Health & Wellness


Dementia patient makes 'amazing' progress after using infra-red helmet

Two months ago Clem Fennell was fading fast.

The victim of an aggressive type of dementia, the 57-year-old businessmen was unable to answer the phone, order a meal or string more than a couple of words together.

In desperation, his family agreed to try a revolutionary new treatment - a bizarre-looking, experimental helmet devised by a British GP that bathes the brain in infra-red light twice a day.

To their astonishment, Mr Fennel began to make an astonishing recovery in just three weeks.

©North News and Pictures Ltd
Dr Gordon Dougal, a GP from County Durham, treated dementia patient Clem Fennell with his infra-red device

U.S. still flunks healthcare test, group says

The United States fails on most measures of health care quality, with Americans waiting longer to see doctors and more likely to die of preventable or treatable illnesses than people in other industrialized countries, a report released on Thursday said.

Americans squander money on wasteful administrative costs, illnesses caused by medical error and inefficient use of time, the report from the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund concluded.

"We lead the world in spending. We should be expecting much more in return," Commonwealth Fund senior vice president Cathy Schoen told reporters.

The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation, created a 100-point scorecard using 37 indicators such as health outcomes, quality, access and efficiency.

They compare the U.S. average on these to the best performing states, counties or hospitals, and to other countries. The United States scored 65 -- two points lower than in 2006.

New Approach Sheds Light On Ways Circadian Disruption Affects Human Health

Growing evidence indicates that exposure to irregular patterns of light and darkness can cause the human circadian system to fall out of synchrony with the 24-hour solar day, negatively affecting human health - but scientists have been unable to effectively study the relationship between circadian disruptions and human maladies.

©Rensselaer/Dennis Guyon
The Daysimeter, shown above, measures an individual's daily rest and activity patterns, as well as exposure to circadian light -- short-wavelength light, particularly natural light from the blue sky, that stimulates the circadian system.

A study by researchers in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center (LRC) provides a new framework for studying the effects of circadian disruption on breast cancer, obesity, sleep disorders, and other health problems.

Colombia: AIDS in the time of war

The combatants in Columbia's conflict threaten AIDS victims and even facilitate the spread of the disease, but powerful activist groups are fighting for their rights.

A few months before Myrian Cossio's 20th birthday, in San José del Guaviare, a bustling frontier town deep in Colombia's eastern tropical lowlands, armed men forced her into a car. She immediately knew they were from one of the three armed groups fighting in Colombia's decades-long civil war - army, paramilitary, and guerrillas. They took her to the town's outer limits and put a gun to her head. "We know you have AIDS, and we know you work with those whores and faggots," they told her. She had 48 hours to leave town, or they'd kill her.

TV overrides brain, makes kids fat, study suggests

OTTAWA - Watching TV at mealtime can make children overeat, as the distraction overrides signals that normally make a person feel full, Canadian research has found.

Scientists find key brain circuits for attention

Scientists have identified the brain circuits that play a key role in helping us pay attention, a finding that may help explain why things go wrong in diseases such as Alzheimer's and attention deficit disorders.

The finding published in the journal Nature could provide a new target for potential drugs to treat some neurodegenerative conditions and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, the researchers said.

Dutch farmers boycott British cattle after TB outbreak in Holland

Dutch farmers are boycotting cattle from the UK, an export industry worth around £270 million, after calves sent to Holland were found to be infected by bovine tuberculosis.

The calves were traced after tuberculosis (TB) reactors were found on a British farm which exported the animals in May.

Dutch authorities have placed 27 farms in Holland under TB restrictions and 12 cattle have tested positive for the highly infectious disease, which damages the animal's lungs and eventually leads to death.

Scotland: Inspectors find filthy conditions at hospital where 18 patients died of superbug C.diff

Hospital inspectors uncovered a catalogue of filth, decay and malpractice five months AFTER a killer superbug outbreak began.

Eighteen people have died from the C.difficile bug at overcrowded Vale of Leven Hospital in six months.

Last night their relatives spoke of their shock at the squalor found on the wards.

Inspectors found the appalling conditions at the hospital - where the first C.diff case came in December - on May 27.

Since then, another patient has died partly as a result of contracting the bug and two more have been infected.

US: A new implant to block fat absorption, reduce obesity

A promising new implant to reduce obesity is likely to replace existing bariatric surgeries, which are painful and invasive, according to a study here.

In a six-month open trial involving three medical centres in Australia, Mexico and Norway, 31 obese participants who received the vagal nerve-blocking device, lost nearly 15 percent of their excess weight. A quarter shed more than 25 percent, and three patients lost more than 30 percent.

Michael Camilleri, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, helped design the study and one whose previous work and know-how contributed to development of the device in collaboration with EnteroMedics.

Camilleri said the goal is to find a less drastic alternative to bariatric surgery that will still yield significant weight loss.

US: After hip replacements, a lawsuit

[Second of two articles]

Implant company paid Pennsylvania surgeon consulting fees.

Katrina McKenzie
©BOB WILLIAMS / For The Inquirer
Katrina McKenzie and husband, Woodrow. Hip implants she received at Penn failed.

Fed up with the constant pain in her hips, Katrina McKenzie took her surgeon's advice and had them replaced with experimental implants.

The 31-year-old from Galloway, N.J., who agreed to participate in a clinical study, knew there was a risk that her new hips could fail.

But she didn't know that the manufacturer financing the study, Smith & Nephew, was also paying her surgeon tens of thousands of dollars a year as a consultant.