How To Pack a Safe School Lunch
August 31st, 2011
When it comes to school lunches, parents might have concerns about the nutritional quality of cafeteria food, or about whether their children will trade their healthy, homemade lunches for junk food. But most parents don’t even think about whether their children’s lunches put them at risk for foodborne illnesses.
According to an article in The New York Times, maybe they should.
While there are no statistics on how often schoolchildren are sickened by the lunches they bring from home, it’s far better to be safe than sorry, said Nancy Donley, the president of STOP Foodborne Illness, an advocacy organization.
Ms. Donley, who lives in Chicago, knows the risks all too well. In 1993 she lost her only child, 6-year-old Alex, to one of the nastiest food contaminants, E. coli 0157:H7, innocently consumed in store-bought ground meat. Rather than retreat into a fetal position, she channeled her grief and anger into helping others avoid a similar tragedy.
Children are more vulnerable to the risks of foodborne illnesses than adults are. In addition, at least for young children, school lunches are often the only meal parents don’t have total control over. You pack the lunch in the morning (or sometimes the night before), and trust that the food stays safe for hours until lunch. Safety takes more than trust.
How to Keep Lunches Safe
According to The New York Times article, there are several things parents can do to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses in school lunches:
- Use an insulated lunchbox…and use it properly. Cold foods need to stay cold, and hot foods need to stay hot. At room temperature, bacteria thrive.
- When purchasing a lunchbox, look for an insulated lining, and for a pocket for a thin freezer pack for cold foods.
- For hot foods (such as chili or soup), use an insulated jug—but preheat the jug with boiling water.
- Some foods can tolerate room temperature. Sliced cheese, peanut butter, almond butter, and soy butter sandwiches won’t spoil at room temperature. Also, any foods that you can store in the pantry at room temperature are also safe–examples: flip-top cans of tuna, boxes of milk or juice. You can also store fruits (dried or fresh) and vegetables at room temperature.
- Freeze and defrost. You can freeze boxes of juice and milk–they will defrost by lunch, and serve as an ice pack in the lunchbox. In addition, The New York Times reports that lunch meats, hummus, tuna, and egg salad can be frozen overnight, and will defrost by lunch. (Don’t freeze lettuce and tomato, though. If you like to include those, pack them separately.)
- Wash fruits and veggies. Fresh fruits and vegetables can harbor E. coli and other bacteria. Make sure to wash them thoroughly, or peel them.
- Throw away after-school leftovers. If your child brings home leftovers that start out hot or cold (including the frozen sandwiches mentioned above), don’t be tempted to save them. They may have survived until lunchtime without contamination, but you can’t assume that the food is safe all the way home.
- Pack hand sanitizers with lunch. Food can become contaminated if touched by hands that contain bacteria. It would be great if kids had time to wash their hands before lunch, but many do not. If you pack a pocket-sized hand sanitizer or an antibacterial towelette in the lunchbox, you can also combat germs that are totally out of your control.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Smart Choices to Ensure Safety at Lunch
Also, you may want to watch our YouTube videos about Foodborne Illness:
1. Basic Information About Foodborne Illnesses
2. Filing a Foodborne Illness Lawsuit
College Football Player Dies from Severe Head Trauma
August 31st, 2011
Derek Sheely, a 22-year-old fullback playing for Frostburg State University in Maryland, died on Sunday, a week after passing out during a routine practice. He did not have a heart condition or any other chronic disorder. Although his father doesn’t know exactly what happened, he asserts that Derek died of severe head trauma.
[The New York Times
According to an article in The New York Times, the university disagrees:
Liz Medcalf, a spokeswoman for Frostburg State, said Sheely had been participating in “regular drills” with his teammates Aug. 22 when he began feeling woozy. He was being helped off the field when he collapsed.
Every year, two to five high school football players died as a result of on-field brain injuries. According to research by the University of North Carolina National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, teenagers are more susceptible to brain injury from multiple hits to the head—a condition known as second impact syndrome. That’s because their teenaged brains are still developing. In a young man of Derek Sheely’s age, second impact syndrome is quite rare, which is why the university doesn’t believe that the cause of death was head trauma. According to The New York Times:
Sheely was first taken to the emergency room at Western Maryland Regional Medical Center in nearby Cumberland and was later transferred to the shock trauma center in Baltimore when the severity of the injury was recognized. He was listed in critical but stable condition last Wednesday after multiple operations, according to hospital officials. But the pressure in his brain from swelling could not be alleviated.
Derek’s father says that he needs to find the cause of his son’s death…not to find a place to lay blame, but to make sure that other young men don’t have to die.
“We’re not blaming anybody; that isn’t our mission right now. But hopefully, somebody does make sure that if there’s a lesson to be learned and it can help protect somebody else, then that should be done. I wouldn’t want my son to just die in vain, and if something can be made better, through education or equipment or whatever it is, that would be helpful.”
