Review Category : Health

Your Body: Obesity Rates in US Teens Growing

Photodisc/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Teens in the U.S. are big and getting bigger.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined over 40,000 children and adolescents and found an increase in the rates of obesity in Americans 12 to 19 years old. Furthermore, extreme obesity rose from about 2 percent in 1998 to 9 percent in the year 2013.

Obese children and young adults face a greater risk of high blood pressure and elevated sugar levels, and a social stigma with a lower quality of life.

Here’s what I learned while getting recently board-certified in obesity medicine: Treating obesity is not as simple as eating less and moving more. It really requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, including a safe diet and exercise program, and possible medication and surgery.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Treating PTSD with Virtual Reality Therapy: A Way to Heal Trauma

ABC News(NEW YORK) — When U.S. Marine Chris Merkle returned from his last tour of duty in Afghanistan, his family was thrilled to have him back.

But for Merkle, the welcome home was also accompanied by some dark problems. He couldn’t sleep. He was irritable and had anger issues. He would avoid certain stressful situations, like driving in traffic. And he would stay on high alert in the classroom.

“And then soon, they’re like, ‘You’re not the same,’” Merkle recalled of what his family told him. “They start to notice that you’re not really enjoying the parties of our friends. You only get really excited when you’re going to visit former Marines and the people you used to hang out with.”

Merkle served three tours in Iraq and four in Afghanistan. Re-adjusting to being a civilian was tough, he said, and he was finding it difficult to function.

“There was almost 5, 10 years of deploying back and forth back and forth — there was this void, this monster in the room that’s not talked about until finally it came out. It was like, ‘You need to see somebody. Something is going on with you,'” he said.

While Merkle was a patient at the VA, he heard of a clinical psychologist named Skip Rizzo at the University of Southern California Institute of Creative Technologies. Merkle was trying traditional one-on-one therapy and said that at the time, “it wasn’t really taking that well.” He was looking for an alternative and heard about Skip’s research that used a new and unexpected way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder — with virtual reality.

Nearly eight million adults suffer from PTSD during a given year, according to the National Center for PTSD. The condition can occur after someone has been exposed to a significant stressor and often includes symptoms such as avoidance, hyper-vigilance, anger issues and mood swings.

One common method for treatment is called “exposure therapy.” The patient recounts their trauma, visualizing it in their imagination, and narrates it to a clinician. By repeatedly confronting and processing the trauma, the brain can start to reduce the level of anxiety and response to those memories.

That’s exactly the approach Rizzo uses with virtual reality therapy.

“My mission is to drag psychology kicking and screaming into the 21st century,” Rizzo said, noting that virtual reality offers a unique opportunity for clinicians and clients alike: to be immersed in the environment that evokes the original trauma, rather than relying on the patient’s imagination.

Rizzo has created 14 virtual “worlds” for patients, and clinicians can add custom elements, including helicopters, clouds, small-arms fire and missiles.

“The first thing to keep in mind is that we are never going to replicate an exact simulation of what the patient went through,” Rizzo said. “But we really don’t need to.”

Merkle explained how the virtual reality experience works: “Your brain assumes, ‘OK, this must be where we’re at,’ and it fills in the blanks. And as you’re talking through it, you feel like you’re physically there.”

Each session lasts for about an hour and a half, and the patient speaks about their experience with a clinician as they go through the virtual simulation.

For Merkle, virtual reality allowed him to start unlocking memories and work through his trauma.

“So, it really allowed me to open the door and begin my healing process,” he said. “I’m still a work in process obviously but I’m so far forward, leaps and bound beyond where I would have been without virtual reality.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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California Couple Seeks Help Solving Puppy’s Medical Mystery of Contorted Front Legs

KABC(LOS ANGELES) — A couple from southern California is appealing to the public for help in solving their Golden retriever puppy’s medical mystery.

The 9-month-old dog is named Rexi, for her similarities to a T. Rex dinosaur, according to her owners, James Cassidy, 31, and his wife, Rachel Woertink, 32, from Phelan, California.

