Monthly Archives: September 2016

Football Concussion Take Their Toll


Everyone was shocked when the University of Pennsylvania football captain Owen Thomas took his life last April. An autopsy later revealed the young man’s brain showed the beginning of chronic trauma encephalopathy (CTE). Many believe that professional wrestler Chris Benoit, who took not only his life, but that of his wife and young son in 2007, also suffered from CTE. A neurosurgeon who examined his brain said the 40-year-old Benoit’s brain “was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.” So far, numerous NFL players have been posthumously diagnosed with CTE including Tom McHale, Andre Waters, Chris Henry, Mike Webster, Terry Long, and Justin Strzelczyk.

CTE can cause depression, erratic behavior, and even dementia in some cases. Athletes who had it have been known to experience hallucinations and many have become addicts, taking multiple drugs to try to ease their suffering.

Concussions can’t be ignored any longer, especially now that healthcare professionals are seeing more and more college and high school students affected. Even Congress has gotten involved, holding a hearing just this past week to determine how to safeguard young athletes.

Helmets have been invented to help monitor the magnitude of head impacts. Called the HIT system, these helmets tell doctors how hard a player got hit and the exact location. However, these helmets, which have been used by Virginia Tech, cost $1,000 each, which is pretty expensive for even the largest college football budget. The creators are hoping to come up with a more affordable system soon.

While these special helmets may help prevent concussions, doctors have advised players, especially those at the high school level to “see what you hit” and not lead into hits with their heads down. This technique seems to be the best advice against concussions, but coaches still say they see kids ignoring the advice. Some want the NFL to create a rule against intentional headfirst contact, but that may be unlikely.

Still, there may be hope. Doctors point out that injuries that used to kill players often now only cause concussions due to advancement in medical knowledge, better equipment, and safety rules. Things keep changing to protect players, so now that it is known how dangerous multiple concussions can be, you can bet there will be more changes in the future.

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Rotavirus vaccine proves highly effective in reducing gastroenteritis in children

A report, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, by the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, shows that routine vaccination against rotavirus is hugely effective in reducing the number of children hospitalised by virus. The study, which focussed on three US counties, saw dramatic decreases in the number of children being admitted to hospital since routine vaccination was introduced for younger children in the United States in 2006.

Focussing on the period between 2006 to 2009, researchers looked at statistics from hospitals in Cincinnati, Ohio, Nashville, Tennessee and Rochester, New York, and saw a clear reduction in the number of children treated for gastroenteritis due to rotavirus in 2008 compared with 2006 when the immunisation programme had just begun.

Daniel Payne, the study’s author said: “Our data confirm that the introduction of rotavirus vaccination among US children has dramatically decreased hospitalisation rates. The reductions observed in 2008 far exceeded what was expected on the basis of vaccine coverage and effectiveness.”

Older children not covered by the vaccination programme benefitted too. Because younger children in the same household weren’t passing on the disease, hospitalisation rates among older children dropped by a massive 92%.

However, Dr Payne was cautious about the findings, saying: “Continued surveillance is needed to further assess the role of rotavirus vaccination coverage, indirect protective benefits, immunity over time and serotypic variation upon rotavirus activity in the United States.”

At a time when some of the major pharmaceutical companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, Johnson & Johnson are cutting the price of their vaccine to the developing world, where up to 50% of cases are fatal, the study could pave the way for similar vaccination programmes. Currently, the cost of a vaccination in the states is $50. In developing countries, it is now expected to be just $2.50.

Rotavirus is a virus transmitted via the faecal-oral route and is common in young children. It damages the cells of the small intestine causing chronic diarrhoea and is responsible for 50% of all hospitalisations from the gastroenteritis. Although it is easily managed once diagnosed, over 500,000 children under the age of five die from the virus every year, mostly in underdeveloped countries.

Top Image Credit: © DIA

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Google says cheap renewable energy will take longer than expected

Since 2007, Google has been making efforts to develop energy from renewable sources that is cheaper than coal. The initiative, entitled the RE-C plan, focuses on solar, wind and geothermal power, as well as the newest renewable power technologies. The plan has already resulted in the firm investing hundreds of millions into renewable energy projects.

At its launch, Google co-founder, Gary Page announced: ”Our goal is to create one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. We are optimistic that this can be done in years rather than decades.”