Research Reveals Possible Alzheimer’s Prevention, Part 2
August 29th, 2011
In Part 1 of this blog, we told you about research that suggested that protective brain chemicals are generated by regular exercise. To read that blog, click here: Possible Alzheimer’s Prevention, Part 1.
Today’s blog is about a study originally published in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment which suggests another possible route to Alzheimer’s disease: Alcohol.
According to a report in ScienceDaily, moderate social drinking may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.
Researchers from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine reviewed previous research dating back to 1977. Moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease. But because of the large number of studies and participants involved (more than 365,000 total study subjects), the researchers were able to get even more specific: Wine is more beneficial than beer. But remember, these results were for moderate drinking.
There was some suggestion that heavy drinking (more than 3 to 5 drinks per day) was associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.
According to the report in ScienceDaily:
“We don’t recommend that nondrinkers start drinking,” [Edward J. Neafsey, PhD., professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics] said. “But moderate drinking — if it is truly moderate — can be beneficial.” Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women….
For people who drink responsibly and in moderation, there’s probably no reason to quit. But because of the potential for alcohol to be abused, [the researchers] do not recommend that abstainers begin drinking.
Why does research seem to help prevent cognitive impairment? The researchers don’t really know, but they had a couple of hypotheses. First, it could be a side benefit of the well-know cardiovascular benefits of moderate social drinking–anything that improves blood flow will keep the brain well-fed with oxygen and nutrients. Second, moderate drinking may serve to somehow “toughen” brain cells, a form of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Again, the key word is moderation. No one wants injury due to alcohol abuse, but if a glass of wine with dinner improves both the meal and your brain, that sounds like the best of all worlds.
To read the full article in ScienceDaily, click here: Moderate Drinking May Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease
To read the abstract for the original journal article, click here: Moderate Alcohol Consumption and Cognitive Risk
Research Reveals Possible Alzheimer’s Prevention, Part 1
August 29th, 2011
Two studies recently reported in ScienceDaily provide information for people who hope to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The good news: You don’t need a prescription to take advantage of the two preventive “treatments.”
According to ScienceDaily, an article in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity reports that regular exercise could help prevent brain damage associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Previous research had already documented that exercise after brain injury can help the brain’s own repair mechanisms. This new study shows that exercise before the onset of damage modifies the brain’s chemical environment in such a way that the neurons are protected from severe insults or injury.
“Exercise allows the brain to rapidly produce chemicals that prevent damaging inflammation,” said Professor Jean Harry, who led the study at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the United States. “This could help us develop a therapeutic approach for early intervention in preventing damage to the brain.”
The researchers found that voluntary physical exercise protects neurons in a way that pharmaceutical therapies do not. Future research will try to figure out the exact way exercise is able to exert such an influence on the brain, and then to find a way to mimic that effect in a pill. But any pharmaceutical created from this research will be years or even decades aways.
According to ScienceDaily:
“This elegant series of experiments reveals an alternative pathway by which voluntary physical exercise may protect hippocampal neurons,” said Dr. Ruth Barrientos from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado. “The study on the role of exercise as a therapeutic intervention will undoubtedly get a workout in the years to come. Perhaps the greatest challenge with this line of research will not be more discoveries of compelling evidence of the anti-neuroinflammatory effects of exercise, but instead, getting humans to exercise voluntarily and regularly.”
Now, you should know that this specific study was done using mice who exercised on a running wheel. I know, I know…some of you are probably asking why you should put on your running shoes based on mouse research. But the mechanisms of action that allowed mouse brains to generate brain-protecting chemicals are very similar to the mechanisms that occur in people. So yes, it is worth tying on your sneakers. Your future self will thank you!
To read the full article in ScienceDaily, click here: Exercise May Help Prevent Brain Damage Caused by Alzheimer’s Disease
To read the abstract of the original journal article, click here: Voluntary exercise protects hippocampal neurons from trimethyltin injury
NOTE: To read Part 2 of this article, click here: Possible Alzheimer’s Prevention, Part 2
Preachers Preach the Value of Good Nutrition
August 25th, 2011
North Carolina has the dubious honor of being part of the “Stroke Belt”: a geographic area in which people have more strokes–and are more likely to die from strokes–than people in other areas of the United States. No one knows exactly why we have this extra health risk, but the theory that holds the greatest weight (no pun intended), is that Southerners tend to eat a diet full of bacon or other pork products, and high-salt, deep-fried foods. Even vegetables are sometimes prepared by boiling them with a chunk of fatback.
This type of cooking is part of Southern heritage. Which means that taste buds are attuned to the flavors not just since birth, but for generations. The food is part of our heritage, our culture. Medical experts who want to try to reach Southerners with a message of healthier eating have to fight taste, memories of grandma, and community standards.
