Color & Control:


Robbie the Cobot lends a hand

Ford production line employee Dietmar Brauner thought his 30-year career was over after recurring health issues led to mobility limitations in his shoulder and wrist. Instead Dietmar brought his experience to bear on a wider range of tasks thanks to a new colleague, a collaborative robot, Robbie the Cobot who promised to take on tasks that employees living with certain disabilities might otherwise find difficult or impossible and, after a successful 18 month trial, he was indeed made permanent by Ford. Hopefully this will lead additional Cobots on the line and a more diverse range of employees at the automaker.


Do serious infections lead to Autism?

Childhood infections may contribute to diagnoses of autism or intellectual disability, according to a study of a Swedish cohort of about half a million people published in the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

In fact, research has shown that children who have at least one serious infection are 54% more likely to receive an autism diagnosis than those who have not.



Rethink Rare

Around the world, more than 300,000 million (one in 12 Canadians), including families, friends and caregivers are impacted by a rare disease. Collectively these 7000 plus rare diseases aren’t widely acknowledged, and remain misunderstood, according to experts. So, each year Rethinking Rare shines a light on patients, caregivers, technologies and treatments breaking down barriers in the ‘rare space.’ Watch for info on February 2023 Rethinking Rare Awareness Day.

Source: takeda


Teens, wearables, coaching and cash

A digital health program using a Fitbit wearable and text-based health coaching improved physical activity in teens, according to a study published in JMIR.

The teens had a daily goal of an hour of active minutes or 10,000 steps during the 12-week program. They also set weekly goals based on their previous accomplishments and could receive cash incentives if that goal was met.

Researchers found that enrollees met goals, on average, 7 out of the 11 weeks. They wore Fitbits for 91% of time, and tracked “significant improvements” in daily active minutes. The authors now plan to test again with larger sample size and a more diverse population for a longer time.



Same yet different

A new study by Salk Professor Thomas Albright shows that the brain can process information two ways. The first is through traditional circuits that we have long known. The second new finding is that it can also receive information via interactions of waves of neural activity thereby responding differently to the same thing under different conditions. Clearly an interesting leap in our understanding of the brain!


Empathy fatigue

Just as Canadians are experiencing pandemic fatigue after two long years, research suggests that Canadians may also be experiencing “empathy fatigue.” A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and UBC researchers, shows that feelings of empathy have eroded over the course of the pandemic, with only 13% of Canadians feeling empathetic, down markedly since the onset of the pandemic (from 23%).

Source: Canadian Mental Health Association


Yes, there’s hope

Hope Air is Canada’s only national charity providing free travel and accommodations for Canadians in financial need who must access medical care far from home. Since its inception in 1986, Hope Air has provided more than 162,000 travel arrangements for patients regardless of age or medical need. For people living on a low income in small and rural communities, distance and cost are very real barriers to them accessing vital medical care. Hope Air is a unique and essential part of our Canadian healthcare system. Without the access Hope Air provides, our national system of universal healthcare coverage would fall short of its promise. Hope Air has also been chosen as one of Canada’s best 100 charities.


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