Like the dinosaur, Rexi can only walk using her hind legs. And as for her paws, they just flail upwards in the air like the little arms of a T. Rex.

Help: A family is looking to find their 1 year old paralyzed #goldenretriever a permanent solution. 11pm @ABC7 pic.twitter.com/QMLw9xNe0o

— Mayde Gomez (@abc7mayde) July 15, 2016

“It’s definitely a little awkward,” Cassidy told ABC News today. “She can stand up and use her back legs fully, and then she scoots around on her chest kind of like a snail.”

Because Rexi’s upper body often scrapes the ground she’s walking on, she’s developed a few sores on her chest and neck, Cassidy said. But other than that, he said the Golden retriever “doesn’t appear to be in pain.”

“She’s definitely a super loving, happy and hyper dog,” Cassidy said. “She’s just like any other Golden retriever. She loves chasing tennis balls, going outside and playing with the other dogs.”

Currently, Rexi doesn’t have a regular veterinarian, Cassidy said, explaining that he and his wife took the pup to a couple of local vets months ago, but they weren’t able to get many answers or recommendations for specialists.

“They all did X-rays and whatnot, and the results always showed her bones were fine,” Cassidy said. “A lot of the veterinarians said it could be neurological, and some of them just recommended that we amputate her front legs or put her down.”

But both options were a “nope” for Cassidy and his wife, he said.

“We didn’t want to amputate her front legs since they still seem to have some movement,” he explained. “Though she can’t walk on them or control them, if you lay her on her back, you can stretch them and move them to a normal position.”

Cassidy that he and his wife would never euthanize since Rexi doesn’t appear to be in much pain and because she’s like a child to them.

“It wasn’t her fault she was born this way, and we love her,” he said. “Right now, we’re just trying to get any help we can get.”

Meet Rexi: SoCal family refuses to put down happy dog with deformed legs https://t.co/cmZ9Hq7qX3 pic.twitter.com/d9Hyinp3GK

— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) July 15, 2016

Cassidy and his wife have started a GoFundMe campaign online in the hopes that they can be referred to a specialist or engineer who can help them solve Rexis’ medical mystery.

“Obviously, whatever the solution may be will probably be very costly, but our number one goal really is to find a doctor or specialist who could maybe do surgery to fix her leg,” Cassidy said. “Our second option is to get connected to an engineer or company that could maybe custom-design a device or apparatus to help her walk without scraping her chest and neck.”

Cassidy added he and his wife actually recently bought a custom wheelchair for the puppy, but it toppled over easily whenever Rexi ran too fast.

“We don’t use it really because we don’t want her to get injured any more than she already is,” he said.

For now, Cassidy and his wife are pouring through hundreds of emails and calls they’ve since received since starting their campaign.

“We’re going to look into every recommendation and check out every avenue thoroughly,” he said. “We’ve been blessed with an outpouring of support.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Why People Everywhere Are Doing ‘Belly Flops for Babies’

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — People across the country are posting videos of themselves belly-flopping into water in a trend that is about more than summertime fun.

The videos, posted with the #BellyFlopforBabies hashtag, are for a good cause — supporting both pregnant women who are placed on bed rest with high-risk pregnancies and families who have premature babies in neonatal intensive care units.“Heather was surrounded by her family but saw that most of the women around her didn’t have any help,” Bailey Nicholas, the organization’s fund development and special events manager, told ABC News.

Nicholas herself was pregnant with twins and put on bed rest two years ago when High Risk Hope came to her aid, delivering care packages that it dubs “bed rest baskets” and “NICU napsacks.” The gifts packages are stocked with necessities such as shampoo, conditioner, lip balm and toothpaste that expectant moms may not have with them if they are unexpectedly admitted to the hospital.

“A lot of moms end up on bed rest not knowing that they’re going to be admitted, and many of the moms we support are lower income or don’t have family nearby,” Nicholas said.

The organization relies solely on donations and typically raises around $260,000 each year. Nicholas said the #BellyFlopforBabies challenge has raised several thousand dollars already.

