Each year, the British Medical Journal publishes a special Christmas issue featuring tongue-in-cheek articles and unusual, to say the least, research. Past research has looked at the survival time of chocolate on hospital wards, whether people with the surname 'Brady' are more likely to suffer from bradycardia (they are!) and gender differences in idiotic behaviour. Let's take a look at the 2015 edition.
First up is 'Blood curdling movies and measures of coagulation: Fear factor crossover trial' which looks into whether blood truly curdles as a result of acute fear. Participants in the study first watched horror movie and then an educational movie and blood coagulant measures were taken, It was found that blood coagulant V111 increased in 57% of participants but only 14% during the educational movie. The authors advise as a result that ' a truly relaxing and merry Christmas , without exposure to frightening situations, seems to be advisable to prevent venous thrombosis'!
"Gunslinger's Gait": a new cause of unilaterally reduced arm swing' analyses the gait of high ranked Russian officials and found that President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and three other officials all walked with a consistently reduced right arm swing. The article traced the origins of this gait to Russian military training as well as to the 'imitating the boss' phenomenon. The authors conclude that neurologists should include 'gunsliger's gait' in their differential diagnosis of an asymmetrically reduced arm swing...
The threat caused by zombies isn't overlooked by the BMJ; in her paper 'Zombie infections: epidemiology, treatment and prevention', Tara C Smith calls for research and funding to prevent a zombie apocalypse. Smith notes that zombie outbreaks are 'expensive, difficult to control and have deleterious effects on the quality of life' but that despite this 'most countries remain grossly unprepared' for such an eventuality. Smith also looks at the ethical considerations which would be faced in the event of an outbreak, for example is mass quarantine of those infected by the zombie pathogen desirable or even achievable? Issues such as these really put the current healthcare difficulties in this country into perspective..
You can access the BMJ through the RCSI e-journal portal at www.rcsi.ie/library (RCSI staff and students only).
Happy Christmas from all of us here at RCSI Library and watch out for those Zombies!