LEADERSHIP 5 ways business owners should be more like a pencil THE LIST OF TRAITS and characteristics a successful business owner needs to have never seems to end. From selling skills to time management – it seems we all need help in becoming something we’re not. And while some might say this can be a complicated effort, I believe it can be so effortless, a regular pencil can be a source of inspiration. Here are five sure ways we should all try to be more like the world’s most popular and widely used writing instrument. Be adaptable. A pencil works equally well regardless of who uses it. Business leaders who embrace this concept will build stronger networks, experience greater loyalty, and be viewed as an irreplaceable asset. Make mistakes. Even a pencil knows mistakes can and will happen. That is why it has an eraser on the other side of its writing tip. Mistakes should not be viewed as failures, but rather as guides toward success. However, with such a small eraser that can run out if used too frequently, we must remember to try to never make the same mistakes twice. It’s what’s inside that counts. Regardless of what colour, size or shape a pencil might be, it is all about the lead inside that gives it the ability to write. People sometimes tend to judge others based on superficial stereotypes. If individuals can look past their differences and start focusing on the similarities, we might all be surprised how many new relationships can enrich our lives. Stay sharp. For a pencil to work its best, it must always be sharpened. However, making sure we are always at our best can sometimes take us out of our comfort zone. Learning new technologies, adapting to a new corporate culture, or entering a new industry can be challenging – and even frustrating. But the alternative is becoming like a dull pencil – which no one ever wants to use. Leave your mark. A pencil can write on virtually any surface, giving it the ability to leave its mark wherever it goes. Successful people will tell you one of their most important skills is being able to leave their mark on others. This can range from sharing knowledge and offering positive feedback, to just making an effort to remember someone’s name. Which is easy to do if you write it down – with a pencil. –Marc Gordon MENTAL HEALTH Mindfulness helps anxious people have better focus: study Just 10 minutes of daily mindful meditation can help prevent one’s mind from wandering and is particularly effective for people who tend to have repetitive, anxious thoughts, according to a study from the University of Waterloo. The study, which assessed the impact of meditation with 82 participants who experience anxiety, found that developing an awareness of the present moment reduced incidents of repetitive, off-task thinking, a hallmark of anxiety. “Our results indicate that mindfulness training may have protective effects on mind wandering for anxious individuals,” said Mengran Xu, a researcher and PhD candidate at Waterloo. “We also found that meditation practice appears to help anxious people to shift their attention from their own internal worries to the present-moment external world, which enables better focus on a task at hand.” Study participants were asked to perform a task on a computer while experiencing interruptions to gauge their ability to stay focused on the task. Researchers then put the participants into two groups at random, with the control group given an audio story to listen to and the other group asked to engage in a short meditation exercise prior to being reassessed. The study, co-authored by Waterloo psychology professors Christine Purdon and Daniel Smilek and Harvard University’s Paul Seli, was published in Consciousness and Cognition. HEALTH CARE Long health care wait times cost Canadians $1.7 billion: study VANCOUVER – Long wait times for surgery and medical treatment cost Canadians $1.7 billion – or $1,759 per patient – in lost wages and time last year, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute, a public policy think-tank. The study calculated the average personal cost of time lost during the work week in Canada last year for the estimated 973,505 patients waiting for treatments across 12 medical specialties including general surgery, orthopedic surgery, and neurosurgery. “Long wait times have real consequences for many Canadians who, in addition to experiencing increased pain and suffering, may lose income from not working and may also be unable to fully enjoy time spent with family and friends,” said Bacchus Barua, senior economist in the Fraser Institute’s Centre for Health Policy Studies. When calculations were extended to include the value of time outside the traditional work week – evenings and weekends – the estimated cost of waiting jumps from $1.7 billion to $5.2 billion, or from $1,759 to about $5,360 per patient. The study drew data from the Fraser Institute’s Waiting Your Turn study, an annual survey of Canadian physicians who, in 2016, reported a median wait time from specialist appointment to treatment of 10.6 weeks – three weeks longer than what physicians consider clinically reasonable. According to Fraser Institute, the $1.7 billion in costs identified in the study were likely a conservative estimate because they didn’t include the 9.4 week long wait to see a specialist after getting a referral from a general practitioner. Taken together, the median wait time in Canada for medical treatment was 20 weeks in 2016. “As long as lengthy wait times define Canada’s health-care system, patients will continue to pay a price in the form of lost wages and reduced quality of life,” Barua said. Because wait times and incomes vary by province, so does the cost of waiting for health care. Residents of Nova Scotia in 2016 faced the highest private cost of waiting per patient ($2,611), followed by British Columbia ($2,300) and Alberta ($2,188). Average value of time lost during the workweek in 2016 for patient waiting for medically necessary treatment (by province) were as follows: British Columbia: $2,300 Alberta: $2,188 Saskatchewan: $1,216 Manitoba: $1,806 Ontario: $1,410 Quebec: $1,152 New Brunswick: $2,065 Nova Scotia: $2,611 Prince Edward Island:$1,159 Newfoundland and Labrador: $1,605 NEWS PM says governments must find lasting solution to opioid epidemic OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says governments won’t rest until they turn the tide on a rising opioid epidemic. Health officials and political leaders have been sounding the alarm about a dramatic spike in opioid deaths across Canada – the focus of a national summit