health

“Mind your health” – Recognizing mental health in May

This May marks the 65th anniversary of Mental Health Month, which has been observed by Mental Health America (MHA) since 1949. The MHA’s 2014 monthly theme is “Mind your health,” and it’s all about building public awareness for mental health and wellness while learning about the complex connections between the mind and the body. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 26% of Americans ages 18 and older are currently living with a diagnosable mental health condition.1 That’s about 1 in every 4 adults. In fact, NIMH says that mental health conditions “are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada.” They can cause mood swings, anxiety, personality changes and more, and many times, the subtler emotional symptoms can be very tough to describe. The mood community at PatientsLikeMe is more than 33,000 strong, and in addition to tracking symptoms and donating personal data through detailed health profiles, members are sharing their experiences in the PatientsLikeMe forum. People are talking about everything from sleep habits and mood research to favorite emotional movies, and they’re also sharing photos symbolizing how they feel. If you’ve been recently diagnosed, connect with others who are experiencing the same and know what …

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A day in the life of Software Engineer Jonathan Slate

Our members share a lot about their unique health journeys and experiences here on the blog. Just recently, Kim spoke about her shock with MS, Betty talked about her frustration finding the right diagnosis, and Lori’s been sharing about life on the lung transplant list. And as part of our ongoing “A day in the life” series, PatientsLikeMe Software Engineer Jonathan Slate shared about his own recent journey after his son Nolan’s hand injury. He walked through the whole experience, from Nolan’s initial accident to how a simple CD with some x-rays on it sparked an ‘ah ha!’ moment for him.   You started working at PatientsLikeMe about 6 months ago – tell us a little bit about what you do. I work as a Software Engineer, developing new site features, fixing issues and working with other engineers to come up with creative solutions to the technical challenges of building and maintaining the PatientsLikeMe site. I’ve also done some work on the PatientsLikeMe Open Research Exchange project. You’ve said you experienced two “eureka” moments at PatientsLikeMe – what happened, exactly? Well, the first was on the PatientsLikeMe forums, where I found out, first hand, just how comforting it can be …

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Promoting better digestive health in April

The digestive system contains a bunch of organs (8 to be exact), everything from your stomach to your gallbladder. It’s important to be aware of what can affect all these parts, and this is why back in 1997, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) designated April as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month. IBS affects the entire digestive system, and there is currently no known cause for the condition. What’s more, many people have experienced IBS, but they dismiss symptoms as routine. Common signs include chronic abdominal pain, constipation and bloating, and sometimes these will be relieved by bowel movements. IBS is more common than you might think – different estimates report that between 10 and 15 percent of the entire global population is affected with some form of IBS1 2 – so if you’re living with IBS, you’re definitely not alone. There are plenty of ways to raise awareness for IBS during April, and here are just a few ideas to get started: Read and share the IFFGD’s press release on IBS Awareness Month Download the IBS Info mobile app from the IFFGD Check out the Digestive Health Alliance Share one of the IBS Awareness Month flyers …

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MS Patients Stepping into the Real-World

With 13,000+ members, the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) community is currently the largest community at PatientsLikeMe. Many of our members are just as active online as they are off. There are a countless number of ways for people to get involved in supporting research for the disease, and many patients choose to participate in the thousands of walks and runs that take place year round. At PatientsLikeMe, our members have a voice in research by sharing data about their condition.  However, we also support patients’ decision to take their involvement offline. Earlier this year, PatientsLikeMe introduced a program to support and sponsor Walk/Run teams. We are encouraged by the success this initiative has already seen since its inception. To date, hundreds of people across all our communities have participated in teams sponsored by PatientsLikeMe, with many of those teams from our MS community. Want to see some of our patients in action? Head on over to the PatientsLikeMe YouTube page at www.youtube.com/PatientsLikeMeMS and check out some of your fellow patients on the move.  All the pictures from the video and more are also in our Facebook photo album, so check them out (and while you’re there don’t forget to friend us …

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UCB and PatientsLikeMe Partner to Give People With Epilepsy a Voice in Advancing Research

Today is an exciting day for PatientsLikeMe.   In a first-of-its-kind industry-patient partnership, PatientsLikeMe is joining forces with biopharma company, UCB, to launch a new community for people with epilepsy to capture real-world experiences of the disease and help advance research. The news release announcing the partnership is below. ****** BRUSSELS, BELGIUM and CAMBRIDGE, MA–(Marketwire – June 15, 2009) – Biopharma company UCB and PatientsLikeMe, the leading online community for people with life-changing conditions, today announced a strategic partnership to create an online, open epilepsy community that captures real-world experiences of people living with epilepsy in the U.S. Scheduled to launch in early 2010, this platform will be designed to collect, analyze and reflect information received from people with epilepsy, regardless of their diagnosis, prognosis or treatment regimen. More…

