Category: Health Literacy Articles
May 04, 2016
Our Family Jewels is the radio show DJ’d by my brother, Jules, and his co-host Steve, at Middlebury College in Vermont. The show is takes place each Sunday at 7pm, during what is referred to as “Hump Hour” at Middlebury. Jules and Steve have organized a show that plays songs related to sex or the sex lives of them and their friends, in one way or another. While playing a diverse range of genres they offer segments titled, “Story time with Steve”, “Pillow Talk”, and “Reachin’ and Teachin’”. These segments share entertaining personal experiences, little known facts or relevant news related to sexual health, with each week ending in a text from our parents expressing their enjoyment and sometimes surprise, from the last episode.
When the show first aired, my roommates and I sat in our living room listening in as Steve and Jules shared stories and played music. I found myself in fits of laughter during the segments and was almost as entertained by our family group text as I was by Our Family Jewels. Through the jokes and lightheartedness, I wanted to be sure to remind him of the importance of safe and consensual sex. The topic of sex is not one we shy away from in my home. From a young age, our parents were very clear about the importance of safety and our intimacy being consensual, a discussion many parents choose to avoid. In spirit of the radio show, MyHealthImpactNetwork offers readers the opportunity to learn more about health in a general sense. The Health Facts section of the site, speaks to the health literacy of our nation. Health literacy is defined by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine as being "the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions." Unfortunately, levels of health literacy are low, with only 13% of the population between the ages of 16 and 49 at a proficient level. This interferes with a patient’s ability to make educated decisions on their health and have the necessary conversations regarding their health status with their respective healthcare providers.
I am glad that my brother has found an entertaining way to make the discussion of sex and its health implications more comfortable for his peers. It is important that we are able to take responsibility for our own health. This ties into being literate, but also falls in the hands of others to provide the necessary support to those who are not yet comfortable with their knowledge of health. Decisions made regarding one’s health can have lifelong implications, making it imperative that a basic level of health literacy can be met.
If you would like to look into health literacy or other areas of health, there is the opportunity to do so at http://myhealthimpactnetwork.org/health-facts/cat/health-literacy. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine also offers information on health literacy and can be found at http://nnlm.gov/outreach/consumer/hlthlit.html#definitions. To listen in to Our Family Jewels you can follow the link to Middlebury College Radio, http://wrmc.middlebury.edu/. My brother’s show airs on Sundays from 7pm - 8pm, enjoy!
September 22, 2015
It was not until high school that I learned that I held the trait for sickle cell. During my high school athletic years I did not feel significantly impeded by my health status, and even briefly considered playing collegiate football. I however did not make that decision based on my status as a carrier for sickle cell, but instead on my passion for football at the time. Losing the last game of my high school career took a toll on my desire to continue playing.
For the most part, I do not think about sickle cell trait, but I recently had an experience that caused me to take precaution. I participated in a retreat that took place in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Initially, I was reminded of Ryan Clark, former NFL safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Clark had life threatening complications following a game in Denver due to the altitude and dehydration from the game. Following a game against the Denver Broncos, Clark was hospitalized and eventually had his spleen and gall bladder removed. Due to his ailment he lost 30 pounds and was deemed unable to play for the remainder of the season. Although I was not undergoing the same physical exertion as Clark, I was weary of the outcomes of my activities.
We were given strategies to cope with the change in altitude, all of which I took very seriously. Even with the increase in water consumption, my adjustment to the drastic increase in altitude was slower than my classmates. I found myself having trouble falling asleep and going about daily activities, which was initially frustrating, but also worrisome. I started thinking about my health and taking responsibility for my fitness. I realized that my difficulties, although rooted in the presence of the sickle cell trait, could have been aided by better fitness habits beforehand.
The experience reinforced my belief in the importance of being responsible for one’s own health. I know that I must practice better fitness habits, especially since I intend to work in the medical field. I urge everyone to not only stay responsible for their health by practicing healthy fitness habits, but also be conscious of their health status. As we celebrated the awareness of sickle cell disease, it is also important to urge those around you to be informed of their health in general.
