Review Category : Health

Sleep Deprivation Distorts Memories

iStock/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) — Remember the last time you had a bad night’s sleep? If you can’t, it’s possible that your interrupted sleep contributed to your forgetfulness.

Researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine conducted an experiment in which participants recalled details of a simulated burglary. Those deprived of sleep — from staying awake for 24 hours or even getting five or fewer hours of shut-eye — were much more likely to experience memory distortion.

While just an experiment, the MSU and UC-Irvine researchers say chronic sleep deprivation could have a dire effect on the criminal justice system, particularly when witnesses are asked to recall specific details about serious cases including murder investigations.

Besides memory distortions, health experts blame lack of sleep on a variety of other conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, not to mention causing vehicular accidents.

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Overreacting to Losing Can Start a Pattern of More Losing

Photodisc/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) — As the late football coach Vince Lombardi often said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

Lombardi particularly hated to lose, but usually didn’t overreact following a defeat, figuring the formula that generally proved successful shouldn’t be tampered with.

However, some coaches and business executives often make hasty decisions when things don’t go their way, sometimes resulting in more setbacks.

A Brigham Young University study bears this out. Co-author Brennan Platt says that he looked at data from NBA coaching decisions over two decades to determine how personnel was changed following a narrow victory or narrow loss.

Typically, lineups were more often adjusted after defeats than triumphs and that changes that weren’t well-thought-out resulted in at least one more loss per season.

Platt says this kind of thinking has adverse effects in the business world as well, with bosses sometimes overanalyzing an employee’s performance when things didn’t go right. Much of the time, a supervisor doesn’t take into account situations out of someone’s control, which can occasionally be chalked up to just plain bad luck.

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Don’t Blame the Weather When Your Back Gets Cranky

iStock/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) — Does weather have anything to do with lower back pain? Some people will swear it does, often blaming temperature changes, rainstorms, humidity or barometric pressure for their discomfort. But as it happens, they’re wrong, according to researchers from the Sydney Medical School.

To prove their point, they studied the records of close to a thousand people who had gone to see their doctors for pain in the lower back that had developed within the past 24 hours. Each was asked where they lived and exactly at what time their backs began aching.

Then, without the knowledge of the patients or doctors, the researchers crossed-referenced that information with weather data from the days back pain was reported.

The results? There was no pattern to show that rain, humidity or sudden temperature changes affected the back. However, the Sydney researchers did discover something quirky: for whatever reason, there were slightly more reports of back pain whenever higher wind and wind gust speeds occurred.

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Baby Who Can’t Open Mouth Celebrates First Birthday

Courtesy Scott Family(OTTOWA, Ontario) — Wyatt Scott turned a year old earlier this summer, but he ate his birthday dinner through a tube in his tummy.

It’s been more than four months since the Scott family launched WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com to find out why their baby boy can’t open his mouth, and though they’ve been flooded with emails, their little boy’s condition remains a mystery.

Wyatt’s lockjaw has baffled doctors since he was born in June 2013 in Ottawa, Canada, and though the Scott family has taken him to every specialist imaginable, they can’t figure out the root of the problem, Andrew Scott said. Wyatt spent the first three months of his life in the hospital, and his parents have had to call 911 several times because he’s been choking and unable to open his mouth.

So Wyatt’s mother, Amy, decided to create a website, WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com last spring in the hopes that someone would recognize the condition and offer a solution.

Wyatt’s doctor, Dr. J. P. Vaccani, told ABC News in April that the condition, congenital trismus, is rare and usually the result of a fused joint or extra band of tissue. But Wyatt’s CT and MRI scans appear to be normal.

“It’s an unusual situation where he can’t open his mouth, and there’s no kind of obvious reason for it,” Vaccani, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario told ABC News. “Otherwise, he’s a healthy boy.”

Andrew Scott said he’s sifted through 500 emails submitted to WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com over the last several months, and compiled a list of the most important ideas to give to Wyatt’s doctors. One letter-writer from Virginia told the Scotts that Wyatt’s story made her cry because her now-14-year-old had similar mysterious symptoms.

“She could have written it herself,” Andrew Scott recalled her saying.

Though the Virginia 14-year-old underwent surgery and therapy, Andrew Scott said Wyatt seems to have something different.

“It’s not just that his mouth doesn’t open,” he said.

Wyatt underwent a study in which doctors X-rayed him while he was feeding to see how the muscles in his mouth and throat worked. They found that he has problems with motor function and swallowing in addition to the lockjaw.

“His blinking is erratic,” Andrew Scott added. “He’ll wink on one side a bunch, then the other side and back and forth.”

Their quest for answers has been slow. A recent muscle biopsy came back negative, and Wyatt is awaiting results of his third genetic test.

Since the website launched, Wyatt had a major health scare: he stole a piece of chicken off his mother’s plate and put it in his mouth, Andrew Scott said. His lips were parted just enough to get it in, but neither of his parents could get it out, so they pulled it out in pieces. They thought it was all gone when Wyatt fell asleep.

Then, Wyatt started choking.

