A Brain Scientist Who Studies Alzheimer’s Explains How She Stays Mentally Fit

As a specialist in Alzheimer’s prevention, Jessica Langbaum knows that exercising her mental muscles can help keep her brain sharp.

But Langbaum, who holds a doctorate in psychiatric epidemiology, has no formal mental fitness program. She doesn’t do crossword puzzles or play computer brain games.

“Just sitting down and doing Sudoku isn’t probably going to be the one key thing that’s going to prevent you from developing Alzheimer’s disease,” she says.

Instead of using a formal brain training program, she simply goes to work.

Full story at npr.org

APTA-Backed Bill Protecting PTs Traveling With Sports Teams Likely to Become Law

APTA-supported legislation that protects physical therapists (PTs) and other health care providers who travel across state lines with a sports team is now just a presidential signature away from becoming law. Known as the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, the bill met with overwhelming bipartisan support in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate, and is on track to receive approval from President Donald Trump.

When it becomes law the legislation will provide added legal protections for sports medicine professionals when they’re traveling with professional, high school, college, or national sports teams by extending the provider’s “home state” professional liability insurance to any other state the team may visit. The law would apply to licensed health care professionals who travel with professional and collegiate teams or other athletes and teams sanctioned by a national governing body. The bill was introduced in the House by Reps Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and in the Senate by Sens John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

“This is a big win for PTs, but an even bigger step forward in safeguarding the health of athletes,” said Michael Matlack, APTA director of congressional affairs. “Once enacted, this law will help to support the realities of health care among teams that travel across state lines.”

Full story at APTA

Women in Physical Therapy Summit: Fueling Change in the Profession

Next professional conference you go to, take a look around. Chances are you’ll see a disproportionate number of men at podiums, on panels, and walking around with all those extra ribbons on their ID badges—even when the profession itself is supposedly “female dominated.” It’s a symptom of a bigger problem that many people, including Karen Litzy, PT, DPT, would like to change.

Litzy will be the first to admit that there’s much work to be done. But as the organizer of the Women in Physical Therapy Summit, now in its third year, Litzy can take some pride in knowing that when it comes to at least 1 conference, the problem has been turned on its head.

The 2-day summit, coming up on September 21 at John Jay College in New York City, focuses on the contributions women have made and the ways they can have an even greater impact. Men are of course welcome (and do attend), but the emphasis is on women—not just as speakers, but as sources of inspiration, insight, and experience. The event is sponsored in part by APTA.

Full story at APTA

A recipe for regenerating nerve fibers across complete spinal cord injury

Neuroscientists at UCLA, Harvard University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have identified a three-pronged treatment that triggers axons—the tiny fibers that link our nerve cells and enable them to communicate—to regrow after complete spinal cord injury in rodents. Not only did the axons grow through scars, they could also transmit signals across the damaged tissue.

If researchers can produce similar results in human studies, the findings could lead to a therapy to restore axon connections in people living with spinal cord injury. Nature publishes the research in its Aug. 29 online edition.

“The idea was to deliver a sequence of three very different treatments and test whether the combination could stimulate disconnected axons to regrow across the scar in the injured spinal cord,” said lead author Michael Sofroniew, a professor of neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Previous studies had tested each of the three treatments separately, but never together. The combination proved to be the key.”

Full story at Medical Xpress

Aggressively lowering blood pressure could reduce risk of developing dementia, study finds

The medical mantra that “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain” got more support Wednesday.

Aggressively lowering blood pressure in people at high risk for heart attacks and stroke also reduced their likelihood of developing mild cognitive impairment, a condition that often leads to dementia, a new study found.

“This is the first intervention ever to be shown to reduce the risk of MCI,” said Jeff Williamson, who helped lead the study and who co-directs the Alzheimer’s Research Center at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Patients treated to reduce their systolic blood pressure – the top number in a blood pressure reading – to 120 mm Hg were 19 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those whose blood pressure was targeted to 140 mm Hg.

Full story at USA Today

Physical Therapy May Help Loosen Up Patients with Scleroderma

Physical therapy may be used to help alleviate some of the symptoms of scleroderma, reduce pain associated with the condition, and improve mobility, according to a news article that appears in Scleroderma News.

Physical therapy exercises could help stretch the skin, muscles, and joints affected by scleroderma. Doing so could help improve the patient’s posture, increase the range of movements that a patient can perform, as well as prevent the loss of muscle mass and strength.

Performing physical therapy could also reduce other symptoms of scleroderma, including gastrointestinal, lymph node, and nervous system problems, the news story continues.

Full story at ptproductsonline.com

Bipartisan Senate budget deal boosts health programs

In a rare show of bipartisanship for the mostly polarized 115th Congress, Republican and Democratic Senate leaders announced a two-year budget deal that would increase federal spending for defense as well as key domestic priorities, including many health programs.

Not in the deal, for which the path to the president’s desk remains unclear, is any bipartisan legislation aimed at shoring up the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance marketplaces. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) a vote on health legislation in exchange for her vote for the GOP tax bill in December. So far, that vote has not materialized.

Full story at news-medical.net

Augmented reality system allows medical images to be displayed directly on the patient’s body

New technology is bringing the power of augmented reality into clinical practice.

The system, called ProjectDR, allows medical images such as CT scans and MRI data to be displayed directly on a patient’s body in a way that moves as the patient does.

“We wanted to create a system that would show clinicians a patient’s internal anatomy within the context of the body,” explained Ian Watts, a computing science graduate student and the developer of ProjectDR.

Full story at News Medical

3-D printed microfibers could provide structure for artificially grown body parts

Much as a frame provides structural support for a house and the chassis provides strength and shape for a car, a team of Penn State engineers believe they have a way to create the structural framework for growing living tissue using an off-the-shelf 3-D printer.

“We are trying to make stem-cell-loaded hydrogels reinforced with fibers like the rebar in cement,” said Justin L. Brown, associate professor of biomedical engineering. “If we can lend some structure to the gel, we can grow living cells in defined patterns and eventually the fibers will dissolve and go away.”

The researchers’ report in a recent issue of the Journal of Advanced Healthcare Materials that their aim is to create a novel, low-cost and efficient method to fabricate high-resolution and repeatable 3-D polymer fiber patterns on nonconductive materials for tissue engineering with available hobbyist-grade 3-D printers. The method they use is a combination of 3-D printing and electrospinning, a method that uses electric charge to spin nanometer threads from either a polymer melt or solution.

Full story at Science Daily

Scientists discover new way to help nerve regeneration in spinal cord injury

There is currently no cure for spinal cord injury or treatment to help nerve regeneration so therapies offering intervention are limited. People with severe spinal cord injuries can remain paralysed for life and this is often accompanied by incontinence.

A team led by Drs Liang-Fong Wong and Nicolas Granger from Bristol’s Faculty of Health Sciences has successfully transplanted genetically modified cells that secrete a treatment molecule shown to be effective at removing the scar following spinal cord damage. The scar in the damaged spinal cord typically limits recovery by blocking nerve regrowth.

Previous work by the team proved olfactory ensheathing cells – which are taken from the ‘smell system’ where they regenerate and repair throughout life to maintain sense of smell, could be genetically modified to secrete a treatment enzyme known as chondroitinase ABC (ChABC). This treatment enzyme is key in breaking down the glial scar at the injury point of the spinal cord and helping to promote nerve regrowth.

Full story at Medical Xpress