Thursday, June 29, 2006


From The New York Times:
City Tackles Meningitis in Brooklyn
The New York Times
29 June 2006

City health officials yesterday announced a novel assault on a large meningitis outbreak in Brooklyn, seeking to vaccinate thousands of drug users and others in and around Bedford-Stuyvesant against the bacterium that has sickened 23 people and killed eight of them.

That group of cases, over the past seven months, "is one of the largest outbreaks of meningitis described in the U.S. literature in the last couple of decades," said Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden. And the department's response, a mass vaccination for meningococcal meningitis, made possible by a new, more effective vaccine, appears to be the first in the city's history, he said.

[ ... Read the full article ... ]
Anthony H. Risser | |

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

From an NIH press release:

Neurons Grown from Embryonic Stem Cells Restore Function in Paralyzed Rats

For the first time, researchers have enticed transplants of embryonic stem cell-derived motor neurons in the spinal cord to connect with muscles and partially restore function in paralyzed animals. The study suggests that similar techniques may be useful for treating such disorders as spinal cord injury, transverse myelitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and spinal muscular atrophy. The study was funded in part by the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

The researchers, led by Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D., of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, used a combination of transplanted motor neurons, chemicals capable of overcoming signals that inhibit axon growth, and a nerve growth factor to attract axons to muscles. The report is published in the July 2006 issue of Annals of Neurology.

"This work is a remarkable advance that can help us understand how stem cells might be used to treat injuries and disease and begin to fulfill their great promise. The successful demonstration of functional restoration is proof of the principle and an important step forward. We must remember, however, that we still have a great distance to go," says Elias A. Zerhouni, Director of the National Institutes of Health.

“This study provides a 'recipe' for using stem cells to reconnect the nervous system,” says Dr. Kerr. "It raises the notion that we can eventually achieve this in humans, although we have a long way to go."

[ ... Read the full release ... ]

Anthony H. Risser | |

Friday, June 16, 2006

Abstract of the Day: Aphasia Screening

Salter K, Jutai J, Foley N, Hellings C, & Teasell R. (2006). Identification of aphasia post stroke: A review of screening assessment tools. Brain Injury, 20(6),, 559-568.

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Parkwood Hospital, St. Joseph's Health Centre, London, Ontario, Canada.

Introduction: Aphasia is one of the most common consequences of stroke. Early identification, diagnosis and treatment of language deficits are important steps in maximizing rehabilitation gains. A routine screening test is an invaluable tool in the identification and appropriate referral of patients with potential communication problems. The present study presents an evaluation of the measurement properties of screening tools for aphasia found within the stroke research literature.Methods: Screening tools were identified following searches of the published research literature in stroke. Instruments were reviewed on the basis of reliability, validity, classification sensitivity and practical utility.Results: Six aphasia screening tools were identified. For most tools, information pertaining to measurement properties and clinical utility was limited.Conclusions: The Frenchay Aphasia Screening Test (FAST) appears to be the most widely used and thoroughly evaluated tool found within the stroke research literature. Further evaluation of the measurement properties and clinical utility of screening tools is recommended.
Anthony H. Risser | |

Alzheimer Disease Community Resources

From an NIH press release:

Easy-to-Read Booklets on Alzheimer’s Disease, Memory Loss Offered by NIA

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the National Institutes of Health, now offers two free booklets designed to help people with limited literacy skills learn about Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and memory loss. In these easy-to-read booklets, the medical and technical language has been replaced by plain language, stories, photographs, and other features to help readers understand the content.

“Our goal was to produce strong, clear materials to make information about AD and memory loss accessible to everyone, including those with limited literacy skills,” says Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the NIA. “These booklets also are excellent starting points for anyone who needs basic information about AD and memory problems, regardless of reading capability.” They are valuable additions to the comprehensive collection of health education materials available from NIA’s Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center, adds Hodes.

In addition to local field testing, education experts at NIA-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Centers arranged a series of interviews with caregivers and people with AD to gather feedback about the booklets. “We carefully tested each booklet for overall appeal, format, graphic elements, comprehension, cultural appropriateness, and “self-efficacy” (a measure of understanding the importance of taking action if signs of AD or serious memory loss are seen), says Patricia D. Lynch, M.S., project officer of the ADEAR Center. “The testing yielded excellent feedback that we used to refine the booklets,” explains Wendy Mettger, M.A., the plain language expert who developed the booklets.


To order copies or for more information about these booklets, visit the ADEAR Center Web site at, or call 1-800-438-4380. Bulk orders are welcome.

[ ... Read the full press release ... ]

[NOTE: pdf versions of the two booklets are available at the ADEAR link above.]

Anthony H. Risser | |