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Allstate: Can we improve Driver Safety using Posit Science InSight?

Insur­ance com­pa­ny All­state and brain fit­ness soft­ware devel­op­er Posit Sci­ence just announced (see press release Pro­tect­ing Penn­syl­va­nia Dri­vers, One Brain at a Time) a very intel­li­gent ini­tia­tive:

Video exer­cis­es aid dri­ving skills (Chica­go Tri­bune)

-“All­state, which called the Posit pro­gram “poten­tial­ly the next big break­through in auto­mo­bile safe­ty,” said it expects its soft­ware exer­cis­es to reduce risky dri­ving maneu­vers by up to 40 per­cent and improve stop­ping dis­tance by an aver­age of 22 feet when trav­el­ing at 55 miles per hour.”

-“We’ll look to see whether over the next six to nine months there will be a reduc­tion in” the num­ber of acci­dents between the group par­tic­i­pat­ing in the video exer­cis­es and those sit­ting out, said Tom War­den, assis­tant vice pres­i­dent of Allstate’s research and plan­ning cen­ter.

Tom Warden Allstate

I am for­tu­nate to inter­view Tom War­den, Assis­tant Vice Pres­i­dent and Leader of Allstate’s Research and Plan­ning Cen­ter, based in Men­lo Park, Cal­i­for­nia.

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez: Tom, thank you for your time. Can you please explain the con­text behind this new ini­tia­tive that you just announced?

Tom War­den: Our research cen­ter is con­stant­ly look­ing for new ideas to improve the dri­ving behav­ior of dri­vers of all ages. Recent­ly we have paid extra empha­sis on ways to improve the safe­ty of old­er dri­vers.

Let me pro­vide some back­ground here. All­state, as a com­pa­ny, has always been one of the pio­neers in help­ing to intro­duce new safe­ty mea­sures. For exam­ple, we were among the pio­neers in the 60s to advo­cate for manda­to­ry use of seat­ing belts, giv­en research stud­ies on the ben­e­fits for dri­vers and pas­sen­gers alike. More recent­ly, we helped lob­by for wider adop­tion of airbags, an effec­tive but expen­sive way of pro­tec­tion that only became main­stream when man­u­fac­tur­ers were required to include them.

Let’s talk now about your agree­ment with Posit Sci­ence. What will hap­pen over the next months?

The first thing we are doing is to con­duct a research study to ana­lyze the real-life impact of Posit Sci­ence InSight, a com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­gram, on acci­dent rates. We know that as dri­vers get old­er Read the rest of this entry »

Lee Woodruff: the Bob Woodruff Foundation, and You, can help Traumatic Brain Injury survivors

You have may have seen a few weeks ago the inter­view between for­mer US pres­i­den­tial con­tender John Edwards and reporter Bob Woodruff. All the result­ing media cov­er­age cen­tered on Edwards’ dec­la­ra­tions. How­ev­er, there is some­thing much more remark­able that sur­faced at that inter­view: Bob Woodruff’s spec­tac­u­lar recov­ery.

This is the same reporter who suf­fered a severe trau­mat­ic brain injury when a road­side In an Instant - Bob and Lee Woodruffbomb det­o­nat­ed next to his vehi­cle in Jan­u­ary 29th 2006 as he was cov­er­ing news devel­op­ments in Iraq.

Today we are for­tu­nate to inter­view Lee Woodruff, Bob’s wife and pil­lar through­out his recov­ery. Lee and Bob co-wrote the fan­tas­tic book In an Instant: A Family’s Jour­ney of Love and Heal­ing.

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez: Lee, many thanks for your time. I was amazed read­ing your book, where you share your jour­ney, and then watch­ing Bob inter­view John Edwards, the best dis­play I can imag­ine of his recov­ery. Can you please sum­ma­rize for us what Bob -and you- went through since Jan­u­ary 2006?

Lee Woodruff: As you know, Bob suf­fered a life-threat­en­ing trau­mat­ic brain injury in Iraq. He was prompt­ly tak­en under mil­i­tary care and under­went a series of surg­eries for head injuries, with a joint Army & Air Force neu­ro­sur­gi­cal team in Iraq, in a US Army Med­ical Com­mand hos­pi­tal in Ger­many, and at Bethes­da Naval Hos­pi­tal, back here in the US.

Dur­ing this time, span­ning around 4 months, he spent 37 days in coma, and his skull had to be sur­gi­cal­ly rebuilt. The cog­ni­tive reha­bil­i­ta­tion process start­ed then, at a med­ical facil­i­ty clos­er home.

Can you please explain what kind of cog­ni­tive rehab Bob has gone though-both in a for­mal way, with a ther­a­pist, and infor­mal­ly, on his own?

The first thing I’d like to say is that rehab is a long process. Doc­tors told me that Bob, despite the sever­i­ty of his injuries, had bet­ter chances to recov­er than oth­er vic­tims, because of the reserve of neu­rons and con­nec­tions he had built thanks to Read the rest of this entry »

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