Seeing Stars: Concussions Going out of Style

When people think of the word “technology,” the first items that come to mind are probably the cell phone, computer, or even social media. But technology can be more than tangible objects. Technology can be broken down into three words: apparatus, technique, and organization. Essentially, the word technology can represent a wide range of things, including a way of life—techniques used by a people to survive and grow their society. In this case, the term “technology,” is being used to represent an ideal or even societal norm. These norms can be beneficial or destructive, depending on the nature of the setting or the specific technology.

These ideal-type technologies can be taboo in a culture. A technology that has gone from being taboo in nature, to a topic of debate in sports circles, is concussions in sports. There is a certain technology, or way of thinking and acting, when it comes to this specific type of head injury. This way of thinking has evolved, and with it, the forms of treatment and amendments in policy surrounding concussions, especially in sports. There has been a shift, just in the past decade, in the way concussions are handled and perceived.

Concussions were once thought of as a badge of honor, a symbol of toughness. In the past, players who got their “bells rung” were expected to merely shake it off. It was almost “cool” to get a concussion when playing a sport. This is true not only with concussions, but most injuries in sports. An attitude of toughness is expected, along with the spirit of competition that comes with athletics. But a concussion is much different than a sprained ankle or jammed finger; a concussion is trauma to the brain.

A player who gets a concussion usually sustains some sort of blow to the head, resulting in temporary loss of normal brain function (AANS). The brain is bruised when it collides with the skull after the trauma occurs. In severe cases, the brain will actually swell, potentially causing serious brain damage. Wide ranges of symptoms are associated with a concussion, but the most prevalent symptom is the inability to remember what happened directly before the incident occurred. Other general symptoms include headache, vision disturbances, difficulty concentrating, nausea, confusion, and memory loss (AANS). When left undetected, concussions can result in long-term brain damage and may even prove fatal.

Receiving one concussion will likely not cause permanent damage, but athletes take a risk when they receive multiple concussions. Often times, these concussions occur before the brain has had time to heal, and this has resulted in drastic policy changes concerning diagnosis and treatment in sports.

Concussions are prevalent in all sports, surprisingly, and not just in football. Below, the numbers indicate the amount of sports concussions taking place per 100,000 athletic exposures, regardless of the amount of time played (Head Case):

  • Football: 64-76.8
  • Boys Ice Hockey: 54
  • Girls Soccer: 33
  • Boys Lacrosse: 40-46.6
  • Girls Lacrosse: 31-35
  • Boys Soccer: 19-19.2
  • Boys Wrestling: 22-23.9
  • Girls Basketball: 18.6-21
  • Girls Softball: 16-21.2

It is not surprising which sport has the highest incidence of concussions—football—but it is interesting that concussions occur so frequently in nearly every sport. In fact, when statistics concerning the occurrences of concussions are combined from all sports in the United States, the numbers are staggering (Head Case):

  • 3,800,000 concussions were reported in 2012, double what was reported in 2002.
  • 33% of all sports concussions happen at practice.
  • 39% — the amount by which cumulative concussions are shown to increase catastrophic head injury leading to permanent neurologic disability.
  • 47% of all reported sports concussions occur during high school football.
  • 1 in 5 high school athletes will sustain a sports concussion during the season.
  • 33% of high school athletes who have a sports concussion report two or more in the same year.
  • 4 to 5 million concussions occur annually, with rising numbers among middle school athletes.
  • 90% of most diagnosed concussions do not involve a loss of consciousness.

When analyzing the statistics, it appears that the rate of incidence for concussions has drastically increased over the years. But what is actually happening is that concussions are now being diagnosed, rather than ignored. Concussions are currently the hot-topic in sports, and athletic training staffs are now more thorough in assessing injuries of the head.

It has not been all forward progress in concussion awareness. In fact, for an extended period of time, the National Football League (NFL) hindered efforts to change the perceptions surrounding concussions. Shifts in perception have been due to a variety of factors, all of which come down to discoveries from research. Frontline completed a report on the NFL and concussion research. In the article, Frontline includes a timeline with side-by-side comparisons between research discoveries on concussions, versus actions that were taken by the NFL in response to those research findings.

