The light in me honors the light in you.
Welcome to my blog
INTERMITTENT GLIMPSES INTO MY MIND
What is EPIGENETIC DESIGN …and WHY does it Matter?
DIGGING up DIRT …on DIRT !
Posted by Deborah Burnett, ASID CMG
It seems that everyone in the healthcare industry has a basic understanding of the aesthetic role that garden filled atriums and well placed live greenery in the healing environment provide, but have you ever really considered how these areas go about doing all the great things we naturally associate with these interventions? And more importantly, how and WHY does the human body and brain utilize these areas in the actual healing process? After all, what is so special about dirt filled areas anyway? Well it turns out that the answer is more than you think, as evidenced by two recent investigations into that dark, loamy, natural stuff that everyone loves to hate. It seems that researchers in London have uncovered the health enhancing benefits of friendly microbes hidden within common garden soil, and with this discovery, could come a greater emphasis on incorporating dirt -rich environments in the healthcare setting. Their landmark study has shown that lung cancer patients coming in contact with the soil- borne ‘Mycobacterium’ have reported an increase in their overall mood and quality of life, two necessary ingredients in any recovering process. Additionally the researchers suspect that the dirt loving bacteria play an indirect role in health promoting neurophysiology by stimulating specific nerve cells that release serotonin in the prefrontal cortex, an area known to be involved with mood. And if that is not enough TMI on dirt, consider this; given the high use of necessary toxic chemicals and metal compounds used throughout the healthcare setting, what would you think if dirt could actually help dissipate or totally eliminate any air borne traces of these toxins? Well thanks to researchers in Ohio, we now have yet another reason to incorporate indoor natural garden areas within the healthcare setting, because they found that the common soil bacteria, Shewanella, has been shown to actively transform and render harmless air borne toxic metals by seeking out and ‘inhaling ’ this nasty stuff thus converting then to a benign byproduct of plant respiration; AKA oxygen. gheeee …and you thought dirt was ‘plain dirty’ in the healthcare setting
Lowry CA, et al. Identification of an immune-responsive mesolimbocortical serotonergic system: Potential role in regulation of emotional behavior. Neuroscience. 2007; 146(2):756-772. Doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience. 2007.01.067.
Lower BH, et al. Specific Bonds between an Iron Oxide Surface and Outer Membrane Cytochromes MtrC and OmcA from Shewanella oneidensis MR-1Journal of Bacteriology, July 2007, p. 4944-4952, Vol. 189, No. 13 0021-9193/07/$08.00+0 doi:10.1128/JB.01518-06
posted by Deborah Burnett ASID CMG
“OMG…another painful procedure without relief!” Unfortunately, those words are heard all too often as patients go about the painful process of healing in today’s modern hospitals.
However a simple design related intervention can make all of the difference to millions of patients each year by significantly reducing the need for pain meds for those patients undergoing routine invasive procedures, as well as lowering sedation meds for those patients about to undergo surgery. And for psychiatric patients, whose mental anguish can be just as painful as a physical procedure, this one simple design related intervention can actually relax patients to the point that 87% of the 6000 patients enrolled in a recent Danish study DIDN’T EVEN REQUIRE MEDS to calm down and sleep pain free. So why are YOU not familiar with this simple, evidence based design intervention for patient and procedural rooms? If the phrase ‘It’s not my job’ is your answer, I’d like for you to remember another phrase “ Ignorance is not a defense” as this could very well apply to the professional designer as the evidence in support of this pain reduction modality is growing. And with recent articles in main stream media and professional journals it may soon be the norm to routinely include this evidence based design related intervention in every healthcare facility, if not only to reduce the long term costs of the pain meds themselves! Puzzled? Never heard of this miracle design intervention for reducing pain meds, lowering blood pressure and mitigating pain and suffering? Could it be a new technological paint or wall covering? Or how about a high tech floor covering that not only kills bacteria but effectively stops patient’s pain in its tracks? NOPE, nothing as advanced nor SCIFI as that, but rather an elegantly simple, low tech ambient design feature that’s as ancient and human-centered as time itself- MUSIC. And guess whose job it will be to design and plan for the necessary wiring, speakers, acoustics and selection devices that every treatment room, patient room and surgical suite will require in order to effectively transmit vibratory sound and audible music as a modality for pain mitigation and relief? …… YOU guessed it!
A Healthy Dose of COLOR
SLEEP...the new frontier
BRING on the NIGHT! - a need for darknessposted by Deborah Burnett, ASID CMG
Yes!... I’m finally beginning to feel like my old self! It’s been rough since the Spring Equinox and the roll back to Daylight Savings time, but my biological clock is finally entraining to longer days and shorter nights…. and I’m not alone. For the two week period following the transition to Daylight Savings Time, recent studies have also shown an increase in cardiac admissions and a rise in traffic accidents to also occur. ( Kantermann, T. et al 2007)
Sure, blame it on the loss of an hour’s sleep, but my spin is that we humans are also keying in on the unusual equality between light and dark during the celestial Spring Equinox thus bringing about the fractured sleep, daytime fatigue and an unsettling feeling of unease so many experience. So when a few hours of unusual light cues and a 1 hour sleep loss can disrupt so many, what happens when we continually push with ever increasing 24/7 artificial light at night? Could it be a disruption so great to the human system to bring about a rise in the occurrences of cancer, obesity, metabolic syndrome, ADHD and many other modern day afflictions? Not a new question since 1963 when Wurtman and colleagues first reported that nighttime melatonin synthesis in the pineal gland was under the inhibitory control of light, we’ve known that the delicate balance of environmental light and dark played a major role in our overall health, yet we continue with wholesale indiscriminate use of bright nighttime artificial light. And this is especially concerning when you consider that less than 10 foot candles of room light during a period naturally intended for darkness is enough to suppress a major hormone, it is a tribute to our body’s designer that we are functioning as well as we have these many years under the glare of artificial 24/7 light ( Zeitzer J. et al 2000).
So what role does the designer of the built environment play in all of this? First of all, I’m not suggesting that we take the blame nor forgo the use of artificial light after dark, but rather that we, the entire A&D community dig deeper into the evidence-based data on how light and darkness affect the human body and brain, and then apply that research to not only patient rooms, but EVERY SPACE we design: from public gathering areas and workplace environments, to residential homes and bedrooms. Every building we construct, every room we design, all must be crafted with a skill set knowledgeable into how we are dependent on light zeitgebers such as daytime blue wavelength light, a mid period of white to red shifted evening light, and sustained low-light darkness at night in order to correctly signal bodily and neurological functions necessary for our healthy survival. And once we collectively decide to support the body and brain with our creative efforts, we will be designing….. with darkness in mind.