Health Updates 11 July 2012

  • Does a long-ago head injury pose risks for the everyday athlete? “Much has been studied and reported…about the short-term effects of concussions on young athletes, as well as the potential longer-term outcomes for professional athletes who engage in high-level contact sports like football and ice hockey for many years, putting themselves at risk for multiple concussions and the lesser but still consequential subconcussive injuries.  But until recently, far less has been understood about the long-term implications, if any, of concussions experienced years ago by recreational athletes.  Does a 55-year old man who played high school football in the 70’s and perhaps grew dizzy or ‘had his bell rung’ after a tackle or two need to worry about the state of his brain today, even if he never had a formal diagnosis of concussion?…The emerging answer, according to recent research, would seem to be a cautious ‘probably not,’ although there may be reason to monitor how easily names and places come to mind.”  Studies of healthy middle-aged former athletes, all of whom had played contact sports in college, and some of whom had sustained concussions while do so, would indicate that some had some subtle signs of “abnormal aging”.  Their brains, in effect, seemed to be biologically older than uninjured brains – something that bears watching.  The recommendations, at least for now?  “Exercise.  Do puzzles.  Read.  Learn new things.  Those are all good for your brain anyway.”  And don’t worry too much.  (NY Times)
  • Kids track injuries surge in US: Track-related injuries have increased by more than a third among children and teens in the United States since the early 1990s, a new study finds.  The number of young people hurt while participating in the sport  surged 36 percent between 1991 and 2008 — from about 7,700 injuries to nearly 10,500, according to researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  ‘Participation in track is a great way to encourage children and adolescents to remain physically active,’ the study’s senior author, Lara McKenzie, principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a hospital news release.  ‘However, the increase in injuries corresponding with the increased participation in this activity suggests we need to do a better job of preventing track-related injuries among our young athletes’….Track and field activities include sprinting, cross-country, running, hurdles, relays, stretching and drills….Over the course of the 18-year study, the researchers noted that more than 159,000 children and teens from 10 to 18 years old were treated in emergency rooms for injuries they got while engaging in the sport.  Some injuries occurred more often than others.  Fifty-two percent of those hurt were diagnosed with a sprain or a strain.  Fractures accounted for 17 percent of the track-related injuries.  In 59 percent of cases, the young people were running when they got hurt….The kids were attempting hurdles in another 23 percent of injuries.”  Elementary students were more likely to sustain upper extremity injuries, while high schoolers injured their lower legs more often.  McKenzie observed that track-related injury prevention efforts may need to be tailored by activity for different age groups in order to most effectively address specific  injury concerns. (
  • Aging boomers’ mental health woes will swamp health system: Report “The United States faces an unprecedented number of aging baby boomers with mental health or substance use issues, a number so great it could overwhelm the existing health care system, a new report warned Tuesday.  ‘The report is sufficiently alarmist’, said Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.  ‘I think [the report authors] are right’.  Kennedy was not involved with the report, The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands?  It was mandated by Congress and issued by the Institute of Medicine in light of a ‘silver tsunami’ of health care needs expected to accompany a senior population that will reach 72.1 million by 2030.  The ‘silver tsunami’ is the result of simple supply-and-demand forces gone awry, the report authors explained.  Up to 8 million older Americans, or 20 percent of the current senior population, suffer from some form of mental health condition, often depression, at-risk drinking or dementia-related behavioral and psychiatric symptoms, according to the IOM report.  And 2 million seniors have severe mental illness…Also,  as baby boomers age, studies indicate that their use of illicit drugs will continue….Against these growing problems, meanwhile, the number of health providers and other service providers is shrinking in proportion.”  The report goes on to provide a number of recommendations for solutions, which basically amounts to a complete overhaul of the health care system, particularly the workforce.  Very few in the field understand how to interact with both the mentally ill and the elderly – two very vulnerable populations. (HealthDay)
  • Health Tip: To Be A Safe Biker Though biking is great exercise, and can keep you in shape and help you lose weight, you should still take precautions to help prevent injury.  The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these safety tips for cyclists:
    • Protect your eyes from dust, bugs and irritants with a pair of sports glasses.
    • Wear bright, reflective clothing that help drivers see you.
    • Prevent blisters by using padded gloves.
    • Keep comfortable with a pair of padded shorts and a cushioned seat.
    • Avoid biking when visibility is poor, or use an appropriate light.
    • Stay alert. (US Dept. of Health and Human Services)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s