March 20, 2016 |
Do you remember your child's first teacher? Your first teacher? The most influential teacher in your life? I'm sure most of us can. Mayor Kenney's proposal to tax sugary beverages and use much of the proceeds for prekindergarten has been making headlines lately. But this is a topic with implications well beyond education and politics. Early childhood education is a key contributor to lifelong health and a potent means to fight the health disparities that plague our city. In the first few years of a child's life, in every second there are 700 new brain cell connections being formed.
March 19, 2016 |
Three months shy of her 40th birthday, oil painter and Abington Art Center instructor Maggie Mills woke with visual problems and intense pain in her left eye. An ophthalmologist diagnosed optical neuritis - an inflammation of the optic nerve. Not convinced, Mills went on to the emergency department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where she learned she had multiple sclerosis. Two years later, and one month before her own 40th birthday, Amy Carson Smith - a painting student of Mills' - received an identical diagnosis after suffering numbness in her toes and occasional weakness in one arm. An MRI revealed that she also had the lesions in her brain associated with the disease.
March 15, 2016
IF A biotech researcher developed a drug that could reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease, few people would care if he or she was motivated by a love of mankind, a love of science or the desire to make a fortune. Why should they? All sorts of people do good and bad in the world for all sorts of reasons. That thought comes to mind because of a new report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which offers some troubling recommendations for how colleges and universities should rethink admissions.
March 13, 2016
Ex-Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon (who also spent time with the Eagles) calls himself "old school," including his use of marijuana both during and after his career. His self-medicating could be ahead of its time. Johns Hopkins researchers will test whether a compound found in hemp - and its cousin, cannabis - is as good at treating brain injuries as testimonials say. Some ex-players believe cannabidiol, or CBD, could aid millions who suffer brain injuries, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative disease caused by repeated concussions and found in many ex-NFL players whose brains were autopsied.
March 13, 2016 |
Like so many who had come to the recent Mind Your Brain conference at Penn Medicine, Janine Kirby wanted to talk about hope. Hers was hard-earned. After a series of concussions from soccer, "life stuff," and boxing, the blow that turned her into a brain injury survivor came at work on 12/12/12, a rare string of numbers that she can remember. A steel beam crashed into her head. From there, she rode a helicopter to Penn. Eighteen months into her recovery, she started having seizures so severe that doctors had to remove her entire right temporal lobe because it was crippled by scar tissue.
March 6, 2016 |
The lawyer knew something was wrong with her 61-year-old mother. She had begun showing up for appointments two hours early. Or two hours late. She was paying less attention to how she looked. She'd had two wrecks in quick succession on her way to work as a judge's administrative assistant. The lawyer, who works in a small town on the outskirts of Baltimore, knew her mother drank a fair amount at night, but she also knew her mother was still getting promotions. She suspected depression.
February 15, 2016
The rare, radical surgery known as hemispherectomy, in which half of the brain is removed, was first tried on humans in the mid-1920s. However, not until the 1950s was it performed successfully, mostly for cases of severe childhood epilepsy. Its use increased in the 1990s as surgeons, including Ben Carson, developed more sophisticated techniques that produced improved outcomes. It is done almost entirely on children, whose brains have more neuroplasticity than adults', meaning that neurons in the remaining half can more easily assume the tasks of neurons in the missing half.
February 15, 2016 |
Five days before doctors removed half her brain, 8-year-old Christina Santhouse performed "It's the Hard-Knock Life" from the musical Annie at her elementary school talent show in Levittown. Midway through, the third grader suffered yet another seizure - she was having as many as 150 a day - and fell to the floor, but continued scrubbing along with the other orphans. At the end, she popped up to take a bow. That's the kind of child Santhouse was 20 years ago. Popular; extroverted; obsessed with sports, especially soccer.
February 7, 2016 |
Can a neurosurgeon who evaluates pro football players for concussion be a fan of the game? Yes, he can, said M. Sean Grady, chair of neurosurgery at Penn Medicine. Grady is one of six Penn neurosurgeons who have worked on the sidelines during Eagles home games as independent experts paid by the NFL. He's done that for three years as part of a program that responded to growing concerns about the long-term cognitive consequences of concussions, including dementia. Grady will be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, and continues to see football as a sport that does more good than bad. Plus, he said, while the NFL gets the lion's share of scrutiny, athletes get plenty of concussions playing other sports.
January 10, 2016 |
In the 1990s, an Israeli biophysicist wondered whether cells that were in the process of dividing might be vulnerable to damage by electromagnetic energy. If so, then maybe electric fields could be used to disrupt the growth of cells that divide relentlessly and uncontrollably - otherwise known as cancer. Yoram Palti began testing his hypothesis in the lab of his fledgling company, Novocure, located in his basement. The therapy he called "tumor-treating fields" met with deep skepticism, and some experts still have doubts.