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1.
Curr Opin Neurobiol ; 73: 102527, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1803817

ABSTRACT

Social touch-the affiliative skin-to-skin contact between individuals-can rapidly evoke emotions of comfort, pleasure, or calm, and is essential for mental and physical well-being. Physical isolation from social support can be devastating. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we observed a global increase in suicidal ideation, anxiety, domestic violence, and worsening of pre-existing physical conditions, alerting society to our need to understand the neurobiology of social touch and how it promotes normal health. Gaining a mechanistic understanding of how sensory neuron stimulation induces pleasure, calm, and analgesia may reveal untapped therapeutic targets in the periphery for treatment of anxiety and depression, as well as social disorders and traumas in which social touch becomes aversive. Bridging the gap between stimulation in the skin and positive affect in the brain-especially during naturally occurring social touch behaviors-remains a challenge to the field. However, with advances in mouse genetics, behavioral quantification, and brain imaging approaches to measure neuronal firing and neurochemical release, completing this mechanistic picture may be on the horizon. Here, we summarize some exciting new findings about social touch in mammals, emphasizing both the peripheral and central nervous systems, with attempts to bridge the gap between external stimulation and internal representations in the brain.


Subject(s)
Brain , Pleasure , Social Behavior , Touch , Animals , Brain/physiology , Humans , Mice , Touch/physiology
2.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(7)2022 03 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1771196

ABSTRACT

To tackle the spread of COVID-19 globally, countries around the world have responded by implementing measures such as lockdowns, social distance maintenance, temporary school closures, and remote working and learning. COVID-19 social isolation has been found to increase stress, and potentially have long term harmful effects on both mental and physical health. Stress and compromised parenting often place children at risk of violence and abuse. In parallel, times of hardship might also provide an opportunity to build stronger relationships with our children. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) joined many other agencies and international organizations in recognizing the threat the pandemic might have on individual and family wellbeing, and has thus availed a number of light-touch parenting resources. One such tool is the 'Caring for your child in response to the COVID-19 lockdown' booklet, developed to enhance parenting skills, and to build family harmony as challenged by the COVID-19 context. This short communication reflects on a feasibility study that took place in Indonesia during the implementation of this booklet with 30 parents in five cities. Thematic analysis identified challenges in parenting during COVID-19, as well as reported positive experiences of engaging in the parenting resource. The findings are discussed with regard to the usefulness of light-touch parenting information, adding to the context of the feasibility and global scalability of reaching families. The implications pave the way to the engagement and implication of more intensive parenting information interventions in high-stress contexts. Despite the challenge, there is promising news for families globally, as agencies and policy-makers begin to recognize the importance of supporting families with the appropriate skills to navigate extreme stress contexts with effective strategies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Parenting , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Indonesia/epidemiology , Touch
3.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 5561, 2022 04 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1768859

ABSTRACT

This study aimed to determine the longitudinal efficacy of ultraviolet germicidal disinfection (UV-C) in a non-terminal disinfection context. Moreover, factors influencing enhanced infection prevention behaviors during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic were evaluated. Sixty nursing staff from three medical/surgical wards in a large military hospital were recruited for a survey and microbiological sampling of high-touch surfaces (stethoscope, personal electronic device, common access card, and hospital ID badge) and portable medical equipment (wheelchairs and mobile commodes). Surveys included hand hygiene estimates, frequency/method of cleaning items of interest, perception of UV-C, and factors influencing the use of enhanced disinfection tools. Surveys and microbiological samples were performed prior to and after the installation of a rapid, automated ultraviolet disinfection enclosure for staff use. Both time points preceded the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in the United States. A final survey/sampling time point was carried out eight months after the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants' hand hygiene frequency did not increase throughout the study, with > 80% reporting a minimum of 4 hand hygiene events per patient hour. The cleaning frequency of high-touch surfaces (non-clinical) but not portable medical equipment increased after installation of a UV-C disinfection tool and was sustained eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic. While a modest decrease in bacterial burden was observed after UV-C intervention, a more significant reduction was observed across all surfaces during pandemic time sampling, though no detectable decrease in pathogenic contamination was observed at either time point. Motivators of UV-C use included fear of SARS-CoV-2 contamination and transmission, ease of device use, and access to rapid, automated disinfection tools while deterrents reported included technical concerns, lack of time, and preference for other disinfection methods. Automated, rapid-cycle UV-C disinfection can be efficacious for high-touch surfaces not currently governed by infection prevention and control guidelines. The introduction of enhanced disinfection tools like UV-C can enhance the overall cleaning frequency and is correlated with mild decreases in bacterial burden of high-touch surfaces, this is enhanced during periods of heightened infection threat. Evidence from this study offers insights into the factors which prompt healthcare workers to internalize/dismiss enhanced infection prevention procedures.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2 , Touch , Ultraviolet Rays , United States , Xenon
4.
STAR Protoc ; 3(2): 101188, 2022 06 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1747493