However, according to Reuters, an update from the director of Google’s green division, Rick Needham, this week, suggests that the scheme is going to take longer than previously envisaged.

”We are still moving forward. I think that it is an important and very aspirational goal, and we are doing what we can. But it takes a long-term view. There are not things you spend a year or two on and then say that you are there. We have still several years to go. These technologies take a while to develop and then deploy at scale.”

Since launching the initiative, Google has cut investment in renewable energy technology companies while increasing investment in renewable power generation schemes, most notably with a recent $100 million investment in the world’s largest wind farm in Oregon, US.

A further $168 million is earmarked for the Ivanpah solar thermal complex in California. Both will still produce power that is more expensive than coal, but Google believes that this will change with continued investment in the technologies used and with others coming on board as companies begin to realise the benefits to be gained.

Google is also looking into newer renewable energy projects, such as enhanced geothermal where energy is created from heat deep in the earth’s crust.

Clearly, Google’s strategy is based on radical thinking and it’s this type of thinking that made renewable energy a reality in the first place. Unfortunately, a combination of the global downturn and the fact that big business still doesn’t see renewable energy as cost-effective means, for the time being, Google is going to have to go it alone.

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Running – How and Why?

Is running something that should be a staple of your training, is it something we as human beings are made to do on a regular basis? That is a question that has long puzzled me and I have gone through periods of doing lots of running and other times where I haven’t gone on a ‘run’ for over a year. In fact I just came out of one of those periods and have started going on runs on a somewhat sporadic basis I keep runs short and only run when I feel like it…..

Running when done correctly is a very enjoyable experience and a great at stimulating the body as well as being a potent stress reliever. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to working out nothing feels quite like a run. Be it an interval workout, playing a sport, swimming or doing some cross trainer in the gym nothing beats a good outdoor run and getting in ‘that zone’.

You don’t stop running because you get old. You get old because you stop running. – Jack Kirk

Its not only the feeling we get while running  forgetting about worries, and relieving tension but it is also the feeling we get after a good run. The calm and focus, as if the world slows down and we have more time to think. Problems become opportunities and life feels better, even food tastes better.

There’s something so universal about that sensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure. We run when we’re scared, we run when we’re ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time. Christopher McDougall

How Do I Run

At the moment I am keeping things simple, I keep runs short and only run when I feel like it. Thats it two simple rules. So in terms of keeping runs short I normally have them hover around 20-30 minutes, this seems to be the optimum time in which I enjoy the run and still get in a flow and feel a benefit from it.In terms of running when I feel like it, this makes things irregular sometimes I can feel like running once a week, other times twice. To be honest though it is rarely more than that.

Try these two rules yourself, listen to your body see when and for how long you really feel like running. Never run for the sake of it, or because you feel like you should run in order to make up for something. Try to take nice routes and enjoy the scenery. I believe one of the biggest benefits of running is getting outdoors, taking in the world and flushing your lungs with fresh air. Running is also an excellent simulator of the lymphatic system due to the rhythmic movement which stimulates the immune system.

How to Run

Start slow. Take things at your own pace. This guide to running 5K is a great place for any runner to start, it will give you a plan to start running and build up to a level which allows you to run 5K without stopping or at a good pace.

Don’t be afraid to mix walks into your runs. In fact I recommend people who are just starting up to run for 5 minutes then walk for 5 minutes and repeat this cycle twice. It is a good beginners 20 minute workout.Run at your own pace and in comfortable clothing

No fancy equipment required. I like to run to music and use a simple device which just allows me to listen to a small selection of tracks and can be clipped on clothing. Listening to music while running is a great thing for those of us living in a more urban environment people who have the luxury of jogging in peace and quiet can enjoy the sounds of nature while running.

Run in minimal footwear. Nike Free’s are a current preference or Vibram 5 Fingers are great. There are many minimal trainers out there and for me they are the best thing for short runs. Any other shoes feel like moon boots once you get used to minimal shoes.

In a nut shell enjoy your runs and do them because you feel like running. That is the key to integrating running as a healthy and enjoyable part of your life, It will make sure you run for the correct amount of time and when your body is ready for it. This is what contributes to looking and feeling healthy.


