Categories
Engineering Research

Nature and Nurturance Across The Ages

Modest means for modern times

Access to leisure and wellbeing can be difficult to arrive at due to constraints in health, income, location and time. With shifting demographics (inversion of the aging pyramid) and increasing urbanization there is an increasingly urgent need to improve access to leisure activities, particularly for those living in crowded cities or who have limited mobility.

We propose the use of 3D capture of majestic nature scenes and their display in a therapeutic context, as an affordable way to enhance well-being and to provide care to those lacking adequate access to leisure and wellbeing. Our approach to the application of VR-based nature therapy involves immersive media interfaces employing either contemplative (mindfulness-based stress reduction – MBSR) or active (mind/body based behavioural activation) approaches, both using environmental cues salient to end-users and developed within an inclusive design paradigm. The end goal is to employ immersive virtual reality and suitably designed human-machine interfaces to allow individuals of varying ages, means and abilities to continue to enjoy an optimal level of presence and engagement in the real world to preserve quality (and perhaps quantity) of life.

Categories
Cannabinoid Research

Cannabis and Sleep Disorders

A retrospective longitudinal study of global wellbeing in a cohort of Canadian medical cannabis patients with sleep disorders

There continues to be active interest in the many clinical facets of cannabinoids. While the specific impact of cannabis on sleep and wakefulness remains in debate, it is quite common that patients seeking cannabis authorization will highlight disturbances in sleep as a primary clinical feature to be medically targeted.

Categories
Cannabinoid Research

Mature Adult Use of Cannabis for Health and Wellbeing

The mid- to late-life ages may not be the dark ages

Canada’s federally regulated cannabis medicine access program has now existed for almost 20 years, and continues to evolve, including recent wide-scale national legalization for recreational as well as medical purposes (Gov’t of Canada, 2018). Individuals approaching the “golden years” often lack knowledge and experience vis-à-vis optimal medical employment of cannabis, possibly due by its lack of status as a conventional prescription drug. The burden of illness, however, grows incrementally in the latter years of life, and patient demand is now increasing for cannabis in conventional health-care in mature adults. With a rapidly aging population in the developed world, the socioeconomic and ethical burden of health-care costs must be seriously considered; as natural cannabis products are generally not yet available within institutional or hospital setting, a public policy priority therefore ought to be to maintain a population into the later life phases with a reasonable degree of mental and physical fitness, and ideally living productive and content lives. (Vaillant & Mukamal, Am. J. Psychiatry, 2001, 158(6): 839-847). We focus here on a prototypical cohort of Canadian mature adults (>50), through the lens of community-based public health.

Categories
Engineering Research

Virtual Reality: Finding Yourself in Natural Environments

Therapeutic virtual reality (VR) offers the potential to deliver a safe, reliable and protocol-driven analogue of Mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) making few demands of the patient/participant. This project conceptually builds upon established evidence that engagement with geophysically real naturescape environments (e.g. majestic mountains or seasides) confers physical and mental wellbeing for participants (e.g., the elderly, especially if frail/disabled) in addition to the fact that many dwellers of urban environments have limited capacity to physically journey to such destinations due to constraints of time, opportunity, ability and financial means.

Categories
Engineering Research

Towards Transformative VR Meditation

Synthesizing Nirvana, naturally

Therapeutic VR offers the ability to deliver a safe, reliable and protocol-driven analogue of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR). When conducted according to inclusive design principles that heed aesthetic principles while being mindful of the psychophysics of perception, it may well be possible to offer a transformative rehabilitative experience that makes few demands of the patient/participant beyond an invitation to feel grounded in an immersive state of Being and Time. Working primarily with 3D imagery “naturally” captured employing a 7-camera GoPro rig we have constructed a naturescape of the northern Alpine region in a 3-year project entitled “Windows to the World”, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), with anticipated completion in the coming calendar year. This apparatus has been augmented with the composition and production of 3-D spatialized audio intended to evoke feeling-states of calmness, equanimity and a profound sense of wellbeing, for example, analogous to enjoying a relaxing sunset or sunrise while on a vacation. To this end, it may well be possible that such meditative experiences could confer powerful transformative experiences of wellbeing and leisure.

