Monday, May 30, 2011

Prosthetic Limbs: Now Better Than Mother Nature’s?

Probably the only significant scientific spin-off of George W. Bush’s malfeasantly run global War on Terror, is current prosthetic limb technology already at par with Mother Nature’s?

By: Ringo Bones

Thanks to better body armor technology, soldiers who got wounded in action while serving George W. Bush’s malfeasantly run global War on Terror of previous years have now a better chance of surviving assault rifle shots and being hit by fragmentation grenades. Unfortunately, this resulted in a growing number of recent war veterans in need of prosthetic limbs – especially advanced myoelectric versions - that is in par with the natural one that they replace in working in everyday situations. Fortunately, prosthetic limb technology is now at a state of development that it had already received rave reviews by their recipients on how good they work in everyday situations. Given the progress of this aspect of medical science, will prosthetic limb technology ever progress to the point that it would have capabilities better than what Mother Nature has already given us? And if it ever did, will most of us opt to have the natural, perfectly-functional limbs that we are born with electively amputated in order to be replaced by better functioning artificial ones?

Dr. Bertolt Meyer – who had the misfortune of being born without a left hand and had an advanced prosthetic version installed – have stated the ethical dilemmas of such issues in a BBC Newsnight interview back in May, 21 2011. The hubbub surrounding recent advances in artificial limb technology really got the undivided attention of the mainstream press and the public-at-large during the airing of a press coverage documenting the plight of an Austrian motorcycle riding accident victim named Milo opting to have his right hand amputated after years of physiotherapy had failed to return it to full-functionality in order to be replaced by an advanced myoelectric version; Though we have to wait for a year to evaluate the success of the procedure.
People opting to have the perfectly-functional limbs that they are born with be replaced by better functioning myoelectric robotic versions reminds me of a science fiction novel I read a few years ago. Titled Antibodies, this David J. Skal work revolves around a cyber-punk themed future where people deliberately mutilate themselves in order to have their perfectly functional limbs and sensory organs – like eyes and ears – be surgically replaced by artificially implanted versions that work far better than the ones they are naturally born with. Will this be the brave new world for the future of artificial limb technology?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mineral Oil in Cardboard Food Packaging: Latest Health Threat?

Even though it was just recently found out in a health study, are the excess mineral oil content in cardboard food packaging the latest public health threat?

By: Ringo Bones

First it was the undesirable side-effects of hormone-mimicking plastic softeners found in food containers and packaging like bisphenol-A that was deemed the greatest threat to public health after it was found out that bisphenol-A or BPAs were just too profitable to be banned, and now alarmingly high amounts of mineral oil that could pose a public health hazard that’s found in almost all cardboard-based food packaging. But does mineral oil really pose a public health threat?

A recent Swiss study conducted in the public health and food safety conscious EU had just obtained data that measurable amounts – up to ten times the agreed limit in fact – of mineral oil are found in food products packaged in recycled cardboard. Even though virgin cardboard that is freshly made from tree pulp contains no trace of mineral oil whatsoever, virgin cardboard is just too expensive for use in food packaging that’s commonly sold in supermarkets around the world. But should we be worried about the undesirable long-term effects of mineral oil contaminating our daily bread?

The problem is that people who had ingested enough mineral oil that necessitated medical intervention and thus observed by qualified medical personnel for symptomatic study are still few and far between. Before adequate occupational health and safety standards became universally adopted throughout the world, there had been cases around the start of the 1900s of workers in the production and packaging of mineral oil who work for a long time in an atmosphere where they inhale a great deal of mineral oil developed symptoms like those of a mild jag – often called “naphtha jag”.

First symptoms of acute mineral oil poisoning are a sense of excitement and lack of self-control, usually followed by depression, headache, nausea, roaring in the ears, irritation in the throat and a trembling in the hands and arms. If sufficient amount of mineral oil is ingested or absorbed, signs of shallow breathing, weakened heart, convulsions and death could follow.

Unfortunately, there is still no specific antidote for mineral oil poisoning. Therefore under such circumstances, the first thing to do is to wash out the stomach and give a mild laxative. Then stimulants are used in order to sustain life and the patient is then put under medical observation to check for possible organ damage.