Time to Wake Up! Alarm Clocks for the Hearing Impaired

Trying to wake up from a deep sleep can be hard for practically anyone. This is especially true for those with varying degrees of hearing loss. Luckily, there are many options available to help rectify this issue to ensure that even the soundest of sleepers are able to wake up at their desired time.  This blog will look at bed shaker type alarms starting with an understanding of what bed shakers do and then delving deeper into the differences between wired and wireless versions of these products.

What are Bed Shakers?

Hearing a standard alarm clock can be a challenge for people with hearing loss. Specially designed alarm clocks for people who have hearing loss come in many forms, including those with bed shakers. These alarm clocks can operate by electricity or by batteries. Battery powered alarms can be useful when traveling.

Bed shakers (also seen as bed-shakers and bedshakers depending on source) are small disc shaped devices that are meant to be used either under a pillow or between the mattress and box spring. As the name implies, they are used to shake the bed to help awaken its occupant. It is connected either wirelessly or directly wired to a compatible alarm clock.  The alarm clock settings determine when (and often how strongly) the disc will start vibrating to help rouse a sleeper from a deep sleep. The vibrating discs can also be accompanied with high decibel sounds and/or some kind of flashing light/lamp. Even if someone is not hard of hearing these devices have the added benefit of making it harder to sleep through an alarm of pressing the snooze button.

Wired Bed Shaker Alarms

Obviously, the main difference between a wired and wireless bed shaker are the ways in which they are connected to the alarm clock device itself. Please note that even though the disc is wired to the clock that does not automatically mean that it is then wired to an outlet. Some of these clocks run off removable batteries but the disc is still wired to the clock itself.  Here are a few benefits for having a wired device.

Comes as one unit: Since the disc is connected to the clock there is only one unit/product to keep track of and they are always together.

Set location: Since the wires are a certain length, it may be easier to have a set routine in using them as they can only go in certain areas. This means that they will most likely always be in sight when near the bed.

Always within reach: Since the disc is wired to the clock there is little worry that it will move out of reach during the night or upon any movement created by shaking. If more than one pillow is used, or a pillow is often taken outside of the bedroom, it also makes it more difficult to accidentally move the disc outside of the sleeping zone.

An example of the wired disc bed shaker alarm clock is the Tactile Talking Clock with Bedshaker. This clock speaks the time and date in a male voice with adjustable volume. The clock face opens to reveal a tactile analog face. The time can be spoken on demand. It includes a wired pillow shaker. There are three different types of alarm combinations to choose from (vibration, audio, or both). It uses 2 AAA batteries which are not included. Being tactile this clock is also a good option for persons with vision loss as well.

Wireless Bed Shaker Alarms

Wireless devices are exactly that wireless. The main benefit these have over their wired counterparts is they can literally be used anywhere, so long as they have an adequate charge.

Convenience: No worry about accidentally pulling the cord (and thus disc) out from under the pillow or from between the mattress and box spring.

Mobility: Easy to travel with and take anywhere you go, even camping with an adequate charge.

Easy setup: Fast and easy to setup wherever you go without having extra cords hanging about.

Two examples of wireless bed shakers are:

AlarmDock Smartphone Dock with Bedshaker: Use your own smartphone and create an extra loud alarm clock with 100dB sound and/or a bedshaker. The docking station pairs with a personal smartphone and uses a wireless bedshaker and 100dB alarm to wake a hard sleeper or hard of hearing person. It uses a free iOS or Android app to manage alarms, timers, volume and tone control, flasher activation, and large clock read out. The wireless speaker can play music from the phone in clear, full sound.

TimeShaker Alarm Clock with Wireless Bedshaker: The TimeShaker™ BOOM alarm clock with bedshaker is a wonderful clock for the hard of hearing or the deep of sleeping. This alarm clock features a wireless bedshaker disc for placing under your pillow or between your mattress and box spring. The TimeShaker™ is loaded with features to help wake you up.

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Wearable Technology

From prototypes using LED lights in clothing, the advent of smart watches, and advancing technologies that can do everything from helping with Parkinson’s to aiding in the diagnosis of breast cancer the field of wearable technologies has come a long way. This blog will look at the basics of wearable technology.  Information in this blog came from Wearable Technology: How and Why It Works, Wearable Computer, and Wearable Technology. Product suggestions came from the ILA website.

