Here are a few of the latest developments in health, medicine and science, locally and nationally:
• New Orleanian Kirk Kellogg was awarded the 2010 Robert Ross Personal Achievement Award for Louisiana on Aug. 10 by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Kellogg, a chaplain at Harmony Hospice in Metairie, has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which affects muscle and joint function, including atrophy, tightening and loss of sensation; he walks with the aid of leg braces. Kellogg ministers to terminally ill patients at Harmony Hospice and volunteers with his wife at the local broadcast of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, among other contributions. He’ll accept his award during the local Telethon broadcast on Sept. 5-6 on WNOL-TV.
• Harvard researchers have identified a process in the brain that blocks out sound during sleep, an effect that could theoretically be replicated with therapy, drugs or electronic devices. The patterns, known as sleep spindles, that block sound and sensory information vary from person to person; individuals with higher rates of spindles are less likely to be woken by disruption, thus resulting in better overall sleep patterns.
• Louisiana was proudly represented at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games in Lincoln, Neb., from July 18-23. Special Olympics Louisiana sent 83 delegates to compete in various events, and the results were great. Out of 3,000 national participants, Team Louisiana earned 40 gold medals, 25 silver and 13 bronze, not to mention many other prizes and ribbons. For more information about the National Games or to donate, visit www.laso.org or call 800/345-6644.
• A study in Pediatrics revealed that traffic injuries among children ages 4 to 6 dropped dramatically (18 percent) after a law requiring booster seats took effect in New York in 2005. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia now require booster seats, which serve as a transition from car seats for infants and toddlers. Depending on the child’s size, experts recommend booster seats until ages 8 to 11, as regular seat belts are insufficient protection for children who weigh less than 80 to 100 pounds.
• In the wake of last year’s swine flu epidemic, vaccines will undergo several changes. Last year, people who wanted the flu vaccine were advised to get two separate shots: one against the regular strain of influenza and one H1N1 vaccine against swine flu. This year, manufacturers have developed a single vaccine that covers H1N1, influenza B and H3N2, a new strain. And while the government responded to the swine flu last year by setting up special locations for its availability, this year’s vaccine will be offered mostly through commercial facilities, such as private doctors’ offices, for-profit clinics and pharmacies.