How to stretch your hands and wrists

Wrist pain can be frustrating and inconvenient. It can also make work or basic day-to-day activities, such as using a computer or cooking a meal, more difficult.

Exercises can improve mobility and decrease the chance of injury or reinjury. Wrist stretches are easy to do at home or at the office. When done properly, they can benefit a person’s overall wrist and hand health.

Anyone experiencing chronic pain or pain with numbness should visit a doctor for a thorough diagnosis.

Full story at Medical News Today

DEFINING THE SHAPE OF COOL

People are great at detecting cold temperatures and also the cool sensation induced by natural substances like menthol, which is common in remedies used to soothe aching muscles. But it hasn’t been entirely clear how we do this.

About a year ago, a group of researchers led by Seok-Yong Lee, Associate Professor of Biochemistry in the Duke University School of Medicine, figured out the architecture of the human and animal cold-sensing protein, an ion channel called TRPM8, which gave them some insight into its function but also raised more questions.

Now, Lee’s team has determined the structure TRPM8 assumes when it is bound to menthol and to another synthetic cooling agent called icilin. The findings, which will appear in Science on Feb. 8, could pave the way toward new treatments for chronic pain and migraine and help patients who suffer from extreme cold sensitivity.

Full story at Duke.edu

Crazy Little Thing Called (APTA) Love

APTA members are sharing the APTA love—and their stories are all about finding community in the association, no matter the paths they took to get there.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, APTA asked members to share their “APTA love stories” by recounting how they first came to join the association, and what made them feel a true connection to the organization and fellow members. The results are being posted to social media and have been collected on a special “APTA Love Stories” webpage.

The stories reflect the diversity of the APTA membership. From a then-DPT student who questioned a program’s membership requirement only to come to see the value in the connections she made, to an aspiring physical therapist (PT) who asked to join APTA before she’d even entered school, to longtime PTs who’ve spent their careers involved in the association, the details are varied. The common thread: each member discovered the ways APTA builds connections, strengthens the profession, and provides opportunities for professional growth.

Full story at APTA

Spinal cord is ‘smarter’ than previously thought

We often think of our brains as being at the centre of complex motor function and control, but how ‘smart’ is your spinal cord?

Turns out it is smarter than we think.

It is well known that the circuits in this part of our nervous system, which travel down the length of our spine, control seemingly simple things like the pain reflex in humans, and some motor control functions in animals.

Now, new research from Western University has shown that the spinal cord is also able to process and control more complex functions, like the positioning of your hand in external space.

Full story at Medical Xpress

Exercise Benefits Brains and Blood Flow Changes in Older Adults

Exercise training alters brain blood flow and improves cognitive performance in older adults, though not in the way you might think. A new study published by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that exercise was associated with improved brain function in a group of adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and a decrease in the blood flow in key brain regions.

“A reduction in blood flow may seem a little contrary to what you would assume happens after going on an exercise program,” explained Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology. “But after 12-weeks of exercise, adults with MCI experienced decreases in cerebral blood flow. They simultaneously improved significantly in their scores on cognitive tests.”

Dr. Smith explains that for those beginning to experience subtle memory loss, the brain is in “crisis mode” and may try to compensate for the inability to function optimally by increasing cerebral blood flow. While elevated cerebral blood flow is usually considered beneficial to brain function, there is evidence to suggest it may actually be a harbinger of further memory loss in those diagnosed with MCI. The results of the study by Dr. Smith and his team suggest exercise may have the potential to reduce this compensatory blood flow and improve cognitive efficiency in those in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Full story at NeuroScience News

Automated Text Messages Improve Outcomes after Joint Replacement Surgery

An automated text messaging system increases patient engagement with home-based exercise and promotes faster recovery after total knee or hip replacement surgery, reports a study in the January 16, 2019 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio in partnership with Wolters Kluwer.