It is rather disturbing, the great divide between the clear proof presented by the research teams, and how the NFL chooses to respond. Football is a lucrative profession, and the NFL’s best interests do not primarily revolve around player health, but player performance and revenue. The NFL was, and is still, mainly concerned with making the most money possible from players before each succumbs to injury.

The NFL, according to Frontline, misinforms their own players, forming their own committee to do so. This committee was designed to “investigate” the reports of concussions in the NFL and in the sport of football in general. This committee is a sham, according to many players, and is only in place to withhold data and spread misinformation. In doing so, the NFL profits from glorifying violence, at the cost of the players participating. Many of these players end up paying with their lives, with severe and continual head traumas leading to depression, dementia, and suicide.

Not only does the NFL deny that concussions result in increased risk of further brain damage, but the committee also encourages junior and senior high organizations to put aside the research being reported. The NFL is not only playing with the brains of professional adults, but is also putting thousands of growing brains at risk.

It wasn’t until December, 2009 that the NFL finally publically acknowledges the long-term effects of concussions. This was after nearly 20 years of denying constant scientific reports that documented the immediate and long-term effects of concussions in football. It is hard to believe that the NFL faced minimal consequences, only required to pay $765 million dollars in damages (Frontline). In return, the NFL did not have to accept any responsibility. To this day, there is no admission of guilt by the NFL, nor admission that any symptoms presented during or after a career were caused by football.

The extensive research that has been completed disrupts the social relationships between the athlete and the athletic organization. Before in-depth analysis of the consequences of concussions, there was a hierarchy in place in the world of professional athletics. Specifically, the NFL commission provided the football entertainment people demanded, using talented football players to do so. The players were expected to follow the direction of the commission, as the commissioner is in charge of the rules and regulations in the NFL. This can be seen as an authoritarian approach to sports.

The switch in the artifact politics surrounding concussions occurs after the NFL/player lawsuit. The NFL transitioned from an authoritative to a servant role. The commission, in the players’ minds, should serve the players and have the health of the players as the top priority.

Luckily, the sport seems to be heading in the right direction, even with the tampering done by the NFL. There have been sweeping rule changes instituted in college and professional football. In the NFL, kickoffs were brought out by five yards in order to decrease the number of high impact collisions. One has to think, though, that the NFL is making changes only for their own self-interest. The healthier a player, the longer a player will stay in the NFL and make the league more money. It is hard to believe the league actually cares for the players more than their own wallets. If it were not for the push of the media, and a few brave scientists, there would not have been a shift in the way society has started looking at head injuries. For one, society is now looking at concussions as a serious problem in sports. There is still a lot of work and amendments to make in the rulebooks, but it is a start.

While the NFL has made some strides in head injury prevention, other sports, like boxing, still lack proper policy. The irony, and a catch-22 of the modern approach to head-injury, is that although concussions are now going out of style, head-protective equipment is following suit. There is another social stigma about using head protection and other devices that are specifically designed for the safety of its wearer. A good example of this is wearing a helmet when riding a bike or any other recreational activity on a set of wheels. It is strange that people are mocked for wearing a helmet when riding a bike, when it could save a life. Why would someone not want to wear a helmet? The answer always seems to be leaning toward the side of social pressures and not looking “nerdy”.

This is the reason boxing remains a sport lacking a concussion policy. To enforce rules surrounding head injury would completely alter the sport. And then there are pitchers in baseball. Some are beginning to wear head protection, but most choose not to because the headgear are often cumbersome.

This also begs the question, where is the line going to be drawn? At what point is the integrity of the game compromised? And, are the people who are making these decisions swayed by profit, or acting out of true concern for the players?

