Wobbly shoes may reduce the symptoms of incontinence.
The special shoes, with balls on the soles, make walking unstable and require extra effort from muscles to balance — this is said to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
U.S. researchers say the shoes could have the same effect as pelvic floor exercises, which have proven benefits for incontinence, and are testing the shoes in a study of more than 60 women.
Incontinence is thought to affect up to six million people in the UK, and is more common in women, as pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can weaken the muscles that control urination.
There are two main types: stress and urge incontinence. In stress incontinence, the pelvic floor muscles (the band of muscles that stretches under the pelvis and supports the bladder) are too weak to prevent urination, causing leaks when the bladder is under pressure — such as when coughing or laughing.
Incontinence (file pic) is thought to affect up to six million people in the UK, and is more common in women, as pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can weaken urination muscles
Meanwhile, urge incontinence is where urine leaks as a result of a sudden, intense need to go to the loo. This is caused by overactivity of the detrusor muscles, which control the bladder.
There is a range of treatments used for both conditions, such as cutting out caffeine (this irritates the bladder) and exercises and electrical stimulation to strengthen the pelvic muscles.
The problem is that patients often forget to do the exercises or find them difficult to master.
Surgery is also used in more severe cases, but this has risks and long-term complications.
The shoes, called AposTherapy, were originally developed as a treatment for arthritis. They have two large, semi-circular caps, like a cricket ball cut in half, on the heel and sole. Patients walk on these round surfaces, and studies have suggested they are effective — in a study published recently in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, arthritis patients who wore the shoes daily reported a 75 per cent reduction in pain, stiffness and movement problems after six months.
The idea in treating arthritis was that the shoes alter the way patients plant their feet on the floor, thereby taking the load away from worn-out or damaged areas of the joints and moving it to other, stronger joints.
The shoes also create instability underfoot, so leg muscles and tendons, which weaken with age and injury, are forced to readjust, strengthening them. Researchers leading the incontinence trials say these changes in movement will also strengthen pelvic floor muscles. ‘The [movements] cause changes in balance and gait that create dynamics similar to exercises which have shown benefit for incontinence,’ they said.
‘Instead of instructing patients to contract the lower trunk and pelvic floor muscles . . . the shoes help make this muscle contraction without the patient realising.’
In the trial at Montefiore Medical Center, New York, 64 women with stress incontinence will have six pelvic floor exercise sessions and training to complete at home. Half the group will also have five assessments using the shoes and will wear them while doing everyday activities at home. Effects on incontinence will be compared after six months.
The special shoes (not pictured), with balls on the soles, make walking unstable and require extra effort from muscles to balance — this is said to strengthen pelvic floor muscles
Commenting on the research, Raj Persad, a consultant urologist at North Bristol NHS Trust, said: ‘This seems ingenious. The issue with pelvic floor exercises is that a patient has to remember to do them. A tool such as this, which coincidentally exercises the pelvic floor, takes off that pressure.’
■ Meanwhile, jabs of stem cells may also treat incontinence. Doctors at Ain Shams University in Egypt are taking stem cells, which have the ability to transform into any cell, from the bone marrow of around 50 women and injecting them into muscles around their bladder.
The theory is that stem cells will strengthen the weakened or damaged sphincter muscle that’s responsible for urination.
Patients will receive either three stem cell injections or traditional surgical treatment, and the results will be compared.
Could too much light at night give you depression?
Being exposed to even dim light at night can increase the risk of depression by almost 90 per cent, say scientists.
Japanese researchers recruited 900 people who had no signs of depression and fixed light meters in their bedrooms to gauge their exposure over two nights. They then studied their mental health over two years. Those exposed to light were 89 per cent more likely to develop depression than those in total darkness, according to results in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
It’s thought light penetrates the eye and disrupts our built-in clock, which may affect mental health.
People with knee osteoarthritis who are confident about their ability to move are more active than their less confident peers. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University tested 135 patients with knee arthritis and found this true for all pain levels. Physical activity helps, as it can improve mobility and reduce pain.
On a diet? Chew gum to feel less hungry
Want to cut calories? Chew sugar-free gum. A U.S. study has found that it can both reduce calorie intake and curb hunger.
More than 30 adults with a healthy BMI were told to chew gum for an hour a day (in three sessions, including between breakfast and lunch) and were allowed access to an eat-as-much-as-you-like lunch. The next day, they were told not to chew gum.
The volunteers said they were hungrier and ate ‘significantly more’ at the lunch on the days when they didn’t have gum.
It’s believed that the act of chewing may send messages to the part of the brain connected with appetite. The researchers, writing in the journal Appetite, say gum may be ‘useful’ in controlling food intake for those with a high BMI.
A US study has found that chewing gum an both reduce calorie intake and curb hunger
Lung cell transplant to help tackle wheezing
Transplanted cells are being tested for breathing difficulties caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD is the umbrella term for a group of lung conditions, such as emphysema, which can cause wheezing and breathlessness, and for which there is no cure. Surgeons at Southern Medical University in China will take cells from the healthier upper airways of patients, grow them in a laboratory and implant them in the damaged areas of the lungs.
It is believed the transplanted cells will grow and replace damaged tissue.
Doctors will compare how much air 20 patients can expel before and up to six months after treatment.
Risks of alternative remedies for cancer
Cancer patients who choose alternative over conventional medicine are more than twice as likely to die of the disease
Cancer patients who choose alternative over conventional medicine are more than twice as likely to die of the disease.
That was the finding of researchers from the Yale School of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center who studied the outcomes of 840 patients with breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancer over nine years.
They found that the 280 people who chose alternative medicine were far more likely to have died in that time than the 560 who opted for chemotherapy, surgery or radiotherapy.
The researchers, writing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, urged for greater scrutiny of alternative medicine.
Some snorers are ten times more likely to develop glaucoma, which can lead to blindness. The condition occurs when fluid does not properly drain from the eye, damaging the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain.
Obstructive sleep apnoea, where the walls of the throat collapse, causing snoring, triggers a drop in oxygen in the blood, scientists from Hokkaido University in Japan found. This, in turn, may damage the optic nerve.
The discovery, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, could explain the link between obstructive sleep apnoea, heart attacks and strokes (where the heart or brain are deprived of oxygen due to a blockage).
The charity said: ‘In all three cases, there is a prolonged period of oxygen deprivation.’
Some snorers are ten times more likely to develop glaucoma, which can lead to blindness