April 30, 2015
When we are young we are told and reminded of the importance of exercise and why we need to remain active. My parents were sure to emphasize the benefits of physical activity and to this day, continue to do so. This is why it often surprises me when I hear of professional athletes passing away from heart attacks and cardiovascular related health issues. These are people whose career is centered on remaining active and physically fit, but there is no certainty that these habits remained after they’re playing careers came to an end. More striking however is the seemingly prevalent occurrence of young athletes, at the high school and college age, who have suddenly passed due to cardiac arrest. It is estimated by the American Academy of Pediatrics that “2,000 people under the age of 25 die from sudden cardiac arrest in the United States every year.” This is a striking figure because this encompasses a group of young adults who generally, are at the peak of their physical fitness.
Perhaps one of the more prominent stories in the last year is the story of Isaiah Austin. Austin, a former basketball player at Baylor University, declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft last year. After the plethora of tests conducted by the National Basketball Association it was discovered that he could never play competitive basketball again, four days before the draft. Isaiah Austin suffered from Marfan syndrome, which caused an enlargement of his aorta. The combination of aortic enlargement and extreme physical exertion, as he would be subject to as a professional basketball player, made him susceptible to a rupture of his heart. This was the exact fate of Flo Hyman, an Olympic volleyball player, who passed away on the court due to a rupture of her aorta in 1986.
The story of Isaiah Austin generated some, but not a lot of conversation about the health of young athletes. Austin had been living with this condition and could have met his fate at any point during his athletic career at Baylor University. Fortunately this did not happen, but many student-athletes do not have the same luck. Every year there are stories of high school and college students who collapse on the athletic field, and most of these cases of sudden cardiac arrest are due to structural defects of the heart. This begs many to ask the question, should we increase the testing of our amateur athletes before they can play? Had it not been for the depth at which the National Basketball Association looks into the health of their players, the discovery of Isaiah Austin’s aortic enlargement may not have come until it was too late.
The message of remaining healthy and maintaining regular exercise is important and effective. We must also include the message to be aware and responsible for our health. School systems, colleges, and doctor’s offices should encourage student athletes and their families to become aware of their health. The opportunity to curtail the sudden death of student-athletes is available. These institutions have the ability to provide families with a stronger understanding of their health, and it should be capitalized on. Follow @myHealthimpact for more on #Health #Tech #Culture and views of #youngPeople. See us on YouTube, and follow us on Tumblr.
April 22, 2015
Florence Griffith Joyner better known as Flo-Jo was once considered the fastest women of all time. She was known best for her beauty and fashionista style on the track. Her long hair and extraordinary nails have definitely set the tone for female track and field athletes across the globe.
However there is more to her story, many do not know that she was battling a series of health related issues. Besides the scrutiny of steroid rumors, Flo-Jo was struggling from serious heart problems which were often brushed off as a minor exhaustion. (source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/clues-to-flo-jos-death/ ). Her shocking death in 1998 at a mere 38 years old from a heart seizure at the time was fairly uncommon. As a former student-athlete, her death makes you wonder how healthy you really are and if you are taking the appropriate measures to stay healthy. Am I drinking enough water? Am I really giving it all at practice? Am I speaking up when my body is feeling hurt? Am I really taking care of myself?
Personally, these are things that I struggled with throughout my track and field career. Unfortunately, addressing these questions is much easier said then done. A quote from Flo-Jo says “I don’t always have the best eating habits. I like butter and ice cream. There are days when I should work out and I don’t. But it’s never too late to change old habits.” This quote inspired me to take a stand against my current health habits. It is truly never too late to speak up and try something different.
With that being said I encourage all my fellow athletes to make sure they are taking care of their health regardless of how ‘soft’ it may make you look. Tell your coach when you aren’t feeling well. Make that doctor’s appointment when your coach recommends it to you. Take the propers steps to check up on your health and encourage others to do the same. It may truly save a life.