What is Wearable Technology?

Wearable technology, also known as “wearables”, is a category of electronic devices that can be worn as accessories, embedded in clothing, implanted in the user’s body, or even tattooed on the skin. The devices are hands-free gadgets with practical uses, powered by microprocessors and enhanced with the ability to send and receive data via the Internet. ILA offers many different types of wearable technology (and other technology based products) geared towards assisting those persons with vision and/or hearing loss.

How Does Wearable Technology Work?

Wearable technology can be said to have existed since eyeglasses were first developed in the 13th century. Timepieces small enough to be worn have been around since about 1500. Another early example of wearable technology was created in 17th century China, when an inventor created a ring that contained an abacus. During WW1, cameras were mounted on pigeons to capture images of enemy troops. But modern wearable technology is defined as incorporating a microprocessor and an internet connection.

The growth of mobile networks enabled the development of wearable technology. Fitness activity trackers were the first big wave of wearable technology to catch on with consumers. Then, the wristwatch became a screen and more robust mobile applications were added. Bluetooth headsets, smartwatches, and web-enabled glasses all allow people to receive data from Wi-Fi networks. The gaming industry adds more wearables, with virtual reality and augmented reality headsets.

Types and Uses of Wearable Technology

There are many different types and uses for wearable technology. The devices can range in size and functionality depending on their intended usage. Here are a few examples of the differing ranges and uses of this cutting-edge technology.

Accessibility of Wearable Computers: There are many accessible uses for wearable computers. For individuals who are blind, braille watches or smart glasses that interpret visual information into audio data can help with daily tasks. Smart glasses are wearable technology worn on the face like glasses. They often include augmented reality capabilities and HUD for relaying information to the wearer. Two examples that utilize types of smart glasses are the Vision Buddy Television Viewing System and the Patriot Viewpoint. Sound shirts and vibrating bracelets allow deaf individuals to enjoy music through vibrations. Individuals with difficulty communicating can wear portable translators that give them independence and improve their everyday lives.

Generalized Wearable Computing Devices and Electronics: Wearable computers can be used by consumers to streamline personal tasks and complete their daily workloads. Wearable computers that incorporate augmented memory technology can help individual users by keeping track of a lot of details or setting reminders. Wearable electronics, also a computing device, is worn more so as an accessory such as a smartwatch. An example of using technology as accessories can be seen through the rise of smart jewelry that delivers high-tech features through the most discreet of accessories. One example of this type of jewelry is the smart ring which tracks fitness activity, heart rate, and sleep patterns in a slim, minimalist ring.

Healthcare Technology: Wearable computers can help healthcare providers deliver better, more efficient care and patient management. For example, a sensor that can be swallowed by a patient could monitor whether they stick to their regimen of prescribed pills. In addition, wearable fitness and nutrition trackers can help patients improve their health through lifestyle changes. Another example in this category is the Cyrcadia Health wearable breast monitor that can detect early signs of breast cancer and transmit the information to a lab for analysis.

Military: The use of wearable computers in the military has grown for applications such as surveillance, location tracking and equipment repair. For example, smart watches that can provide GPS or mechanical information or biometric tracking devices can help military personnel complete tasks more efficiently.

Policing: Members of the police force are required to wear body cameras clipped onto clothing or built into headgear to collect evidence of criminal activity and deter violations of human rights or brutality.

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March is National Nutrition Month

According to eatright,  National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. This blog will look at each weekly theme and delve deeper into 3 items per theme. These good eating habits can be gradually incorporated at any time not just in March.

Week One: Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day!

Include healthful foods from all food groups. There are six main food groups, and it is a good idea to chose nutrient dense foods from each for a well-balanced diet. A nutrient-dense food is one that provides vitamins, minerals and other substances that have health benefits. The food groups are vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy, protein, and oils.

Hydrate healthfully. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women. These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages, and food. About 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks.

Learn how to read Nutrition Facts Panels. People look at food labels for a variety of reasons. But whatever the reason, many consumers would like to know how to use this information more effectively and easily. The FDA offers an in-depth article on how to correctly read food labels. It covers such things as serving information, calories, nutrients, percent daily value, and label variations. If you or someone you are shopping for has any food allergies or intolerances, it is especially important to further check the ingredient list for each item not just the nutrition label.

