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.
December 24, 2015 |
"Consussion" seems like a strange Christmas release: Hey, lets go see that movie where pro football players with brain damage kill themselves. And in truth, it's not a knee-slappin' good time at the theater. But it is more appropriate to the season than you might guess - the story of a deeply religious man who undertakes a moral crusade, motivated by an abiding faith that gives him the courage to take on the NFL, based on his conviction that "God does not want us to play football.
December 20, 2015 |
The young red panda that died unexpectedly at the Elmwood Park Zoo last month had a brain disease likely caused by a parasite. A brain biopsy determined that Clinger, who was just a year and a half old, died of meningoencephalitis, the zoo said Friday. The disease causes inflammation of the brain and Clinger, who died Nov. 29, was likely infected by a parasite. His mother also died of encephalitis that was brought on by a parasite. Clinger and his brothers all received preventative treatment, but the zoo said the disease is hard to detect without a brain biopsy.
December 13, 2015 |
With the Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia going full throttle, the region's year in classical music was bound to be excellent. And it was, with particularly distinguished activity in the outlying areas involving specialists in music both ancient and modern from Chestnut Hill to Princeton. That doesn't mean everything worked out. But while lapses and misfires aren't as satisfying as successes, they can be just as interesting. Pope Francis' visit, for example . . . Most distracted concert.
November 25, 2015 |
WE INTERRUPT my usual "You gotta do better, people!" rant with a column full of gratitude. I know . . . let's embrace the fleeting moment. It was kind of a nutty idea, I admit. But after hearing Jennifer Pownall's story, I couldn't resist. The Northeast Philly mom was diagnosed with three meningioma brain tumors last year. Sometimes, she told me, music was the only thing that got her through the pain. So, she created the Rock Out Brain Tumors Air Guitar Challenge to raise money for the National Brain Tumor Society by asking people to make videos of themselves rocking out for a good cause.
November 25, 2015 |
FORMER PHILLIE Lenny Dykstra is filing another lawsuit. This time, according to TMZ, he's claiming suffered brain damage when he was allegedly beaten by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies while serving time for grand theft auto. Lenny's asking for a cool $15 million. Dykstra claims that in April 2012, six sheriff's deputies slammed his head against the wall and broke several of his teeth. A sheriff's spokesman is on record as saying officers had to restrain Dykstra after he became aggressive.