Review Category : Health

Researchers Testing Prosthetics That Could Restore Sense of Touch in Amputees

Vladislav Ociacia/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers at Case Western Reserve University say they have developed the next generation of prosthetics, which provide hand amputees the ability to feel “touch.”

The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, involved the implanting of electrodes into the upper arms of two amputees, which enabled them to generate unique impulses that allowed the amputees to sense fine touch, firm touch and pressure. That amputees were also better able to complete difficult routine tasks — such as plucking the stem from a cherry — when they could “feel.”

Researchers also said that the amputees claimed the implant eliminated the feeling of a “phantom hand,” or pain caused by the brain’s interpretation that the hand is still there.

A separate study in Sweden involving the implantation of electrodes directly into a patient’s bone gave him the ability to manipulate the prostheses via feedback from his brain.

Researchers in each study have eliminated the use of surface electrodes, previously the only way to allow for independent control of the prostheses. Further testing will likely be required before the technology is made widely available.

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Deputy Who Delivered Ebola Quarantine Order in Hospital ER

Will Montgomery(DALLAS) — A sheriff’s deputy who helped serve a quarantine order on the apartment where Texas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan had been staying is being examined at a Dallas hospital for “possible exposure to the Ebola virus.”

The deputy was admitted to the emergency room of Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas on Wednesday.

“Right now, there are more questions than answers about this case,” the hospital said in a statement.

The deputy, who was not identified, did not have contact with Duncan, who was hospitalized at the time the quarantine order was issued, and is not considered a high risk person, a Dallas County official told ABC News.

“Our professional staff of nurses and doctors is prepared to examine the patient, discuss any findings with appropriate agencies and officials. We are on alert with precautions and systems in place,” the hospital said.

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was asked about the patient.

“There is someone who does not have either definite contact or definite symptoms of Ebola, who is being assessed,” Frieden said.

“We are tracing the other 48 people” who were exposed to Duncan, he said. “None of them as of today have had fever or symptoms of Ebola.”

“We’re at peak incidence period of symptoms which is eight to 10 days after exposure,” Frieden said.

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Family of Dallas Ebola Patient Who Died Upset over ‘Unfair’ Treatment

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — The family of the first person to die of Ebola in the U.S. is upset with the patient’s medical care, and called his treatment “unfair.”

Thomas Eric Duncan, who is from Liberia, died Wednesday after being infected with the Ebola virus. He had been in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, since his diagnosis on Sept. 28.

Duncan’s nephew Joe Weeks told ABC News he felt Duncan had “unfair” medical treatment. Weeks suggested that Duncan did not get the same treatment being given to Ebola patient Ashoka Mukpo in a Nebraska hospital, although he did not detail that alleged difference.

He said the family questioned why Duncan was not moved to Emory University Hospital, where two American health workers were successfully treated after becoming infected with Ebola in Liberia.

“No one has died of Ebola in the U.S. before. This is the first time,” Weeks told ABC News. “We need all the help we can get.”

Weeks said hospital officials told the family they had all the experience needed to treat Duncan.

Weeks also said the family was frustrated that Duncan was not given donated blood from Ebola survivors. Weeks said hospital officials told the family “that the blood wasn’t a match.”

Two other Ebola patients being treated in the U.S. were given donated blood from Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, in the hopes that Ebola antibodies can be passed on from the donor to the patient.

There is no confirmed treatment for Ebola and blood donation from Ebola survivors is one approach recommended by the World Health Organization.

Although Weeks told ABC News he was unhappy with medical treatment, other relatives thanked the local community for their support.

Louise Troh, the mother of Duncan’s teenage son and the woman referred to as his wife by family members, released a statement thanking Dallas and local community leaders for their help during this ordeal.

“Without their help, I can’t imagine how we could have endured,” wrote Troh.

But Troh also said she trusts that “a thorough examination will take place” into Duncan’s care.

Troh’s son with Duncan, Karsiah Duncan, 19, had been hoping to see his father, but was unable to see him in the isolation ward before he died.

Calls and emails to the hospital were not immediately answered.

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Texas Ebola Death Highlights Burial Warnings by CDC

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — Now that Thomas Eric Duncan is the first person to die of Ebola in the U.S., the delicate question arises of how to safely dispose of his remains.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Centers did not immediately have comment for ABC News on the situation. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued specific guidelines for safe handling of human remains of Ebola patients in U.S. hospitals and mortuaries.

According to CDC documents, only people trained in handling infected human remains and wearing proper safety gear should touch or move any Ebola-infected remains. Handling and transportation should be kept to a minimum and an autopsy should be avoided unless absolutely essential.

The body should not be washed or cleaned in any way and should be wrapped in plastic to prevent contamination. Following the removal of the body, the hospital room should be thoroughly disinfected. So long as the body is safely shrouded in plastic, any transport drivers do not need to wear protective gear.

Once the body arrives at the mortuary, the agency does not recommend embalming. The shrouded body should be placed directly into a hermetically sealed casket by trained mortuary personnel wearing head-to-toe protective gear. The remains should then be immediately buried or cremated.

If Duncan’s body is to be transported back to West Africa, the family will need to comply with the regulations of the country of destination, and will have to be coordinated in advance with U.S. health authorities.

“Surely the disposal of Mr. Duncan’s body will be done with the utmost respect and also with all consideration for public safety,” said Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert and chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University.

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Sexting Linked to Sex in Teens, Study Shows

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — “Sexting” — specifically, sending sexually explicit photos — among teens may also be an indicator that they are more likely to engage in the real thing later, according to a new study.

University of Texas researchers embarked on a first-of-its-kind study to survey 1,042 high school students about their text and sex lives over a one-year period.

