Health Updates 3 August 2012

  • Fitness isn’t seen to prevent sports injury: “There are good reasons for college athletes to get in shape before the season, but a study suggests that injury prevention is not one of them.  Canadian researchers evaluated 86 male and female hockey, volleyball and basketball players for endurance, body strength and flexibility.  The scientists also measured the time each participant spent in practice and competition, and they collected information on the athlete’s injuries.  More than three-quarters had a least one injury, and they were injured more often in games than in practice.  But there was no correlation between overall fitness and the time until a first injury.  Instead, the study found the best predictors of early injury were being female and playing volleyball.  It was published last week in the journal Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology.  ‘We assumed that preseason fitness would create greater resilience, and we were confident that the tests themselves were valid, tests that you would see at any NCAA program,’ said the study’s lead author, Michael D. Kennedy, an assistant professor of athlete health at the University of Alberta.  ‘We were surprised that there wasn’t a predictive value for conditioning’.  While the testing was performed before the season began, the injury data was collected from the athletes retrospectively, a technique that does not always produce accurate data, he noted.” (NY Times)
  • Spray-on skin cells heal wounds faster: “Spray-on skin cells significantly improved wound healing versus standard care in patients with venous leg ulcers, results of a randomized trial showed.  The mean reduction in wound area at 12 weeks ranged from 8% to 16% greater…according to Robert S. Kirsner, MD, PhD, of the University of Miami, and colleagues.  The best results occurred with  the lowest dose of spray-on cells, which resulted in complete healing in almost a third more patients as compared with the placebo group. Differences in healing rates emerged within a week after initial treatment, they reported online in The Lancet.  ‘At this point of its evaluation, this product has superior healing and a faster time frame than anything else we’ve seen in the treatment of venous leg ulcers,’ Kirsner told MedPage Today.  ‘That still remains to be proved in phase III studies, which have begun enrolling patients in the US and will also be enrolling patients in Europe.  Chronic venous insufficiency in the legs leads to venous ulcers in 1.5% to 2% of adults 65 and older, the authors noted.  Standard treatment consists of infection control, primary dressings, and application of high-strength compression, which leads to healing in 30% to 75% of cases.  In the remaining cases, chronic unresolved wounds develop, marked by persistent inflammation in the wound bed and dysfunctional fibroblasts and keratinocytes.  Skin autografts induce complete wound healing but create a residual wound at the donor site.  Engineered skin allografts have achieved varying degrees of success, according to the background information.  Successful grafting with autologous and allogeneic keratinocytes in fibrin compounds suggest the cells and the products they release play a key role in healing, the authors continued.  The evidence provided a starting point for development of the spray-on cells, currently known as HP802-247.  The product consists of cryopreserved fibroblasts and keratinocytes derived from neonatal foreskin, tissue that usually is discarded after circumcision of newborns.  Thawed cells are suspended in a modified fibrin spray for application to a wound.” (Charles Bankhead, MedPage Today)
  • Musicians’ brains might have an edge on aging: “It’s been said that music soothes the savage breast, but if you’re the one playing the instrument it might benefit your brain.  A growing body of evidence suggests that learning to play an instrument and continuing to practice and play it may offer mental benefits throughout life.  Hearing has also been shown to be positively affected by making music.  The latest study, published in the July issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that musical instrument training may reduce the effects of mental decline associated with aging.  The research found that older adults who learned music in childhood and continued to play an instrument for at least 10 years outperformed others in tests of memory and cognitive ability.  It also revealed that sustaining musical activity during advanced age may enhance thinking ability, neutralizing any negative impact of age and even lack of education.  It’s unclear, however, whether starting an instrument in adulthood provides any mental advantages.  ‘Behaviors can change your brain,’ said study author Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, an assistant professor of neurology, radiology and imaging sciences at Emory University, in Atlanta.  The study confirms and refines findings from previous research published April 2011 in the journal Neuropsychology.  In childhood, when the brain is still developing, it seems that learning a musical instrument and continuing to play it for at least a decade or more may lay the groundwork for benefits later in life, Hanna-Pladdy said.  But it’s also valuable to then pick up the instrument in middle age and start playing again, she noted….Why study music education as opposed to calculus or history?  One reason is that evaluating the impact of music education is relatively easy because most people can specifically quantify the number of years they studied an instrument….it’s also simpler to quantify the time spent playing music than hours devoted to other activities, such as crossword puzzles, reading or playing games.  ‘Music activity requires years of practice and is a challenging cognitive exercise’…Cheryl Grady, a senior scientist at the Rotman research Institute at Baycrest Centre, in Toronto, said the research confirms what has been known for some time: Education can help protect against cognitive decline in older adults.  Grady pointed out that it remains unclear what is actually causing the beneficial effect.  ‘We still don’t know much about what actually happens in the brain.  My hunch is that in terms of these results, it has to do with the practicing, the continued stimulation of the brain,’ she added….The bottom line boils down to something simple: ‘Use it or lose it, or lose it less quickly,’ Grady said.  While the study found an association between musical activity and staying mentally sharp, it did not prove  a cause-and-effect relationship.” (HealthDay)
  • Health Tip: Managing workplace stressNo one’s job is stress-free.  But it’s important to curtail workplace stress as much as possible to help quash possible side effects, including weight gain, high blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack.  The American Council on Exercise says you can reduce workplace stress by:
    • Not worrying about previous assignments and how you could have done better.  Instead, focus on the tasks in front of you.
    • Being friendly and smiling at work, and making some time for friendly conversations with co-workers.
    • Communicating clearly with others to avoid misunderstandings and frustration.
    • Staying positive, and not dwelling solely on problems.
    • Eating well and exercising.
    • Communicating frequently with your manager.
    • Exploring other opportunities – if you are very unhappy at work and don’t see a possible resolution. (MedlinePlus)



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