TED Talks is a phenomenon sweeping the nation. The acronym stands for technology, entertainment, and design. It began back in 1984 and today almost every topic has been covered by experts in various fields in these short lectures. The mission is to spread information and TED has been successful. Talk to just about anyone and they have likely been affected by a TED talk.
Plenty of health oriented TED talks are available to view online. We thought we would round up our favorites.
Because of the relevance to our own field of study, Krane’s discussion on the mystery of chronic pain is fascinating and hopeful. He discussed the way that pain, once it crosses the threshold of simply being a symptom, becomes its own disease. He describes how the nervous system works in healthy patients and how it malfunctions in chronic pain patients. He is hopeful for a future where new treatments will get to the heart of the problem and rather than treating the symptoms actually modify the neural pathways. He leaves us with the George Carlin quote, “My philosophy? No pain, no pain!”
In light of the recent internet uproar over The Dress, Balcitas’ discussion about how perception affects the way we interact with the world is absolutely fascinating. As each of us views the world through our own unique mind’s eye, our experiences are entirely subjective.
This is why exercise is actually harder for some people than others. People who are unmotivated actually view the task as much more difficult. They literally see a finish line as farther away. So she developed the “Eyes on the Prize” technique as something beyond a feel good slogan. It is an actual directive. When people shifted their focus they were 25% faster and experienced 17% exertion for the same task they found difficult before. This is proof that if we change the way we perceive things we can make real progress with the way we interact with the world.
English neurologist tackled the heavy subject of various untreatable and devastating neurological diseases. While he described the current situation and medical science’s inability to cure or reverse them he also offered hope for the future. This hope lies in stem cell research. He showed that with the right treatments the brain can actually spontaneously repair itself. In fact, by injecting stem cells into patients with these conditions the new stem cells don’t actually make the repairs themselves but they cause the body’s natural stem cells to wake up and work the way they were intended. This was his hope for the future of treating these neurological conditions.
We also love the inspirational story of this former Olympic hopeful. A freak accident on a bike during a training session left her body broken. Her back, her neck, her ribs, her arms; everything was shattered. There were multiple surgeries to put her back together but doctors warned her that life would never be the same. They were concerned about depression. She decided to take her life back and in the face of great adversity, as her body worked against her, she did the impossible. She wouldn’t ski again, but instead she learned to fly. She decided rather than asking “Why me?” she needed to ask herself, “Why not me?”
In this TED talk, Ornish describes the way a healthier lifestyle can influence our own genetic code. He suggested that people who eat healthier, manage stress, exercise, and love more not only regenerate lost brain cells but also grow new cells. Living healthier can make skin remain young and even reverse heart disease. A healthier life style actually turns on good genes and turns off bad genes. Now that people have more access to genetic information they have more options to do something about it.
If you want to feel the emotional pull on your heartstrings, this sad but beautiful TED talk will do just that. O’Riley, a critical care EMT, told stories to illustrate what happened when he stopped lying to dying patients and started telling them the honest answer. He was afraid that their last moments would be wrought with fear and anxiety but instead he found that they experienced peace and acceptance. There were three patterns to their experiences. First, they wanted forgiveness. Second, they wanted to be remembered. And third, they wanted to know that their life had meaning. This is a lesson for the living as well as the dying.
Since mindfulness and meditation is a common theme among our blog posts, we would be remiss not to include this TED talk in the list. Puddicombe describes how just ten minutes of mindful meditation a day can not only calm stress but can become a preventative measure for future stress. He warns us that though our mind allows us to do so many things we rarely take the time to care for it. We need meditation and mindfulness to recharge our mental batteries. Meditation gives us a different perception of our own thoughts and feelings and because of that we can change the way we experience our lives.
In this short but fascinating discussion Engelen, a healthcare innovator and technologist, offers the idea of crowdsourcing our health. He describes how he uses technology and social media to give himself motivation to stay healthier. He also demonstrates that by simply mapping the availability of life saving devices, such as defibrillators, more lives can be saved. He began the global initiative at www.aed4.us.
Author and humorist AJ Jacobs has written books about reading the entire encyclopedia to expand his knowledge. He also wrote about his journey fully exploring the religion of his ancestors. In another project, and the subject of this TED talk, he described how living for one full year as the healthiest person in the world nearly killed him. While he took health to an unhealthy extreme, he did learn several valuable lessons including the impact of noise on bodies and ensuring there is a sense of joy in life. You can read more about his journey in the book Drop Dead Healthy.
Lastly, we want to leave you with this fascinating TED talk about the impact of where you live on your health. In fact, knowing the geographic history could help doctors better treat their patients. Three categories that impact health are genetics, lifestyle, and environment. And while medical professional often focus heavily on the first two, the third is largely ignored. Simply asking about place history can impact the type of care an individual receives. It can also help people make healthier choices about where they choose to live and work. There are physicians currently being trained in geomedicine and Davenhall hopes this practice will grow and place history will be added to typical medical history questionnaires.
What is your favorite health-related TED talk?
Image by Steve Jurvetson via Flickr