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House passes bill allowing hemp oil extract for seizure treatment

Posted: March 4, 2014 at 3:44 am

With a 62-11 vote, the House passed a bill Monday that would allow the use of hemp oil extract for the treatment of seizures related to intractable epilepsy.

Shara Park, Deseret News

Enlarge photo

SALT LAKE CITY Two-year-old Leah McClellan, dressed in light purple, stared at the ceiling of the House gallery while lying in her grandfather’s lap.

She hardly moved and didn’t crack a smile like other toddlers might.

Leah is on medication that has severe side effects such as making her sedated and catatonic and is only a somewhat effective treatment for the five to 20 seizures she has daily.

Leah smiles on “good days,” which happen only about once a month, her mother said.

What Leah was oblivious to Monday afternoon was the Utah House’s 62-11 passage of a bill that would allow the use of hemp oil extract for the treatment of seizures related to intractable epilepsy. HB105, which has been revised and substituted seven times, will now go to the Senate.

About 100,000 people in Utah have epilepsy, according to the Epilepsy Association of Utah. Nearly 33,000 of those people have seizures that are refractory or difficult to control.

“Seeing her suffer her seizures is the most heartbreaking thing a mom can experience because there’s nothing we can do but just hold her hand,” said Leah’s mother, April McClellan of Herriman.

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James journey: Utahs autism lottery changed his life

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Erda Kids jockey to hang up coats. A girl sits crumpled on the floor, crying, and a boy hides behind a chair, protesting, “I dont like kindergarten.”

James Turner joins his reluctant classmates slowly, face down, but manages a smile for an aide, assigned to help him adjust to “big boy” school.

About the pilot programs

Thirty-four states require health insurance companies to cover autism services. Utahs autism community has been pushing for a similar mandate, but got three experimental lottery programs instead. They will end in June if lawmakers dont pass HB88, a bill to permanently extend them.

The Medicaid pilot served more than 300 children, ages 2 through 6.

The Utah Department of Health managed an Autism Treatment Account, which supported care for 35 kids, ages 2 through 6, with money from the state, Zions Bank and Intermountain Healthcare.

The Public Employees Benefit and Insurance Program covered 23 children, ages 2 to 7, whose parents work for state or local government.

The results

Children in the Medicaid pilot were evaluated at the start of therapy and after six months, to gauge their mastery of age-appropriate skills in areas such as listening, speech, written language and math. The children entering the program had mastered an average of 64 of 170 skills. After six months of therapy they had mastered 90.

Children covered by the treatment account were tested at the six-month mark using a different tool and doubled their scores in communication, socialization, adaptive behaviors and daily living and social skills. Parents were surveyed and 87 percent of them said their childs language had improved or greatly improved. All of them said their childs behavior had improved or greatly improved.

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Under New DSM, Autism Diagnoses May Significantly Decrease

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The number of people diagnosed with autism could be reduced by nearly a third under new diagnostic criteria for the developmental disorder, researchers say.

Last May, a new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM-5, introduced sweeping changes to the criteria for an autism diagnosis. The update did away with Aspergers syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified, instead establishing an umbrella classification of autism spectrum disorder with clinicians indicating a level of severity.

Now, a study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders is adding to worries that some who previously would have qualified for a diagnosis on the autism spectrum will be left out.

Researchers found that 31 percent of those who met the diagnostic criteria for autism under the old DSM may no longer meet the new standards. Without a diagnosis, children may not qualify for needed services, researchers said.

We are potentially going to lose diagnosis and treatment for some of the most vulnerable kids who have developmental delays, said Kristine Kulage of the Columbia University School of Nursing who led the study. In many instances, children require a diagnosis of ASD to receive medical benefits, educational support and social services.

Kulage and her colleagues reviewed more than 400 previously published studies to assess the impact of the changes in the updated DSM. They found that the number of children who will be diagnosed with autism under the new criteria will significantly decrease as compared to the old definition.

Whats more, in cases where children no longer qualify for an autism diagnosis, the researchers said that some also will not meet the criteria for social communication disorder a new condition in the DSM-5 designed to account for those with communication difficulties but no other autism symptoms.

This study raises a concern that a medical provider diagnosing a child under the new guidelines wont find the child to be on the autism spectrum, when the same child under the old criteria might have been diagnosed with ASD, Kulage said.

The study is just the latest to raise alarm bells about changes to the way autism is defined. Earlier this year, researchers looking at surveillance data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly 1 in 5 children previously diagnosed with autism would not qualify under the new definition.