At some point, the risks have to be accepted by all those involved. Injury is a risk we all face in everyday living, and playing a sport only increases that risk, no matter the sport. People enjoy playing and watching sports for the competitive atmosphere. Society is not going to eliminate high-risk sports entirely, and so, to a point, consequences must be understood and accepted. But a big part of this, is assuring that all parties involved are properly educated, in order to make informed decisions. This is the biggest advantage that comes with the transformation in the technology of concussion, because people are now finally knocking out the “normal” societal views of concussions.

Works Cited:

Ezell, Lauren. “Timeline: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.” Frontline. PBS, 1 Jan. 2015.

Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

<http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/league-of-denial/timeline-the-nfls-concussion-crisis/&gt;.

Head Case. HeadCaseCompany, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

<http://www.headcasecompany.com/concussion_info/stats_on_concussions_sports&gt;.

“Patient Information.” American Association of Neurological Surgeons. 1 Jan. 2015.

Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

<http://www.aans.org/patient information/conditions and treatments/concussion.aspx>.

Winner, Langdon. Do Artifacts Have Politics? 1986.

Class Archive

As I was looking through some of the previous blog posts, and remembering others throughout the year, one thing I noticed, and realized a few others also noticed, was the great variety of topics that we as a class have covered.  Blog posts have ranged from Egyptian funerary practices to sports technology to digital aspirin.  With our class wrapping up, and all of us exploring incredibly diverse topics for our final papers, I wanted to look back on one of the first topics we were all charged to write about—artifact politics—, and analyze how we all took a very different perspective on how to write about this topic.  I also wanted to look at one of the topics a classmate has chosen for his/her final paper—cinema.

Earlier in the year, we discussed how an artifact can have a certain political dimension after reading the work by Langdon Winner, and tasked with choosing an artifact and writing about its political dimensions.  I remember that I chose a gun, partly because I felt that it could have both democratic and authoritarian aspects when put into specific hands.  When going through all of the other posts about artifact politics, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the astounding diversity of topics we as a class chose.  Two posts that specifically interested me were about GPS and the pen.  The post about GPS really interested me because I had never fully realized all of the information wireless service providers, and even the government, had on us, which I believe to be an invasion of privacy.  The post about the pen also interested me because I never really thought about how influential, yet simple, an object a pen is.  I guess the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” really is true.

Now to talk about one specific topic, which is cinema.  One student is choosing to write about cinema for his/her final paper, and this caught my eye because I have always had a special interest in movies.  I even considered writing about movies for my final paper, but ultimately  I have always been fascinated by the fact that two hours of film has the ability to change a person’s life.  Take The Wolf of Wall Street for example, a movie about a big-time executive on Wall Street during the 1980’s named Jordan Belfort.  After this movie hit theaters, many teenagers and college kids decided they wanted to major in business or finance so they could live the wild lifestyle shown in the movie.  One thing I enjoyed about this student’s post was how he/she evaluated the history of cinema, starting with a photograph and now today having CGI effects.  We discussed cinema in my communications class, and this student was basically spot-on when describing the history of movies.  I also like how the student described the evolution of film as an art form, from realism to surrealism.  One thing I would have liked for this student to include in his/her post is an analysis on the social impact cinema has had on society, particularly the United States.

In conclusion, I believe that we as a class have really developed a great blog site that analyzes various technologies and their different functions.  I hope that students in the future will look at this site and perhaps use it as a resource, or simply inspiration, for their own work.

How do we solve the energy problem?

There’s a variety of topics that play a big role on answering this question, including the different solutions to the problem, their efficiency and the society’s cultural background. Since the Industrial Revolution our needs and demands have been changing and some have gained more importance than others. For example, the demand for energy and electricity has increased over the years and apparently it will not slow down. Everything in our daily life revolves around these two major elements, and they have become so indispensable that it is impossible to shift back to a society where they are not one of our central needs. Electricity and energy have been helpful and beneficial in most of their applications, we have cars, phones and computers, but they have also brought with them some problems. At the pace human population growth, innovation and energy usage have been increasing our supply is facing serious challenges. On one hand we need to produce more and more energy, but on the other the common and most effective methods are coal burning and gasoline combustion, both terribly harmful for the environment.