The challenge calls for participants to belly flop into water right after calling out the name of the next person they are challenging to make a flop. If you chicken out of belly flopping, you are supposed to make a donation. Donations are also welcome from those who do the belly flop.

“We’re happy to get the awareness and recognition as well as the funds,” Nicholas said. “We got to about 70 videos in the first weekend that we launched it, and now we’ve just lost count.”

Doctor and nursing groups are getting into the challenge, as well as kids whose parents were helped by High Risk Hope.

The organization has branches in Sarasota and San Francisco and hopes to expand nationally.

“We serve over 2,000 women in any given year,” Nicholas said. “We have a force of more than 150 volunteers who put the bags together and do weekly deliveries of the bags to the hospitals.”

The viral challenge was started in June by High Risk Hope, a Tampa, Fla.-based non-profit organization that delivers toiletries and comfort items such as blankets to hospitals’ maternity wards.

The organization was started in 2011 by Heather Barrow after she spent months hospitalized on bed rest before the birth of her son Hill, now a healthy 7-year-old who took the #BellyFlopforBabies challenge himself.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Mom With Child on Autism Spectrum Creates Birthday Venue for Special Needs Children

Pixie Dust(NEW YORK) — When a mother with a child on the autism spectrum had a hard time finding a birthday venue to celebrate her child’s second birthday, she decided to create her own space for children with special needs.

Raquel Noriega said that to celebrate her 2-year-old daughter Ava’s birthday, she wanted a venue that hosted only one birthday party at a time and that wasn’t “too crowded.”

“Most venues…had too much stimulation, music going, lights going. It was just chaos, and it’s not really good for a child with sensory issues,” Noriega, 40, told ABC News, adding that she didn’t even celebrate Ava’s first birthday because she couldn’t find a place.

According to autism advocacy organization Autism Speaks, children with autism often have a hard time “processing sensory information.” For many on the spectrum, loud music may sound really loud and fluorescent lights may appear so bright it’s excruciating.

Thankfully, Noriega found a venue for her daughter — Pixie Dust in Bay Shore, New York. And instead of hosting a party, she decided to buy the venue last month to help other children with special needs.

Pixie Dust is able to completely customize its offerings for children on the spectrum. It can accommodate up to 20 children and can adjust lighting, music and the length of play time.

The venue also offers sensory play, which stimulates the five senses — from playing with colorful scented rice to fiddling with musical instruments. “We really get down and dirty,” Noriega added.

The children’s play is supervised by a staffer who is a special education teacher and therapist.

“Every child with autism is different,” Noriega said, explaining that she recently had hosted a child who “doesn’t like noise during sensory play.”

“So we sat around in a circle and whispered songs. We didn’t shout them,” she continued. “The whispering didn’t bother the other kids. But if you don’t have those options available, the child will not enjoy the party. They could have a meltdown and then they’d have to leave.”

Along with specialized activities, Pixie Dust offers a diverse menu with gluten-free options. Noriega added, “The bakery that we use is a nut-free facility and we can create diary-free cupcakes or cakes.”

Noriega said she hopes Pixie Dust can help parents just like her.

“I’m open to do anything to make them have a memorable birthday,” she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Dad Celebrates 30th Birthday of Son Whom Doctors Said Wouldn’t Live Past 2

Chad Cloward(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — Chad Cloward was told his firstborn child wouldn’t live past 2 years old.

Dallan Cloward was born weighing 3 pounds, 9 ounces and with a rare chromosomal disorder called Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome which affects both his physical and intellectual development.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the disorder is so rare it affects only about 1 in 50,000 babies born in the U.S.

When Chad considered how he’d celebrate his son’s 30th birthday, on Aug. 12, he knew he had to go big.

“It started at 29, I just kept thinking I need to do something really special for his birthday next year,” Cloward told ABC News.

Cloward, of Scottsdale, Arizona, played with a number of ideas, such as a 30-mile bike ride or a 30-mile hike to commemorate his son beating the odds and reaching this milestone. Then two weeks ago it hit him.

“He loves doing all kinds of different things, and as he got older, I haven’t done as many things with him because of raising other kids,” Cloward, 53, said.