Week Two: Plan your meals each week!

Use a grocery list to shop for healthful foods. Healthline offers a step-by-step guide to creating helpful grocery lists in their article, How to Make a Healthy Grocery Shopping List.  Here are a few tidbits from that article. A grocery list is a handy tool that can help you navigate the store with ease and help you stick to your healthy eating plan. A well-thought-out grocery list is not only a memory aide, but it can also keep you on track, minimizing impulse buying while saving you money. It will also set you up for success even when you are tight on time, helping you keep nutritious food on hand to eat all week.

Be menu-savvy when dining out or ordering takeout. Restaurant food is meant to look, smell, and taste great. This often means that nutrition can sometimes fall by the wayside when menus feature main dishes drenched in butter or rich sauces, salads with creamy dressings, and few whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The site behind this weekly layout, eatright, has a detailed article entitled 7 Tips for Healthy Dining Out to help combat this item. The article’s main takeaways are plan ahead, do not split your plate (better to eyeball a correct serving size), add healthy items to your meal, don’t go overly hungry, watch for the wording (broiled vs creamy etc.), and do not be afraid to ask your server for assistance.

Fuel for school or work with a healthful breakfast. According to WebMD, breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day. It also gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus at work or at school.  Many studies have linked eating breakfast to good health, including better memory and concentration, lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and lower chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, and being overweight. Skipping the morning meal can throw off your body’s rhythm of fasting and eating. When you wake up, the blood sugar your body needs to make your muscles and brain work their best is usually low. Breakfast helps replenish it.

Week Three: Learn skills to create tasty meals!

Share meals with people who live with you or virtually, when possible. I am sure that nearly everyone can agree that sharing a meal with friends or family can make for a more enjoyable dining experience and often helps control how much one eats. Thanks to technology that same sort of experience can be obtained even when you are not in the same room, state, country, or even continent. Virtual dinner parties are slowly becoming what in person parties were in the past. Delish’s article How To Throw A Virtual Dinner Party breaks down the ins and outs of throwing a successful online dinner party so that anyone from novice to expert can benefit from the lessons. It covers everything from suggested apps/programs to use, ideas for décor, and various menu options to choose from.

Reduce food waste. Food waste is a bigger problem than many people realize. In fact, nearly one-third of all food produced in the world is discarded or wasted for various reasons. That equates to nearly 1.3 billion tons every year. Healthline provides an article on 20 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste. Some of these ideas include shop smart, store foods correctly, learn to preserve, save leftovers and many more.

Try new flavors and foods. Another article from eatright, 7 Ways to Enhance the Flavor of Your Meals, explores simple ways to enhance/alter the flavor of meals cooked from home. To maximize food’s flavor and nutrition, start with high-quality ingredients. They do not need to be the most expensive foods. It is also important to handle and store foods properly, because poor storage destroys flavor and quality. Cooking cannot improve poor-quality foods, but it can enhance the flavors of high-quality foods.

Week Four: Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)!

Ask your doctor for a referral to an RDN. Eatright offers an article on this very topic, RDNs and Medical Nutrition Therapy Services. Health professionals agree that nutrition services are one of the first treatments that individuals should receive to improve conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. The RDN often acts as part of a medical team, in various practice settings, such as hospitals, physician offices, private practice and other health care facilities. Your primary care doctor should be able to refer you to a RDN that fits your individual needs.

Receive personalized nutrition advice to meet your goals. Together with a registered dietitian nutritionist, you will set nutrition goals to improve your health. They will review your eating habits and lifestyle. They will also provide a thorough assessment of your nutritional status. Finally, they will give you a personalized nutrition treatment plan.

Find an RDN who is specialized to serve your unique needs. Medical nutrition therapy is covered by a variety of insurance plans. Under the Medicare Part B Program, you can receive nutrition services to help improve your health. Medicare Part B covers medical nutrition therapy for diabetes and kidney disease or if you have had a kidney transplant within the last 36 months.  Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans may also offer additional benefits, including coverage beyond the conditions covered by traditional Medicare. If you have private insurance (such as through your employer), check with your insurance plan for specific medical nutrition therapy coverage details. Your plan may cover nutrition counseling for a wide variety of chronic conditions and health concerns, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

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Water, Candle, and Incense Clocks

From sundials to candle clocks to atomic watches humans have always been fascinated with telling time. There are many articles all over the internet discussing the history of telling time but three of the more interesting ways (according to the person writing this blog) are water clocks, candle clocks, and incense clocks. Each one will make you feel grateful for the modern-day clock. Remember if you never want to have to set your watches again that the way to go is with the atomic watch.  To learn more about atomic clocks/watches see our previous blog entry,  Atomic Clocks: What are They?

