Grand Challenge Udupi

For Innovation to serve the people and move the country forward, we ultimately need to reach the most underprivileged in our society.  This was exactly our goal when we teamed up with the local government – Udupi District and developed this Grand Challenge.

The District officials under the leadership of Deputy Commissioner Smt Priyanka Mary Francis and Assistant Commissioner Shilpa Nag, picked issues they grappled with most.
Continue reading “Grand Challenge Udupi”

Do you feel younger or older than your age?

In the comments, please tell me why you feel that way: Is it due to your diet, work, active lifestyle, cultural heritage, your mother, or something else? How does this affect your life view and ambition? Your relationship with others? Continue reading “Do you feel younger or older than your age?”

Best Way to Treat Achilles Tendonitis: Stretching & Moderation

graphic pic of Achilles tendon anatomyIf you are active in sports, you may have experienced discomfort or soreness in your Achilles (uh-KIL-eez) tendon at one time or another, or you may have heard one of your friends complain about Achilles tendonitis. The Achilles tendon connects the large calf muscles to the back of your heel. If you trace your finger along the back of your leg staring at the heel and moving upward toward the knee, you will appreciate both the Achilles tendon as well as the calf muscles, which pull on it from above.

What causes Achilles tendonitis? Continue reading “Best Way to Treat Achilles Tendonitis: Stretching & Moderation”

A Patient Guide to Total Shoulder Replacement


cross-posted from Aches & Joints.org


Patients with severe shoulder arthritis are unable to move their arms through the full range of motion and thus are unable to perform many activities of daily living. For these patients, total shoulder replacement is a proven surgical procedure relieving their pain, recovering their range of motion and allowing them to return to their active lifestyles.

In this video, Dr JP Warner from the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, goes through the necessary examination and the surgical technique.


See these related posts:

Beet Red Juice with Apples, Carrots, Cilantro, Lemon and Ginger

pics of vegetables carrots, beet, apples ginger and lemon in Blood Red Juice by Arun Shanbhag

Now that M & Meera are in Boston, I worry less (about the house, yard or anything else) and explore culinary creations. Here is an all-natural Red Juice loaded with important nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. Continue reading “Beet Red Juice with Apples, Carrots, Cilantro, Lemon and Ginger”

Steel toe work boots reduce foot injuries

Steel toed shoes can prevent serious injuries of the forefoot

In this simple study, researchers demonstrated that steel toe capped work boots can prevent serious injury to the forefoot. The researchers fitted regular or steel toe work boots on cadaver feet and dropped 150 lbs on each foot. Ouch! Steel toe capped work boots (pic right) reduced the number of fractures in the foot by more than half compared to regular work boots (pic left). Continue reading “Steel toe work boots reduce foot injuries”

Hands-only CPR: Save a Life

post on Hand only CPR on Arun Shanbhag

How To:

  1. Call 911
  2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest, without interrupting
  3. Push deeply, about 100 times per minute. That’s faster than three times every two seconds
  4. Do NOT be afraid, your actions can only help
  5. Look around and invite your friends or other onlookers to help
  6. Continue until trained Emergency Personnel arrive

Continue reading “Hands-only CPR: Save a Life”

Fighting Cervical Cancer with Vinegar

In developed countries, pap smears are used to detect cervical cancers, but these tests are not available for poor women in developing countries. Brushing the cervix with household vinegar turns cancerous and precancerous lesions pale white within a few minutes. The lesions can then be immediately frozen using metal rod cooled by a tank of carbon dioxide, which is readily available from any soda plant.

This cheap and easy screening test called VIA/cryo has recently been endorsed by the World Health Organization.

Read More & pic from: Fighting Cervical Cancer With Vinegar and Ingenuity, New York Times


Other Health Related:

The Plank: Strengthening the Core

The Plank is one of my favorite exercises in the Gym. Here’s my write-up cross-posted from Aches & Joints.


The core is commonly thought of as only your abs, but consists of multiple muscle groups in your abdomen, back and pelvis. Core muscles are engaged during all activities requiring a coordinated movement of the upper and lower body. They generate the force and power required for many activities, while simultaneously playing a foundational role in stabilizing the torso.

Our modern sedentary lifestyle does nothing to working these important core muscles and over time result in their weakening, and the consequent injuries from seemingly simple tasks.]

There are various ways to strengthen these core muscles. The PLANK, for instance, is easy to perform, effective and appropriate for any age and fitness level. With no special equipment, the plank can be performed on a carpeted floor or mat in your living room, in the gym between sets of other exercises, or at the end of a workout. Also, the plank literally only takes a minute!

In performing the plank, you hold a steady position by isometrically contracting the deep stabilizing abdominal muscles (transverse abdominus), while keeping the lower back (erector spinae and multifidi) stable, fighting fatigue and simultaneously building endurance. This exercise is not appropriate if you have any shoulder weakness or injury.


