Alzheimer’s plaques found in middle-aged people with brain injuries

People with brain injuries after head trauma might have buildup of the plaques related to Alzheimer’s disease in their brains, a new study suggests.

Findings are published in the Feb. 3 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

A corresponding editorial points out during the past decade the rate of ED visits related to traumatic brain injury has increased by 70%. The editorial also notes an estimated 3 million to 5 million Americans live with a TBI-related disability.

“The study is small and the findings preliminary; however, we did find an increased buildup of amyloid plaques in people who had previously sustained a traumatic brain injury,” study author David Sharp, MD, professor at Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom, said in a news release. “The areas of the brain affected by plaques overlapped those areas affected in Alzheimer’s disease, but other areas were involved. After a head injury, people are more likely to develop dementia, but it isn’t clear why. Our findings suggest a TBI leads to the development of the plaques, which are a well-known feature of Alzheimer’s disease.”

For the study, nine people with an average age of 44 who had a single moderate to severe TBI underwent PET and MRI brain scans. Their brain injuries had occurred between 11 months and 17 years before the start of the study. The participants were compared with 10 people who had Alzheimer’s disease and nine healthy participants.

The PET scans used a marker that detects plaques in the brain. The MRI scans used diffusion tensor imaging to detect damage to brain cells that occurs after a TBI. Both the people with brain injuries and the people with Alzheimer’s disease had plaques in […]

By |February 16th, 2016|Categories: News||0 Comments

Survey: More than 1 in 20 U.S. children have dizziness, balance problems

More than 1 in 20 (nearly 3.3 million) children between the ages of 3 and 17 have a dizziness or balance problem, according to an analysis of a large-scale, nationally representative survey of these problems in U.S. children.

Prevalence increases with age, with 7.5% of children ages 15-17 and 6% percent of children ages 12-14 having any dizziness or balance problem, compared with 3.6% of children ages 6-8 and 4.1% of children ages 3-5, the analysis found. The research was led by investigators at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, part of the National Institutes of Health. The team also included Helen S. Cohen, EdD, OTR, from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, and from Rose Marie Rine, PhD, PT, from Marshall University, Huntington, W.Va.

Researchers found girls have a higher prevalence of dizziness and balance problems compared with boys, 5.7% and 5%, respectively. They also found non-Hispanic white children have an increased prevalence of dizziness and balance problems (6.1%) compared with Hispanic (4.6%) and non-Hispanic black (4.3%) children. The findings were published online Jan. 27 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

“These findings suggest that dizziness and balance problems are fairly common among children, and parents and providers should be aware of the impact these problems can have on our children,” James F. Battey Jr., MD, PhD, NIDCD director and a pediatrician, said in a news release. “Parents who notice dizziness and balance problems in their children should consult a healthcare provider to rule out a serious underlying condition.”

Previous estimates of dizziness and balance problems in children have ranged from 5% to 18% and have been based on limited, foreign, population-based studies. To better understand the prevalence of these problems among U.S. children, a […]

By |February 15th, 2016|Categories: News||0 Comments

Study strengthens evidence linking ASD to maternal obesity, diabetes

Using electronic medical records and birth information, scientists have been able to find more evidence supporting a link between autism spectrum disorder and pregnant mothers with obesity and diabetes, according to a news release.

The findings from researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center are reported in a study posted online Jan. 29 ahead of publication by the journal Autism Research. An estimated 1 out of 45 children is affected by ASD, according to the CDC. Genetics, environment and the interaction of both are suspected. The increasing prevalence of ASD also happens to mirror increases in obesity and diabetes, the researchers noted.

“Although previous studies report a link between maternal obesity and diabetes during pregnancy to autism, we demonstrate that electronic medical data can verify and establish the extent of this link across large populations,” study senior author Katherine Bowers, PhD, MPH, a member of the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Cincinnati Children’s, said in the release.

“Without placing any burden on study participants or the costs of developing an epidemiologic study from scratch, we can use the vast amounts of data already collected for clinical purposes to conduct broad population-based studies on this link to autism,” she said in the release. “We are very excited about the future studies we can do with this ability.”

According to study data, pregnant mothers with obesity or gestational diabetes were 1.5 times more likely to have a child with ASD. The increased risk of ASD for pregnant mothers with both obesity and gestational diabetes was two-fold, results showed. The findings fit into an increasing body of evidence that obesity and gestational diabetes might be associated with the development of autism.

The team, which included Bowers, her colleagues and collaborators in […]

By |February 12th, 2016|Categories: News||0 Comments

Many young people unaware of stroke symptoms, would delay seeking help

Patients younger than 45 might underestimate the urgency of stroke symptoms and most say they would delay going to the hospital for help, according to a national survey by Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

“Timely treatment for stroke is probably more important than for almost any other medical problem there is,” David Liebeskind, MD, professor of neurology, director of Outpatient Stroke and Neurovascular Programs and director of the Neurovascular Imaging Research Core at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said in a news release. “There is a very limited window in which to start treatment because the brain is very sensitive to a lack of blood flow or to bleeding, and the longer patients wait, the more devastating the consequences.”