March 30, 2015
When I was younger the month of March filled me with extreme amounts of joy. I was able to look forward to the birthdays of my paternal grandmother, my cousin, my aunt, my father, and even myself, all in the same month. Recently, this sentiment has changed. I still feel joy and excitement during this month, but accompanied with these emotions has come reflection. A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 21st birthday, and of course, it was celebrated with the fanfare one would expect for such a milestone. Even with the celebrating, I spent a significant amount of time to myself, thinking about where I was, the company I was with, and the influences on my life to this point.
The summer after my freshman year at NC State, I was awarded a grant to spend five weeks in Haiti, through the Park Scholarships. In the grant I explained that I wanted to gain experience in the administration of healthcare in a developing country, but to also experience significant cultural immersion in my father’s country of birth. My aunt at the time was still living in Haiti, and assisted with my in-country arrangements. My family accompanied me for the first week, and my father spent an additional week in the country before returning to North Carolina. The last three weeks of my time in Haiti I spent learning, intensively. The experience I gained from the hospital was tremendous, but the wealth of knowledge I gained from my aunt was priceless.
My aunt and I spent countless hours talking about my life and hers, the places she’d traveled, the people she met, the beauty in simplicity, and what is important in our lives. We began to discuss my next visit to Haiti and how to establish a sustainable trip for students who are interested in the experience. Unfortunately, this would never come to fruition. My aunt passed away the following March, the day after my birthday and two days before hers, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. With my aunt’s passing came reflection and insight. The importance of love, to not take people for granted, and to crystallize the relationships I have while also fostering new ones, gradually came to me as integral parts of life. I thought of my maternal grandmother, who was present at each of her grandchildren’s births, and has never missed a birthday since, my paternal grandmother whose mannerisms and love I remember to this day, and my mother who reminded me just today that she “never misses a beat.” These relationships have played a powerful role in my growth, and continue to shape my life.
In recognition of Women’s History Month on this last day of March 2015, I celebrate these women. Their impact on me has yet to be fully realized, but it is already significant. The love I have for them is overwhelming, and I am thankful for that.
Follow us at @myhealthimpact.
February 12, 2015
According to dictionary.com, a superstar is someone who enjoys wide recognition and is eagerly sought after for his or her services. For years, I’ve followed many athletes from basketball greats to gridiron legends. Whether it’s discussing the GOAT as young folk have now attributed or upcoming phenoms on the brink of stardom, I’ve always voiced strong sentiments. My love and passion for sports stems from a childhood filled with AAU practices, being the coach’s son on seasonal teams, and having an unmistakable brotherhood with my teammates. But when away from the game, I continued my coverage by tuning into shows dedicated to sports.
Ahmad Rashad was the first host on “NBA Inside Stuff” back when it aired on NBC. I would wake up every Saturday morning and look forward to what he and the beautiful Summer Sanders had to say. While athletes were praised by analysts for their competitive nature, Ahmad showed that they too had personality. His running commentary would capture these superstars on-court bloopers, off-camera interview clips, and local community involvement. Check out this vintage clip from “Rewind”, NBA Inside Stuff’s version of Basketball Twitter and Instagram before they officially came on the scene.
Back when HBO gave free weekend previews and I think they still do, I stumbled on a show called “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” From the very first segment, I was captured by how Mr. Gumbel and his cast intertwined society and sports by doing investigative reports and interviews that went beyond box scores and statistics. This show was the first time I’d ever hear about the impact football collisions had on athletes after retiring from the very game they loved. Bryant Gumbel certainly pushed the envelope and continues to today with over 25 Sports Emmy Awards and a spark that led to the creation of other sports shows: On the Record with Bob Costas, Outside The Lines and E:60.
