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LIFELINE

Virtual reality to the rescue

People who suffer from chronic dizziness due to inner ear infections and migraine headaches found temporary relief after using a virtual reality-based therapy. The therapy involves strapping on a headset equipped with goggles and following computer-generated, slow-motion scenes with their eyes. When nine people played this "balancing game" for 30 minutes twice a day for five days, balance improved and dizziness subsided. Here's how the technology works: Moving computer images are first played slowly, to keep pace with the slowed-down inner-ear balance systems of people prone to dizziness.

"We then gradually speed up the scenes bit by bit to return the balance system to as close to normal as possible," explains researcher Dr. Erik Viirre, of the University of California School of Medicine in La Jolla.

Hope for the holidays

For those who have lost a loved one, the grieving process often is compounded by the emphasis that is placed upon tradition and family togetherness over the holidays - a time when grieving people are made more aware of their loss and the change in family structure. They feel out of sync with the world, a world that is currently happy with celebration.

The Community Grief Center of WNY at 2219 South Park Ave. has some tips to aid those who are grieving during the holiday season:

You're not going crazy, you're grieving. Learn all you can about the process.

Accept your pain. Lean into it. It's a natural part of the healing process.

Recognize and deal with your feelings. Talk about your grief.

Shop early, and take advantage of catalog shopping.

Plan ahead.

Be realistic. Don't place high expectations on yourself or others.

Be with supportive people.

Do only what's important to you and your immediate family.

Teach kids to wash hands

A new study shows that almost three-quarters of preschool children surveyed don't know they should wash their hands after using the bathroom.

With cold and flu season approaching, parents and caregivers need to be ever vigilant about hand washing. The makers of SoftSoap have created a Web site with free, downloadable posters, coloring pages and other activities aimed at teaching kids proper hand-washing techniques. Check out www.latherupforgoodhealth.com

Medical info under your skin

A small implanted microchip may one day hold the key to your vital medical information. Be it an emergency or a routine doctor's appointment, the VeriChip can be scanned, revealing an ID number that grants access to a secure online database of your medical data.

Several Florida residents already have the chip, which is inserted under the skin of the upper arm.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.

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