Recent events such as the ten-year commemoration of September 11th just weeks ago, Hurricane Irene striking the east coast this past summer, three months of oil spills off of the Gulf Coast a year ago, and the tragic earthquakes that struck Chile and Haiti in early 2010, are constant reminders that tragedy and catastrophe can occur at any moment. But what kind of effects do these devastating disasters have on those involved and what can counselors and psychologists do to help them? A new issue of The Counseling Psychologist (published by SAGE) titled "Counseling Psychology and Large-Scale Disasters, Catastrophes, and Traumas: Opportunities for Growth, " discusses past efforts by mental health professionals in responding to international disasters, current research endeavors, and training and intervention programs that can be implemented at a global level in the future.
Researchers have developed a tank-like robot that has the ability to scale smooth walls, opening up a series of applications ranging from inspecting pipes, buildings, aircraft and nuclear power plants to deployment in search and rescue operations. Their study, published 1 November, in IOP Publishing's journal Smart Materials and Structures, is the first to apply this unique, bioinspired material to a robot that operates in a tank-like manner. This method offers an alternative to the magnets, suction cups, spines and claws that have all been presented as possible mechanisms, but seem to fall at the same hurdle - the ability to climb smooth surfaces such as glass or plastic. Drawing inspiration from the gecko, researchers have been able to create adhesives that carefully mimic the toe pads of the lizard that give it the amazing ability to climb smooth vertical surfaces and shuffle across ceilings.
Dr Susan A Bartels and Dr Michael J Van Rooyen's review published Online First in The Lancet details the devastating health effects of earthquakes and the challenges posed by these natural disasters. The authors, Dr Susan A Bartels at the Department of Emergency Medicine and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston and Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in Boston, MA and Dr Michael J Van Rooyen, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Boston, MA, USA state: "Because earthquakes frequently affect populous urban areas with poor structural standards, they often result in high death rates and mass casualties with many traumatic injuries. These injuries are highly mechanical and often multisystem, requiring intensive curative medical and surgical care at a time when the local and regional medical response capacities have been at least partly disrupted.
Researchers who spoke to nearly 2, 000 teenagers three months after an 8.0 earthquake found high level of post-traumatic stress disorder, especially among girls and senior students. The findings underline the need for young people to receive prompt psychological support after major disasters to avoid them developing long-term mental health problems. The study may be of particular interest to journalists doing follow-up pieces on the aftermath of the Turkish earthquake. Teenage survivors of a major earthquake experienced high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with girls and older students being the most severely affected, according to a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing. Researchers led by the West China School of Nursing and West China Hospital, Sichuan University, surveyed 1, 976 young people aged from 12 to 20 years of age three months after the Wenchuan earthquake, focusing on the five most severely damaged secondary schools.
In a summer with unprecedented weather events, from tornados, floods, fires and hurricanes, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing found that physiological changes associated with aging and the presence of chronic illness make older adults more susceptible to illness or injury, even death, during a disaster. Investigators followed 17 long-term care residents, with a mean age of 86, who were evacuated for five days due to a severe summer storm and were relocated to different facilities with different care providers and physical surroundings. The displaced participants experienced delirium, cognitive changes, hospitalizations, and death, according to research published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing. "Older adults often have visual and hearing deficits, making it more difficult to interpret their environments and precipitating increased stress, " said lead author Pamela Cacchione, PhD, APRN, GNP, BC.