Water Clocks

According to an article on Wikipedia, a water clock (or clepsydra) uses the flow of water to measure time. There are two types of water clocks: inflow and outflow. In an outflow water clock, a container is filled with water, and the water is drained slowly and evenly out of the container. This container has markings that are used to show the passage of time. As the water leaves the container, an observer can see where the water is level with the lines and tell how much time has passed. An inflow water clock works in basically the same way, except instead of flowing out of the container, the water is filling up the marked container. As the container fills, the observer can see where the water meets the lines and tell how much time has passed.

Water clocks are one of the oldest time-measuring instruments. The bowl-shaped outflow is the simplest form of a water clock and is known to have existed in Babylon, Egypt, and Persia around the 16th century BC. Other regions of the world, including India and China, also have early evidence of water clocks, but the earliest dates are less certain. Some authors, however, claim that water clocks appeared in China as early as 4000 BC.

Some water clock designs were developed independently, and some knowledge was transferred through the spread of trade. These early water clocks were calibrated with a sundial. While never reaching a level of accuracy comparable to today’s standards of timekeeping, the water clock was the most accurate and commonly used timekeeping device for millennia, until it was replaced by more accurate pendulum clocks in 17th-century Europe.

Candle Clocks

A candle clock is a thin candle with consistently spaced markings that when burned, indicate the passage of periods of time. The candle needs to burn steadily. If it is in a draft, it will burn more quickly so it is placed in a holder which lets you see the marks on the candle yet protects the candle from drafts. While no longer used today, candle clocks provided an effective way to tell time indoors, at night, or on a cloudy day.

The earliest known reference comes from a poem written in 520 AD by a guy named You Jiangu. His clock consisted of 6 candles: 12 inches high. Each candle was divided into 12 equal sections, with each section burning for a total of 20 minutes. The entire candle took a total of 4 hours to burn completely.

The most famous candle clock is probably the one made by the Turkish scholar and inventor, Al-Jazari (1136–1206). The Clock of the Swordsman is still the most complex candle clock ever made. In simple terms, it went like this: When an hour passed, a burning candle released a metal ball into a sling on the swordsman’s arm. The weight of it then moved the arm causing the sword to trim the wick. From there the ball dropped into a falcon at the base, which served as a gong to tell the hour.

Information in this section came from articles from Wikipedia, Curriculum Visions, and Medium.

Incense Clocks

According to Wikipedia, the incense clock is an Indian timekeeping device that was popularized by China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and spread to neighboring East Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. The clocks’ bodies are effectively specialized censers that hold incense sticks or powdered incense that have been manufactured and calibrated to a known rate of combustion, used to measure minutes, hours, or days.

An article from Medium states that the simplest version is nothing more than a specially prepared punk cord with knots at measured intervals. Punk, which is made from decayed wood or fungi, has a steady burning rate making it possible to evenly indicate the passage of time. The poorer classes found a unique way of turning these simple clocks into alarms. The cord was placed near the skin, usually between the toes. Obviously, when the cord burned down to the skin, it was pretty hard to sleep through.

Incense sticks could be used in the same manner. The most common was a stick of sandalwood and elm root that was ground into a powder and mixed with wood dust. This was then turned into a paste and formed into sticks six or seven inches long. Once the stick was dry, its even burning made it an excellent way to keep track of time as well as providing a nice, pleasant scent. Fancier versions of this placed the incense in the body of a dragon made of wood or bronze. If the owner needed to wake up at a specific time, he or she simply placed a thin silk string along the top of the incense. a bell or piece of metal was attached to the other end. When the incense burned down to the chosen point, the bell dropped onto a copper or brass plate. Similarly, balls could be placed at regular intervals to cause a clang every hour.

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Heat Therapy vs. Cold Therapy

Heat therapy, also known as thermotherapy, is a common way to help relieve aches and pains. Knowing when or how to apply heat, as opposed to cold, can sometimes be tricky. This blog will cover both the basics of heat and cold therapy with suggested uses for both and conclude with a more scientific section for those that want to delve a little deeper into how these therapies work.   