Step by Step: How to perform and hold the Plank
Plank Strengthening the Core Aches & Joints

  • Have a wrist watch or clock nearby to track time
  • Start with palms on the floor, shoulder distance apart (see above), then lower to forearms only with and elbows directly below the shoulders as demonstrated below
  • It may be easier for many to start with knees and elbows on a mat
  • Extend legs back, one at a time, straightening the knees and balancing on your toes
  • Keep your body straight as a plank (see below)
  • Relax your neck and look down at the floor
  • As you fatigue, there will be a tendency for your hips to sag. Squeeze your deep abdominal muscles and glutes, and hold your hips in line with the rest of the body
  • For starters, hold the position for 30 seconds and work up to 60 seconds or longer
  • Rest on your knees; when ready, repeat plank for two additional sets

Plank Strengthening the Core Aches & Joints


For a more challenging workout: In the plank position, alternately lift and move each leg outwards (see demonstration below)
Plank Strengthening the Core Aches & Joints


Julie Schlenkerman, Personal Trainer, Clubs at Charles River ParkThe Plank was demonstrated by Julie Schlenkerman, certified personal trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park, Boston, MA.

Julie is an avid runner and ran the 2009 Boston Marathon in 3:16:14!

Here is wishing Julie the very best for the Boston Marathon tomorrow.

Run Julie Run!


From My Archives: Simple exercises & Related articles

What to do with Bunions?

cross-posted from Aches & Joints


What to do with Bunions? Better to leave them alone.

A bunion is a characteristically large bony bump at the base of the big toe. This alters the alignment of the bones, causing the base of the big toe to angle out and crowding the tops towards the smaller toes. Bunions can often be painful and cause swelling, making it difficult to find comfortably fitting shoes. The big toe pushing against the smaller toes can result in irritation of the skin, forming painful calluses.

Bunions occur more frequently in women and can occur in children as well. Although some footwear can contribute to the deformity, it is not the sole cause. “People who develop bunions often have an underlying predisposition to acquire them, such as a family member who may have them, overly mobile joints, or a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis,” explains Dr A Holly Johnson, Foot & Ankle Surgeon at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Instructor at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Traumatic injuries to feet or toes can also result in bunions. Bunions can occur in people with flatfeet (or over pronation) and may involve deformities of the smaller toes, such as hammer toes.

xray of normal foot (left) and a foot with a bunion (right) hallux valgus
Left: X-ray of normal foot while standing. Right: Foot with a bunion, also called hallux valgus. Notice the bony protuberance and the large angle at the base of the big toe. The top of the big toe is seen crowding towards the smaller toes. Continue reading “What to do with Bunions?”

Video: How to do a Pec Fly & Chest Press

I don’t do weights! But my trainer friends urge me to build muscle tone. “It will help your running,” they argue. I do anything which helps my running.
Continue reading “Video: How to do a Pec Fly & Chest Press”

Heel, Calf, Hamstring Stretch for Plantar Fasciitis

If you are a runner, sooner or later you will encounter heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis. While there is no cure, simple exercises can take care of it.

Plantar fascia is the tissue band running along the bottom of the foot. Excessive walking, running, or irritation can inflame the tissues, causing severe heel pain. See my previous article on Treating Heel Pain with simple exercises. Here is another, very effective heel-leg stretch. Similar to others, this stretch takes less than 2 minutes. Continue reading “Heel, Calf, Hamstring Stretch for Plantar Fasciitis”

Embrace Infant Incubators

A global partnership for children, including the WHO and UNICEF, report that annually, 4 million babies die within the first 30 days of birth. Why are 4 million babies dying? Concise 2 and 1/2 page article. The common causes are infection, birth asphyxia and premature (including low birth weight) births. Premature and low-weight babies are particularly susceptible to hypothermia and need to be kept warm.

In the well-off world, such babies are placed in expensive incubators (costing upwards of $10,000), while vital signs are monitored and stabilized. In much of the developing world such luxuries do not exist and babies continue to die off. Multinational medical device companies are quick to donate expensive equipment to far off locales. Consider that in places where infant mortality is very high, there is likely no electricity to power incubators and no trained personnel to operate them. Most of the equipment is completely useless and gathers dust.

This lack of understanding local constrainsts leads me to believe that most expensive equipment donations are made primarily for tax right-offs and a way to showcase social responsibility to shareholders. But thankfully, social entrepreneurs in small teams are continuing efforts to develop baby incubators for the developing world.


Here is a creative solution by EmbraceGlobal: A sleeping bag-like device with an add-on warming pouch. It does not require electricity, is portable and costs $25. At that price, they are near disposable and can go home with the baby. Most likely, parents don’t have anything nicer to put the baby to sleep in.

