Healthbeat

  • A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates an alarmingly low number of people know the warning signs of an impending stroke. CDC researchers analyzed data from 2005, from a survey of 71,000 adults, and found only 16.4 percent of those surveyed knew all five physical signs on an oncoming stroke.

Most adults – 92 percent – knew to expect sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body, but only 68.8 percent knew trouble seeing out of one or both eyes is a warning sign. Sixty percent of those surveyed knew a severe headache was a sign. (The other two signs are confusion or trouble speaking, dizziness, loss of balance or difficulty walking.)

  • Lakeview Regional Medical Center has announced recipients of the 2007 Frist Humanitarian Awards: Congratulations to Tina Kravet, RN, named employee of the year, and Joyce Fontaine, named volunteer of the year.
  • A report by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences gives new meaning to “mind-numbing job;” the report, published online April 22, 2008, found that monotonous duties do in fact flip the brain to rest mode. By monitoring the brain activity of subjects with an MRI, scientists saw a switch in brain patterns about 30 seconds before the subject made a mistake (on an administered test). Scientists hope to use this finding to create an early warning system, a type of brain monitor, to be used by pilots and others who work in life-or-death jobs.
  • A senior citizen who lost a fingertip was able to grow it back thanks to a development by University of Pittsburgh scientist Dr. Stephen Badylak. The patient also owes his new digit to, of all things, a pig.
To try to explain a complex process simply, extracellular material (the matter between cells) is derived from small intestinal submucosa (scraped from pig intestines). After the scrapings are harvested, the material is sterilized for human use and unneeded cell matter is chemically removed.

As it naturally occurs, ECM provides structural support to cells, delineates tissue separation and houses cellular growth factors. Dr. Badylak postulates the powdery derivative prevents the immune system from healing wounds with scar tissue, instead encouraging cells to repair the damaged tissue.

Clinical trials are still in the works, including a trial esophageal cancer case, and concern has arisen about ECM encouraging cancer cell growth; but, as of May 12, 2008, the outcome of neither matter was known.

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