Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Speech Buddies: The closest friend a kiddo with a speech impediment could have!

No one wants to live with a speech impediment.  This is why it is crucial for children with speech impediments to be properly taught at a young age.  However, this task is not simple.  Being a speech therapist will always have its challenges, but with new technology that job may just become slightly easier. Speech Buddies is a revolutionary speech therapy tool that helps children properly position their tongue for five of the most difficult problem sounds- R, S, L, CH, and SH. This revolutionary tool was designed by speech-language pathologists and engineers who truly understand the challenges of these five difficult sounds. Speech buddies help to correct the placement of the child's tongue so that they can properly learn how to create the right sound. For example, the "R" Speech Buddy has a spiraled end that helps the child lift their tongue up and pull it back to produce the R sound. These tools are truly amazing and have been shown to correct speech problems twice as fast. Speech Buddies are also FDA approved and are produced in California.
Examples of each Speech Buddies Tool
Change effects people in different ways; and change is usually hard.  However, making the change to incorporate Speech Buddies into a speech therapists method of therapy will be the best decision they have made yet!  This innovative product has been proven to help improve a kiddo’s ability to say the five difficult problem sounds.  Patients from the age of four and up can be treated with Speech Buddies as well as patients with many different types of disorders.  The disorders that a speech therapist should consider treating patients with Speech Buddies include speech and articulation disorders of all severities such as patient’s on the autism spectrum, kiddo’s with childhood apraxia of speech, patient’s with acquired apraxia of speech from stroke or traumatic brain injury, and patient’s that have accent modification where English sounds are misarticulated.  Speech therapists should know that Speech Buddies are not however recommended for language disorders, stuttering, or voice disorders.  Research is also still being evaluated for speech and articulation disorders that have neuromuscular weakness, cerebral palsy, paralysis and Down syndrome, and craniofacial abnormalities.  With all this in mind, this tool still makes a speech therapists job a little easier when finding a method of therapy that works and has accurate results!

Fracking... Is it Really Such a Great Thing??

Hydaulic fracking is a very prominent issue that is running through the scientific, environmental and also the public conversation. What is fracking? How does is effect the inhabitants surrounding it?  Fracking is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.  This can be seen as a wonderful solution to our dependence upon foreign oil and our CO2 emissions and new science reveals that the resources that we will be taking while using this technique will not be depleting the earth of any vital resources that it to needs to function. However, the manner in which the natural resources are being extracted is the problem.

 The science behind fracking includes the destruction of the earth’s natural shale constructs and the release of natural resources into the surrounding area along with the inorganic chemicals that are used during the fracking process. Along with this, It takes 1-8 million gallons of water to complete each fracturing job. The water brought in is mixed with sand and chemicals to create fracking fluid and approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracturing. During this process, methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from the system and contaminate nearby groundwater and shockingly, methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells. This happens because naturally-occurring fissures and faults or the presence of a previously unregistered abandoned mine can allow highly contaminated fracking fluids, along with natural and methane gases and radioactive debris, to migrate upward and be released into aquifers serving drinking water wells. 
This site from the Ohio Environmental Council provided a fact sheet on more of the extreme cases of contamination and destruction to our natural shale and bedrock formations. Along with this, the drilling that is being down in the process of extraction is causing the underlying shale and bedrock to shift. This has been linked to the increase in the seismic activity that have been in the news recently with reports that areas in which hydraulic fracturing has taken place have seen a significant increase in the amount of earth quakes experienced.
Another effect caused by facking are the emissions that are released during the extraction process. These include hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide, BTEX (benzene, tolulene, ethylbenzene and xylene), as well as methane and natural gas. These types of hazardous emissions have been linked to reproductive, respiratory, and blood disorders, as well as central nervous system and neurological effects. The pros and cons must be weighed out to determine whether fracking should be allowed and the way in which the oil and natural resources are extracted needs to be perfected before we allow fracking to continue.
Other sites for information on the dangers of hydraulic fracking include:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Genetic Tests for Children Determining Sports

Each professional, college, or little league athlete all put forth effort into training in order to succeed. Primary factors that affect sport performance include training factors and psychological factors. Training factors involves improving reaction times and motor skills, while also learning important techniques vital to each sport. Athletes also need to have the mental ability for sports as well. A high level of motivation and high level of competiveness are also required. However, one factor that one wouldn’t think of at first is the genetic factor. Genetics play a large role in how a person is built, and could determine how successful an athlete can be at any given sport without looking at their individual training programs and motivation.
Elite sports athletes are always expected to have a genetic predisposition for greatness, whether it is their height, their weight, or even the types of muscles their body is made up of. However, even children are now being looked at for their predicted potential for sports. Some children are going to grow up to become the next gold medalist at the Olympics while others will always try and may not succeed. An important factor in sports performance could be how their genes have already determined which sport they will excel at based on their ability to carry oxygen in their muscles.  
            Many news channels and newspapers have reported the use of a genetic test to test children’s genetic disposition for sports. Atlas Sports Genetics, an athletic talent laboratory analysis system, uses a genetic test to predict athletic strengths of children, to see which sports they are more likely to excel in.  
            They are swabbing mouths of children from infancy until eight years old for the presence of a specific gene. This gene is called ACTN3, and it has been linked to research on sport performance because it allows our bodies to produce a specific muscle protein found in fast twitch muscles, called alpha-actinin-3. The test that is available searches for variants of that gene that would prevent the protein from being made. The presence of the variants leads scientists and parents to find out which sport their child could have more athletic potential for. If a child who is swabbed has two copies of the variant, one in each copy of the gene from each parent, they are more likely to excel in endurance events because their body cannot make this protein that makes muscles contract forcefully at a high velocity. If they don’t have any copies of the variant in their gene, they are more likely to excel in sprint or power events, because their muscles would be able to contract forcefully when moving at a higher velocity. If they only have one copy of the variant, they can be equally good at endurance sports and sprint/power sports. 
            The use of genetic testing to determine children’s predisposition to sports has created controversy because of parents who would use the knowledge to place children in sports that they would excel at, not the ones that the child wants to participate in. They wouldn’t be clear-minded over There is also controversy surrounding the usefulness of the test, and whether the genes actually could determine sport performance.