#Icebucketchallenge #StrikeoutALS

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.” ― Stephen Hawking

 

Until a month back, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neuron disease, was more immediately associated with the famous theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking. However, today the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge-or as many social media users know it, the #ALSIceBucketChallenge-is everywhere. The idea sparked by an ALS patient named Pete Frates, caught on with athletes in Boston and spread like wildfire.

The Ice Bucket Challenge relies on a simple dare: you get 24 hours to post the video of yourself being drenched by a bucket of ice water on social media (for example, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter)- and tag three (or six, or as many as you can think of !) of your closest friends to do likewise-  or donate $100 to ALS charity of your choice. In many cases, participants do both, they keep the cycle going by daring others and fork over the donation as well.

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects a person’s ability to move voluntarily. The disease, also known as the glass coffin, stops the individual from voluntarily eating, walking and talking, but not from thinking or feeling. Thus, a “glass coffin” effectively translates to the condition wherein the sufferers are ‘locked in’ to their bodies.

Now coming to the popular question,

What is ALS?

 Each muscle in our body is controlled by motor neurons that reside in the brain (in the frontal lobe, to be precise). These are controlled electrically and are synaptically connected to motor neurons that reside lower down in the brain- along with the motor neurons in our spinal cord. ALS is the disease that weakens the motor neurons (either in brain or spine, or even both).

In 2006, it was determined that ALS was determined by the accumulation of abnormal proteins, called 43 kDa transactive response (TAR) DNA-binding protein (TDP-43), in the brain. 10% of ALS is genetic and based on a gene mutation.  There are now multiple genes that have been identified as potentially causing the disease, for example, chromosome 9 open reading frame 72, or C9orf72 , or gene that encodes the enzyme copper-zinc superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), or even TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43). The remaining 90% occurs at random with no clearly associated risk factors. Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute and the Mayo Clinic developed a new drug that combats molecular contributors to ALS. Knowledge of specific genes helps to identify specific mechanisms in the brain, and would potentially give us targets for therapies.

 

The widespread campaign to “raise awareness” has enlisted the help of seemingly every A-Lister on the planet, including Mark Zuckerberg, Obama, Bill Gates to our very own Bollywood stars-Rahul Bose, Bipasha Basu, Abhishek Bacchhan and Riteish Deshmukh and tennis players Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza, to name a few. The donations to the ALS Association have risen to $21 million over the last few weeks! It’s just an incredible example of a fundraiser campaign that has exploited the power of social media to the fullest. The ultimate aim is to transform this large-scale awareness into actual research that brings relief to ALS patients.

[Note: The quote is taken from The Science of Second-Guessing,New York Times Magazine Interview, December 12, 2004.]

 

Benefits of the Jasmine Membership program

Jasmine benefits

We help you manage your health without any hassles!

Does your busy lifestyle have you wishing for your own health care manager? Does the thought of hunting down medical documents before each visit to the doctor fill you with dread?

Take heart!  You don’t need to worry about preparations for a visit to the doctor anymore! Texas Medical Concierge has designed the Jasmine membership program keeping in mind the specific needs of the busy go-getters like you! Subscribe today to avail a host of concierge services and conveniences offered by TMC. Benefits to members include:

Digitization, filing and maintenanceof medical records

  • All your medical records are digitized and uploaded onto a secure server
  • We organize and arrange all the original documents by index labels according to medical specialty
  • To maintain privacy, every member gets an individual secure ID code which will be used for all internal and external communication
  • Just send us your subsequent prescriptions and reports to keep the records up to date.

Secure access to personal records through patient portal

  • Access your digitized records securely and conveniently through our user portal, from anywhere in the world
  • Share your records easily with your doctors

Integrated healthcare consultancy

  • Our medical team will review your medical history and documents
  • Our doctors will understand your medical needs and help outline your health goals
  • Choose from a variety healthcare options like Nuclear medicine, Personalized  medicine, Therapies for  Mental and emotional health, Ayurveda, Yoga  and  Naturopathy
  • We help you to make the choices best suited for you by providing compassionate guidance and support

Physicians and specialty doctor recommendations

  • Members can contact us as and when as often as they like for gaining access to super specialist doctors.
  • Our medical team reviews your medical history and understands your current medical needs. We then reach out to specific global centers of excellence and shortlist doctors’ profiles for you.
  • Based on this research, we give you a written recommendation of doctors that we feel are appropriate according to your needs, individual preferences and health goals.

 Discounts on select healthcare services

Get discounts on select healthcare services including:

  • Up to 35% off on laboratory tests.
  • Up to 10 % off on MRI, X-ray and other imaging services.
  • Up to 10% off on selected pharmaceutical bills.
  • Up to 8% off different services on hospital bills.
  • Access to exclusive healthcare promotional offers.

Visit www.texasmedicalconcierge.com for more details.