He and his second wife have between them raised eight other children, now ranging in age from 17 to 27 years old.

“When he was really little I was really focused on doing everything with him and going everywhere with him,” the father said.

For Dallan’s 30th birthday his father decided to do 30 “fun things with him” leading up to the big day.

So far, the two have camped and hiked in the Grand Canyon, played in the snow in the Rocky Mountains, gone on a three-hour train ride, and ridden a roller coaster in Park City, Utah.

What’s next on the birthday bucket list?

Chad is planning a trip to Disneyland in California and to a local restaurant for Dallan’s favorite foods — salsa and ice cream. For other ideas, he’s asked his friends and family for suggestions on Facebook.

The real estate broker said fathering Dallas has made him “appreciate life more.”

“When you’re constantly faced with the possibility of especially your firstborn and your son passing away at an early age, you kind of focus on life … instead of just trying to make a living,” Chad said.

He said Dallan has also had a positive impact on his other children.

“They have definitely learned a sense of responsibility and how to take care of others. They help [with Dallan],” he said. “He does need constant care with being fed, bathed, [and] changing his diapers. It’s really helped them understand that sense of responsibility.”

Despite his diagnosis, Chad said he doesn’t refer to Dallan as a person with special needs.

“I call him a special spirit,” he clarified. “The way he interacts with people, you can just tell he’s a really good person and a really good adult.”

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97-Year-Old Yoga Instructor Teaches 8 Classes a Week

Courtesy James Kennedy(NEW YORK) — A 97-year-old New York woman is a yoga instructor who teaches eight classes a week and travels the world pursuing her two passions of yoga and dance.

Tao Porchon-Lynch, who will turn 98 next month, is a full-time yoga instructor at a studio in Westchester County, New York.

The White Plains, New York, resident began practicing yoga in 1926. At that time, she said, “Girls didn’t do yoga.”

“I saw boys on the beach making shapes with their bodies and thought it was a new game,” Porchon-Lynch told ABC News by email because she is currently traveling. “My aunt said it was, ‘Yoga and unladylike,’ and I said, ‘If boys can do it, I can do it.’”

The yoga guru, who has been married twice and has no kids, describes yoga as “nature unfolding” inside of her.

She said yoga taught her to tune into “the breath of life” and practicing that has given her longevity both in yoga and life.

“What you put in your mind materializes,” she said. “I don’t put fear or decay in my mind. Nature constantly recycles itself and it teaches us that we can recycle ourselves.”

Even outside of her yoga practice, Porchon-Lynch said she works to maintain awareness of both the world and her body, with particular attention to her hands and feet.

“My life is my meditation. I’ll stop my car and watch a flock of geese go by,” she said. “At night, I often do a shoulder stand to reverse the circulation in my legs and I massage my hands and feet to move the energy. You age when the energy stagnates in your hands and feet.”

Porchon-Lynch is also a world-class dancer who has been seen on “America’s Got Talent” and is scheduled to travel to Paris next month to appear on “France’s Got Talent.”

In all her years of teaching yoga, Porchon-Lynch said she is inspired each time she watches her students “do something they thought they could not do.”

“I’m going to teach yoga until I dance my way to the next planet,” she said.

Porchon-Lynch was named the Oldest Living Yoga Teacher by Guinness World Records in 2012. The current title holder is Ida Herbert, a registered instructor at Orillia YMCA, in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, a Guinness World Records spokeswoman told ABC News.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Project Believe: Photographer Aims to Raise Awareness for Rare Illnesses Through Photobook

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Knowing first-hand the profound effect that death or illness of a child can have on a family, New York photographer Karen Haberberg set out to help.

Before she was born, Haberberg’s parents lost a child to Tay-Sachs, a rare disorder that destroys nerve cells and leads to death at a young age. As a documentary and portrait photographer, Haberberg wondered what she could do to help that community of families, navigating life with chronically or terminally ill children.

She decided to take photos.