ABSTRACT

Transmission via fomites poses a major dissemination route for many human pathogens, particularly because of transfer via fingertips. Here, we present a protocol to investigate direct transfer of infectious agents from fomites to humans via naked fingertips. The protocol is suitable for pathogens requiring highest biosafety levels (e.g., SARS-CoV-2). We used an artificial skin to touch a defined volume of virus suspension and subsequent quantification of infectious entities allows quantitative measurement of transfer efficiency and risk assessment. For complete information on the generation and use of this manuscript, please refer to Todt et al. (2021).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Viruses , Fomites , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Touch
5.
BMJ Open ; 12(3): e050288, 2022 03 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1745696

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to elicit the views of relevant stakeholders on the design of a device using simulated affective touch to reduce procedural anxiety surrounding radiotherapy and imaging. DESIGN: This qualitative study collected data from focus groups which were then analysed using inductive thematic analysis in line with Braun and Clarke's methods. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: Twenty patients and carers were recruited, as well as 10 healthcare practitioners involved in either delivering radiotherapy or imaging procedures. RESULTS: Patients, carers and healthcare practitioners agreed on some aspects of the device design, such as ensuring the device is warm and flexible in where it can be used on the body. However, patient and healthcare practitioner cohorts had at times differing viewpoints. For example, healthcare practitioners provided professional perspectives and required easy cleaning of the device. Meanwhile patients focused on anxiety-relieving factors, such as the tactile sensation of the device being either a vibration or pulsation. There was no consensus on who should control the device. CONCLUSIONS: The desired features of a simulated affective touch device have been investigated. Different priorities of patients and their carers and healthcare practitioners were evident. Any design must incorporate such features as to appease both groups. Areas where no consensus was reached could be further explored, alongside including further patient and public involvement in the form of a project advisory group.


Subject(s)
Caregivers , Touch , Anxiety/prevention & control , Diagnostic Imaging/psychology , Focus Groups , Humans , Qualitative Research , Radiotherapy/psychology
6.
Stress ; 25(1): 134-144, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1728770

ABSTRACT

The importance of social interactions has been reported in a variety of animal species. In human and rodent models, social isolation is known to alter social behaviors and change anxiety or depression levels. During the coronavirus pandemic, although people could communicate with each other through other sensory cues, social touch was mostly prohibited under different levels of physical distancing policies. These social restrictions inspired us to explore the necessity of physical contact, which has rarely been investigated in previous studies on mouse social interactions. We first conducted a long-term observation to show that pair-housed mice in a standard laboratory cage spent nearly half the day in direct physical contact with each other. Furthermore, we designed a split-housing condition to demonstrate that even with free access to visual, auditory, and olfactory social signals, the lack of social touch significantly increased anxiety-like behaviors and changed social behaviors. There were correspondingly higher levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 in the hippocampus in mice with no access to physical contact. Our study demonstrated the necessity of social touch for the maintenance of mental health in mice and could have important implications for human social interactions.