Sharing to Feel Better

Sharing.  It’s a concept we all learn at a very young age.  Oftentimes reminisced as happening in the sandbox, we think back to our young selves giving up what we hold most dear (in this case, some cheap plastic toy) to allow someone else to benefit from it.  It seems so simple and obvious, but how many toddlers do you know that immediately give into the concept…easily handing over that toy without a moment of hesitation or a slight tug back or possibly the more extreme screaming tantrum?   Over time, what happens is that the more they share, the more they see it puts a smile on their friends’ face, or gives them something in common to “chat” about. You don’t need to be clairvoyant to see where I’m going with this.  Sharing is at the core of PatientsLikeMe, and it’s what makes our communities so special.  More than 32,000 patients are online sharing something they hold dear — details about their health — so that others can see it, learn from it, and dialogue about it.  It’s truly inspirational and something we believe is transforming healthcare as we know it. But sharing doesn’t have to stop there.  From a …

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Share On: Parkinson’s Awareness Month and PatientsLikeMe PD Community Anniversary

Did you know this April is both Parkinson’s Awareness Month and the 2-year anniversary of the PatientsLikeMe Parkinson’s community?  We invite you to celebrate with us all month as we share real-world patient insights and experiences of living with this disease…and we ask you to share on! The PatientsLikeMe Parkinson’s community has come a long way since it launched in April 2007 – topping more than 3,400 patient members in just 24 months.  Our community members share so much about themselves on a daily basis – from details about how they manage their condition to their personal experiences and stories.  Why share?  Simply stated, to learn more about themselves while helping others better understand this condition.   In the spirit of awareness and sharing, this month we’ll share with you some of what we’ve learned so far from these inspirational individuals and keep it real with some personal patient stories about living with PD. Additionally, later this month, PatientsLikeMe is once again sponsoring the Parkinson’s Unity Walk (www.unitywalk.org), “the largest single-day fundraising event for the Parkinson’s community.”  The event, which brings together thousands of people touched by Parkinson’s, takes place every spring in New York City’s Central Park.  PatientsLikeMe members from …

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Happy 1st Anniversary Mood Community!

A year ago today, PatientsLikeMe launched our combined Mood community for patients with depression, anxiety, bipolar, obesessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.  It was first announced to the world in Thomas Goetz’s article, Practicing Patients, featured in New York Times Magazine. Since then, more than 8,700 patients have joined the community, sharing detailed information about their symptoms, treatments and overall progress to learn more about themselves and others. Besides specific drug therapies (like Clonazepam or Lamotrigine), did you know many patients cite Listening to Music and Journal Writing as top treatments as well?  Check out what they have to say. Do you have problems concentrating?  That’s the number one symptom reported by our members.  Other top symptoms include muscle tension, headaches, back pain and stomach pain. In the coming weeks, we will continue to share some interesting tidbits about the community, including some powerful personal stories straight from our members.  Stay tuned!

A new gene for ALS: What sharing your genetics could mean for research

In today’s issue of the journal Science two papers describe the discovery of a new gene for ALS (you can read the abstracts here and here). Around 90% of ALS cases are sporadic, i.e. we don’t know what causes them, but for 5-10% of patients the disease runs in their family (known as familial ALS, FALS). Until today, there was only one major causative gene that we knew about, called SOD1, which accounted for 20% of familial cases. Today’s new discovery of the gene FUS (also known as ALS6) accounts for an additional 3-5% of familial cases and was the result of an international collaboration between scientists in Boston, London, and Sydney. This is very exciting for research because the more we know about what causes ALS, the better our chances of finding an effective treatment through better understanding of the pathways involved in motor neuron degeneration. Here at PatientsLikeMe, we’ve recently upgraded our ALS platform to capture data on familial ALS patients’ known genetic mutations. The goal is to help familial ALS patients find another patient like them, and to enhance understanding of the phenotype of each mutation, e.g. if different types of mutation cause a faster or slower …

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Voices of Fibromyalgia: Patient Video

As we end the year, we give you the last 2008 video from PatientsLikeMe and the first of our new fibromyalgia community.  We asked this newly launched community to tell us “How are you overcoming fibromyalgia?”  This is what they had to say: Thanks to all of you who contributed your “voice” to this video.   It’s truly a reflection of patients helping patients live better every day.  We look forward to hearing more voices in 2009! Happy New Year!

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