First, as the solution to these rising issues we have come up with innovative ideas and alternate systems to produce renewable and clean energy. Hydroelectric plants are one of the best and cleanest ways to produce electricity, solar panels and wind turbines have attracted society as some of the solutions, nuclear energy could be one of the best solutions but it is not very well viewed by society, and there is also geothermal, bio-diesel, and other small scale methods. It sounds like we already have the answer to the question of how can we solve the energy problem. Unfortunately, these methods have their own issues that we need to address, for example their efficiency in converting energy to electricity and then the inability to store it. Hydroelectric plants cannot be implemented everywhere in the world as you need large bodies of water and it takes a large amount of land. The problem of the inability to store electricity is dealt pretty well with hydroelectric plants, when they experience low electrical demand the excess generation of electricity is used to pump the water back up to the storage to be available to use at high peak demands.

Second, as mentioned before the inefficiency of these solutions somewhat backfire to their purpose. Solar panels are a clean and harmless way to transform the endless energy from the sun into electrical power. The biggest issue with solar panels is their low efficiency in the conversion of energy, the highest record for efficiency is held at 44.7% but most standard photovoltaic cells industrially used vary from 15% to 20%, according to Brian Westenhaus (2013). Due to its inefficiency a larger number of photovoltaic cells are needed, covering acres of land and entire ecosystems, which could eventually raise another set of challenges. A similar problem arises with wind turbines, which are also not fully efficient and due to the wind patterns they do not work all of the time. These alternate energy solutions, even with their low efficiency, are not to blame for the energy problem; rather they are optimistic attempts to shift our oil dependence.

Third but not less important, the cultural background of our society plays a major role in the process of finding solutions to this problem. Scientific challenges and obstacles are normally overcome with time but one big issue that appears with the energy subject is culture. Cultural identities make it hard for new cleaner energy to fulfill their potential, change is scary so people rather stay with what they know and have now. This is one of the most important reasons why electric cars are not the mainstream, combustion engines are what we have been using for so long, they are more “comfortable” in the sense of gas stations infrastructure, and because we do not suffer the immediate consequences of combustion pollution we do not switch.

If we want the energy problem to be solved we need to start acting in every aspect we can, if it is on the scientific field improving renewable energies or at home turning off unnecessary lights. In order to maintain our lifestyles and the current progress and innovation speed we must figure out the energy matter, this problem will not disappear and electricity’s demand will continue to increase, we are the only ones that can fix this energy problem.

References:

Social Media Privacy

Ariel Flasterstein

Comparative Studies 2367.02

Prof. Seth Josephson

March 11, 2015

The Internet completely changed human interaction and the way the society communicates as a whole. I like to think that everything that gets out on the Internet becomes a tiny archive folder in a sea of folders, all neatly organized for us to access in the simplest of ways. When we search or “google” any word we instantly get hundreds of thousands of matching results. Not only are you getting an immense amount of information from the website but also that same search engine will remember what you just searched for and gather information about you. On most cases with good intentions this information is sold as data for marketing strategies and targeted advertisements.

Sherry Turkle wrote on her book Alone Together about how we expect more and more from machines and technology, and less from other human beings. She believes “…we are changed as technology offers us substitutes for connecting with each other face-to-face. We are offered robots and a whole world of machine-mediated relationships on networked devices. As we instant-message, e-mail, text, and Twitter, technology redraws the boundaries between intimacy and solitude.” We might confuse the Internet and social networks as an intimate private space where we can connect with other people; instead we are opening up and “making public” our information. This sense of privacy given by the anonymity of the Internet is nothing more than an illusion as everything, or at least most interactions, we have with the web are recorded and could be accessed by the companies owners, random individuals and even the government.

