A new device similar to a pacemaker has been devised that may help patients suffering from dementia and traumatic brain injuries. It sends messages to the brain when it is struggling to remember but is quiet when it feels the brain is functioning well. Devices such as this have been used in the past but only for people suffering from seizures and Parkinson’s disease. The research is funded by the Department of Defense at the cost of $70 million dollars in the hope of relieving the stress of brain injuries suffered by soldiers. Impulses sent to a portion of the brain helped in a 15% improvement of word recall. Hope is that Alzheimer’s, as well depression and anxiety may be helped by targeting different areas of the brain with electrical impulses. Test subjects who showed greater recall said that they actually felt nothing physically when the brain was stimulated by these impulses.
A new study, done with animals, suggests that our bones may play a big part in controlling our appetite. Scientists believe that we have an internal bathroom scale that attempts to sustain a particular weight. It is usually a particular weight that we have maintained for a long period of time. Leptin is a hormone that controls appetite. When a person increases the fat storage of their body, more of this hormone is produced. When the brain receives this message it should in turn reduce appetite. If this were true people would not hold on to added weight. “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published results of studies done with rodents. Weights were implanted in the animals and immediately the animals began to eat less to accommodate the extra weight. The experiment was again repeated in animals who had little of the hormone leptin and again the animal ate less to accommodate the weight. This led scientists to come to the conclusion it is the production of new bone that is capable of keeping the body at a particular weight. Extra weight signals osteocytes (bone cells) to increase production. This in turn sends signals that there is a need to make changes so as to return to a particular weight. However since a good deal of us spend most of the day sitting our bones are not able to feel the stress of the extra weight and therefore there is no set weight that the body wishes to return to. Solution, stand as much as possible and walk after eating. This will help send clear messages to our bones.
When we hear about drones we tend to immediately think of spying, dropping bombs and spraying pesticides. However there are some incredible ways drones may save lives in the future. Drones in the future will be able to deliver medications, for asthma, blood pressure and diabetes to isolated pockets of Appalachia when they are given approval by the FAA. In 2016, a California based company named “Zipline”, started flying blood from a distribution center in Muhanga, Rwanda to two hospitals. The blood is used for transfusions in difficult surgeries. The company uses a fixed wing model which is able to withstand bad weather. It is monitored via satellite using an iPad and is able to make a drop within 15 feet of its target. In Sweden they have found that they are able to get a defibrillator to a destination 16 minutes earlier then an ambulance. William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Mississippi is developing a drone that can deliver telemedicine kits to doctors who may have to treat victims of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. An important component of the kit would be a pair of glasses known as Google glass. This pair of eye glasses will be able to transmit images to doctors in other locations enabling them to aid in treatment instructions.
Peanut allergies in children have tripled over the past two decades. The cause is unknown but a new treatment is having significant success. Australian researchers have conducted a small clinical trial that has had promising results. Children were separated into two groups. All had peanut allergies. One group received a daily probiotic which contained a protein found in peanuts. The other group received a placebo. The amounts given were slowly increased for a period lasting 18 months. Afterwards, 82% of the children treated with the probiotic group were deemed tolerant to peanuts as opposed to 4% in the placebo group. In the follow up study of these children, 70% of the tolerant group were able to later consume peanuts since they had developed a long term tolerance.
Working out has a positive effect on health but just how physiologically complex is exercise? Studies are now showing how movement demands coordination between different body systems. It seems that fat cells communicate with muscle cells who in turn communicate with the brain and finally the liver. The Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sidney, Australia has begun to look at what is known as vesicles within the cells. These are tiny microscopic globules, similar to little boats, that are responsible for transporting waste material out of the cells and into the blood to be excreted out of the body. It is now known they are also an important messenger carrier. After extracting blood samples from men before and while performing intense exercise they noted an increase in these tiny vesicles. Upon tracking these vesicles with fluorescent markers after injecting them into mice, it was noted that these vesicles travelled directly to the liver instructing it to rev up energy production in order to accommodate for the increase in energy expenditure. The study reveals the complexity of what happens in the blood during exercise.This is how the liver is aware of what is happening and how it is able to transfer that information to cells farthest away from itself that may also need energy. As a result, scientists are able to get clearer insight into how metabolism actually works.