So maybe medical experts aren’t the best means to the end.
An article in The New York Times reports that the Rev. Michael O. Minor of Oak Hill Baptist church in North Mississippi has been waging a war against obesity and bad health from the pulpit for more than a decade. And he and his message are gaining some strong support:
The National Baptist Convention, which represents some seven million people in nearly 10,000 churches, is ramping up a far-reaching health campaign devised by Mr. Minor, which aims to have a “health ambassador” in every member church by September 2012. The goals of the program, the most ambitious of its kind, will be demanding but concrete, said the Rev. George W. Waddles Sr., the president of the convention’s Congress of Christian Education.
Part of the re-education involves hands-on nutrition by example. In the Bel Mount Missionary Baptist Church, they hold “Taste Test Sunday,” when the women of the church create a buffet of healthier substitutes for standard favorites. It’s harder to argue with change when it tastes about as good as the original.
Other churches are growing community gardens, helping to create farmers’ markets, banning fried foods at church functions, replacing sweet tea with bottled water, offering an unusual sight–plates of fresh fruit.
“You get used to it,” said Arelia Robertson, who has been attending the [Oak Hill Baptist] church for almost eight decades.
Not exactly a resounding endorsement, but it’s a start. All great journeys start with a single step. Church by church, the Baptist pastors might be able to minds as well as hearts.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Preaching a Healthy Diet in the Deep-Fried Delta
FDA Outlines Proper Medication Storage And Disposal For Emergencies
August 25th, 2011
August 25, 2011
The earthquake that sent tremors up and down the east coast earlier this week, combined with Hurricane Irene bearing down on the Outer Banks, has many people wondering what to do with lifesaving medications, such as insulin, in the case of an emergency such as a flood or power outage. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement on how to handle medications in emergency situations.
It is vital for citizens to know when to properly dispose of drugs that have been exposed or not properly stored. The FDA has said unless the drug is lifesaving, throw it out if contamination is the least bit suspected. However, in the event of an emergency situation and the contaminated supply is all a patient has access to, the story could change.
If a container of vital medication has been exposed to contaminated flood water and it is the only supply available, the FDA says open the container, if the pills are dry it is okay until new medication can be obtained. If they are wet, throw it out.
In the event of a power outage, medication that must be refrigerated could be affected. Insulin, for instance, has a shorter shelf life if unrefrigerated. If an outage occurs, keep the storage area closed and cold as long as possible. The FDA says use the drug until a new supply can be obtained to replace the old drug.
The North Carolina Drug Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst hope everyone fairs well through the fast approaching storm.
Hurricane Preparedness, North Carolina Style
August 25th, 2011
The first real threat of the 2011 hurricane season is upon us, and her name is Irene. Hurricane Irene battered the Bahamas earlier this week, and now this Category 3 storm is heading toward the North Carolina coast.
[from the News & Observer
Today, Governor Bev Perdue declared a state of emergency for the counties east of Interstate 95. According to an article in the News & Observer, there is now a mandatory visitor and coastal residents in place, and shelters have opened inland in advance of Saturday, when forecasters predict Irene will make landfall.
“There will be an impact on Eastern North Carolina,” Bill Read, the National Hurricane Center director, told reporters in a teleconference this morning. “The storm will maintain hurricane force winds of 115 mph as it approaches the coast of North Carolina Saturday morning.”
PREPARE FOR IRENE…AND OTHER HURRICANES
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 6 Administrator Tony Russell: “Everyone should put together an emergency kit, create a family plan and stay informed.”
- EMERGENCY KIT
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer. According to FEMA, recommended items to include in a basic emergency supply kit include:
- WATER: one gallon per person per day for at least three days. You’ll need this for drinking, washing, cooking, and possibly sanitation. If you have a well, you may want to stock a little more because if electricity is knocked out, your well won’t function either.
- FOOD: at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food. For examples, click here: Food
- RADIO: battery-powered or hand-crank only (in case there’s no electricity)
- FLASHLIGHT, and extra batteries
- FIRST AID KIT (click to see what to include in the kit)
- WHISTLE or air-horn, to signal for help
- DUST MASK, to filter contaminated air
- MOIST TOWELETTES, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation, in case toilets don’t flush)
- TOOLS: wrench or pliers to turn off utilities if necessary
- CAN OPENER
- LOCAL MAPS
- CELL PHONE: with chargers (if electricity is available), or an inverter or solar charger
Additional items that may be necessary or helpful:
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
- Cash or traveler’s checks and change
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK)) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov.
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
HAVE A PLAN
Those in hurricane-prone areas are urged to prepare now for what you will do during and after a hurricane:
- Before a hurricane
- Prepare an evacuation kit, with the items listed above.