As written by Langdon Winner in his first line of Do artifacts have politics?: “No idea is more provocative in controversies about technology and society than the notion that technical things have political qualities.” We cannot excuse the Internet and social media from their political realities. There is a lot of power behind controlling or monitoring the Internet therefore there are big interests involved around it. The Internet was created for very political motives, the need of a communications network for the use of the U.S. Department of Defense, but now with the participation of large corporations and the general public in this same network not only countries have political interest but companies and individuals as well. Social networks became a platform for political candidates to address the public and spread their ideological agendas. Winner explained, to be fair with technology, that “Hence, the stern advice commonly given those who flirt with the notion that technical artifacts have political qualities: What matters is not technology itself, but the social or economic system in which it is embedded”. Therefore we cannot blame either the Internet or social networks for its political inherence but on the specific companies and individuals that want the power behind controlling the millions of data stored on the web.

Today most information is kept online, making it harder and harder to safeguard, so the future of social media is linked to the amount of security and privacy these social media companies provide. How much “stalking” or research on one’s social media is considered invasion of privacy? These relatively new ethical questions have been growing quickly as the public has become more aware of their privacy loss. The way companies deal with the legal liabilities, involved with saving and utilizing your information, is through privacy statements.

A communications professor, Joseph Turow, offers some great insight about privacy statements. His research focuses on digital culture and he points out that the general understanding of a privacy policy is that it protects our privacy, which is erroneous. He defines privacy policies simply as the legal documents that explain how customer data will be managed and used by that company. Not only does his research showed that more than half of the “digitally active” Americans do not know what a privacy policy is, but even the ones that try to read them and understand them find themselves delved in a long, tedious and confusing document. Turow said: “These misperceptions are enhanced by privacy policies that are often difficult to interpret, even to the small number of consumers who do try to read them (…) researchers have found that people do not read privacy policies — they’re unreadable. They are filled with jargon that is meant to be understandable only to the people writing them, or to people who work in the advertising industry today.” We assume that any legal document, in this case privacy statements, will protect our interests and privacy but that is not the example on most of these documents but as we normally do not read them we will never know.

There is a similar issue happening between governments and their populations. Under the idea and promise to ensure the safety of its people the governments have both explicit and implicit permission to “stalk” over social media and other social communications platforms such as phones. This particular issue was brought to the public eye most recently by the famous WikiLeaks, disclosing over a million of documents from different governments and their intelligence agencies. In this incident people became aware of the global mass surveillance existing in this world, and although it can be legal it is pretty disturbing.

On a different setting, it has become harder and harder to separate your professional life from your social life. Social networks are a double-edged sword, having your profile out on the Internet can help companies find you as a potential employee and connect you with other professionals to build a business network. On the other edge of the sword universities can quickly judge you through your social persona and an employer’s perception of you might be affected by your online behavior. Even though your social media account might not be completely accurate or a true reflection of yourself, judging a book by its cover is still a strong tendency. This loss of privacy can cause predetermined judgments on other people; at the same time it dehumanizes the hiring processes, as you become your digital self. You become a compilation of pictures and posts that have no context or tone.

These kinds of breaches to our privacy will eventually lead users of the Internet to be afraid of sharing information about them our about any other subject. This would case problems for a lot of companies that their main product is public information and data. Right now there is a lawsuit going on between the NSA and a group of plaintiffs that include the Wikimedia Foundation, who is the company in charge of the Encyclopedia Wikipedia. The journalist David Ingram wrote about the lawsuit and said these breaches “reduces the likelihood that clients, journalists, foreign government officials, victims of human rights abuses and other individuals will share sensitive information with them”. The lack on transparency and anonymity that is embedded on the Internet culture make it very tricky and complicated to regulate theses issues as the amount of information available to everyone is massive and tracking everyone’s interaction with the web is absurdly impossible. This field is largely unregulated and it will only continue to stumble upon more legal, ethical and moral issues, so policymakers should be aware and address these before some irreversible damage has been done to society and the Internet.

Being extremely optimistic and naïve the best solution to these problems come within the companies that gather your information. The more companies know about you the more they should value and take care of that information, in the end it’s the public who has the power to generate the information for these companies or in other words, the “ultimate” client.