Even before the updated DSM was finalized, many advocates voiced concerns. That led those behind the revision to insert language into the autism definition stipulating that anyone with a well-established diagnosis of autistic disorder, Aspergers or PDD-NOS under the old DSM should be considered to have autism spectrum disorder going forward.

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Paralyzed Man Raises Over $36,000 for Chance to Walk Again, Gives It Away in Shocking Surprise (VIDEO)

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March 4, 2014|2:09 am

Daniel Black was riding his bike to work one morning in December 2009 when a car hit him. He was severely hurt and placed in an induced coma for six weeks to minimize brain damage. When he awoke, the news was devastating.

Broken spine resulting in spinal cord injury. Paralysis in three limbs.

On the day of his accident, he was only three days from achieving his dream of joining the British army. He was an accomplished bass player in a band. Now doctors told him he’d never walk again.

Upon hearing that an innovative stem cell treatment might help him walk, Black’s family raised over 22,000 over $36,000 to help fund it. However, not even a penny of it went to his miracle cure, all because of a little boy named Brecon.

Brecon Vaughan was born with cerebral palsy, and his only chance of walking was a 60,000 ($100,000) procedure in the United States. The Vaughans had only raised 11,000 up to that point. When Black saw six-year-old Brecon’s story in the newspaper last July, he decided to give all of his money to Brecon. Once the story got out, the Vaughans raised the rest in days.

To Black, it was an easy decision.

“That little boy hasn’t walked for 22 seconds. I walked for 23 years.”

The story of Daniel Black’s sacrifice quickly spread throughout Britain last year, and he was honored in the Pride of Britain Awards last July. Brecon reportedly traveled to the U.S. in October for his procedure, and we await word on his status.

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Paralyzed Man Raises Over $36,000 for Chance to Walk Again, Gives It Away in Shocking Surprise (VIDEO)

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NHS withdraws offer to fund surgery which could help girl, 10, to walk

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Sophie Sharman has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk unaided She was offered surgery on the NHS which could have helped her walk The offer was then withdrawn because of budget cuts within the NHS Her mother, Natalie Rider, says the offer would not have been withdrawn if Sophie had not missed one of her pre-surgery hospital appointments She only missed it because her mother was rushed to hospital for surgery Ms Rider is now appealing the decision but if this fails she will have to raise 30,000 to pay for the operation herself

By Emma Innes

PUBLISHED: 06:27 EST, 3 March 2014 | UPDATED: 07:08 EST, 3 March 2014



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A mother has spoken of her devastation after the NHS withdrew funding for an operation which could help her daughter walk for the first time.

Sophie Sharman, 10, from Bedworth, Warwickshire, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was just eight weeks old and has never been able to walk unaided.

She was due to undergo a potentially life-changing procedure called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

Sophie Sharman (pictured with her mother, Natalie), 10, has cerebral palsy and needs surgery to allow her to walk. She was offered the operation on the NHS but the offer was withdrawn because of budget cuts

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UT Southwestern Launches Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair

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Newswise DALLAS February 28, 2014 UTSouthwestern Medical Center today launched the new Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair, a state-funded initiative to promote innovative research and education, with the goals of accelerating translation into better diagnosis and revolutionizing care for millions of people who suffer brain injuries each year.

The event brought together state government leaders, supporters of UTSouthwestern, and representatives from the National Football League (NFL) to celebrate this new program. Relying on UTSouthwesterns strengths in basic and translational research, the Institute will include scientists focused on improving the understanding of brain damage at the molecular and cellular level, as well as those seeking to identify new therapeutic opportunities, which could ultimately be delivered in clinical care settings.

This Institute reflects an effort unprecedented in its commitment to address the devastating effects of brain injury, said UTSouthwestern President Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky. The initiative involves the entire community, from patients and parents to scientists and caregivers.

The expansive scope from bench science to bedside treatment and an intense focus on novel therapeutic advances already being developed at UTSouthwestern will, we hope, lead to tremendous benefits for those with brain trauma. This includes thousands of military veterans, athletes, and accident victims in Texas and beyond who are dealing with this challenge, Dr. Podolsky added.

