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Health Updates 23 May 2012

  • No progress in reducing US motorcycle deaths: “The United States made no overall progress in reducing motorcyclist deaths in 2011, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association.  An analysis of preliminary data from 50 states and the District of Columbia indicates that there were about 4,500 motorcyclist deaths in last year, the same number as in 2010.  But some individual states did see decreases in these fatalities in 2011, while rates rose in other states…Compared to the first nine months of 2010, motorcyclist deaths decreased in 23 states during the first nine months of 2011….However, motorcyclist deaths rose in  26 states and the District of Columbia, including increases of 26 percent in South Carolina, 16 percent in Texas and 10 percent in California, the investigators found….Troy Costales, GHSA chairman, also commented on the report.  ‘It is disappointing that we are not making progress in motorcycle safety, particularly as fatalities involving other motorists continue to decline.  As the study notes, the strengthening economy, high gas prices and the lack of all-rider helmet laws leave me concerned about the final numbers for 2011 and 2012.  Every motorcyclist deserves to arrive at their destination safely.  These fatality figures represent real people — they are family, friends and neighbors’.”  There is room for optimism, however, especially if five motorcycle safety issues are supported: increased helmet use; reduced alcohol impairment; reduced speeding; providing motorcycle training for all who need or seek it; encouraging all drivers to share the road with motorcyclists. (HealthDay)
  • Program cuts use of restraints in nursing homes: Nursing homes that took part in a multicomponent, guideline-based intervention made less use of physical restraints on their residents, according to German researchers.  From a baseline to 6 months after starting the program, the prevalence of physical restraint use dropped from 31.5% to 22.6% in the intervention group, compared with virtually no change in the control group….However, the intervention did not render any statistically significant differences in falls, fall-related fractures, or prescriptions for psychotropic medication between the two groups, the authors wrote.  Physical restraints, such as bilateral bed rails and belts, as well as fixed tables in a chair, are routinely used in German nursing homes even though German law requires that residents have the ability to move freely, they noted.  And a recent survey found that, in the US, physical restraints were used more than 20% of the time in nursing home residents with dementia.  [The German] group developed an evidence-based guideline based on a theory of planned behavior.  This psychological theory states than attitudes toward behavior, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control collectively shape an individual’s intentions and behaviors.  The authors then implemented this guideline as part of a 24-step intervention program targeted at reducing the prevalence of physical restraint use.”  The central recommendation of the program is not to apply physical restraints — it is possible and always preferred to refrain from any such practices. (Shalmali Pal, MedPage Today)
  • Many think cancer spreads by air: “One in six prostate cancer patients believed that cancer can be spread by air, and that belief may affect their treatment choices, results of a patient survey showed.  Men who believed that air can spread cancer were more than three times as likely not to choose radical  prostatectomy as a treatment option, compared with men who said cancer definitely cannot be spread by air.  The findings emphasize how physicians need to be sure that cancer patients understand the disease, particularly with respect to treatment options, Willie Underwood, MD, said here [Atlanta] at the American Urological Association meeting.  ‘If a patient is going to have surgery, he might ask, “What are you going to do if the cancer has spread?”, said Underwood…’Physicians might think the patient is asking whether the cancer has spread to other sites in the body….In fact, the patient might be asking,  “What are you going to do when you open me up and the air hits the cancer and spreads it?”  We think that’s what some patients are asking’.  The potential misunderstanding came to light in a survey of 158 patients with localized prostate cancer….’A significant proportion of men with localized prostate cancer may believe that air spreads cancer,’ said Underwood.  ‘Additionally, the opinion that air spreads cancer may influence the ultimate treatment decision-making….In counseling men regarding prostate cancer treatment options, it is important to understand the influence of patients’ attitudes and beliefs regarding the treatment options’.” (Charles Bankhead, MedPage Today)
  • Sleepwalking nation: “Could you be lying down at night and then getting back up on your feet without even knowing it?  A new survey in the journal Neurology finds that more people may be sleepwalking than experts previously thought.  Nearly 20,000 adults answered a survey about their sleep habits and their physical and mental health.  Nearly 30 percent said they’d sleepwalked at some point in their life.  About 3.5 percent reported sleepwalking in the previous year.  Some people are more likely to sleepwalk two or more times a month, including people with:

So were  people used to over-the-counter sleeping pills and the type of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, since sleepwalking can lead to injuries, waking up people who are roaming around at night may protect them from harm.” (MedlinePlus)

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