In some cases I would not mind to know that the companies are using my information to improve their service or even to offer me merchandise, as long as they were honest on their privacy policies and I know specifically how my information is used. It is the not knowing and that paranoid feeling that someone or something is out to get you that generate the most of the insecurities about the Internet. Companies should try to balance or outweigh their use of our information with the service they provide or by giving us something “valuable” in exchange instead of hiding what they are doing. This “perfect” balance could satisfy both of the parts involved, where individuals would still want to use these social networks and input their information and companies would still be able to make profits out of the data they recollect.

Drawing this ethical line is very complicated and although I do not have an immediate answer I do believe there is a process in which all the involved parties should work on in order to convert this still blurry boundaries into clear rules for the game of social networks. A process where individuals demand their privacy rights, companies make strategies to have both their and our interests as the objective and governments being honest and truthful as to what extent they invade our privacy to ensure our safety. Hopefully the next coming years will clear out the unknowns and shape digital social communications for the better.

References:

Ingram, David. “ACLU, Wikimedia File Lawsuit Challenging NSA Mass Surveillance.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 10 Mar. 2015. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/10/us-usa-nsa-wikipedia-idUSKBN0M60YA20150310&gt;.

Smith, Aaron. “Half of Online Americans Don’t Know What a Privacy Policy Is.” Pew Research Center RSS. 4 Dec. 2014. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/12/04/half-of-americans-dont-know-what-a-privacy-policy-is/&gt;.

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Basic, 2011. Print.

Winner, Langdon. “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” The Whale and the Reactor a Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology. Pbk. ed. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1989. Print.

Scanning the Horizon

Medical practices have evolved rapidly over the past century, and with each development, imagining the next medical technology becomes a challenge. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of those technologies, elevating itself as a premier tool for research and clinical care. But this complicated machine brings to the table more than just cool images of the anatomy and physiology of the human body–it allows physicians and patients to interact at a whole other level. But even that is not the entire story. Is MRI, as it is utilized in this immediate era, being held back from its ultimate potential? This life-saving technology could possibly be preventing humans from moving forward in preventative medicine. One thing is certain: MRI will be the next step in the future of medicine, and whether or not it is the masses that control this technology rather than the healthcare system, remains to be seen.

A little background on how an MRI machine works would be helpful in understanding the technology as it pertains to its form of media. An MRI can be thought of as an enormous magnet. The magnets within the machine create a magnetic field around the area of the body that is to be scanned. The majority of the human body is made up of water, and in each water molecule are two hydrogen atoms. So when the magnets create the magnetic field, this causes the hydrogen atoms to emit a radio frequency signal. The type of tissue in which the water molecule resides determines the frequency and length of the signal emitted by the hydrogen atoms. A scanner in the MRI to create a three-dimensional image then records this signal (Gould).

The ability to produce a detailed three-dimensional image of any part of the human body is valuable for both researchers and health-care providers. For neuroscientists doing research, a common practice is to couple MRI with radioactive tagging and record the brain’s reaction to different activities. In doing this, researchers are able to see what parts of the brain “light up” when performing different activities, like watching a scary movie or listening to a romantic novel.

But what truly displays the artifact politics of MRI is its use in a clinical setting. Langdon Winner talks about technologies having politics, either directly or indirectly, in his essay, Do Artifacts have Politics? The idea that technology can change how humans interact and display a political system can be applied to MRI.

The physician-patient interaction is a critical cog in the health-care experience, second only to the actual treatment of whatever is ailing a patient. It is important that a patient feels understood and also understands what is causing a condition that produces discomfort. When a doctor asks a plethora of standardized questions designed for efficiency and proceeds to run multiple tests, a patient can feel out of the loop. The lack of communication between a physician and patient can cause a rift that leads to misunderstanding. The patient does not feel important, but rather, like another case number in a file.

