Alliedhealthcare Headline Animator

Monday, 26 December 2011

Physical Function Following Hip Replacement Surgery Improved By Walking Skills Program

Researchers in Norway report that patients who receive walking skills training following total hip arthroplasty for osteoarthritis show improved physical function. The physical therapy program displayed a positive effect on walking distance and stair climbing which continued 12 months following hip replacement surgery. Results of the study appear in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). 

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a joint disease where loss of cartilage in affected joints such as the knees, hips, fingers or spine causes pain and stiffness that can be disabling. In some cases, the only treatment option for OA is total replacement of the joint, known as arthroplasty. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10% of men and 18% of women 60 years of age and older suffer from OA. In the U.S., the National Hospital Discharge Survey reported that 230,000 Americans had hip replacement surgery in 2007.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

New stroke therapy shows promise on kids

Using non-invasive electronic stimulation, coupled with occupational therapy, researchers say they are hoping kids can increase hand function.

s it possible to experience elation putting in your own ponytail or firmly shaking hands with a stranger?
Just look at Maddy Evans' beaming face for the answer. Maddy, 16, completed a study at the University of Minnesota and Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, using a combination of brain stimulation and occupational therapy to help children who have had a stroke increase their hand function. Maddy now buttons her coat with both hands, can put in her own ponytail and, yes, reaches for a stranger's hand with her right one. She never used to use her right hand.
"It helped. If anything, it helped with my confidence," the 16-year-old from Lakeville said in an interview last week. "I'm using it a lot more than I used to."
The new stimulation therapy uses a noninvasive magnetic field on the healthy side of the brain. Gillette, with 2010 revenue of $164 million, has a long history of innovation in pediatric medicine.
But what the folks who ran the study cannot say yet is whether the therapy is boosting gains children achieve from occupational therapy. They need 30 children between the ages of 8 and 16 to complete the study. Seventeen children have completed it; 13 more are needed by August 2012, when funding runs out.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Moderate exercise such as walking 'boosts memory power'

Walking for 40 minutes a few times a week is enough to preserve memory and keep ageing brains on top form, research shows.
Moderate exercise increased the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that makes memories, in 120 volunteers.
The year-long trial, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed performance on memory tests also improved.
Exercise may buffer against dementia as well as age-related memory loss.
The latest work looked at healthy people in their 60s rather than people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.
But the findings have important implications for ageing societies faced with a dementia time bomb.

Start Quote

Even modest exercise may improve memory and help protect the brain from normal decline caused by ageing”
Dr Simon Ridley of the Alzheimer's Research Trust
In the UK, 820,000 people have dementia, and this figure is set to double by 2030.
Until a cure is discovered, finding cheap and simple ways to reverse this trend is imperative, say experts.
Little and often
Professor Kirk Erickson and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh in the US set out to investigate the impact that even moderate exercise might have on preserving memory.
They split their 120 volunteers into two groups. One group was asked to begin an exercise regimen of walking around a track for 40 minutes a day, three days a week, while the others were limited to doing simple stretching and toning exercises.
Brain scans and memory tests were performed at the start of the study, halfway through the study and again at the end.
Scans revealed hippocampus volume increased by around 2% in people who did regular aerobic exercise. The same region of the brain decreased in volume by 1.4% in those who did stretching exercises, consistent with the decrease seen in normal ageing.
Both groups showed some improvement over time on memory tests. In the walking group, the improvement appeared to be linked with increased size of the hippocampus.
Professor Erickson said: "We think of the atrophy of the hippocampus in later life as almost inevitable. But we've shown that even moderate exercise for one year can increase the size of that structure.
"The brain at that stage remains modifiable."
Dr Simon Ridley of the Alzheimer's Research Trust said that although the study does not look at memory loss in Alzheimer's or dementia, it suggests "it's never too late to start exercising to help keep our brains healthy".
"Even modest exercise may improve memory and help protect the brain from normal decline caused by ageing.
"Increasing evidence suggests regular exercise and a healthy diet may help reduce our risk of developing dementia as well as reaping numerous other benefits from living a healthy lifestyle."

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Brain changes seen in cabbies who take 'The Knowledge'

The structure of a London taxi driver's brain changes during the gruelling process of learning the quickest way around the capital, scans reveal.
Dozens of trainee drivers had MRI scans before and after they acquired "The Knowledge", memorising hundreds of journeys and street names.
The University College London team, writing in Current Biology, found brain parts linked to memory grew bigger.
They said it proved the brain could adapt to new tasks, even in adulthood.
'Plastic' brains
Earlier studies of the brain of the cabbie had already noted the increase in "grey matter" in the hippocampus, an area found at the base of the brain.
However this research tried to work out if the change had happened during the intensive learning period prior to starting work, or on the job itself.
They scanned a total of 79 trainees, just before they started to learn the "All-London" Knowledge, which can take between two and four years to complete.