Each year in the U.S., severe brain injuries strike 1.7 million people, accounting for about 30 percent of all injury-related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most traumatic brain injuries about 75 percent are concussions or other forms of mild traumatic brain injury, with sports-related concussions affecting about 3.8 million people in the U.S. annually. The U.S. Department of Defense estimates that since 2000, more than 287,000 U.S. service members have sustained traumatic brain injuries either in training or in combat. In Texas alone, more than 144,000 people sustain traumatic brain injuries annually, and about 5,700 are permanently disabled, according to the Texas Brain Injury Alliance.

Partners in progress The new Institute, which is a component of the Harold and Annette Simmons Comprehensive Center for Research and Treatment in Brain and Neurological Disorders, is a collaborative initiative involving local and national organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, UT Dallas and its Center for BrainHealth, Childrens Medical Center, Dallas VA Medical Center, and Parkland Health & Hospital System, as well as Texas Health Resources and Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine.

The Institute received significant support from the Texas Legislature, which provided a $15 million allocation, the largest commitment of funds for a brain injury initiative in state history. Representatives Jim Pitts and Dan Branch who worked tirelessly to provide the critical state support spoke at the launch event.

The Institute also has ties to the NFL and the U.S. Department of Defense, which have a strong commitment to improve brain injury research and care. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a featured speaker at a dinner for supporters of the Institute following the launch event. In earlier comments, Mr. Goodell said: UTSouthwesterns proven expertise is what makes it an ideal institution to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and research around concussion and other types of brain injury. Their vision in addressing this public health issue aligns with the NFLs work to provide resources that will lead to better education, prevention, and care for people of all ages affected by traumatic brain injury.

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Cheerleader's Injury Highlights Need for New Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair

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Newswise DALLAS Feb. 28, 2014 Ever since 18-year-old Kennedy Garza-Espindola tumbled from the top of a cheerleading formation in late 2012, hitting her head twice in the fall to the ground, getting back to normal has been an unimaginable challenge.

As a result of the serious concussion suffered in a Saginaw High School gymnasium, Ms. Garza-Espindola has had to find new ways of processing information and dealing with social situations. Her recovery is painfully slow and could take years due to the unseen damage the injury inflicted on her brain.

I may look fine on the outside, but nobody knows what a brain injury is like until they experience it, said Ms. Garza-Espindola, now a freshman majoring in nursing at Texas State University in San Marcos. You have no idea how bad it can be.

Ms. Garza-Espindola is the type of patient the new Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair at UTSouthwestern Medical Center aims to help. The Institute, which was launched on February 28 by UTSouthwestern, will undertake basic and translational research that will promote better understanding of brain damage at the cellular level and will seek to identify new therapeutic opportunities that, ultimately, can be translated into innovative, improved clinical care.

The development of this Institute at UTSouthwestern is very timely, as concussion has become a public concern. We know that no two concussions are alike, and risk factors for prolonged recovery are poorly understood, said Dr. Munro Cullum, Director of Neuropsychology at UTSouthwestern and part of the new Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair at UTSouthwestern. There is so much to be learned about concussions such as Ms. Garza-Espindolas, including improving diagnosis, identifying those at risk for prolonged recovery, determining factors predictive of recovery course, maximizing treatment, and understanding long-term effects.

Although Ms. Garza-Espindolas long-term recovery plan is a work in progress, she has made steady, gradual improvement. Among the concussions effects were abnormally variable emotions, ranging from depression to anger to apathy. She now takes antidepressant medication and undergoes therapy to help manage the effects.

My emotions were crazy. I found myself getting mad for no reason, and I sometimes just burst into tears, she said. The emotions became overwhelming and would come out of nowhere.

When the injury occurred, her mother, Elizabeth Flores, and school officials initially thought she had recovered from the fall, since she passed a concussion test shortly after the incident. But on the way to a doctor later that day for a checkup, her world literally spun out of control.

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Do you need testosterone?

Posted: at 3:41 am

Testosterone therapy has rapidly become a cornerstone of the emerging hormone replacement therapy market, seeing dramatic increases in the last decade. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, prescription of testosterone therapy has risen three fold. More and more men and even women are seeking testosterone replacement therapy to address aging woes, such as weight gain, muscle loss and low energy.

The emerging trend has led drug manufacturers and health industry experts to push testosterone pellets, injections, pills, patches, gels and creams of varying quality on an unsuspecting public. Just as the Womens Health Initiative (WHI) raised fears over hormone replacement therapy among women, a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association has men reconsidering the cost of their virility.