Patients receiving timely texts showed improvement in several key outcomes, including fewer days on opioid pain medications, more time spent on home exercises, faster return of knee motion, and higher satisfaction scores, according to the research by Kevin J. Campbell, MD, of Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, and colleagues. “A chatbot that texts timely, informative and encouraging messages to patients can improve clinical outcomes and increase patient engagement in the early postoperative period after total joint replacement,” Dr. Campbell comments.

Automated Texts Lead to Improved Outcomes of Surgery

The randomized trial included 159 patients undergoing primary total knee or hip replacement. All received standard education, including instructions on home exercises after surgery.

Full story at News Wise

‘Enhanced recovery’ protocol reduces opioid use in spinal surgery patients

A novel “Enhanced Recovery After Surgery” (ERAS) protocol developed by Penn Medicine for patients undergoing spinal and peripheral nerve surgery significantly reduced opioid use. A new study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine showed that when an ERAS protocol was employed—which optimizes patients’ surgical care before, during, and after surgery, including patient education, post-operative medications, and recovery plans—fewer patients needed pain medications one month after surgery.

Nearly 75 percent of patients at Penn Medicine who undergo spinal surgeries are opioid naïve—patients who are not chronically taking opioids on a daily basis—putting them at an increased risk for dependency following surgery. Previous studies have also shown that up to 7 percent of all patients who undergo spinal surgeries continue to take opioids one year after surgery. Part of the ERAS protocol at Penn includes a personalized, safe, and effective pain management plan to help prevent opioid dependency, which has rapidly become a public health crisis in the United States.

Full story at Medical Xpress

UTHealth enrolls first U.S. patient in novel stem cell trial to treat stroke disability

The first U.S. patient to participate in a global study of a stem cell therapy injected directly into the brain to treat stroke disability was enrolled in the clinical trial this week at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

“At McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, we have been studying cellular therapies as a novel treatment for stroke over the past 10 years. We are very excited to partner with ReNeuron and enroll the first patient into the PISCES III study,” said Sean I. Savitz, MD, the study’s global principal investigator and professor and director of the Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease at UTHealth. “This study represents an important next step in the development of novel cellular therapies for chronic stroke and, to date, is the most advanced clinical trial to determine whether neural stem cells improve recovery in patients chronically disabled by stroke.”

Full story at news-medical.net

New recovery pathway could speed up time to next treatment for pancreatic cancer patients

Pancreaticoduodenectomy, or the Whipple operation, is one of the most complex abdominal surgeries, and is commonly prescribed as a first line of therapy for cancer located within the pancreatic head. It remains the most effective treatment method associated with prolonged survival. The surgery involves removal of parts of the pancreas, bile duct, and small intestine, requiring careful reconstruction of the organs involved. Clinicians at Jefferson have now shown that providing patients intensive care after surgery can help reduce hospital stay and reduce time to eligibility for adjuvant chemotherapy. The prospective, randomized, controlled study was published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

“The trial was so successful that we were able to halt the study early and change our standard practice to providing this accelerated post-operative care to all eligible patients,” said Harish Lavu, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) and researcher with the NCI-Designated Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health.

Full story at news-medical.net

Ultra-sturdy bones, with a surprising origin, suggest new osteoporosis approach

A handful of brain cells deep in the brain may play a surprising role in controlling women’s bone density, according to new research by UC San Francisco and UCLA scientists.

In a study published January 11, 2019 in Nature Communications, researchers showed that blocking a particular set of signals from these cells causes female (but not male) mice to build extraordinarily strong bones and maintain them into old age, raising hopes for new approaches to preventing or treating osteoporosis in older women.

“Our collaborators who study bone for a living said they’d never seen bone this strong,” said study senior author Holly Ingraham, Ph.D. “Our current understanding of how the body controls bone growth can’t explain this, which suggests we may have uncovered a completely new pathway that could be used to improve bone strength in older women and others with fragile bones.”

Full story at Medical Xpress