As oppose to Saturday mornings and monthly news magazines, ESPN Sportscenter served as my daily driver. Or better yet watching my mans, the holy grail of sports commentating, Stuart Scott tear it up on set. He would take hip-hop lyrics and eloquently embed them into sports clips almost seamlessly. It was so incredibly good that I had no clue that things had been different prior to his arrival at ESPN. After succumming to a lengthy battle with cancer, I read countless articles and watched tributes that explained the impact Coach Stu had on Urban America. Known for his catchphrases, Stuart Scott went on to become a sports broadcasting pioneer despite the flack he received for representing the hip-hop generation.
1. “Like gravy on a biscuit, it’s all good!”
Scott accompanies this quote with a player having a career day or when a player makes a smart play.
2. “And the Lord said you’ve got to rise up!”
Bryce Harper hits a homerun as a rookie, giving the Washington Nationals the lead after trailing the Atlanta Braves at home.
3. “See, what had happened was…”
This is amongst Stuart Scott’s popular references. During the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals between the Pistons and Pacers, he teased Rasheed Wallace after throwing up an air ball from the 3 point line.
4. “Vlade Daddi, he likes to party, he don’t cause trouble, he don’t bother nobody.”
From Slick Rick’s “Lodi Dodi” covered by Snoop Dogg from the Doggystyle album. Pertaining to any Vlade Divac play, it gave the Sacramento Kings Center some much needed respect as he was rearing towards the descent into basketball irrelevancy.
5. “You ain’t got to go home, but you got to get the heck up outta here.”
No shade, Stuart Scott just wants to let you know you either struck out, or you messed up for getting ejected from a game.
6. “He treats him like a dog. Sit. Stay.”
After Allen Iverson broke a defender’s ankles, Scott dropped this one on the poor guy.
7. “Just call him butter cuz he’s on a roll.”
You hear this when someone is straight up balling!
8. “As cool as the other side of the pillow.”
Synonymous with plays consisting of a high degree of difficulty and executed with ease, this one is Scott’s most popular phrase. It plays into his demeanor on and off the camera as we know Stuart Scott to be the calm, cool and collected anchor on Sportcenter.
9. “Call him carwash cuz he’s automatic.”
You can thank former University of Kansas guard Jacque Vaughn for this one. He was money from the foul line, so clutch and dependable that Scott compared his mechanical synchrony to a carwash.
10. “They call him the Windex Man cause he’s always cleaning the glass.”
We all love hustle. Stuart Scott used to drop this quote when someone was reeking havoc in the paint, grabbing rebounds left and right.
These shows helped shape my view on the sports world by not only showing highlights but by profiling athletes, investigating problems afflicting sports, and bringing Urban America into the fold. These brothers are the reason why I no longer define a sports superstar as solely being an athlete but by simply someone who changed the game.
Stay connected with @myhealthimpact to continue the sports conversation and the transformative nature of health and technology on today’s youth.
February 06, 2015
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the wealthiest physician in the world, is relentlessly working to becoming one of the most innovative as well. Dr. Soon-Shiong works at University of California Los Angeles as a medical surgeon, but his most recent work involves revolutionizing the way cancer is approached, starting at the very definition. Cancer.gov sites a cancer as being a “disease in which abnormal cells divide without control” but Dr. Soon-Shiong believes there can be a different approach to the term. In an interview with 60 Minutes he proclaims, “A cancer is not what people think it is, cells growing. Cancer is actually the inability of the cells to die.” His new concept of the definition is the first of many steps he has taken to rethink cancers. Although this is innovative in its own right, Dr. Soon-Shiong believes he is on his way to something much more groundbreaking. He has recently developed a technology that can analyze a patient’s tumor biopsy and then proceed to report the specific gene mutated by the disease. All of this can be processed and accessed in the palm of the patient’s hand, through BlackBerry.
To most, Blackberry is now irrelevant in the world of mobile phones, dominated by Apple and Samsung. BlackBerry however will soon be very relevant in the field of healthcare if Dr. Soon-Shiong’s product finds any success. There was recently a report claiming a rumored purchase offer from Samsung, resulting in a significant increase in BlackBerry shares. This possible partnership could make waves in the ever-growing mobile-health market. It truly prompts the question what role can technology, specifically smartphones, play in the dissemination of health awareness and information.