A Neonatologist I spoke to voiced concern that for critical babies, it is important to be able to see the chest of the baby rise and fall as it breathes. I think this can be addressed by a zipper (or velcro) on the sides of the bag. These will also make it easier to get the baby in and out of the bag, and provide ventilation.

I think $25 is still a steep price for essentially a wrap-around quilt. If folks can build a laptop for $100, then such a sleeping bag should not cost more than $1! Yes, One dollar!

Any of you have ideas for modifying the designs to address local needs? Can this be made of locally sourced materials? How about involving micro-finance based women’s groups to fabricate/assemble them locally? This could improve their livelihood as well. Perhaps this may trigger other solutions in the local populations.

Make it for $1! Any takers?

Face of Swine Flu in Mumbai

swine flu Mumbai face masks pics by Arun Shanbhag
No, he was not trying to hijack the BEST bus in Mumbai; he was terrified about the nasty virus causing swine flu!

But that makeshift mask in a crowded bus surely got me panicky. Should I be around Mumbai using public transportation, where the buses and trains are stuffed tighter than, … than, … mumbaikars in buses and trains? And when I had Meera with me?

During my August visit to Mumbai, everyone was in full “epidemic” mode. Even at the Airport! Before reaching immigration, we filled out personal history forms and the overworked health workers simply waved us on. I hope you feel reassured.

Headlines in city newspapers screamed at every cough and sniffle. The Mumbai city council finally ordered schools, colleges, tuition classes and many govt offices closed for 3 days. Private companies gave employees furlough to work from home! And this was supposed to be my vacation. We all came through fine, and a renewed interest in Ayurvedic attempts to strengthen the immune response. Continue reading “Face of Swine Flu in Mumbai”

Abs Express: Aphrodisiac Abs in 15 minutes

Here’s the Abs Express Class at our health club (Clubs at Charles River Park, Boston, MA). Its a quick 15 min class, once a week. But what a workout. Fast and tough! Give it a try and see if you can keep up with Certified Trainer, Pete ‘Rock’ Reynolds.

Pete entertains you during the entire routine. For this recording I pleaded with Pete to keep his comments PG, which he did. And he’s the go-to guy, anytime you need a quick workout tip. Thank you, Pete.

When you are onvacation, no more excuses, Just follow along with this video and do your crunches. 15 minutes, and as Pete likes to say, you’ll end up with aphrodisiac abs!


From My Archives: Simple exercises & Related articles

Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir

haldi turmeric ginger milk by Arun ShanbhagTurmeric is an ubiquitous indian spice and a common ingredient of pre-mixed curry or masala powders. Turmeric (haldi, Konkani; haridra, Sanskrit) is also an essential component of fish marinade.

While I take for granted the turmeric used in cooking, I distinctly remember my grandma preparing scalding hot, turmeric milk whenever we had a sore throat or cold. And grandma admonished us to sip it hot, letting it course its way down the back of our throats. Haaiiii! She had alchemized this common root, to a piping hot, golden elixir, which not only got us back to school the next day (unfortunately), but also back on the playground (v good). Something magical about that turmeric milk! If she only knew!
Continue reading “Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir”

Vitamin D Prevents Fractures

A recent clinical review reported in the NY Times provides great news for older adults. A meta-analysis of 12 randomized clinical trials, together representing over 65,000 subjects suggests that Vitamin D reduces the risk for non-vertebral fractures by 20 % and hip fractures by 18%.
Continue reading “Vitamin D Prevents Fractures”

Your Brain on Google

Googling for information on the internet can improve brain health!

In a recent study, patterns of brain activation were recorded in individuals performing various computer-related tasks. In net savvy individuals, internet searching was associated with increased blood flow in regions of the brain controlling decision making, complex reasoning, and in the visual cortex.

brain google internet searchCompare the intensity of brain activation in the net naive group in blue (top) and the net savvy group in red (below), while performing internet related searches.

Other activities such as computer-game playing also cause brain activation. But as familiarity with the games increases, the novelty decreases with a concomitant decrease in brain activity. Internet search however, remains novel and mentally stimulating.

While not proven, the generally held view is that “engaging in mentally stimulating activities will maintain cognitive abilities and prevent age-related cognitive decline.”


Update:
In the comments, Kahliyalogue asked what we did do before the internet came along? And what about reading?

Simply reading did activate many of the same regions of the brain as involved in cognitive development; BUT at a lower level. Rather than simply reading, the novelty aspect is more important. Something to keep the brain engaged and constantly imagining. Perhaps reading a thriller, where you are eagerly awaiting the outcome; or a romance novel with its own build up of excitement are more important.

Many social aspects can be equally, or even more stimulating than just googling. Going to a farmer’s market and bargaining, playing with grandkids, meeting and reliving good times with friends, visiting relatives, or chatting with random folks can enhance cognitive development.