Subject(s)
Housing, Animal , Touch , Animals , Anxiety/psychology , Behavior, Animal , Male , Mice , Social Behavior , Social Isolation/psychology , Stress, Psychological
7.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 3206, 2022 02 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1713209

ABSTRACT

Understanding speech in background noise is challenging. Wearing face-masks, imposed by the COVID19-pandemics, makes it even harder. We developed a multi-sensory setup, including a sensory substitution device (SSD) that can deliver speech simultaneously through audition and as vibrations on the fingertips. The vibrations correspond to low frequencies extracted from the speech input. We trained two groups of non-native English speakers in understanding distorted speech in noise. After a short session (30-45 min) of repeating sentences, with or without concurrent matching vibrations, we showed comparable mean group improvement of 14-16 dB in Speech Reception Threshold (SRT) in two test conditions, i.e., when the participants were asked to repeat sentences only from hearing and also when matching vibrations on fingertips were present. This is a very strong effect, if one considers that a 10 dB difference corresponds to doubling of the perceived loudness. The number of sentence repetitions needed for both types of training to complete the task was comparable. Meanwhile, the mean group SNR for the audio-tactile training (14.7 ± 8.7) was significantly lower (harder) than for the auditory training (23.9 ± 11.8), which indicates a potential facilitating effect of the added vibrations. In addition, both before and after training most of the participants (70-80%) showed better performance (by mean 4-6 dB) in speech-in-noise understanding when the audio sentences were accompanied with matching vibrations. This is the same magnitude of multisensory benefit that we reported, with no training at all, in our previous study using the same experimental procedures. After training, performance in this test condition was also best in both groups (SRT ~ 2 dB). The least significant effect of both training types was found in the third test condition, i.e. when participants were repeating sentences accompanied with non-matching tactile vibrations and the performance in this condition was also poorest after training. The results indicate that both types of training may remove some level of difficulty in sound perception, which might enable a more proper use of speech inputs delivered via vibrotactile stimulation. We discuss the implications of these novel findings with respect to basic science. In particular, we show that even in adulthood, i.e. long after the classical "critical periods" of development have passed, a new pairing between a certain computation (here, speech processing) and an atypical sensory modality (here, touch) can be established and trained, and that this process can be rapid and intuitive. We further present possible applications of our training program and the SSD for auditory rehabilitation in patients with hearing (and sight) deficits, as well as healthy individuals in suboptimal acoustic situations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Speech Perception , Adult , Humans , Noise , Speech , Speech Perception/physiology , Touch
8.
Sensors (Basel) ; 22(4)2022 Feb 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1680084

ABSTRACT

In the early 2020s, the coronavirus pandemic brought the notion of remotely connected care to the general population across the globe. Oftentimes, the timely provisioning of access to and the implementation of affordable care are drivers behind tele-healthcare initiatives. Tele-healthcare has already garnered significant momentum in research and implementations in the years preceding the worldwide challenge of 2020, supported by the emerging capabilities of communication networks. The Tactile Internet (TI) with human-in-the-loop is one of those developments, leading to the democratization of skills and expertise that will significantly impact the long-term developments of the provisioning of care. However, significant challenges remain that require today's communication networks to adapt to support the ultra-low latency required. The resulting latency challenge necessitates trans-disciplinary research efforts combining psychophysiological as well as technological solutions to achieve one millisecond and below round-trip times. The objective of this paper is to provide an overview of the benefits enabled by solving this network latency reduction challenge by employing state-of-the-art Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) devices in a testbed, realizing the service differentiation required for the multi-modal human-machine interface. With completely new types of services and use cases resulting from the TI, we describe the potential impacts on remote surgery and remote rehabilitation as examples, with a focus on the future of tele-healthcare in rural settings.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections , Telemedicine , Delivery of Health Care , Humans , Internet , Pandemics , Telemedicine/methods , Touch
9.
Int J Mol Sci ; 23(3)2022 Jan 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1650511

