Study: Limit Your Child’s Screen Time To Develop Better Cognition
Recommendations made by the “Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth” for kids between the ages of 8 and 11 years, say that their day should include at least 60 minutes of physical activity, two hours or less of recreational screen time, and 9 to 11 hours of sleep. Yet, in a new study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, only one in 20 US children met all three of these recommendations. Childhood and adolescence are crucial periods for brain development and behaviour, during a typical 24-hour period, contributes to cognitive performance. Limiting children’s recreational screen time to less than two hours a day, ensuring sufficient sleep and physical activity has now been linked to better development of children’s cognitive abilities. 
 
The study used data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study of more than 4,500 children between the ages of 8 and 11 years from 21 study sites across the US. Researchers compared daily exercise, technology use and sleeping habits, to the established Canadian Guidelines. The participants’ ‘global cognition’ was then assessed using the standards developed by the National Institute of Health. The results indicate that US children engaged in an average of 3.6 hours a day recreational screen time. 
 
Authors of the new study say that adhering to the guidelines during childhood and adolescence, particularly for screen time, is vital for cognitive development. “Behaviours and day-to-day activities contribute to brain and cognitive development in children, and physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep might independently and collectively affect cognition,” says Dr Jeremy Walsh of CHEO Research Institute (Ottawa, Canada). “Evidence suggests that good sleep and physical activity are associated with improved academic performance, while physical activity is also linked to better reaction time, attention, memory and inhibition. The link between sedentary behaviours, like recreational screen time, is unclear as this research is in the early stages and it appears to vary depending on the types of screen-based activity.”
 
Children and their parents completed questionnaires and measures at the outset of the trial to estimate the child’s physical activity, sleep and screen time. Children were also asked to complete a cognition test which assessed language abilities, episodic memory, executive function, attention, working memory and processing speed. Researchers used household income, parental and child education, ethnicity, pubertal development, body mass index and whether the child had had a traumatic brain injury, as controls in the study. 
 
The research found that only 5% of children met all three recommendations while 29% met none of those guidelines. Additionally, 63% spent more than two hours a day glued to screens, going over the recommended screen time limit; 82% failed to meet the guidelines for daily physical activity; and 49% did not get the recommended hours of sleep. 
 
The researchers were able to prove that the more recommendations the child met, the better was their cognition. Furthermore, meeting only the screen time guideline or both, the screen time and sleep guidelines, had the strongest associations with cognitive development. The study conclusively showed that of the three guidelines, the screen time recommendation seemed to correlate most strongly with superior cognition: as long as children meet the screen time recommendation, they outscored others in global cognition tests. 
 
Although there is substantial evidence for the association between physical activity and cognitive development, in this particular study, there is no association with cognition. The authors have admitted this as surprising and have suggested that the measure used may not have been specific enough. They were clear that physical activity remains the most important behaviour for physical health outcomes and there is no clear indication that it negatively affects cognition. 
 
Dr Walsh said, “We found that more than two hours of recreational screen time in children was associated with poorer cognitive development. More research into the links between screen time and cognition is now needed, including studying the effect of different types of screen time, whether content is educational or entertainment, and whether it requires focus or involves multitasking. Based on our findings, paediatricians, parents, educators and policymakers should promote limiting recreational screen time and prioritising healthy sleep routines throughout childhood and adolescence.”
 
The authors have also pointed out some limitations in the study, namely, that it shows an association between reduced screen time and children’s cognitive skills, but does not effectively establish a causal link. As the study is strictly observational, it is not able to establish the underlying cause or the direction of the association. Furthermore, the data is also self-reported and could be subject to bias. The questionnaires were only used at the outset of the study and, hence, are not able to track behavioural change over time. The researchers agreed that future cycles of the study will need to be analysed to understand trends over time.
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Spinal Cord Stimulation Helps Paralysed Man Walk Again
A 29-year-old man had injured his spinal cord at the thoracic vertebrae in the middle of his back during a snowmobile accident in 2013. He has now regained his ability to stand and walk with assistance after spinal cord stimulation and physiotherapy. These results, published in Nature Medicine, were achieved in a research collaboration between Mayo Clinic and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
 
In 2016, the man participated in 22 weeks of physio-therapy and then had an electrode surgically implanted by Mayo Clinic’s neurosurgery team guided by Dr Kendall Lee, co-principal investigator, neurosurgeon and director of the Clinic’s neural engineering laboratories. This implant has been planted in the epidural space - the outermost part of the spinal canal—at a specific location below the injured area. The electrode connects to a pulse generator device under the skin of the man’s abdomen and communicates wirelessly through an external controller. Essentially, stimulation of the spinal cord by the implanted electrode enables neurons to receive the signal that he wants to stand or take a step.
 
When the implanted stimulator was turned on, the man was able to walk with a front-wheeled walker with trainers providing occasional assistance. Over the course of a year, he made 113 rehabilitation visits to Mayo Clinic and achieved several milestones during individual sessions when the researchers adjusted stimulation settings, trainer assistance, harness support and speed of the treadmill to allow him maximum independence. He walked for 16 minutes with assistance for about 102 metres which is about the length of a football field. As a safety precaution, the patient, currently, only takes steps under the supervision of the research team.
 
During the first week of his rehabilitation, the patient used a harness to lower his risk of falling and to provide upper body balance. While walking, trainers were positioned at his knees and hips to help him stand, swing his legs and shift his weight. As the patient had not regained sensation, he initially used mirrors to view his legs and trainers described leg position, movement and balance. With gradual progress, by week-25, he did not need a harness and trainers offered only occasional help. Substantial progress was made by the time the study period ended, when the patient had learned to use his entire body to transfer weight, maintain balance and propel forward, requiring minimal verbal cues and periodic glances at his legs. 
 
“What this is teaching us is that those networks of neurons below a spinal cord injury still can function after paralysis,” says Dr Lee. “Now I think the real challenge starts, and that’s understanding how this happened, why it happened, and which patients will respond,” added his colleague Dr Kristin Zhao, co-principal investigator and director of Mayo Clinic’s assistive and restorative technology laboratory.
 
The research successfully demonstrated that the patient was able to walk over ground using a front-wheeled walker and step on a treadmill placing his arms on support bars to help with balance. More importantly, with the stimulation off, he remained paralysed. 
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COMMENTS

Amith S

3 weeks ago

Wow, the movie "Upgrade" is based on something like this!

Ashok Kumar

3 weeks ago

Remarkable recovery.

SC lifts ban on Saridon, two other drugs for now
The Supreme court on Monday lifted a ban on the manufacture and sale of Piramal's painkiller Saridon and two other drugs - Piriton and Dart - for now.
 
These drugs were part of the 328 Fixed Dose Combination (FDC) drugs whose manufacture, distribution and sale was banned by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on September 12.
 
Lifting the ban till the case was disposed, a bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra sought the Centre's response to the pleas by affected pharmaceutical companies against the order to ban FDCs manufactured before 1988.
 
The bench is hearing cases on the validity of fixed-dose drug licences.
 
Questioning the ban, the companies had earlier said that the only reason given in the government's notification was that the combinations had "no therapeutic value".
 
The Centre's decision to ban 328 FDC drugs had brought around 6,000 medicines on the radar, including very commonly used ones.
 
The list of such drugs includes Piramal's painkiller Saridon, Macleods Pharma's Panderm Plus skin cream, Alkem Laboratories' antibacterial Taxim AZ and combination diabetes drug Gluconorm PG.
 
The ban order was, however, hailed by the All India Drug Action Network, which said that the government had taken the right decision as "banned drugs were indeed harmful and not prescribed in medicine textbooks".
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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