Friday 18 September 2009


Phew! I was getting a little worried as I'd not heard from the OU regarding my "Introducing health sciences: a case study approach" course!

But here it is, in its glory - my course website and study planner - hurrah!

I can't wait to start, it's going to be awesome! Case Study 1 is "Water and Health in an Overcrowded World". here's the full list:

Case Study 1: Water and Health in an Overcrowded World.
Most people now live in a very different world to the one in which we evolved. Rapid urbanisation and changes in human lifestyles means we inhabit a ‘human zoo’ that, despite many benefits, incurs many costs to health and happiness. We focus on the global shortage of clean water that exposes over a billion people to infectious diseases and chemical pollution.

Case Study 2: Pain.
This case study presents an integrated account of the neurobiology and psychology of pain. It considers the common properties of pain triggered by injuries and the pain of events such as divorce. You’ll study the anatomy and function of the nervous system combined with psychological processes such as classical conditioning to understand how effective drugs, surgery, placebos and cognitive therapies are in treating pain.

Case Study 3: Alcohol and Human Health.
Heavy drinking increases the risk of life-threatening diseases; accidental injury; psychological impairment; and addiction, but moderate intake may have some health benefits. You’ll explore not only global health statistics, but also the chemistry of ethanol: how alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and its effects on major organs, behaviour and memory.

Case Study 4: Screening for Breast Cancer.
Mammography screening using X-ray imaging to detect early breast cancers occurs in most wealthy countries. This case study examines the physics of mammography, the rationale for screening and the risk factors for breast cancer, and explains how normal and abnormal cells are distinguished in diagnostic tests. It considers the benefits, efficacy, costs and drawbacks of screening.

Case Study 5: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Forgotten Killer.
Permanent loss of lung function due to COPD affects millions of people worldwide. In richer countries, most are older cigarette smokers, but in poor countries, younger women and children exposed to indoor smoke from cooking fires also suffer. This case study explains the science of respiration and treatment, and the effects of COPD on people’s lives.

Case Study 6: Trauma, Repair and Recovery.
Traumatic injury causes millions of deaths and disabilities globally and cases are rising as road traffic increases. You’ll look at how the body reacts to tissue damage, focusing on limb fractures in younger and older people. The psychological – as well as the physical – effects of injury are considered in the context of variations in access to emergency and longer-term care.

Case Study 7: Visual Impairment: A Global View.
Partial or total loss of sight affects millions of people worldwide. Many cases are preventable or curable, but simple interventions are unaffordable in poorer countries, where even the lack of clean water is a significant threat to sight. This case study explains sight loss and corrective treatments through the anatomy and physiology of the eye and the physics of light and lenses.

After this course, if I want to go on and get the Certificate in Health Studies (which I do!) I need 30/35 points from the the list of optional courses they provide. I'm already almost 100% sure I'm going to take:

* Understanding human nutrition (10 points)
* Human genetics and health issues (10 points)
* Challenging obesity (15 points)

in that order :-)

I'll also most likely take:

* Understanding cancers
* Understanding cardiovascular diseases

and I'm quite tempted by Elements of forensic science as I'm ever so slightly obsessed with the stories that Tess Gerritsen writes... I've read all her crime fiction books bar the latest one which I've not seen on shelves here in the UK yet - will have to keep an eye out for that!!

These courses won't be part of the Certificate in Health Sciences, instead counting towards my Open Degree. I'll have to draw up a plan for that soon (when I say 'draw up', there's an electronic form on the OU website that does it for you!) as I need to pick a certain amount of level 1, 2 and 3 courses to get the right split of points for the Honours BSc Degree.

It's all hugely exciting and I'm just *so* glad I embarked on this whole weight-loss journey! It's taught me so much about food, nutrition, people and, most importantly, myself!

If I hadn't set myself this goal of entering the Maximuscle Body of 2009 competition there is NO way I'd be studying health and nutrition now. I'd still be studying for a degree in Computing with Business and feeling thoroughly miserable, stressed and without direction. I'm so glad that for once I've had the courage to decide to study something that interests me, rather than go for my usual approach of picking a subject that I know I'm good at, so I therefore think it *right* to pursue. I'm quite happy and willing to study various other business modules as well as computing (after all, that is my job!) along the way to reaching my degree, but now I've got the flexibility to mix it up a bit and add topics that I feel passionate about, like nutrition, like health issues, like cancers and other diseases - ALL those topics have personally affected me and are of importance, as well as interest, to me.

Whatever the outcome of this competition, I feel very positive about the changes that have taken part in my life and I look forward to beginning the next stage of my journey :-)


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