ABSTRACT

International interest in metal-based antimicrobial coatings to control the spread of bacteria, fungi, and viruses via high contact human touch surfaces are growing at an exponential rate. This interest recently reached an all-time high with the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 disease, which has already claimed the lives of more than 5 million people worldwide. This global pandemic has highlighted the major role that antimicrobial coatings can play in controlling the spread of deadly viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and scientists and engineers are now working harder than ever to develop the next generation of antimicrobial materials. This article begins with a review of three discrete microorganism-killing phenomena of contact-killing surfaces, nanoprotrusions, and superhydrophobic surfaces. The antimicrobial properties of metals such as copper (Cu), silver (Ag), and zinc (Zn) are reviewed along with the effects of combining them with titanium dioxide (TiO2) to create a binary or ternary contact-killing surface coatings. The self-cleaning and bacterial resistance of purely structural superhydrophobic surfaces and the potential of physical surface nanoprotrusions to damage microbial cells are then considered. The article then gives a detailed discussion on recent advances in attempting to combine these individual phenomena to create super-antimicrobial metal-based coatings with binary or ternary killing potential against a broad range of microorganisms, including SARS-CoV-2, for high-touch surface applications such as hand rails, door plates, and water fittings on public transport and in healthcare, care home and leisure settings as well as personal protective equipment commonly used in hospitals and in the current COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
Anti-Infective Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Coated Materials, Biocompatible/pharmacology , Metals/chemistry , Touch , Animals , Anti-Infective Agents/chemical synthesis , Anti-Infective Agents/chemistry , COVID-19/transmission , Coated Materials, Biocompatible/chemical synthesis , Coated Materials, Biocompatible/chemistry , Humans , Pandemics , Personal Protective Equipment/microbiology , Personal Protective Equipment/virology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Surface Properties , Viruses/drug effects
10.
Evol Psychol ; 19(4): 14747049211056159, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1556191

ABSTRACT

The threat of diseases varies considerably among individuals, and it has been found to be linked to various proactive or reactive behaviors. In the present studies, we investigated the impact of individual differences in the perceived vulnerability to disease (PVD) on social touch before (Study 1) or during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic (Study 2). We also investigated the influence of personality traits in the covariation between these two dimensions. We found that people who are the most disease-avoidant are also the most reluctant to touching or being touched by others (and this relationship holds when personality traits are taken into account). Interestingly, the association between PVD and social touch increased during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with a few months before. By showing that the fear of contamination has an association with social touch, the findings provide further evidence for the behavioral immune system ( Schaller and Park, 2011), a psychological system acting as a first line of defense against pathogens.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Humans , Individuality , SARS-CoV-2 , Touch
11.
Lett Appl Microbiol ; 74(3): 405-410, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1550843

ABSTRACT

Although SARS-CoV-2 is primarily an airborne risk, the COVID-19 pandemic also highlighted the need for self-disinfection surfaces that could withstand the demand of high occupant densities characteristic of public transportation systems. The aim of this study was to evaluate the durability and antiviral activity of a copper film deployed for 90 days in two high touch locations within an active metropolitan bus and railcar. The antiviral efficacy of this copper film after being deployed in transit vehicles for 90 days (deployed copper film) was then compared to new (unused) copper film to determine if frequent touches and cleaning protocols could decrease the efficacy of the copper films. Deployed copper film, new copper film, and aluminium foil (positive control) coupons were inoculated with ~1 × 106 MS2 virus particles, allowed a contact time of either 5- or 10-min, and analysed for residual viral infectiousness. On both new and deployed copper films, MS2 was completely inactivated (≥5 log reduction) at both time points. These results suggest that the copper film may provide the durability demanded by high touch public spaces while maintaining the antiviral activity necessary to reduce exposure risk and viral transmission via surfaces in public transportation settings.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Levivirus , Copper/pharmacology , Disinfection , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Touch
12.
Environ Microbiol ; 23(12): 7382-7395, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1550776

ABSTRACT

Although SARS-CoV-2 surface contamination has been investigated in health care settings, little is known about the SARS-CoV-2 surface contamination in public urban areas, particularly in tropical countries. Here, we investigated the presence of SARS-CoV-2 on high-touch surfaces in a large city in Brazil, one of the most affected countries by the COVID-19 pandemic in the world. A total of 400 surface samples were collected in February 2021 in the City of Recife, Northeastern Brazil. A total of 97 samples (24.2%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-qPCR using the CDC-USA protocol. All the collection sites, except one (18/19, 94.7%) had at least one environmental surface sample contaminated. SARS-CoV-2 positivity was higher in public transport terminals (47/84, 55.9%), followed by health care units (26/84, 30.9%), beach areas (4/21, 19.0%), public parks (14/105, 13.3%), supply centre (2/21, 9.5%), and public markets (4/85, 4.7%). Toilets, ATMs, handrails, playgrounds and outdoor gyms were identified as fomites with the highest rates of SARS-CoV-2 detection. Taken together, our data provide a real-world picture of SARS-CoV-2 dispersion in highly populated tropical areas and identify critical control points that need to be targeted to break SARS-CoV-2 transmission chains.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Brazil , Humans , Pandemics , RNA, Viral , SARS-CoV-2 , Touch
13.
Am Psychol ; 77(1): 124-134, 2022 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1527976

