News & Attitude For YOU: Research - 2006
Long term services and supports for people with disabilities of all types and ages
Long term services and supports for people with disabilities of all types and ages, how to provide financing for these services, and how to encourage person-centered planning was the subject of an in-depth study by the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency. Some facts from the NCD's report, available on their website, click here.
- At age 45, the statistics say that you have a higher risk of becoming disabled than of dying.
- A 45-year-old earning $50,000 per year and suffering a permanent disability could lose $1 million in future earnings.
- Women are more likely to become disabled than men.
- 44.4 million American caregivers age 18 and over provide unpaid care to an adult age 18 or older. Six out of 10 of these caregivers work while providing care; most are women age 50 years or older.
- The estimated benefit of unpaid or informal caregiving exceeds $200 billion annually.
PAUL’S COMMENT: The report makes many recommendations on the financial problems facing people with disabilities, including employment issues. I hope that federal and statepolicy makers listen to the NCD.
STEPHANIE’S COMMENT: I support the NCD's recommendations, especially recognizing the need to increase support for families in their role as informal and unpaid caregivers for individuals with disabilities of all ages.
NOTE: In its 1986 report "Toward Independence," NCD proposed that Congress enact a civil rights law for people with disabilities. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law.
Natural factor may limit stroke damage
"Neuregulin-1," a naturally-occuring growth factor, may become an important element in the battle to limit brain damage caused by stroke. Details of a study in animals that showed positive effects 13 hours after stroke were announced in a recent release from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH, who supported the study. Click here for more information.
Healthcare system could use computer access to improve treatment and wellness
Empowering health consumers through computer access and electronic health records is a growing topic of discussion in the healthcare industry. "The Futurist" (magazine of the World Future Society) published a study that described the advances in online medical information, reporting that 8 in 10 Internet users have looked for health information online, and noting Google's statistics that there were more than 2.6 billion searches related to health care in 2004, which translates to 223 million health searches per month,7.3 million per day, and 85 per second.
The authors suggested ways that the healthcare system could use computer access to improve treatment and wellness, especially by developing electronic health records and making more information available. They listed selected websites for finding credible health information online, including sites sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The article, "The Digital Health-Care Revolution: Empowering Health Consumers," in the May/June "Futurist" is available at libraries, newsstands or from the World
Severity of the common form of stroke by taking a combination of three drugs.
A new study shows that it may be possible to reduce the severity of the common form of stroke (acute ischemic) by taking a combination of three drugs: antiplatelets (prevents clots, like aspirin), ACE inhibitors (lowers blood pressure) and statins (lowers cholesterol).
The study was conducted by medical researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School,and looked at stroke patients who had been taking one, two, or all three types of drugs, compared to patients who had not taken any of these drugs prior to the stroke. Those taking all three had the best results.
The study was published in the medical journal, "Neurology," which also carried a commentary by other experts who suggested that they are just learning about the potential special features of these drugs in protecting blood vessels and brain tissue. The experts said this was an important; study, but more research was needed.
The study was based on patients who had already been taking the medications before suffering a stroke, and did not discuss the treatment after they arrived at the hospital.
The summary (abstract) of the article and commentary can be viewed on the journal's website.
Free information on stroke research
Free information on stroke research -- ongoing and completed clinical trials -- including intervention and drug trials for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitationis available on www.stroketrials.org. It's a registry supported by the NIH. For example, hot off-the-presses from a May meeting in Madrid is a listing of an ongoing study showing that hyperbaric oxygen plus physical therapy relieves spasticity in subacute and chronic stroke patients for months after the treatment
Diabetes drug may protect brain after stroke
Swelling in the brain, neuron loss, and death after stroke was significantly reduced by a drug commonly used for treating diabetes. The drug, glibenclamide or glyburide,was tested in rats, and seems to work by blocking certain ion channels that allow sodium ions and water to flood brain cells when deprived of oxygen after a stroke.
This drug is very promising since it has been used to treat type 2 (adult onset) diabetes for decades with few side effects. The research is being conducted by JM Simard, MD, PhD, University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine under a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. For details, click here
Paralyzed man's controls robot with thoughts
Researchers from a private company have implanted sensors in the motor cortex of a paralyzed man's brain that allow him to move a robotic device and control a computer by translating his thoughts. This study and others testing "neuroprostheses"--technology that can translate thoughts into movement--were featured in the latest issue of the prestigious international journal, "Nature."
Nature's editor noted that prior experiments had more limited results--less control, long training periods, or use of eye movements that require the user's complete attention. The Cyberkinetics device allowed the subject to adapt to the system in minutes, and talk while using the device to control a cursor on a computer screen, open e-mail, control a television, and move objects using a robotic arm
The "Nature" editorial is posted at:
(Archive/13 July 2006; 442(7099): 109 - 222), click here.
Cyberkinetics web site is: www.cyberkineticsinc.com.
Promising research in regenerating brain cells
A combination of chemicals used to activate stem cells has shown promise in functional stroke recovery in animal experiments.
Researchers at the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) were studying the protein called Notch--which contributes to the development and survival of stem cells.
After testing in cell cultures, the researchers injected two key chemicals that stimulate cell receptors for Notch into the brains of laboratory rats who had had strokes. The rats showed significant functional improvement in their ability to move during the test period.
Results were published in a recent issue of the prestigious international journal, "Nature." An explanation of the research is posted to the NINDS Web site, click here.
Can you count to 2 trillion dollars?
The cost of treating stroke will exceed two trillion dollars over the next 40 years, according to researchers from the University of Michigan. This staggering amount includes the cost of hospital care, rehabilitation, outpatient visits, nursing home care, drugs, informal caregiving, and lost wages.
The loss of income among people ages 45 to 64 years and informal caregiving account for about half of the total costs identified in the study, according to Reuters Health.
Results were published in a recent issue of the prestigious journal, "Neurology," available online, click here.
Evidence on Constraint Therapy for Paralyzed Arms
Results from a new, comprehensive NIH-funded study of 222 stroke survivors from 7 centers have been published in the prestigious "Journal of the American Medical Association,"(JAMA) showing that two weeks of intensive constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) promises significant and long-term functional improvement in the use of the paralyzed arm, for certain stroke survivors.
In CIMT, the survivor performs a series of repetitive exercises for many hours with the paralyzed hand and arm, and forces their use by having the survivor wear a large mitt on the good hand all day.
For a summary of the study, visit the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website, click here.
For the article, visit the November 1, 2006, JAMA page, click here.
Hair Cells May Lead to Stroke Treatment
Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin, in Madison, recently published findings on a new form of "stem" cell that could be used to treat neurological problems like spinal cord injury, Parkinson's disease and stroke. They found "epidermal neural crest stem cells" in adult hair follicles that have similar properties to embryonic stem cells in their ability to grow into different types of cells.
The potential advantage of these hair-follicle stem cells is the possibility of using the person's own cells to develop their treatment. MCW's Dr. Maya Sieber-Blum worked with researchers at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich to test the cells by injecting them into the spinal cords of mice, where they grew into cells compatible with the nerve paths, without clumping into tumors.
For more, read the journal abstract, click here For a
write-up, click here.