Jasmine Membership Program: Epicentre = You

How Jasmine Membership Program Works-

How Jasmine Membership Program Works-

Texas Medical Concierge announces the commencement of the all new Jasmine membership plan! We are your personal health desk designed for providing medical assistance to suit your needs. We represent our patients and not the medical institution or the specialist. Subscribe today to avail the benefits of a whole array of concierge services and conveniences offered by TMC. Benefits to members include:

  • Digitization, filing and maintenance of medical records
  • Secure access to personal records through a patient portal
  • Recommendation of physicians and specialists
  • Discounts on select healthcare services
  • Integrated healthcare consultancy

Want to know more? Here’s how it works:

Once your membership is activated, we take your detailed medical history that includes your present health status and information regarding any medical conditions you might be suffering from. This helps us get an idea of your specific healthcare requirements. We also schedule a detailed video/ telephonic interview with you (and your family members, if you opt for a family membership plan). We use a secure digitization system to ensure that your medical data is in safe hands, at all times. You can, of course,access your records through a secure patient portal.

We then provide our inputs in a detailed document that describes your current health status and health needs. Each time you need to consult a doctor, we make recommendations about physicians after taking into account your requirements and medical history. All you have to do subsequently, is to provide us with your prescriptions and other vital details so that these can be updated in your electronic medical records that you can access from anywhere at your convenience!

 

Texas Medical Concierge also offers a whole array of services that include medical second opinions, medical travel, integrative medicine and personalized medicine. More on the Jasmine plan, coming soon!

Tears of the Clown-Tragic demise of celebrity once again brings mental health into the spotlight

The tragic death of Robin Williams, prolific comedian and actor in memorable films like Mrs. Doubtfire, Good morning! Vietnam and Patch Adams, has left millions of his followers in shock and sadness. Bollywood too has been inspired by his comic genius and loosely based some major hits on his films – Chachi 420 (Mrs. Doubtfire), Munnabhai MBBS (Patch Adams) and Mohabbatein (Dead poets’ society) to name the big ones.

While celebrities and fans worldwide have expressed their shock and disbelief at his death, one question has echoed throughout print and social media: How could a person, who brought smiles to countless faces with his comic genius in his public life, be so disconsolate in his personal life? The untimely death of Mr. Williams is the latest of a string of sudden celebrity demises fuelled by a lethal combination of drugs, alcohol and depression.

It brings to the fore an oft misunderstood often hidden disorder – ‘Depression’. Mr. Williams was a victim of depression for a large part of his adult life. He also battled drug and alcohol addiction during his lifetime. Although his wit and his humorous interpretation of various people and events were applauded wherever he went, the man himself was not quite happy.

The WHO says that depression is the most common psychiatric disorder globally and affects 350 million people. In fact, women are more susceptible to depression than men and the rates of depression in urban areas are twice that in rural areas.  Depression is not a sign of a weak person or character, nor is it just “sadness”. Yes, one of the warning signs of depression is a constant feeling of sadness, but depression has wide ranging effects on one’s health, these include changes in sleep quality, appetite, loss of interest in once loved activities, lethargy and feelings of worthlessness.

Depression is not something “that will go away” by itself. We need to recognize it as a clear and present health issue- just as we readily acknowledge other issues like a broken arm or a leg. Acceptance of a neuropsychiatric problem is a huge barrier that patients and their family members need to cross! Once you realize that the state of your mind is your problem, you need to take heart. Depression is treatable!

Do not hesitate to contact a doctor if you think that you or someone you know is suffering from depression. Timely interventions like “counseling therapy” (psychotherapy), Cognitive Behavior Therapy, anti- depressant medications, and yes, lots of support from loved ones will go a long way in treating depression.  Complementary treatments like Yoga, meditation and hypnotherapy are also useful adjuncts to conventional therapy.

In order to provide its members access to experts in mental well-being, Texas Medical Concierge has teamed up with two leading international clinics – the Menninger clinic (www.menningerclinic.com)and LPP Consulting (www.lppconsulting.org). In keeping with the holistic approach to emotional and psychological wellness, Texas Medical Concierge also offers its esteemed members periodic Yoga, Transcendental Meditation and Hypnotherapy sessions which help to develop mental skills to cope with the stress of urban lifestyles.

Second Medical Opinions- Bringing About a Systemic Change

2nd-opinion-4th-blogoptIn 1977, the state of Massachusetts, USA implemented a regulation that Medicaid (an insurance company) recipients must necessarily obtain a second surgical opinion before elective or high-cost surgery. This was implemented with the hope of reducing the cost associated with rampant and inappropriate surgery. With this fundamental change, getting a second opinion was no longer just an option but it had become a mandatory step in health management.

Nation-wide systems to obtain and manage second of multiple medical opinions are a budding institutional trend, worldwide. So far, only France and Sweden have mandatory systems for second opinions. However, an interesting project in Germany has been started with an aim of improving the care for testicular cancer patients. In 2006, the German Testicular Cancer Study Group initiated an extensive, evidence-based national second opinion network. In collaboration with a health insurer, 20 second-opinion centres have been established that receive patient data and treatment suggestions from the original doctor and then recommend therapy according to evidence-based diagnostics.  Apprehension about existing guidelines (on diagnostic work-up, therapy and surgery) for testicular cancer not being adequately adhered to has led to the establishment of the second opinion project that could, potentially,  lay the foundation for similar management of other tumours also.

Given the segmental structure of the healthcare system in Germany, which is reflected in India as well, the second-opinion network demonstrates, for the first time, a new way to improve the quality of healthcare system by engaging specialists at multidisciplinary centres in the decision making process. Now, patients and doctors have an easy way to consult the best panel of experts to seek a second opinion. 

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