ABSTRACT

The recent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to "social distancing" recommendations from public health organizations, as physical closeness bears the risk of person-to-person Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission. Here, it was explored if interpersonal distance preferences and touch behaviors in 41 countries were valid measures of physical distancing in contacts between strangers and whether they related to country-level variation in early dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 spread. The analysis, based on aggregated data from more than 9,000 participants, showed that variation in early dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 spread (i.e., total number of SARS-CoV-2 cases 20 days after the 100th case) was significantly and positively related to nonaffective touch behaviors between strangers, and significantly and negatively related to the preferred interpersonal distance between strangers. These findings suggest that the two measures are suitable for monitoring the extent to which recommendations on physical distance are implemented at the country-level in the context of COVID 19 outbreak. Further, they confirm that "physical distancing" is related to the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems that an adaptation of social behaviors-that is, strict physical distancing from strangers-may result in a lower SARS-CoV-2 transmission rate. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Public Health , Touch
14.
Br J Gen Pract ; 71(712): 520-521, 2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1497381
16.
IEEE J Transl Eng Health Med ; 9: 4900711, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1411484

ABSTRACT

Viral and bacterial pathogens can be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated surfaces. Efficient decontamination of contaminated surfaces could lead to decreased disease transmission, if optimized methods for detecting contaminated surfaces can be developed. Here we describe such a method whereby thermal tracking technology is utilized to detect thermal signatures incurred by surfaces through direct contact. This is applicable in public places to assist with targeted sanitation and cleaning efforts to potentially reduce chance of disease transmission. In this study, we refer to the touched region of the surface as a "touch-point" and examine how the touch-point regions can be automatically localized with a computer vision pipeline of a thermal image sequence. The pipeline mainly comprises two components: a single-frame and a multi-frame analysis. The single-frame analysis consists of a Background subtraction method for image pre-processing and a U-net deep learning model for segmenting the touch-point regions. The multi-frame analysis performs a summation of the outputs from the single-frame analysis and creates a cumulative map of touch-points. Results show that the touch-point detection pipeline can achieve 75.0% precision and 81.5% F1-score for the testing experiments of predicting the touch-point regions. This preliminary study shows potential applications of preventing indirect pathogen spread in public spaces and improving the efficiency of cleaning sanitation.


Subject(s)
Touch Perception , Viruses , Image Processing, Computer-Assisted , Sanitation , Touch
17.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(17)2021 08 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1403579

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of using a combination of stretching and Brain Gym®(BG) + Touch for Health (TfH) movements to reduce fatigue and musculoskeletal complaints (MSCs) in garment-sewing operators. A quasi-experimental study was performed on 53 respondents with two sessions of stretching movements and BG + TfH movements of 5 min duration, three times a week for four weeks. Fatigue was measured using a reaction timer and MSCs were measured using a Nordic Body Map questionnaire. Wilcoxon and Mann-Whitney U tests were performed to examine the differences of pre/post and between the intervention group (IG) and control group (CG). A significant difference was found in IG for pre- and post-fatigue (p < 0.001) and MSCs (p < 0.001), while in CG there was no difference in fatigue (p = 0.200) and MSCs (p = 0.086). Significant differences were found between the IG and CG groups in terms of fatigue (p = 0.046), as well as in MSCs (p < 0.001). A significant decrease in MSCs per part body in IG was found on the left wrist, left hand, and left knee. The percentage of MSC severity decreased in all parts of the body, except the right shoulder, left elbow, and right thigh.


Subject(s)
Occupational Diseases , Brain , Clothing , Exercise , Fatigue/prevention & control , Humans , Touch
20.
J Gen Intern Med ; 36(9): 2849-2850, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1377620

Subject(s)
Touch , Humans
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