Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Frames of Mind

'Broach schizophrene'Brian Charnley (1949-1991)

Frames of Mind: Creativity in Mental Healthcare Exhibition

Discover historic artworks of international renown from the collections of Bethlem Royal Hospital, the original Bedlam, alongside contemporary artworks created by artists supported by the Bethlem Gallery. Over 30 different artists are represented including Richard Dadd, William Kurelek, Stanley Lench, Jonathan Martin, Marion Patrick, Cynthia Pell, Charles Sims and Louis Wain. The main gallery is dedicated to the display of 50 paintings, drawings, digital images, sculptures and ceramics dating from the early nineteenth century to the present day. All of these remarkable works have been created by people who have experienced mental health problems. Also in this gallery you can see videos of artists working with Bethlem Gallery and listen to oral history interviews with mental health service users and providers. In the smaller gallery you can discover the history of mental healthcare from the foundation of Bethlem Hospital in 1247 to the present day. A timeline illustrates the individual and linked histories of Bethlem Royal Hospital, Warlingham Park Hospital and Cane Hill Hospital. You can also find out more about the art-based care services provided in Croydon today.

FREE exhibition in the Clocktower's Temporary Exhibition Gallery. 10 October 2008 - 31 January 2009 Monday - Saturday, 11am - 5pm

East Croydon is 15 minutes on the train from Victoria and the Clocktower Gallery is a 5 minute walk from there. Check here for more information on how to find the gallery.

The Cultural Ramifications of an Ultrasound

This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of Online Ultrasound Technician Schools. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: sarah.scrafford25@gmail.com.

You’d think there wouldn’t be a cultural side to a technology that helps look inside your body, but there is, at least in certain parts of the world. An ultrasound scan is a technique that uses sound waves, or to be more precise, ultrasound which has a high frequency and hence cannot be heard by human ears, to create images of organs in your body. The sound waves bounce off body structures and are then compiled by a computer program into images.

Ultrasound is used for a variety of applications and is the preferred form of medical imaging except when there’s bone or gas-filled organs like the lung and bowel to be scanned. It finds extensive use in pregnancy, to monitor the growth of the fetus at different stages and to determine the sex of the baby. And that’s where the cultural aspect comes into play.

Now most people are ok with either a boy or a girl baby; sure, they may have their preferences, but they’re happy with either one if they’re healthy and normal. But there are some parts of the world where a boy child is considered an asset and a girl a liability – China for one, and India for another. With selective sex abortion being a widespread practice in both countries, the respective governments have banned the revelation of the sex of the fetus following an ultrasound examination. But female fetuses are still aborted, contributing to the widely skewed sex ratios in both countries.

In China, it’s an issue that relates to the large population of the country. With the government strictly enforcing the one-child law, parents want it to be a male so that their family name is carried on. Male children are also likely to earn money for the family and look after their parents in their old age.

In India, in addition to carrying on the family name, males are preferred because they are expected to look after their parents and help in the family business. Also, only males can perform certain rituals like last rites and they’re sure to bring dowry (gifts of cash and kind) when they marry. Females are not wanted because they are seen as a financial burden when they must be married – the parents tend to go broke trying to rustle up enough money to cover the dowry demanded by the groom’s family. Although dowry harassment is illegal in the country and punishable with fines and imprisonment, the practice still continues.

The cultural ramifications of a simple ultrasound exam extend as far as skewing the sex ratio of an entire nation. Although the technology is relatively new, it’s fast replacing female infanticide as the preferred method of selective sex abortion. And even though it’s illegal to reveal the sex of the fetus, some radiologists do so for the money, and the practice of selective abortion continues to plague both nations and a few others others in Asia.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Royal Society of Medicine Exhibition on Ancient Egyptian Medicine

Currently on display in the RSM Library until the end of February. Opening hours: Monday - Thursday 9am - 7pm, Friday 9am - 5.30pm and Saturday 10am - 4.30pm

This major exhibition focuses on ancient Egyptian medicine. It deals with health and disease, how the ancient Egyptians treated and cured it. Find out about Imhotep, the Egyptian god of medicine, and learn about mummification.The displays also include some stunning casts of medical artefacts and scans of other objects from other institutions.

Summer 2009. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes.
A prizewinning travelling exhibition from the Royal College of Surgeons in Scotland.

Open source ECG project

Here's an interesting new use of Web 2.0 (which encourages the web's potential for multiuser interactivity to create new knowledge) to benefit developing countries. The project aims to enable doctors all over the world to build their own affordable, safe and clinically useful ECGs. By making both the software and hardware solutions open source, it is hoped that a pooling of collective knowledge will result in a working product.

The brand new website is mainly wiki-based which means participants download, edit and upload pages so that, in theory at least, the latest improvements are always available. In my experience these types of collaborative open-source wikis tend to be a bit clunky and hard to navigate, but this site is very well designed and you needn't be particulary techy to use it.

These projects rely on 'goodwill' and a belief in the collectivism of scientific information over commercialism. It's represents a big shift in the way Western science - traditionally rather secretive to protect priority claims - is configured. The project seems to me to be a good idea and I hope that it succeeds.