MRI can take away some of the magic, mystique, or general “coldness” that can be felt during a trip to see a health-care professional. Because MRI is non-intrusive, it is safer and less threatening than most exploratory surgeries or blood tests, while still capable of gaining more insight than those conventional methods. Not only that, but because MRI produces such high-resolution images, it is a simple task for a physician to include a patient in reviewing an MRI. That alone is enough to create a dialogue and increase patient-physician communication, enhancing patient understanding. By including a patient in the health-care process, the patient-physician relationship is able to grow and become a positive interaction that may allow a more advanced healing process.

Another feature of MRI that provides a stepping-stone forward in health-care relationships is the ability to supply an answer. Most patients who receive an MRI scan have been struggling with an unresolved condition that is unknown despite other testing methods. When a patient is shown, slice-by-slice, what has been causing a chronic pain or discomfort, a physician is able to provide comfort in providing an answer. A patient is finally able to see for himself what is going on inside the body, producing a constructive relationship of trust with the health-care provider.

On the flip side, however, the line between constructive and destructive is a fine one. These scans can just as easily create a destructive relationship between a physician and patient through the over-reliance on medical practices. Nothing is perfect, including medical procedures, and that same mystique that surrounds health-care can set high expectations on a physician who orders an MRI. When a patient pays the exorbitant price for an MRI, satisfactory results are expected. MRI may provide an answer, but that is not the same thing as a solution. The cause of pain may be discovered, but a physician still may not be able to completely solve the condition. This can cause frustration towards health-care providers, even when the real issue is that humans have much to learn about the practice of medicine.

This whole process of taking an MRI scan takes minimal time, sometimes as little as 20 minutes. But in the process, an MRI produces a magnetic field measured at approximately 1.5 Teslas, which is 30,000 times greater than the magnetic field felt on the surface of the earth. This requires expensive raw materials and up-keep of the machine. The high cost is reflected on the bills of the patients who require the services of an MRI scan, simultaneously deterring doctors from prescribing the procedure to patients who may not be able to afford the steep price tag. The median price of an MRI before insurance coverage was about $1,100, as of 2014 (Glover). More people require the use of MRI than there are health care professionals who can operate and interpret MRI scans. Because there are essentially a few select individuals who “control” the technology of MRI, this could be described as an authoritarian type of technology.

The power of the technology rests in the hands of health care professionals, while patients depend on these providers to prescribe and execute scans. Of course, this is understandable, because the amount of skill and training that goes in to the entire process is just as important as the technology itself. Very few individuals without medical training would be able to perform scans of their own bodies and then analyze those scans for diagnoses.

The technology in MRI having authoritarian roots leads to an ethical issue, nonetheless. MRI serves as a microcosm for healthcare and the issue of availability of healthcare to all people. Like the provision of healthcare, MRI scans can be costly to the consumer, and some insurance companies may not cover the procedure.

This reality is frustrating for many. While MRI can provide information about an existing injury or medical condition that is causing discomfort for an individual, MRI can also be utilized to preemptively detect cancer tumors that are too small for traditional methods of screening to detect. Some forms of breast cancer are so aggressive, that by the time a mammogram detects a tumor, it is often too late.

Early detection is the key for most diseases, and MRI provides that next big step in preventative medicine. We need to look ahead, into the horizon–if this medical procedure could become a basic commodity at physicals and other check-ups, it would transform human life. The true potential of MRI will be achieved when the advanced technology works in harmony with the increased patient/physician interaction. MRI needs to work for the physician, and the physician for the patient. The answer to preventative medicine may not lie in discovering new, more advanced technologies, but maybe in finding methods that allow us to produce and operate our current technologies in such a manner that the general population has access to the numerous health benefits.

Works Cited

Gould, Todd. “How MRI Works.” Howstuffworks. 1 Jan. 2014. Web.

<http://science.howstuffworks.com/mri.htm&gt;.

Glover, Lacie. “How Much Does an MRI Cost?” Nerdwallet. 1 May 2014. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.

<http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/2014/05/09/how-much-does-an-mri-cost/&gt;.

Winner, Langdon. Do Artifacts Have Politics? 1986.