Physicians refer to the three hours after a person experiences the first stroke symptom as the golden window, or the period of time patients need to receive care to restore blood flow to the brain and minimize or reverse damage.

For the survey, researchers asked more than 1,000 people nationwide what they would be likely to do within the first three hours of experiencing weakness, numbness, difficulty speaking or difficulty seeing, all common symptoms of a stroke. Among those younger than 45, only about 1 out of 3 said they would be very likely to go to the hospital, with 73% saying they would likely wait to see whether their symptoms improved.

“That’s a real problem,” Liebeskind said in the release. “We need to educate younger people about the symptoms of stroke and convince them of the urgency of the situation, because the numbers are going up.”

Since the mid-1990s, the number of adults ages 18-45 discharged from U.S. hospitals after suffering a stroke has jumped as much as 53%, […]

By |February 9th, 2016|Categories: News||0 Comments

Research eyes role African-American race plays in stroke risk

Even though young African-Americans are at three times greater risk of a first stroke than their white counterparts, they might not be at a higher risk for a second stroke, according to a new study.

Findings were published in the Jan. 20 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. According to a news release, the study is one of the first of its kind to look at race and second stroke risk.

“The interaction between black race and age appears to be remarkably different for the risk of first versus second stroke,” study author George Howard, DrPH, with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in the release. “There was very little difference in race for the risk of a second stroke.”

The study involved 29,682 people from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke, also called the REGARDS study. Of those, 2,993 people had a history of stroke at the start of the study. During the seven years of the study, 301 of them had a second stroke, researchers found. Of the 26,689 people who had never had a stroke when the study began, 818 people experienced a first stroke during the study, results showed.

The researchers found among study participants without a stroke at the start of the study, African-Americans were 2.7 times more likely to have a stroke than the white participants at age 45; however, there was no difference at age 85. Race did not appear to increase second stroke risk for African-American participants at any age.

“Almost all of the ‘traditional’ risk factors for a first stroke proved to also be a risk factor for a second stroke, suggesting that controlling these risk factors may help […]

By |February 5th, 2016|Categories: News||0 Comments

Study on ‘social life’ of paper health records receives award

An article detailing two researchers’ findings on the social life of paper health records in Social Science & Medicine received the 2015 Diana Forsythe Award from the American Medical Informatics Association in December, according to a recent news story.

Despite the ongoing transition to electronic health records nationwide, two researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles have been digging into any remaining value of the traditional hard-copy records. Their article was selected as a co-recipient from a group of more than 30 other nominations, according to the story. The award is named in memory of Forsythe, who was a pioneer in the field of medical informatics.

For their research, occupational science doctorate candidate Amber Angell, MOT, OTR/L, and her mentor, Olga Solomon, PhD, MA, assistant professor in the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, looked at data from Solomon’s multidisciplinary urban ethnographic study, “Autism in Urban Context,” according to the USC News story by Mike McNulty. The study was funded by the National Institute for Mental Health.

To collect data for the study, the researchers followed 23 African-American families that included children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder who lived in Los Angeles County. For about three years, investigators interviewed, observed and video-recorded the families in their homes, in physician’s offices, in their children’s schools and in the community. Many of the families faced persistent disparities in ASD diagnosis and interventions, according to the article.

The families were asked questions about how they used their child’s health records when seeking and obtaining ASD services, how the health records changed their interactions with healthcare professionals and how the records affected the families’ experiences, according to the story.
Records throughout the community
Angell and Solomon discovered records […]

By |February 2nd, 2016|Categories: News||0 Comments

Study: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy lingers for years

Years after completing cancer treatment, 45% of women cancer survivors still have chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy symptoms, according to new research.

In the study, CIPN was associated with worse physical functioning, poorer mobility and a nearly two-fold higher risk of falls. While more research is needed, the investigators said these findings might inform rehabilitation and fall prevention interventions tailored to people with CIPN.

Findings were presented at the 2016 Cancer Survivorship Symposium, which took place Jan. 15-16 in San Francisco.

“We can’t dismiss neuropathy as a treatment side effect that goes away, because symptoms persist for years in nearly half of women,” lead author Kerri M. Winters-Stone, PhD, a research professor at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, said in a news release. “While there are no effective treatments for this side effect, rehabilitative exercise programs may preserve physical functioning and mobility in the presence of neuropathy to help prevent falls and resulting injuries.”

Depending of the type of chemotherapy they received, an estimated 57% to 83% of patients will have signs of CIPN at some point during or after their care. It is not possible to predict which patient will develop CIPN or how long the symptoms will last, according to the release. And because there are no reliable tools for early detection of CIPN in routine cancer care, it often is not found until the symptoms become severe.