“He almost died,” Andrew Scott said. “I ended up just giving him breath.”

Wyatt “came back” just as ambulances and fire trucks arrived, Andrew Scott said. At the hospital, doctors scoped Wyatt’s lungs, but he was still coughing up chicken pieces several days later.

The emergency forced doctors to use anesthesia to put Wyatt to sleep, which they were too afraid to do before because they feared he would stop breathing. While he was out for the lung scope, the also did a muscle biopsy and put in a G-tube. Now, instead of being fed through a tube in his nose that leads to his stomach, Wyatt can “eat” through a tube in his belly.

Wyatt’s birthday party at the end of June was a pig roast that drew 50 people and included a piñata, goats and a trampoline. Though Wyatt didn’t get any mashed-up pig in his G-tube, Andrew Scott said “maybe next time.” By the end of the party, Wyatt was sound asleep in the grass.

“He is a very happy baby,” he said.

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Report: Chinese City in Quarantine After Bubonic Plague Death

iStock/Thinkstock(YUMEN, China) — Parts of a city in northwestern China are in quarantine after a man died from bubonic plague last week, state media reported.

The 38-year-old victim had been in contact with a dead marmot, a type of rodent, according to the Xinhua news agency. Health officials and disease prevention specialists are in Yumen, in China’s Gansu Province, to prevent the plague from spreading.

Several parts of the city of more than 100,000 people are reportedly in quarantine, and 151 people who recently had contact with the victim are under isolation, the news agency said. No one has any symptoms of the plague, Xinhua reported.

Some reports claim the victim had chopped the squirrel-like rodent up to feed it to his dog, and later developed a fever. He died in a hospital on July 16.

Bubonic plague usually comes from an infected flea bite, which can live on rodents and other animals, according to the World Health Organization. Without immediate treatment, it is fatal in more than half of cases.

The plague is very rare but still present in mostly rural areas.

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Report: Chinese City in Quarantine After Bubonic Plague Death

iStock/Thinkstock(YUMEN, China) — Parts of a city in northwestern China are in quarantine after a man died from bubonic plague last week, state media reported.

The 38-year-old victim had been in contact with a dead marmot, a type of rodent, according to the Xinhua news agency. Health officials and disease prevention specialists are in Yumen, in China’s Gansu Province, to prevent the plague from spreading.

Several parts of the city of more than 100,000 people are reportedly in quarantine, and 151 people who recently had contact with the victim are under isolation, the news agency said. No one has any symptoms of the plague, Xinhua reported.

Some reports claim the victim had chopped the squirrel-like rodent up to feed it to his dog, and later developed a fever. He died in a hospital on July 16.

Bubonic plague usually comes from an infected flea bite, which can live on rodents and other animals, according to the World Health Organization. Without immediate treatment, it is fatal in more than half of cases.

The plague is very rare but still present in mostly rural areas.

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Deaf Toddler Has Second Brainstem Device Surgery to Help Him Hear

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — A deaf toddler who underwent surgery to have a radical auditory device implanted into his brainstem to help him hear is showing vast improvement after undergoing the surgery a second time, his doctors said, giving new hope that the device could one day be a common treatment option for deaf children.

Alex Frederick, a 2-year-old boy from Washington Township, Mich., was just 17 months old when Dr. Daniel Lee from Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and a team of specialists from Massachusetts General Hospital, implanted an Auditory Brainstem Implant or ABI, into Alex’s brain last year.

Alex was born with little to no hearing and the ABI acts as a kind of “digital ear.” It’s made up of a small antenna that is implanted on the brainstem so that it can pick up signals from a tiny microphone worn on the ear and relay them back inside as electrical signals that reach the area of the brain associated with interpreting sound.

An Italian surgeon named Dr. Vittorio Colletti pioneered the use of the device and implanting procedure in children — previously the device had been used as a common approach for treating adults with brain tumors. The device is currently not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but is undergoing a series of clinical trials to win approval. Alex was selected as a participant in one of these trials last year and Nightline has followed him and his parents on their journey.

Alex’s first surgery was a success, but a few weeks ago, the toddler fell and hit his head on a table. The impact broke the speech processor and damaged the surgically implanted plate in his skull that holds the device in place, doctors said.

On July 2, Alex underwent a five-hour “revision” surgery at Massachusetts General to have the entire device re-implanted. His team of doctors successfully replaced the broken ABI with a new one, in the same location on the left side of his brainstem, and Alex seems to be improving quickly.

“The responses looked encouraging. That could be associated with stimulation of the first brainstem implant,” Dr. Lee told Nightline on Monday. “In order for brain development to continue it needs to be stimulated whether it is through sight or through hearing, through sound. In the case of the ABI, the device is electrically stimulating the path of sound in the brain, which means that the neural network can continue to mature. A mature network of the auditory pathway is associated with better responses.”

Alex returned home just four days after the second surgery and his parents remain optimistic.

He is “alert and playing with toys less than 48 hours after surgery completion,” Alex’s father Phil Frederick told Nightline over email. “Not trying to jinx things but he is healing faster than last time.”