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Cancer Patients’ Secondary Symptoms Need Attention: Study

MONDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) — Many cancer patients with pain or depression also experience physical symptoms, such as fatigue, dry mouth and nausea, that can cause disability, a new study shows.

Doctors need to recognize and treat these symptoms in order to improve quality of life for cancer patients, said Dr. Kurt Kroenke, of the Richard Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indiana University, and Regenstrief Institute Inc. in Indianapolis, and colleagues.

They analyzed data from 405 cancer patients who had either pain or depression and found that all the patients had at least one of 22 physical symptoms examined in the study. More than half of patients reported 15 of the 22 symptoms.

The most common symptoms were fatigue (97.5 percent), difficulty sleeping (about 79 percent), pain in limbs or joints (78 percent), back pain (nearly 75 percent) and memory problems (72 percent).

The patients also reported an average of almost 17 disability days in the previous four weeks, including 5.7 days in bed and 11.2 days where they reduced their activity by 50 percent or more.

Thirty-two percent of patients reported three to five outpatient visits in the previous three months; 28 percent had six to 10 visits, and 26 percent had more than 10 visits. Thirty-eight percent were hospitalized at least once, and one-third visited the emergency department one or more times.

The findings are published Oct. 11 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

“This study strengthens the case for improving the recognition and treatment of somatic symptoms in patients with cancer,” the researchers said in a news release from the journal publisher.

“Given the strong association with disability and the high prevalence of many types of symptoms, recognizing and managing [physical] symptoms may be important in improving quality of life and functional status regardless of type or phase of cancer,” they concluded.

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Earth Hour alert!

Tonight at 8:30pm is Earth Hour. And we want to know – what are you doing?

We would hope shutting off your lights is a part of it!

What is Earth Hour?

Earth Hour began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million people  and over  2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour. Why? To take a stand against climate change.

A year later Earth Hour became a global event, with over 50 million people across 35 countries/territories taking part.

In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people topped the charts for the number taking part in Earth Hour. Over 4000 cities in 88 countries/territories shut off the lights, making that year the world’s largest global climate change initiative.

In 2010, it was the biggest Earth Hour ever (seeing a trend here?) One hundred twenty-eight countries/ territories joined the movement.

This year, Earth Hour 2011 takes place on Saturday, March 26th, at 8:30pm local time.

Earth Hour is organized by WWF, whose mission is to end the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and help build a future where people and nature live together in harmony.

How to help

Shut off your lights! Gather a couple clean-air candles, maybe a board game or two, go for a walk (if some daylight is available), and peek through the windows to see what your city is up to.

Social media is playing a large role in Earth Hour this year, too.

  • Become a fan of Earth Hour on Facebook and invite all of your friends!
  • Follow them on Twitter and and tweet with #earthhour or #60+ on what you’re doing during the hour.
  • Use a Earth Hour Twibbon for your Twitter or Facebook avatar.
  • Tell your MySpace friends to turn off their lights for Earth Hour.
  • Get Earth Hour news on your cellphone at
  • Add the  Earth Hour Logo to your website or blog, along with the Earth Hour Video.

Setting a record

The goal for this year is a forecasted 134 countries/territories across the globe.

Hundreds of landmarks, cities, individuals, organizations, and governments are pledging their commitment for the hour… and beyond.

Landmarks include the Eiffel Tower, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Empire State Building, Dubai’s Burj al Arab hotel, Grenada’s Alhambra, Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue, Athens’ Acropolis, India Gate, Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, the Sydney Opera House, Niagara and Victoria Falls and Table Mountain in South Africa.

“As we head into the fifth Earth Hour, with a record number of countries and territories taking part, it is inspiring to see what we can achieve when we come together for a common purpose,” Andy Ridley, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Earth Hour said in a press release. “Imagine what we can achieve if we go beyond the hour.”

The event carries over the globe in 24 hours,starting across Fiji and New Zealand to and ending in Samoa. It will last longest in Russia, where 11 time zones are covered.

In the same release, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pledged his support. He said, “Let us join together to celebrate this shared quest to protect the planet and ensure human well-being. Let us use 60 minutes of darkness to help the world see the light.”

Although this a statement, it isn’t enough. This year, Earth Hour has launched an online platform to collect and showcase the action across the world.

Read more on how you can help after the fact, and information from Earth Hour 2011 at

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Kaiser’s Maui Lani clinic earns NCQA recognition

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s Maui Lani clinic has been recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for its coordinated care delivery system.