Categories
Cannabinoid Research

Cannabidiol Flower & Anxiety

Pilot data from a prospective observational naturalistic study of cannabidiol-rich dried flower in the treatment/reduction of anxiety

We report on a current prospective naturalistic observational pilot study following patients (n=27, M:80.7%,F:19.3%) reporting medical complaints of anxiety/stress. In this study we focus on CBD rich chemovars (6.44%THC: 9%CBD, 9.22%THC:14.15%CBD, 3.31%THC:11.24%CBD) where patients self-titrate and report weekly answering the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Global Quality of Life Scale (GQLS) over a repeated measures design.

Categories
Cannabinoid Research

Cannabidiol Oil & Anxiety

Pilot data from a prospective observational naturalistic study of cannabidiol oil in the treatment of anxiety

The current report follows up on our group’s prior research regarding the therapeutic value of cannabinoid medicines in non-psychotic mental health conditions (Moller, 2017). In the present naturalistic observational pilot study, we focus more specifically on the intervention of cannabidiol oil (10%CBD/0%THC, titrating from a dosage 0.25 bid. to 1ml bid over the first four weeks) in the treatment of anxiety disorder, employing the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Global Quality of Life Scale (GQLS) over a prospective repeated measures design.

Categories
Cannabinoid Research

Standards of Care & Clinical Outcomes

Emerging data from a naturalistic sample of the Canadian national cannabis program

Canada’s federally regulated legal access program for cannabis medicines has now existed for over 15 years, and remains in constant legislative evolution (Gov’t of Canada, 2001, 2014, 2016). Available cannabis products via Health Canada (HC) include dried cannabis flora, and orally ingested cannabis oils or capsules. Federal courts have also provided allowances for Canadians with serious medical conditions to cultivate their own cannabis. We report on a consecutive data set of 150 patients assessed for cannabis access to treat two broad categories of medical indications: Pain (N=96, M=80.2%, F=19.8%, µage =42.2) and affective (i.e. mood/anxiety) disorders, (N=54, M=79.6%, F=20.4%, µage= 37.6).

Categories
Cannabinoid Research

Medical Cannabis for Anxiety and Depression

Early longitudinal clinical data

While an emerging evidence-based literature suggests that cannabinoid medicines shows promise as a therapeutic agent in mood and anxiety disorders, robust data continue to be needed, both to characterize relevant symptomatic changes and chemo-variants, allowing for optimized and personalized treatment. We have previously reported on an emerging database recorded by our clinic group since the inception of Canada’s expanded medical cannabis program, (MMPR, Gov of Canada 2013, Saynor et al, 2016).

Our methodology employs a standardized electronic questionnaire and data visualization instrument providing standardized severity self-ratings (5-point Likert Scale) of key common symptoms of Pain, Sleep Quality, Mood, Relaxation and Stress Perception, and overall Composite Wellness Score (CWS, range of 5-25).

Categories
Engineering Research

Thinking Mountains, Shrinking Mountains

Engineering the human-environment interface for wellbeing

While academic study of mountain environments may not be a component of most medical textbooks, the emergence of holistic health models is highlighting the value of mountain environments in healing and personal transformation. On this poster, we outline the historical and cultural legacy and phenomenology of the mountain sanatorium health retreat (MSHR) in the context of individual and public health.

We position our research within current conventional medical models and the emerging applied medical sciences of Recreation and Leisure Studies (RLS), alongside Mechanical Industrial Engineering (MIE), focusing on Immersive media technologies, also commonly referred to as Virtual Reality Environments (VRE), to recreate leisure and wellbeing experiences.