in Ottawa last fall that pulled together experts from across the country. Municipal leaders are lobbying the federal government in Ottawa recently for more help and resources to respond to what they describe as an epidemic spreading through their communities. Trudeau says the government is listening to municipal concerns and plans to work with local officials to develop long-term solutions to this crisis. The prime minister made the comments during a keynote address to the annual meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. As part of that meeting, mayors are pushing federal officials and cabinet ministers on a number of files, including opioids, affordable housing and infrastructure spending. – The Canadian Press REHABILITATION Device helps stroke patients regain movement Stroke patients who learned to use their minds to open and close a device fitted over their paralyzed hands gained some control over their hands, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. By mentally controlling the device with the help of a brain-computer interface, participants trained the uninjured parts of their brains to take over functions previously performed by injured areas of the brain, the researchers said. “We have shown that a brain-computer interface using the uninjured hemisphere can achieve meaningful recovery in chronic stroke patients,” said Dr. Eric Leuthardt, a professor of neurosurgery, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering and applied science, and the study’s co-senior author. The study was published May 26 in the journal Stroke. In the first weeks after a stroke, people rapidly recover some abilities, but their progress typically plateaus after about three months. “We chose to evaluate the device in patients who had their first stroke six months or more in the past because not a lot of gains are happening by that point,” said co-senior author Dr. Thy Huskey, an associate professor of neurology at the School of Medicine and program director of the Stroke Rehabilitation Center of Excellence at The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis. “Some lose motivation. But we need to continue working on finding technology to help this neglected patient population.” David Bundy, the study’s first author, worked to take advantage of a quirk in how the brain controls movement of the limbs. In general, areas of the brain that control movement are on the opposite side of the body from the limbs they control. But about a decade ago, Leuthardt and Bundy, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at University of Kansas Medical Center, discovered that a small area of the brain played a role in planning movement on the same side of the body. To move the left hand, they realized, specific electrical signals indicating movement planning first appear in a motor area on the left side of the brain. Within milliseconds, the right-sided motor areas become active, and the movement intention is translated into actual contraction of muscles in the hand. A person whose left hand and arm are paralyzed has sustained damage to the motor areas on the right side of the brain. But the left side of the person’s brain is frequently intact, meaning many stroke patients can still generate the electrical signal that indicates an intention to move. The signal, however, goes nowhere since the area that executes the movement plan is out of commission. “The idea is that if you can couple those motor signals that are associated with moving the same-sided limb with the actual movements of the hand, new connections will be made in your brain that allow the uninjured areas of your brain to take over control of the paralyzed hand,” Leuthardt said. That’s where the Ipsihand, a device developed by Washington University scientists, comes in. The Ipsihand comprises a cap that contains electrodes to detect electrical signals in the brain, a computer that amplifies the signals, and a movable brace that fits over the paralyzed hand. The device detects the wearer’s intention to open or close the paralyzed hand, and moves the hand in a pincer-like grip, with the second and third fingers bending to meet the thumb. “Of course, there’s a lot more to using your arms and hands than this, but being able to grasp and use your opposable thumb is very valuable,” Huskey said. “Just because your arm isn’t moving exactly as it was before, it’s not worthless. We can still interact with the world with the weakened arm.” Leuthardt played a key role in elucidating the basic science, and he worked with Daniel Moran, a professor of biomedical engineering at Washington University School of Engineering & Applied Science, to develop the technology behind the Ipsihand. He and Moran co-founded the company Neurolutions Inc. to continue developing the Ipsihand, and Leuthardt serves on the company’s board of directors. Neurolutions funded this study. To test the Ipsihand, Huskey recruited moderately to severely impaired stroke patients and trained them to use the device at home. The participants were encouraged to use the device at least five days a week, for 10 minutes to two hours a day. Thirteen patients began therapy, but three dropped out due to unrelated health issues, poor fit of the device or inability to comply with the time commitment. Ten patients completed the study. Participants underwent a standard motor skills evaluation at the start of the study and every two weeks throughout. The test measured their ability to grasp, grip and pinch with their hands, and to make large motions with their arms. Among other things, participants were asked to pick up a block and place it atop a tower, fit a tube around a smaller tube, and move their hands to their mouths. Higher scores indicated better function. After 12 weeks of using the device, the patients’ scores increased an average of 6.2 points on a 57-point scale. “An increase of six points represents a meaningful improvement in quality of life,” Leuthardt said. “For some people, this represents the difference between being unable to put on their pants by themselves and being able to do so.” Each participant also rated his or her ability to use the affected arm and his or her satisfaction with the skills. Self-reported abilities and satisfaction significantly improved over the course of the study. How much each patient improved varied, and the degree of improvement did not correlate with time spent using the device. It did correlate with how well the device read brain signals and converted them into hand movements. – Newswise
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