Teens who admitted to sending nude pictures of themselves were 32 percent more likely to report a year later that they had had sexual intercourse when compared to those who said they did not sext, according to the research, published in the Oct. 6 edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers controlled for gender, grade-level, age, ethnicity, sexual behavior and dating behavior to try to isolate sexting as the variable as much as possible.

“This is probably going to raise some alarm,” said Jeff Temple, lead author of the study and a women’s health researcher at University of Texas Medical Branch Health.

For this study, researchers defined “sexting” as sending nude photos only and did not include racy text messages.

Risky behavior begets other risky behavior, said Dr. John Walkup, a leading child psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College who was not involved in the study.

“The big risks areas are premature sexual activity and premature drug and alcohol use,” Walkup said, referring to concerns about high school students in general.

However, sending a sext was not necessarily associated with risky sexual behavior, such as unprotected sex or multiple sexual partners, according to the study.

The study also found that peer pressure can play a role in sexting. Teens who asked for nude photos — or had photos requested of them — were more likely to send those photos.

Though sexting may be scary for parents to think about, Temple pointed out that it is an opportunity for parents to talk with their children.

“If you discover your child is sexting, you can talk to them about safe sexual practices,” he said.

Still, Walkup said there’s more to good parenting than monitoring text messages.

“Don’t focus on one behavior. If you’re doing that, you’re behind,” he said. “Take a big picture approach and look and at your child as a whole. It all starts at home.”

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Map Claims to Show When People Go to Sleep

Erik Snyder/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Whether it’s because of sports broadcast schedules or circadian rhythms, people in the western United States seem to hit the sack earlier than people in the East.

Tech-device maker Jawbone released sleep map graphics that it says show what time people go to sleep, by county, and how long they sleep.

Brooklyn, or Kings County, stays up the latest — until 12:07 a.m. — and the earliest to bed are Hawaiian Islands Maui and Kauai at 10:31 p.m. and 10:33 p.m., respectively, Jawbone said.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SLEEP MAP GRAPHICS ]

People who live in cities don’t get as much sleep as those in suburban and rural counties, Jawbone said.

“No major city in the United States averages above the [National Institutes of Health]-recommended seven hours of sleep per night,” according to the San Francisco company’s blog.

The nonscientific survey was based on over one million people wearing Jawbone’s health and activity tracker UP. Jawbone said it blended less-populous counties with neighboring counties “to generate significant results.”

“This technique revealed patterns at finer granularity than the state level, such as time zone boundaries. All data is anonymized and presented in aggregate,” Jawbone said on its blog.

Jawbone did not respond to a request for comment.

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Ex-Ebola Patient Donates Blood to Fight Virus in Ashoka Mukpo

iStock/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) — The first American flown back from Africa to battle the Ebola virus on U.S. soil has donated blood to help a U.S. journalist fight Ebola at a Nebraska hospital.

The technique of treating Ebola with blood transfusions from recovered patients is experimental. In theory, the plasma fraction of the blood contains antibodies, protective factors and, in Ebola survivors, likely would contain protective factors against Ebola.

The photojournalist, Ashoka Mukpo, who had been working as a freelance cameraman in Liberia, already is receiving the same experimental treatment as the Liberian patient who was diagnosed with the disease in Texas.

Both Mukpo and Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man visiting family in America, are being treated with brincidofovir.

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Sudden Noise Can Lead to Knee Damage

iStock/Thinkstock(NEWARK, Del.) — Sticks and stones may break your bones and loud noises can hurt your knees. Or rather, reacting to sudden noises such as a siren or a car horn might result in a loss of balance that spurs sprains and tears to the knee’s anterior cruciate ligament.

While nobody wants to feel like a klutz, even well-conditioned athletes are sometimes startled by loud or shrill sounds, causing muscle stiffness that boosts the risk of an ACL injury.

Researchers put 36 students from the University of Delaware into a special motorized chair where they were instructed to keep from bending the knee of their dominant leg in a series of trials involving high-pitched beeps.

Nevertheless, the beeps induced a startle response whereby the knee muscle suddenly stiffened and just as quickly subsided, which the researchers say makes it ripe for injury because of abnormal stresses on the joint needed for proper knee function.

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As 20th Century Culture Changed, Risk of Skin Cancer Grew

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has not just grown substantially over the past decade but really since the middle of the 20th century, according to a NYU study.

Dr. David Polsky set out to chart the rise of skin cancer since the turn of the previous century, which is attributed to a greater desire for tans and other changes in the culture of the U.S.

For instance, Americans at the beginning of the 1900s actually worshiped pale skin because of racial stereotypes and the perception that only lower-class people toiled outside.

However, with health experts touting the benefits of Vitamin D to treat tuberculosis and rickets, people began spending more time in the sun and subsequently exposing more of their skin to UV rays.

With Americans also clamoring for a tan, doctors saw melanoma cases skyrocket 300 percent for men and 400 percent for women from the 1930s until the 1960s.

Even with people far more aware about the dangers of skin cancer, melanomas increased during the previous decade as tanning beds became the rage, particularly among the young.

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Boss, Won’t Be in Today…Check My Selfie

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — During the golden days of calling in sick to work, employees might feign sounding miserable over the phone in hopes that the boss might buy their excuse.

However, in this new age of instant visual communication, some people aren’t above posting a photo of their sick selves with the Twitter hashtag #sickieselfie.

The coupon site vouchercloud conducted a survey of 2,300 people ages 18 to 45 and discovered about half actually uploaded a selfie of themselves pretending to be under the weather with 41 percent of the snapshots taken at home.

Of course, calling in sick isn’t the only reason why folks post sick selfies. Fifteen percent said they did it to win sympathy from friends and loved ones while nine percent claim it was purely for the attention.

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