According to the authors, this is one of the first studies to explore the relationship between CIPN and physical functioning, including risk of falls. The researchers assessed data from 462 women enrolled in exercise intervention trials designed to address fractures and falls in women cancer survivors. The majority (71%) of the women had breast cancer, and others had lung, […]

By |February 1st, 2016|Categories: News||0 Comments

Poor sleep in seniors linked to hardened brain arteries

Poor sleep quality in elderly people is associated with more severe arteriosclerosis in the brain and a greater burden of oxygen-starved tissue or infarcts in the brain — both of which can contribute to the risk of stroke and cognitive impairment, according to a new study.

Findings were reported Jan. 14 in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

The relationship between cardiovascular disease and so-called fragmented sleep has been studied in the past, but this is the first study to look specifically for an association between sleep fragmentation and detailed microscopic measures of blood vessel damage and infarcts in autopsied brain tissue from the same individuals, according to a news release.

Fragmented sleep occurs when sleep is interrupted by repeated awakenings or arousals. In this study, sleep was disrupted on average almost seven times each hour.

Researchers examined autopsied brains of 315 people (average age 90, 70% women) who had undergone at least one full week of around-the-clock monitoring for rest or activity, from which sleep quality and circadian rhythms were quantified. In all, results showed 29% of the patients had suffered a stroke, while 61% had signs of moderate to severe damage to blood vessels in the brain.

Researchers found greater sleep fragmentation was associated with 27% higher odds of having severe arteriosclerosis. Also, for each additional two arousals during one hour of sleep, researchers reported a 30% increase in the odds that subjects had visible signs of oxygen deprivation in their brains.

These findings were independent of other cardiovascular risk factors, such as body mass, smoking history, diabetes, and hypertension, or other medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, pain, depression or heart failure, researchers said.

“The forms of brain injury that we observed are important because they may not […]

By |January 29th, 2016|Categories: News||0 Comments

Study eyes influence of toy types on infants’ language

Electronic toys for infants that emit lights, words and songs were associated with decreased quantity and quality of language compared with playing with books or traditional toys such as a wooden puzzle, a shape-sorter and a set of rubber blocks, a recent study found.

Findings were published Dec. 23 on the website of JAMA Pediatrics.

The reality for many families of young children is opportunities for direct parent-child play time is limited because of financial, work and other familial factors, according to a news release. For that reason, optimizing the quality of limited parent-child play time is important.

Anna V. Sosa, PhD, of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, and colleagues conducted a controlled experiment involving 26 parent-infant pairs with children who were 10 to 16 months old. Researchers did not directly observe parent-infant play time because it was conducted in participants’ homes. Audio recording equipment was used to pick up sound during the 15-minute play sessions. The parent and infant pairs were given three sets of toys: electronic toys (a baby laptop, a talking farm and a baby cell phone); traditional toys (chunky wooden puzzle, shape-sorter and rubber blocks with pictures); and five board books with farm animal, shape or color themes.

While playing with electronic toys there were fewer adult words used, fewer conversational turns with verbal back-and-forth, fewer parental responses and less production of content-specific words than when playing with traditional toys or books, researchers found. Children also vocalized less while playing with electronic toys than with books, according to the results.

Results also indicate parents produced fewer words during play with traditional toys than while playing with books with infants. Parents also used less content-specific words when playing with traditional toys with their infants than when playing […]

By |January 26th, 2016|Categories: News||0 Comments

EsoGlove detects muscle signals, guides the hand for rehab exercises

Patients who have lost hand function because of injuries or nerve-related conditions such as stroke and muscular dystrophy could be able to restore movements using a new lightweight rehabilitation device called EsoGlove.

The device, developed by a research team from the National University of Singapore, is made of soft materials and builds on conventional robotic hand rehab devices, according to a news release. The EsoGlove has sensors to detect muscle signals and conforms to the natural movements of the human hand, reducing discomfort and risk of injury. It also is compact and portable, so patients who are recovering at home or are bedridden could complete rehab exercises with greater ease and comfort.

“For patients to restore their hand functions, they need to go through rehabilitation programs that involve repetitive tasks such as gripping and releasing objects,” Raye Yeow, PhD, assistant professor in the NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering, who specializes in soft wearable robotics, said in the release. “These exercises are often labor intensive and are confined to clinical settings. EsoGlove is designed to enable patients to carry out rehabilitation exercises in various settings – in the hospital wards, rehabilitation centers and even at home. Equipped with technology that can detect and interpret muscle signals, EsoGlove can also assist patients in daily activities, for instance by guiding the fingers to perform tasks such as holding a cup.”

The NUS team includes Yeow, his clinical collaborator Lim Jeong Hoon, MD, PhD, from the NUS Department of Medicine, and PhD candidate Yap Hong Kai and undergraduate student Benjamin Ang Wee Keong, both from the NUS Biomedical Engineering department.
Greater comfort and convenience
Conventional robotic devices for hand rehabilitation consist of rigid electromechanical components, which can be heavy and uncomfortable for patients.

“EsoGlove […]

By |January 25th, 2016|Categories: News||2 Comments