Start Quote

This offers encouragement for adults who want to learn new skills later in life”
Prof Eleanor Maguire,UCL
Would-be taxi drivers have to learn 320 routes within a six mile radius of Charing Cross, which covers a mind-boggling 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks and places of interest.
Throughout the process, any changes to their brains were mapped by regular MRI scans.
Compared with similar scans from non-taxi drivers, those who had attempted the Knowledge had increased the size of the posterior hippocampus - the rear section of the hippocampus which lies at the front of the brain.
As would be expected, they were better at memory tasks involving London landmarks than the non-cabbies, but this advantage appeared to come at a price, as the non-cabbies outperformed them in other memory tasks, such as recalling complex visual information.
Prof Eleanor Maguire, who led the study, said: "The human brain remains 'plastic', even in adult life, allowing it to adapt when we learn new tasks.
"By following the trainee taxi drivers over time as they acquired - or failed to acquire - the Knowledge, a uniquely challenging spatial memory task, we have seen directly and within individuals how the structure of the hippocampus can change with external stimulation.
"This offers encouragement for adults who want to learn new skills later in life."
The reasons why the brain was able to adapt remain unclear, although the hippocampus is one of the few areas of the brain in which new cells can grow.
Dr John Williams, head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust, which helped fund the research, said: "Only a few studies have shown direct evidence for plasticity in the adult human brain related to vital functions such as memory, so this new work makes an important contribution."

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Chronic fatigue syndrome 'affects one in 100 pupils'

By James Gallagher Health reporter, BBC News

One in 100 secondary school pupils could be missing classes because of chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), say researchers.
A study following 2,855 pupils at three schools, published in the online journal BMJ Open, found 28 missed school with chronic fatigue syndrome.
The researchers said the effect was "potentially devastating".
A charity said the true figure was likely to be even higher.
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown and there is no known cure. It is a medical condition rather than just schoolchildren staying up too late. It results in extreme tiredness as well as problems with memory and concentration.
The researchers looked at every pupil between the age of 11 and 16 at three secondary schools in Bath. The 461 pupils who were absent for at least a day a week in a six-week term were investigated further.
Five had already been diagnosed with chronic fatigue and a further 23 cases were identified.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Yoga Eases Back Pain in Largest U.S. Yoga Study to Date

ScienceDaily (Oct. 24, 2011) — Yoga classes were linked to better back-related function and diminished symptoms from chronic low back pain in the largest U.S. randomized controlled trial of yoga to date, published by the Archives of Internal Medicine as an "Online First" article on October 24. But so were intensive stretching classes.

"We found yoga classes more effective than a self-care book -- but no more effective than stretching classes," said study leader Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute. Back-related function was better and symptoms were diminished with yoga at 12 weeks; and clinically important benefits, including less use of pain medications, lasted at least six months for both yoga and stretching, with thorough follow-up of more than nine in 10 participants.
In the trial, 228 adults in six cities in western Washington state were randomly assigned to 12 weekly 75-minute classes of either yoga or stretching exercises or a comprehensive self-care book calledThe Back Pain Helpbook. Nine in 10 of them were primary-care patients at Group Health Cooperative. Participants in the trial typically had moderate -- not severe -- back pain and relatively good mental health, and most had been at least somewhat active before the trial started.
The class participants received instructional videos and were encouraged to practice at home for 20 minutes a day between their weekly classes. Interviewers who didn't know the patients' treatment assignments assessed their back-related function and pain symptoms at six weeks, 12 weeks, and six months.
In 2005, Dr. Sherman and her colleagues conducted a smaller study that found yoga effective for easing chronic low back pain. "In our new trial," she said, "we wanted both to confirm those results in a larger group and to see how yoga compared to a different form of exercise of comparable physical exertion: stretching.
Both the yoga and stretching classes emphasized the torso and legs:
  • The type of yoga used in the trial, called viniyoga, adapts the principles of yoga for each individual and physical condition, with modifications for people with physical limitations. The yoga classes also used breathing exercises, with a deep relaxation at the end.
  • The stretching classes used 15 different stretching exercises, including stretches of the hamstrings and hip flexors and rotators. Each was held for a minute and repeated once, for a total of 52 minutes of stretching. Strengthening exercises were also included.
"We expected back pain to ease more with yoga than with stretching, so our findings surprised us," Dr. Sherman said. "The most straightforward interpretation of our findings would be that yoga's benefits on back function and symptoms were largely physical, due to the stretching and strengthening of muscles."
But the stretching classes included a lot more stretching than in most such classes, with each stretch held for a relatively long time. "People may have actually begun to relax more in the stretching classes than they would in a typical exercise class," she added. "In retrospect, we realized that these stretching classes were a bit more like yoga than a more typical exercise program would be." So the trial might have compared rather similar programs with each other.
"Our results suggest that both yoga and stretching can be good, safe options for people who are willing to try physical activity to relieve their moderate low back pain," Dr. Sherman concluded. "But it's important for the classes to be therapeutically oriented, geared for beginners, and taught by instructors who can modify postures for participants' individual physical limitations."
In an invited commentary, Timothy S. Carey, MD, MPH, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, called Dr. Sherman's study "an excellent example of a pragmatic comparative effectiveness trial," noting that the Institute of Medicine has identified chronic back pain as a priority condition for such studies.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the trial.
Dr. Sherman's coauthors were Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD, Robert D. Wellman, MS, Andrea J. Cook, PhD, Rene J. Hawkes, and Kristin Delaney, MPH, of Group Health Institute; and Richard A. Deyo, MD, MPH, of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Drs. Sherman, Cherkin, and Cook are also on the faculty of the University of Washington School of Public Health

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Language Skills In Stroke Patients Improve With Magnetic Treatment

A study by The University of Queensland has revealed that language skills of individuals who survived a stroke with aphasia could be improved with magnetic stimulation of the brain. The study was conducted by Dr. Caroline Barwood, who recently completed her PhD at the University of Queensland School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Barwood discovered that the language skills of stroke patients following Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) were significantly improved. 

TMS is a non-invasive technique that aims to target activity in the brain in order to help restructuring brain areas with the goal of changing language behaviors.