But, much like the WHI scare, the trouble is not testosterone therapy itself; it is the expertise with which it is administered and the quality of the product and delivery method. Failure to get adequate testing and not seeking certified medical experts in hormone therapy can result in a very rocky path when it comes to hormone management.

Hot trends, like the current mass appeal of testosterone therapy, cause an upsurge of inferior products and administration by less than qualified individuals for a quick buck. Television, radio, magazine and billboard advertisements promise miracles from testosterone therapy. Online quizzes designed by marketers point to testosterone as the solution to all your woes. And this may be the case for some men and women, but the truth is that not every man or woman needs to be on testosterone therapy. Weight gain, sleepless nights, low energy and other woes of aging can occur for a variety of reasons.

Physicians that truly specialize in hormones and hormone replacement therapy know that comprehensive lab testing and thorough consultations are essential to determining why certain individuals are struggling with age-related concerns and what the best treatment solution may be. Careful monitoring of hormone levels and adjustments are necessary every three to six months. Hormones are not safe for use at the discretion of the consumer hormones affect nearly every reaction in the body, meaning great care and expertise is vital to optimal outcomes.

How do you know when testosterone therapy is safe?

Research continues to determine if the benefits outweigh the risk for the majority of the population. Most major medical organizations now agree that hormone replacement therapy is the best treatment for women suffering from menopause, but these industry leaders urge women to seek treatment from certified professionals and avoid over-the-counter drugs claiming to be effective hormone therapy.

If you have been experiencing signs and symptoms you believe are related to low testosterone or aging, use this list to guide you to a solution that is safe and will offer you effective outcomes for your lifelong health:

Recognize marketing as marketing. Learn the difference between good marketing and prescribed needs. An online quiz cannot accurately diagnose your issues, and some websites present fiction as fact. Look for peer-reviewed studies from major medical journals.

Find an expert. You wouldnt go to your dentist for an oil change any more than you would see your mechanic for a medical check-up. If you seek hormone therapy, get treatment from a physician that specializes in hormones and hormone therapy. Advanced training and certification in the field are essential to making the right diagnosis and delivery of treatment options.

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Invitro-fertilization and Embryonic Stem Cell Research – Video

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Invitro-fertilization and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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Penn Study Results Confirm BMI is a Direct Cause of Type 2 Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

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PHILADELPHIA Using new genetic evidence, an international team of scientists led by experts at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia has found that an increased body mass index (BMI) raised the risk for both type 2 diabetes and higher blood pressure. The results add to mounting evidence about the risks of obesity and are of major importance for the obesity pandemic that is affecting the United States where two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese and other countries. According to the findings, published online in The American Journal of Human Genetics, for every 1 kg/m2 increase in BMI equivalent to a 196-pound, 40-year old man of average height gaining seven pounds the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 27 percent. The same rise in BMI also increases blood pressure by 0.7 mmHg.

Our findings provide solid genetic support indicating that a higher body mass index causes a raised risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, said the studys lead author, Michael V. Holmes, MD, PhD, research assistant professor of Surgery in the division of Transplant at Penn Medicine.

In the new study, the research team used a recently developed statistical tool called Mendelian randomization (MR), which helps researchers identify genes responsible for particular diseases or conditions (such as obesity), independent of potentially confounding factors such as differences in behavior and lifestyle, which can lead to false-positive associations. In this case, the use of MR virtually rules out the possibility that both a high BMI and type 2 diabetes are caused by a third, unidentified factor.

Whether high BMI raises the risk of adverse outcomes is of critical importance given that BMI is modifiable, said Holmes. Now that we know high BMI is indeed a direct cause of type 2 diabetes, we can reinforce to patients the importance of maintaining body mass within established benchmarks.

Results of the new study were based on the assessment of the genotypes for over 34,500 patients from previous studies. In addition to the results on diabetes and blood pressure, Holmes and his colleagues found that an elevated BMI has potentially harmful effects on several blood markers of inflammation. While this could be tied to increased risk for coronary heart disease, the researchers suggest it requires further study.

While this study has strong foundations and implications, there are many more BMI signals emerging, said senior author Brendan Keating, PhD, research assistant professor of Pediatrics and Surgery at Penn Medicine and lead clinical data analyst in the Center for Applied Genomics at The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia. Future research will likely generate even more useful information about genetics and the associated risks for disease for both physicians and patients.


Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of theRaymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania(founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and theUniversity of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 16 years, according toU.S. News & World Report’s survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $398 million awarded in the 2012 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania — recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals byU.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital — the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

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