The care delivery system focuses on quality, access and better patient involvement in the process. The Maui Lani clinic is the second Kaiser Permanente Hawaii clinic to be recognized by the organization for its care delivery system; the Hawaii Kai clinic was recognized in November, according to an announcement from Kaiser.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has 18 clinics statewide, and is working to have all of its clinics earn the highest level of recognition by the end of 2011, according to the announcement.

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Not All Birthmarks Harmless, Expert Says

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 About one in 10 infants develops a vascular birthmark at birth or soon after. Though typically harmless, some may need treatment because of location and growth patterns, a dermatologist suggests.

“There are several different types of birthmarks, so it is important to determine the type of birthmark before considering any possible treatments,” dermatologist Dr. Sheila Fallon Friedlander, a professor of clinical pediatrics and medicine at the University of California San Diego, said in a news release from the American Academy of Dermatology.

“Most birthmarks pose no risks to infants and are best left untreated,” she noted, “but some can grow and potentially cause complications, particularly if they occur around the eyes, lips, nose or groin area. In addition, any lesion that has the potential to ulcerate should be monitored.”

Friedlander was scheduled to discuss the issue this week in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Birthmarks are typically red, white or brown, noted Friedlander, who is also section chief of pediatric dermatology at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

Among the red variety, “infantile hemangiomas” are the most common, and typically take the form of a strawberry-shaped small bump or flat spot. Though they can grow through the first six months of life, dermatologists can usually assess ultimate size by the third or fourth month.

“Over time, most infantile hemangiomas will disappear on their own, but there are instances where dermatologists will recommend treatment,” she noted. “For example, if an infantile hemangioma occurs around the eyes, it can obstruct and prevent normal visual development if left untreated, or, if they occur in the groin area, they can become inflamed and then cause pain to the child.”

The use of propranolol, a drug used to treat high blood pressure, is considered a recent breakthrough in preventing and shrinking hemangiomas. However, the medication needs to be closely monitored because of potential side effects, Friedlander said.

“Depending on their size,” she added, “some facial birthmarks may leave behind a scar or saggy skin after they disappear. That is why it is often important for parents to consult a dermatologist as soon as their baby develops a birthmark, so it can be properly evaluated to determine if treatment is necessary.”

Friedlander further noted that in certain instances a large birthmark of this kind can indicate a serious health issue known as PHACES, which is associated with a risk for heart, eye, blood vessel and/or brain abnormalities.

So-called “port-wine stains,” which may slowly darken and thicken with time, are another physical and emotional concern, as they typically materialize on a child’s face and do not disappear on their own. Small brown moles, which carry a slight risk for developing into melanoma, can be an additional issue, as are white birthmarks which are generally harmless (aside from potential pigmentation complications) and far less common than the red variety.

Treatment depends on the type of birthmark, Friedlander noted, and steroids, oral and topical medications, surgical excision and laser therapy are all tools that a dermatologist can utilize to address birthmarks.

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Ozone hole affecting equator, too

Researchers at Columbia Universitys School of Engineering and Applied Science have reported that the ozone hole has affected circulation around the entire Southern Hemisphere, all the way to the equator.

The hole, currently located over the South Pole, has always been under scrutiny. Previous work has  found that it is changing atmospheric flow in high latitudes. However, the new research shows that it is influencing circulation from the tropical regions, and therefore, increasing rainfall at low latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere.

The paper, recently published in the April 21st issue of Science, outlines that this it he first time that ozone depletion has been linked to climate change from the South Pole all the way to the equator.

Previous reports did not even mention the ozone hole. This study, on the other hand, shows its large impact; a huge player in climate change. Like a domino effect, it is causing havoc in spite f being so far away.

This study is showing now that it is proving to be a dominant source of the circulation changes. As well, carbon isnt the only problem.

The ozone layer absorbs most of the suns  ultraviolet rays, created mostly from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) breaking it down. Global CFC production has since almost completely ceased; in turn, so did the depletion.

By using two different climate models to show the ozone hole effect, the team calculated the atmospheric changes in the models produced by creating an ozone hole. Next, they took both of these changes and compared them with the ones observed in the last few decades. They found the connection to the Southern Hemisphere.

This study was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation to Columbia University.

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