All these activities additionally help us, and particularly the elderly, develop a social network that can be useful in real-life emergencies: A relative could help pick you up if you fell down; a friend could take you to the doctor!

This later point brings up another query by Cheeni: What is the opportunity cost? As in, what is it we are NOT doing because we are busy with the internet and googling?

Again, Kahliyalogue provides the answer:
“I am truly grateful to the possibilities the internet has provided in seeking information and connecting with people all over the globe, which is magnificent. But … it is taking it’s toll on our personal lives and on the society as a whole. It can never replace the emotional fulfillment of authentic “live” interconnections between human beings involving all of our senses, essential for us to grow in more ways than one.”

Beautifully said!



Original Research Article:
Small and others, “Your brain on google: Patterns of cerebral activation during internet searching” Am J Geriatric Psychiatry (2009); (PDF).

Scapular Exercises for Stronger Shoulders

Exercises for Strong and Healthy Shoulders
Shoulders permit our arms to move in a wide arc and perform elaborate activities. This mobility is due to superb coordination of muscles and soft tissues around the shoulder and shoulder blades (scapula, SKA-pew-la), and is essential for performing activities in a pain- and injury-free manner. See related article on Rotator Cuff complications impairing shoulder movement.

Conventional shoulder exercises strengthen the larger muscles but tend to overlook the mid-back muscles that stabilize the scapulas. This can often result in muscle imbalance and consequently, bad posture. Even non-shoulder exercises like running on a treadmill with shoulders slouched can lead to stiffness and pain. These conditions increase injury potential and thus the need for corrective exercises.

Michael Bento, personal trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park, Boston, demonstrates simple exercises you can do at home to develop shoulder strength and protect them from injury. As an added bonus, these exercises also tone the all-important core muscles.

These exercises can be performed on a stability ball as shown, or on a work bench. Dumbbells or additional weights are not required. And as I surprisingly found out last week, you can do these scapular exercises while standing, starting with the arms in front! Yaay!


Common Starting Position for Shoulder-Scapula Exercises
scapular exercises for stronger shoulders

  • Anchor heels to a wall, toes on the floor and slowly roll out on a stability ball.
  • Rest upper abdomen on the ball and straighten body forming a line from ears to ankles.
  • Pull your shoulder blades down, tuck your chin and look at the floor.
  • Start with arms straight, hands in front of the ball (or bench), fingers lightly curled, palms facing each other and thumbs pointing forward.
  • In this position, your core muscles including abdominal and gluteus muscles are engaged in stabilizing your body.
  • For a challenging core-muscle workout, move your heels away from the wall as demonstrated above and use as starting position.

Continue reading “Scapular Exercises for Stronger Shoulders”

Rotator Cuff Disease

A drawback of traveling is carrying your suitcase everywhere, particularly lifting it into overhead compartments on planes, trains and buses. This really hurts my shoulder. Apparently, I am straining my rotator cuff muscles and tendons. As we age, these soft tissues surrounding the shoulder tend to weaken and are easily injured.

Here is short summary on Rotator Cuff Disease, published in Aches & Joints.



Primary Cause of Shoulder Pain and Treatment Options.

There are several causes of shoulder pain. In the elderly, shoulder pain is commonly associated with aging and can be traced to rotator cuff disease. In younger people, it is associated with throwing or overhead sporting activities that result in injury to the rotator cuff.

shoulder rotator cuff anatomy disease

The rotator cuff is a band of four muscles and tendons at the shoulder joint, which grasp the end of the upper arm or humerus (HYU-mer-us, see figure), much like four fingers holding a baseball. The rotator cuff thus stabilizes the shoulder joint and provides exceptional mobility to the arm. Pinching, irritation, or tears of the rotator cuff are common causes of shoulder pain.

shoulder rotator cuff anatomy holding baseball

Continue reading “Rotator Cuff Disease”

Marine Corps Marathon 2008: The Long Slog!

Marine Corps Marathon 2008
time: 4:33:10
My Slowest Marathon!


Its been two weeks and now I can write about my slowest marathon.

The Course and the Run:
I loved the first ten miles of this course. Leaving the Pentagon, the course works its way through the narrow streets of Arlington, VA. The mass of runners then worms their way over the George Washington Parkway and through the forests of Georgetown. It was a nice incline and the heavy breathing of runners filled the cool air. As we worked uphill, sunlight filtered through fall trees and only a few feet ahead, runners disappeared in fog mingling with mist from their breath. It was a beautiful slog. Then we raced down to the center of Georgetown to a large and raucous crowd. At that point, it was only mile Ten, and I was ahead of my expected 4:00 h pace!
Continue reading “Marine Corps Marathon 2008: The Long Slog!”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