About a year ago, Haberberg put the word out on social media and began photographing disease-stricken children and their families in a project she titled “Project Believe.” Her goal is to compile the photographs into a book that will also include information on each illness, most of which are lesser known and generally receive less funding for research.

“This is a lot about making these families feel less isolated and alone, which really does happen to a lot of people when they find out their children is ill,” she told ABC News.

She said she hopes that this book is a way to give those families a voice and a community.

“They are families like anyone else’s,” she said of her subjects. “They have good days and bad days like all of us, and they’re doing their best to celebrate those good days. Their sense of perspective is just remarkable.”

To date, Haberberg has taken photos of about 17 families, and she hopes to reach at least 30.

Though she had been self-funding her project until now, she recently set up a Kickstarter page in order to raise enough money to complete the project. So far, she has raised over $17,000. Her goal is to hit $25,000 by July 24.

The money will go toward travel expenses, as Haberberg has connected with potential subjects throughout the country. Funds raised will also help her put the final product together. She hopes that this book will be a springboard to a documentary film on these families.

“This has been an incredibly life-changing experience for me to be privileged enough to go into these families’ homes and be allowed to witness for a brief time what they’re going through,” Haberberg said. “I have been able to witness how incredibly strong these families are and how incredibly resilient their children are. It’s been eye-opening.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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UC Berkeley Student Missing, 3 Others Injured in France Terror Attack

(NICE, France) — One student from the University of California Berkeley was missing and three others injured after the terror attack in Nice, France that killed at least 84.

Nicolas Leslie, 20, is confirmed missing by the college, where he is a student. Leslie is a junior majoring in the College of Natural Resources, according to a statement by school officials.

In addition to Leslie, at least three students were injured in the attack, according to school officials. Two students had broken legs and a third had a broken foot after a truck slammed into the crowd watching fireworks for Bastille Day.

The students were part of a group of 85 that visited France for a 15-day program called Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Europe, part of the international European Innovation Academy.

School officials, along with Leslie’s family and U.S. consular officials were looking for the missing student.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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What Images of Terror Can Do to the Brain

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Recent terror attacks have led to widespread sharing of graphic videos and photos revealing the devastation and heartbreak of each incident, and the cumulative effect of these images can have an impact even on people far from the scene, causing feelings of unease, fear and anxiety.

Images and video from Thursday’s attack in Nice, France, have spread across the globe on television and social media, increasing the chance that viewers may feel heightened fear — especially after attacks in Iraq, Turkey and the U.S., according to experts.

While those directly involved in the terror attack are obviously most at risk for developing related post-traumatic stress symptoms, experts have found even those not involved can be traumatized by watching frightening imagery.

In the days after the 9/11 attacks, researchers found that 44 percent of Americans reported at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder after viewing constant coverage, according to the National Center for PTSD. Additionally, one study found the amount of time watching TV coverage of the attacks affected their risk of PTSD symptoms.

“Research has shown that deliberate violence creates longer-lasting mental health effects than natural disasters or accidents,” according to researchers from the National Center for PTSD, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “The consequences for both individuals and the community are prolonged, and survivors often feel that injustice has been done to them. This can lead to anger, frustration, helplessness, fear, and a desire for revenge.”

Robin Gurwich, a psychologist at Duke University, said that multiple terror attacks can affect a person’s psyche even if they are not directly related to the attacks.

“It does take a toll on us,” she said, remarking that people may feel they “can’t do one more” terror attack.

If the fear of terror events becomes overwhelming, it can start to cause symptoms of anxiety and depression ranging from changes in sleep and appetite to irritability.

“Are we having a harder time focusing on work and getting things done, are we more short and irritable with others, including our children?” Gurwich said of the symptoms. “If we’re noticing those things, it’s time to take a step back for ourselves.”

Gurwich said getting involved in either a faith-based community service, talking to a friend or seeking professional help can all be ways to cope with frightening news. Additionally, she stressed that people should take breaks.

“You can bear witness and do something. And taking a break from it, it doesn’t mean you’re uncaring,” she said. “While we have different levels of what we can watch, everybody needs a break from it. Watching it nonstop is not helpful for anyone.”

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