How Motor Learning Generalizes

Introduction

Every movement we make requires our brains to predict what forces–gravity, an object we’re holding, a strong gust of wind–each of our body Screenshot 2015-07-12 11.03.40parts will experience in order to move in a coordinated fashion. No movement is ever exactly the same and so it is remarkable that we are not constantly tripping over ourselves. It is well-known that humans learn based on previous errors in their movements. My work at the Harvard Neuromotor Control Lab was to investigate how the brain learns to “makes generalizations” about movements and learn from its mistakes. Continue reading

Understanding Tracheostomy as a Risk Factor for Sternal Wound Infections

Introduction

Tracheostomy is an unpleasant, but effective means for transitioning patients off ventilatory support after prolonged periods of respiratory failure following cardiac surgery. There is, however, a perceived risk of patients getting infections of the surgical, sternal Screenshot 2015-07-12 16.13.38wound if tracheostomy is performed too early. This perceived risk means patients are often delayed in tracheostomy, including the benefits of ability to speak, reduced mortality, reduced ICU stay, and reduced delirium until the surgical wound is felt no longer at risk. Continue reading

Towards an Intelligent Stethoscope

Introduction

Screenshot 2015-07-12 09.51.31Though in some ways replaced by ultrasound technology, cardiac auscultation–using a stethoscope to listen to a patient’s heart–remains an important screening modality for recognizing heart disease. Auscultation serves as a cost-effective screening tool for heart disease and is of particular importance in several clinical scenarios. Less emphasis has been placed on training US clinicians in auscultation, however, making this something of a “lost art.” This may delay a patient’s diagnosis of heart disease. Continue reading