a win.”
The researchers did find that some people were more agitated after the surgery.
Benefits for Caregivers
The study also found that the surgery eased the burden for one in four caregivers. For another one in four, though, caring for their loved one was harder. The main reason cited was an increased level of agitation.
If you’ve ever struggled to download a new game on launch day from Steam, you’ll be pleased to hear that Valve has upgraded its content delivery system. This should make it easier and quicker to download new titles that are in high demand, improve download speeds worldwide, and allow for more games to be shipped through Steam.
For those who are stuck with an ISP that has a monthly bandwidth cap (you poor thing), Steam will no longer force you to download unnecessary amounts of data when a game is updated. Instead, you’ll simply download whatever has been changed, rather than the entirety of the files that have been updated. Updates can now also make their way onto Steam more quickly in the first place, thanks to a simpler process for developers.
Valve’s announcement revealed some upcoming features Steam will be getting through client updates, including download scheduling, bandwidth throttling, and the ability to both prioritize the order that games are downloaded in and download updates for a game while playing it (the update won’t be applied until after you’re done playing).
SATURDAY, June 25 — Advances in diabetes care have nearly eliminated the difference in life expectancy between people with type 1 diabetes and the general population, according to new research.
Life expectancy at birth for someone diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1965 and 1980 was estimated to be 68.8 years compared to 72.4 years for the general population. But, for someone diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1950 and 1964 the estimated life expectancy at birth was just 53.4 years.
“The outlook for someone with type 1 diabetes can be wonderful,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Trevor Orchard, professor of epidemiology, medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
Orchard said that more recent improvements in diabetes care will make the outlook even brighter for people diagnosed more recently.
“We’ll see further improvements in life expectancy compared to the general population,” he said.
Results of the new study are scheduled to be presented on Saturday at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting in San Diego.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system mistakenly sees healthy cells as foreign invaders, such as a virus. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone necessary for your body to use carbohydrates as fuel. Once these cells are destroyed, the body can no longer produce insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must replace the lost insulin through injections or an insulin pump or they would get very ill and could even die.
But, estimating the right amount of insulin you might need isn’t an easy task. Too little insulin, and the blood sugar levels go too high. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage many parts of the body, including the kidneys and the eyes. But if you get too much insulin, blood sugar levels can drop dangerously low, possibly low enough to cause coma or death.
Diabetes care today has advanced significantly since the people in Orchard’s study were first diagnosed. Blood glucose meters weren’t readily available back then. There were few choices in insulin, and there were no insulin pumps. It was far more difficult to maintain good blood sugar levels. And, Orchard noted that there was no way to measure long-term blood sugar control, as there is now. A test called the hemoglobin A1C can detect your average blood sugar levels for the past two to three months.
Orchard’s study, known as the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications (EDC) study, included 390 people who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1950 and 1964, and 543 people who were diagnosed between 1965 and 1980.
The researchers found that the mortality rate was 11.6 percent for the 1965 to 1980 group and 35.6 percent for the 1950 to 1964 group.
That means for people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1965 and 1980, their life expectancy improved by 15 years. At the same time, the life expectancy for the general U.S. population only improved by one year.
The gap between life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes (diagnosed between 1965 and 1980) and the general U.S. population is now just four years, according to the study.
Orchard said this new information should help people with type 1 diabetes who may be unfairly penalized with higher premiums when they try to purchase life insurance.
Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, called the new study “good research that’s documenting what we’re seeing. Our patients are doing much better. The morbidity is also much less. We used to see so much blindness and now we don’t see that as much. I think this study is very reassuring.”
Good blood sugar control is the key, said Zonszein.
Orchard agreed. “It’s well worth getting good [blood sugar] control, as well as controlling blood pressure and [cholesterol]. These are all important.” He added that people with type 1 diabetes who can avoid a kidney issue known as microalbuminuria actually have the same life expectancy as the average person in the United States.
Learn more about type 1 diabetes from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Posted: June 2011
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