Heat Therapy and Its Uses

According to the Arthritis Foundation, if you have a chronic condition like fibromyalgia, arthritis, or lower back pain, try heating things up. Soaking in warm water or applying a heated compress is one of the oldest, cheapest, and safest forms of complementary therapy. Research has shown that heat treatments can loosen stiff joints and relieve achy muscles.  

Here is how it works. When you warm up a sore joint or tired muscle, your blood vessels get bigger. This allows more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to be delivered to the injured tissues. Better circulation means more relaxation for those stiff muscles and joints. 

Here are a few simple ways to heat up your daily routine. 

Take a steamy shower. Start your day right by taking a long, warm shower. The heat of the water will reduce morning stiffness, limber up the body, and increase your range of motion for the daily activity ahead.   Make sure the water is not too hot, particularly if you have heart problems. A healthy temperature is between 92 and 100 degrees. 

Stretch out in the pool. When you have arthritis, a warm pool is the ideal place to strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility. The water will reduce the force of gravity compressing the joint and offer 360-degree support for sore limbs that have limited range of motion.  Studies show that patients with arthritis and fibromyalgia who participated in warm water exercise programs two or three times a week could move around better and had as much as 40 percent less pain. Do not overdo it. Maximum benefit is reached after about 20 minutes in a warm pool or bathtub.

Apply a warm compress. Buy a heating compress such as the heated foot massager, heated neck collar, or lower back warmer from ILA. Before you stretch or exercise, heat up your hips, back, shoulders, or knees. Rest with the warm compress on the affected area for 20 minutes when you are doing computer work or reading the newspaper. 

Cold Therapy and Its Uses

Healthline states that cold therapy (also called cryotherapy) works by reducing blood flow to a particular area, which can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling that causes pain, especially around a joint or a tendon. It can temporarily reduce nerve activity, which can also relieve pain. You should not use cold therapy on stiff muscles or joints. Further, cold therapy should not be used if you have poor circulation.

There are a few different ways to apply cold therapy to an affected area. Treatment options include ice packs or frozen gel packs, coolant sprays, ice massage, and ice baths.

For home treatment, apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel or ice bath to the affected area. You should never apply a frozen item directly to the skin, as it can cause damage to the skin and tissues. Apply cold treatment as soon as possible after an injury.

Use cold therapy for short periods of time, several times a day. Ten to 15 minutes is fine, and no more than 20 minutes of cold therapy should be used at a time to prevent nerve, tissue, and skin damage. You can elevate the affected area for best results.

People with sensory disorders that prevent them from feeling certain sensations should not use cold therapy at home because they may not be able to feel if damage is being done. This includes diabetes, which can result in nerve damage and lessened sensitivity.

Scientific Overview of Thermotherapy and Cryotherapy

According to Physiopedia, cryotherapy and thermotherapy are useful adjuncts for the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and soft tissue injuries. Using ice or heat as a therapeutic intervention decreases pain in joint and muscle as well as soft tissues and they have opposite effects on tissue metabolism, blood flow, inflammation, edema, and connective tissue extensibility. Thermotherapy can be used in rehabilitation facilities or at home.

The goal of thermotherapy is to alter tissue temperature in a targeted region over time for the purpose of inducing a desired biological response. Most thermotherapies are designed to deliver the thermal therapy to a target tissue volume with minimal impact on intervening or surrounding tissues.

The treatment depends on the type of application and the type of disease.

There are 3 phases of the healing process: the inflammatory phase, the proliferation phase, and the remodeling phase.

  • The first phase, known as the inflammatory phase, protects the injured area from further injury while the body contains the damaged tissue. During this phase, cryotherapy can help to reduce swelling. Never use heat during this phase because heat increases the blood flow into the injured area and increases the amount of swelling. The inflammatory phase has a duration of 2 days.
  • During the second phase, the proliferation phase, new tissue and scar tissue are formed. Heat can now be applied to the injured area to facilitate the healing process.
  • The third and final phase, the remodeling phase, is the process of returning to health: the restoration of structure and function of injured or diseased tissues. The healing process includes blood clotting, tissue mending, scarring and bone healing. Heat therapy can also be used during this phase.

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