Scientists have discovered that fish can become depressed and may be the key to developing antidepressants. According to the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences of Troy University in Alabama the neurochemistry between fish and humans is very similar. Fish are tested in what is called a “novel tank test’. A Zebrafish is dropped into the tank. If it sinks to the bottom it is a sign of depression as opposed to if it swims to the top and begins to explore. Severity is measured by how much time it spends in either location. It is by these observations that the researchers have determined that this is a form of depression. If depressed a fish usually loses interest in both food and exploration. Given a mild antidepressant the fish will eventually swim to the top of the tank a sign that it has overcome the depression. Not only do fish show the capability of using tools but they are also able to recognize faces. If a tank has an adequate amount of space and vegetation a fish will explore and be in constant motion, a sign that a fish is happy in its environment.
In Tanzania the people of the Hadza community have a diet that consists of the animals they kill, honey, berries and whatever grows wild. They eat what may be considered a true hunter-gatherer diet. In studying this group scientists have discovered that their gut bacteria undergoes different annual changes. Some of their microbes completely disappear only to return at another time of the year along with the change in diet. The study was conducted by the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Stool samples were compared with Italians from Bologna. The Hadza hosted much more abundant and rarer forms of gut microbial species. This led researchers to collect samples four times a year to see if the composition varied. There were extreme differences in the samples taken during the wet season as opposed to the dry season. This discovery is new for any human microbiome. The seasonal change in their diet lead to a predictable change in their gut bacteria. The composition is more similar to traditional older societies than to modernized industrial diets. Since industrialized nations eat the same foods year round, a clue to the rise in disease because of the loss of certain strains of bacteria may be the reason. This can be of significant value in possibly decreasing the causes of inflammation in the body, a source of chronic illnesses in our society. This would encourage us to explore more deeply the suggestion of a rotation of diet.
After an injury, not only athletes but also physically active people have one thing on their mind. How can I get back in the game. This kind of thinking can backfire and short circuit recovery. Post-traumatic osteoarthritis can exhibit itself decades later if adequate attention is not given to rehabilitation. Previously thought of as a disease which affects senior citizens it is now becoming prevalent in younger people as well. The odds of developing osteoarthritis after not treating an injury properly are six to one. According to research done by a team at the University of Iowa, it is the protective cartilage at the ends of the bones that is often damaged. These tissues are what cushion and stabilize bone and need sufficient time and care to heal properly. Osteoarthritis can be prevented or even seriously curtailed. Physical therapy which includes a program of strength and flexibility to all the supporting muscle groups can produce positive effects. For example, if a knee is injured attention should be given to strengthening the quads, hamstrings and hip muscles. Moderate activity is encouraged as long as it does not stress the particular joint in question.
In a study recorded in the Annals of Internal Medicine, yoga works as well as physical therapy in relieving back pain. There were 320 participants whose ages ranged from 18 to 64. Everyone had persistent back pain either moderate or severe. Subjects were divided into 3 groups and the experiment lasted 12 weeks. Group 1 was assigned weekly sessions of yoga. Group 2 was given 15 physical therapy sessions over that period and the last group was basically given educational material about back pain problems. At the end of the study both the yoga and physical therapy groups had similar outcomes. Half were relieved of their problems and half reduced all pain medication. The educational group had only about 20% that said they had reduced their pain level. Consistency remained higher in the yoga group which more of the participants found to be much more enjoyable. It allowed them to either do it in the privacy of their own home or be in a social situation when they felt they needed more support.
According to new research, heat may be much more beneficial for muscle recovery then ice. Researches at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden invited fit men and women to be tested on arm-peddling machines. The exercise was designed to exhaust arm muscles with periods of slow and intense intervals. Once the glycogen (carbohydrate fuel source) storage was depleted in the muscles they no longer had any strength. After which they slipped cuffs on their arms that were pre-heated to 100 degrees F or chilled to 5 degrees F by the coils within them. It turned out that the muscles recovered quicker with heat but only if it was accompanied with a resupply of glycogen. Because of this experiment researchers feel that after a long marathon it may be best to sit in a relaxing warm bath while eating a chocolate bar.