“We are just so happy right now and excited things are looking up,” he added.

At the time of Alex’s first surgery in November 2013, he was the youngest person in the U.S. to receive the ABI device and is one of a very few pediatric patients in the world to undergo ABI revision surgery. Worldwide, about 10 children are known to have had the device re-implanted.

Since the procedure on children is still new, Dr. Lee said he and the rest of Alex’s surgical team discussed whether to re-implant Alex’s device in the same location, or try to place it around his other ear.

“The decision was not so clear, as far as whether you implant the same ear and encounter scarring, which would make the surgery difficult, or consider doing an ABI on the other ear, which has not been implanted yet,” Dr. Lee said. “In the end we decided to attempt replacing the first ABI because it was working well and because the experience of one particular ABI surgeon, Dr. Colletti, was that revising these ABI’s is possible if done carefully. We went ahead after much deliberation to do the ABI on the same side.”

Alex was born two months prematurely, weighing just four pounds and four ounces at birth. He spent the first month of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit of St. John Hospital in Detroit. Scans later showed that Alex had a heart condition, his vision was compromised and he was deaf.

When Alex was 1, his parents tried for a cochlear implant, a 40-year-old technology that uses electrodes to stimulate auditory nerves. The surgery commenced, but was halted mid-operation when it became evident it would not work due to the irregular structure of Alex’s inner ear. The scar from that failure is still evident behind his right ear.

Alex’s parents kept looking for an answer, for some other technology that would help their son hear. In the course his research, Phil Frederick learned about Dr. Colletti’s approach for placing ABIs in children, and that the device was about to undergo a series of clinical trials in the U.S. to win FDA approval.

After finding out about the ABI surgery, Frederick looked up which U.S. hospitals where hosting the clinical trials and emailed them all individually to get Alex on the list. In August 2013, the family got word there was an opening in a trial being conducted at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, under the direction of Dr. Lee.

“ABI surgery in the child … who cannot get a cochlear implant can result in meaningful sound awareness and speech perception with time, but it takes work,” Dr. Lee told Nightline in a previous interview.

On Oct. 5, 2013, the Fredericks traveled from Michigan to Boston for Alex to undergo the initial surgery, for which Dr. Colletti flew in from Italy to observe. Alex’s surgery cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but was paid for by the family’s insurance company.

Several weeks after the first surgery, Alex and his family returned to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in November 2013 to have his ABI switched on for the first time. Wires connected the device inside his head to a sound generator controlled from a computer, where a doctor could manipulate the sound level on the device. Nightline was there when the device was first switched on.

Alex’s parents decided that they wanted the first sound their son to hear to be his older sisters’ voices, so after the device was turned on, Evelyn, 6, and Izabella, 3, started talking, but it didn’t elicit a reaction from Alex. Others in the room tried raising the sound level, but still nothing at first.

Then, to everyone’s surprise, a doctor in the room slammed her keys into the side of a desk, and Alex turned towards the sound. With that little turn of his head, Alex had made the connection to sound for the first time.

Alex and his parents are eager to get back to the long process of Alex learning what sound actually is and how it has meaning, even meaning as words. They will return to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary next month, where an audiologist will activate the newly implanted device, and the family will continue to travel back and forth to Boston every month, so that doctors can test Alex’s hearing response as they fine-tune the software that interacts with the electronics inside his skull.

Since Alex’s surgery, Dr. Lee has implanted the device in an 11-month-old girl from Austin, Texas, and on Wednesday, the teams at Massachusetts General and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary will meet again to perform the same surgery on a 15-month-old girl from Oregon.

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West Virginia Clinic Caught Reusing Needles

iStock/Thinkstock(MCMECHAN, W.Va.) — Medical officials in Ohio and West Virginia are warning patients from a pain management clinic in West Virginia that they need to be tested after the clinic was allegedly caught reusing needles.

Ohio Deputy Health Commissioner Rob Sproul says patients at Valley Pain Management could have been exposed to HIV as well as Hepatitis B and C.

“They need to get in contact with their primary physician,” Sproul said. “If they have insurance, go see the doctor and get tested.”

The clinic is located in McMechan, West Virginia, near the Ohio border.

Some residents are considering legal action while some are urging a criminal investigation.

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Beef Production Is More Harmful than Pork, Poultry, and Eggs, Study Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study says beef production is much more harmful to the earth than the production of other animal proteins.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared to pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy, the production of beef is responsible for six times more nitrogen, which pollutes water and comes from the fertilizer used to grow the corn fed to cows.

The author of the study suggests eating other proteins instead.

The beef industry says this a “gross oversimplification” of the beef production process.

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Beef Production Is More Harmful than Pork, Poultry, and Eggs, Study Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study says beef production is much more harmful to the earth than the production of other animal proteins.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared to pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy, the production of beef is responsible for six times more nitrogen, which pollutes water and comes from the fertilizer used to grow the corn fed to cows.

The author of the study suggests eating other proteins instead.

The beef industry says this a “gross oversimplification” of the beef production process.

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