Easter Island photo by Ruth Tinker

Dr Ruth Tinker explores Easter Island’s ‘monumental history’

One of the great things about travelling is learning about other peoples and places.  I recently visited one of the most fascinating of places - Easter Island. History argues about when the Rapa Nui arrived on the remote Pacific island. Legend says that chief Hotu Matu’a led his extended family there in a few canoes between 200 and 300 AD.

 Radiocarbon dating suggests 700 AD as a better date, while some scientists believe it could be as late as 1200 AD.
The island, which is a triangle roughly 23 km by 11km, is extremely isolated even today.  It is five hours flying time from Chile, and almost as far from Tahiti.  The nearest island community is Pitcairn Island, a town of 50 souls, which is 2000 km away.

The people flourished, farming and using large log canoes to fish off shore. The population probably peaked at around 15,000. The people brought bananas, taro and chickens with them but also, unfortunately, rats.

Anaesthesia Kate Cole-Adams (Text 405pp)

Not everyone goes to ‘sleep’ under a general anaesthetic, as Kate Cole-Adams concerningly informs us, while many people taking to their nightly bed have a similar problem with wakefulness, as American sleep expert Dr W. Chris Winter explains.

Superficially there may seem slight connection between induced unconsciousness and tucking in at night, yet the similarities are irresistible to explore, not least the potentially serious, even traumatic, health impacts of ineffective anaesthesia and insomnia.

The former’s work is the result of many years’ research and experience, written not by a health professional but by a (highly regarded) journalist, and blends the history of anaesthesia with an account of patients, including herself, who have experienced it in various ways, not always positively.

The latter’s, sub-titled ‘Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It’, appears to be a self-help book, although it is just as relevant to professionals, with a variety of clinical content.

The Case Against Fragrance - By Kate Grenville (Text 208 pp)

Highly regarded Australian author Kate Grenville (The Idea of Perfection, The Secret River, etc) would have been incensed - the relevance of the word will soon become apparent - to have seen a recent liftout in The Australian Financial Review badged ‘The Scent Issue 2017’.

There, in page after page of glamorous stories, the virtues of the world’s famous perfumiers were extolled from every angle. Fragrances were divided into categories - floral, oriental, woods, fresh and aromatic fougères, the last being the ‘coming together of all elements’ - and brands slotted into each.

Gucci’s Bamboo, for instance, is “woody and floral, with notes of Casablanca lily, sandalwood and Tahitian vanilla”.

While those who formulate, manufacture, write about and wear these scents are enthusiastic in the extreme, Kate Grenville would be sickened by each and every one of them, quite literally.

Sydney University occupational therapy student Monalisa Atmawijaya helping Kyogle Public School year 5 student Deacon Farrell.

Final year students from university level physiotherapy and occupational therapy (OT) courses continue to fan out across the Northern Rivers to get hands-on experience with clients both elderly and young.

The benefits flow both ways for students opting for rural placements rather than staying close to the University of Sydney where they are studying.

The placements are coordinated by the University Centre for Rural Health, headquartered in Lismore with campuses in Murwillumbah and Grafton. The UCRH arranges practicum placements for medicine, dentistry, physio and OT students throughout the year in a range of facilities, from hospitals to GP clinics, aged care homes to pre- and primary schools.

Physiotherapist and researcher Jennie Hewitt with Feros Care Wommin Bay residents (l-r) Cleo Bell, Julie Knox and Bren Catchpole, and USydney physiotherapy students Dom Dagher and Chelsea Clark.

A PhD research study being undertaken by physiotherapist Jennie Hewitt is showing that tailored exercise programs can deliver significant benefits for elderly residents in aged care facilities.

The study, the first of its kind ever conducted in Australia or internationally for residents of aged care, has shown improvements of up to 50 per cent in mobility and falls-reduction in participants doing a program focusing on resistance and balance exercises.

A total of 221 people aged 70 to 101 years (mean age: 86) have been involved so far. The results are immensely encouraging, according to Ms Hewitt, who is the Positive Living Coordinator for Feros Care in the Northern Rivers.