We do not need to look far to see what mobile technology is already doing for health. FHI 360, a company located in our Research Triangle Park, has been using mobile technology in health, or “mHealth,” for a quite some time. They use smartphones to “share information on family planning, reproductive health, HIV and sexually transmitted infections.” The use of technology however is quickly progressing. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article mentioning several new methods in which smartphones and other forms of technology are being used to monitor health, and even collect and interpret medical data. Blood-pressure readings and electrocardiograms are already common procedures smartphones are capable of performing with a few accessory instruments, but we are not far from the day where all it takes is a watch to record our vital signs.
Follow us @myhealthimpact as we continue to discuss technology in health.
January 25, 2015
As smartphones have become more commonplace in today’s society, technologists have been in search of the next big thing. We’ve gone from adding touchscreens to everything (home appliances, car infotainment systems) to using gestures to interact with the world around us -- think the Minority Report.
After all, the future world we live in is just a guess or figment of the imagination. This magical nature of tomorrow is on display every year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) down in desert plaid Las Vegas. Where high rollers shell out tons of money on personal bets and invest in small start-ups that hail from all over the world. The comos surrounding CES has been a bit different the past few years, as more savvy players have introduced hardware at the center of their enterprise. Wearables, the heir to smartphones are slowly sweeping the conference floor. From recognizable names like Fitbit and Pebble to up and comers with Android Wear as their understudy -- every manufacturer has tossed their hat in the ring.
Besides telling the time, they all claim to do one thing well: help you reach your fitness goals.
- track steps
- take pulse
- measure blood pressure
- monitor heart rate
That was last year!
In 2015 the trend is now shifting towards real health applications:
- diagnose skin cancer
- examine menstrual cycle
- tell how well your lungs are working
- transmit physiological information to doctors
- treat depression
- and so much more…
With electronics and health care merging together ever so slightly, technologists will no longer have to ponder about what’s next. Wearables will cement the next revolution that is as fashion forward as it is helpful in quantifying your life.
Stay tuned to @myhealthimpact for more discoveries and technology driven solutions to a healthier future.
January 09, 2015
2014 included many social, political, global, business, technology and economic events that influence society. All of which has implications, consequences, and rooted issues related to health. Society took to @Twitter and other social media channels in a show of social activism. Here are a handful (and we note only a handful) of the 2014 leading hashtags.
One may ask what are the health implications. There are many: women’s health, men’s health, sexual health, mental health, health disparities, global health, workforce diversity, health policy, stigma, health economics, health law, social policy, and race/ethnicity.
As we continue to work to shape the health + tech discourse, we would like to hear your voices of these issues. Follow us at @myhealthimpact. Visit us on the web. Follow us on Tumblr. Read and comment on this and other blogs on our site. Tag us at #myhealthimpact.
October 15, 2014
For some people, the word sexuality only means intercourse between two individuals. To others, it may be a term that refers to just sexual orientation. Regardless to any interpretation of the word, sexuality is more than just intercourse. According to the World Health Organization, sexuality is a “central aspect of being human throughout life, which encompasses sex, gender identity and role, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction” (Source: WHO, 2010, p. 10).
Sexuality can be experienced in more than just one way. Not always is the attention geared towards the physical. Having strong mental and intellectual capabilities have to potential to stimulate and foster one’s interest. There is no particular “right way” to fully encompass and express all of the dimensions that play into sexuality. The Sexuality Wheel also suggests that sexuality is widespread, consisting of many components. These components include: personality, values, communication, self-image, gender, socialization, physical expression, and body image. Examining this from the @myHealthImpact perspective, we encourage individuals to look at themselves from a holistic mindset. If these components of sexuality are not properly managed, it could lead to physical and mental issues. We help spread awareness so that our community has the intellectual capacity to go and inform others. Look outside of the box and you will see sexuality is definitely more than just intercourse.
Follow us at @myHealthImpact as we continue to discuss important topics relating to sexual, physical and emotional health.
In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State
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