Friday, July 25, 2008

Stroke Awareness Exhibit Now at Healthinfo Island

A project of the Occupational Therapy Center at Jefferson in Second Life, the Stroke Awareness Exhibit can now be seen on Healthinfo Island,

The interactive display was developed by graduate students in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Jefferson College of Health Professions in Philadelphia, PA, USA, under the direction of Zsuzsa Tomsen (Susan Toth-Cohen in RL). The exhibit consists of 3 presentations about stroke--including types of stroke, statistics, and rehabilitation. There is a 2-question quiz after each presentation. Visitors also can collect free brain-themed prizes - t-shirts, a necklace, and a hat.

When the Jefferson Faculty-Student team first discussed having an exhibit for Stroke Awareness Month (May 2008), the original idea was to have displays of topics related to stroke, video, and quizzes. "However," says Zsuzsa, "when the occupational therapy graduate students and I brainstormed (!), they suggested that we have a walk-through artery. Further, the students suggested the idea of 'clot dissolving quizzes--' made so that the visitor could pass through only if (s)he got the quiz questions right."

"This was a big turning point for our exhibit planning. A later trip to the Tech Museum of Innovation also provided some good ideas for how to better utilize the 3D world for healthcare related exhibits."

The Occupational Therapy Center blog can be found at: for more information about their exhibits and the process of their creation.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Progressive values at work: Using virtual worlds for real world impact

How do Second Life activities affect 'real life' organizations and individuals? Join us for a discussion about the virtual health community and its role in empowerment and change. The panel will be in voice, broadcast live and archived on BlogTalk Radio, and is part of a 4-day event sponsored by Netroots Nation (formerly Daily Kos). We're setting aside the last half hour for Q & A.

Moderator: Widget Whiteberrry
Panelists: Gentle Heron, Virtual Ability, Carolina Keats, Healthinfo Island, and Roberto Salubrius, Ability Commons
Date: Sunday, July 20, 2008
Time: 10:15am-12:30pm (Pacific time):
Place: Netroots Arena

For more information about this event, see

All speakers can be contacted in Second Life. A link to the audio archive of this presentation will be provided as soon as it's available, as well as other information.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Netroots Nation in SL - Healthinfo Island is there!

Netroots Nation (formerly the YearlyKos Convention) helps politically active netroots communities make a difference in the public sphere. The third annual gathering will be held July 17–20 in Austin, Texas. Netroots Nation 2008 will include panels led by national and international experts, including a virtual session held in conjunction with the 2008 BlogHer Conference; identity, issue and regional caucuses; prominent political, issue and policy-oriented speakers; a progressive film screening series; and the most concentrated gathering of progressive bloggers to date.
- from the blog announcement, found here.

I am honored to be speaking on a panel with Gentle Heron, of the Virtual Ability group, about the real life effects of health related activities in Second Life. Our part will be on Sunday, July 20th:

SL Panel "Progressive Values at Work: Using Virtual Worlds for Real World Impact"
Gentle Heron, Vitual Ability, Carolina Keats, Consumer Health Librarian
Time:10:15am-12:30pm (Pacific time):
Place: Netroots Arena

The panel will be in voice, simulcast to the Austin conference location, and may be archived - that part I don't know. What I do know is that it's a wonderful opportunity to talk about how those with disabilities and chronic health conditions can find community in a world none of us could have imagined.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Poor communication = Poor healthcare?

A study published in the June 2008 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, asks whether poor communication was an important risk factor in adverse events for hospital patients (1).

In order to try to answer this question, the researchers randomly chose 2,355 patient charts from 20 hospitals across the province of Quebec, Canada, looking at reported communication problems (language, hearing abilities, and more) and then comparing these to the 'adverse events' reported.

Adverse events, in medical lingo, are 'unintended injur[ies] or complication[s] caused by delivery of clinical care rather than by the patient’s condition.' (1)

It may not come as a surprise to you that some patients with communication barriers were 3 times more likely to experience preventable adverse effects during their hospital stays. The two main contributors to the likelihood of adverse effects were found to be communication barriers and poor clinical management.

As an editorial in the same issue puts it, 'elderly women, those who were admitted to hospital because of an emergency and those whose ability to communicate with health care providers was limited because of a foreign language, deafness or a psychiatric disorder were the patients most likely to receive inadequate care.(2)'

The authors have called for more research looking at what can be done to identify people with communication problems, and then to consider these barriers in providing health care.

Solutions to the problem of health communication are both simple and complex. In the editorial mentioned earlier, the use of 3 questions is referred to as a way for health professionals to be sure that understanding is achieved:

What is my main problem?
What do I need to do?
Why is it important for me to do this?

These questions are suggested by the Partnership for Clear Health Communication, based on work done by Iowa Health ( The idea here is that patients should be able to answer the three questions after talking with their health providers to ensure that understanding has been achieved.

Other problems are more complex, says Frankel (2): health care is often based on providing the most efficient care for a very large population, and this may be a barrier to recognizing communication problems and helping those who are impaired in some way.

1. Bartlett, G., Blais, R., Tamblyn, R., et al. (2008, June 3). Impact of patient communication problems on the risk of preventable adverse events in acute care settings. CMAJ 2008 178: 1555-1562.
You can read it for yourself at (PDF).

2. Frankel, A. (2008, June 3). Health literacy and harm: Who is at risk? What is the fix? CMAJ 2008 178: 1573-1574. You can read it for yourself at

Summary and comments not otherwise cited are the opinion of Carol Perryman.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Exciting News!! - Annenberg Competition Results

I am so pleased to announce that the proposal crafted by partners in the Health Support Coalition has been among the top finalists, and will be funded to do what we had so long dreamed. We'll be building a new sim - Ability Commons, and calling it home for around 40 small and start-up health support groups who would not otherwise be funded in Second Life.

I have had such a good feeling about this all along, ever since Gentle Heron told me about the competition. And now, I find I am imagining what it will be, thinking many thoughts about what needs to happen, wondering how this new space will look (vision: village. home. )

Thinking - what is that, to have a space in a virtual environment, when I've heard so many people say things like - well hey, you can always teleport! Here in SL, you don't need to be right by something! Give up those tired old connections, your slavish reliance upon earthbound constraints - explore the possibilities!

And yet, we do need that proximity. I talk with you, move closer. We find joy in even the approximation of beauty, the sometimes comic-bookish representation of things and places that are meaningful. We bring them with us, make our environment what we cannot. In response to a question the other day - "why would SL be superior to the opportunity to ask questions (via IM chat on a website, for example) of experts?" I said - because we give it a human face. Our avatars and spaces extend our reach.

On the web and in SL, I know that our tendency is to find community. It is too simplistic, by far, to say that our electronic connections are replacements for what we don't have in person, within our own spaces. There is sometimes a connotation of shame in this, sort of like that trite saying about 'those who cannot do, teach.' To this I respond: how can community be a wrong, when it provides the means to help one another through life? How can it possibly be shameful, when it gives voice and connections, allows us to brush aside many boundaries of our physical manifestations? How can it replace what never can be brushed aside, those limits of our physical selves? - this electronic self is us - taller, better dressed, with wild hair and incredible wardrobes; flying, dancing - ourselves, as we choose to be for a time. It is us, reaching out in new ways, learning what this new space can add to our own humanity.

Ability Commons. You will be hearing more.