- Secure any important papers in a waterproof container.
- Fill your vehicle’s tank up with gas.
- Get any necessary prescription medications refilled.
- Have enough cash on hand to last for several days.
- Make sure you have enough extra food and water for your pet.
- Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Prepare the family
- Identify an out-of-town contact, someone outside of the hurricane zone. If your family gets separated, this is someone who can field your calls and keep communication ties. (If the hurricane knocks out local phone or cell service, it may be difficult to call others in the hurricane zone.) Make sure every family member knows the phone number of the contact.
- Teach family members how to use text messaging (also knows as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
- Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. Sign up by visiting your local Office of Emergency Management web site.
- During a hurricane
- Listen to the radio or TV for information, or follow the news on the Internet.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill a bathtub with water that can be used for those purposes.
- If you are directed by local authorities to evacuate, be sure to follow their instructions.
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors. Hurricanes are more than just rain…they are very high winds, as well. The danger comes from the wind itself, as well as items picked up and thrown by the wind. Debris (such as signs, fallen tree limbs, small items) can become flying missiles.
HURRICANE CATEGORIES AND THEIR DANGERS
Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on their wind speed, central pressure, and damage potential. Category Three and higher hurricanes are considered major hurricanes, though Categories One and Two are still extremely dangerous and warrant your full attention. From FEMA:
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
|Scale Number (Category)
||Sustained Winds (MPH)
||Very dangerous winds will produce some damage
- Minor damage to exterior of homes
- Toppled tree branches, uprooting of smaller trees
- Extensive damage to power lines, power outages
||Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage
- Major damage to exterior of homes
- Uprooting of small trees and many roads blocked
- Guaranteed power outages for long periods of time – days to weeks
||Devastating damage will occur
- Extensive damage to exterior of homes
- Many trees uprooted and many roads blocked
- Extremely limited availability of water and electricity
||Catastrophic damage will occur
- Loss of roof structure and/or some exterior walls
- Most trees uprooted and most power lines down
- Isolated residential due to debris pile up
- Power outages lasting for weeks to months
||More than 155
||Catastrophic damage will occur
- A high percentage of homes will be destroyed
- Fallen trees and power lines isolate residential areas
- Power outages lasting for weeks to months
- Most areas will be uninhabitable
Once you are prepared for the worst of the hurricane season, you can sit back and enjoy the rest of this summer season!
To read more about how to prepare, plan, and stay informed, check out all the information available on www.Ready.gov.
To read the full article in the News & Observer, click here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/08/25/1435519/dare-county-residents-issued-mandatory.html#ixzz1W4ftzE7q
Hip Implant Complaints Surge
August 23rd, 2011
On August 24, 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, sent a letter to doctors announcing a recall of two of their hip replacement systems, the ASR XL Acetabular System, and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System. Why? Because they have a higher-than-usual failure rates, causing people to have to have second surgeries to replace the replacement.
About 1 in 8 percent of the DePuy replacements will fail within 5 years. What’s worse, the faulty hip replacement causes serious pain and difficulty walking, and recovery from the second hip replacement is often more difficult than after the first. There is also the possibility of metallic particles being shed by the devices. These potentially toxic cobalt-chromium particles may, in high levels, cause heart and/or nervous system problems.
According to a recent article in The New York Times, since January 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 5,000 reports of problems with metal-on-metal hip replacements… more than they received in the previous four years combined. About 75 percent of the complaints were about the recalled Johnson & Johnson products.
The mounting complaints confirm what many experts have feared — that all-metal replacement hips are on a trajectory to become the biggest and most costly medical implant problem since Medtronic recalled a widely used heart device component in 2007. About 7,700 complaints have been filed in connection with that recall.
Many of the metal-on-metal hip replacement products were sold without testing them in patients (a move that, strangely is within FDA guidelines). But in May 2011, the FDA ordered producers to examine the failure rate, the complication rate, and the threat to patients. In addition, researchers are trying to understand exactly how the metal particles cause tissue damage, and why some people experience debilitating pain, while others don’t. According to the article in The New York Times:
As problems and questions grow, most surgeons are abandoning the all-metal hips, saying they are unwilling to expose new patients to potential dangers when safer alternatives — mainly replacements that combine metal and plastic components — are available. Some researchers also fear that many all-metal hips suffer from a generic flaw. Current use of all metal devices has plummeted to about 5 percent of the market, though a few of the models are performing relatively well in select patients.
“It is like playing Russian roulette,” said Dr. Geoffrey H. Westrich, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, who has stopped using all-metal implants.
But for patients who already have tissue damage from faulty hip replacements, the idea that the FDA will now begin studying the devices amounts to little more than a cruel joke. According to one patient, physical therapist Ann Morrison, who was interviewed by reporters for The New York Times:
“We will be the little crash test dummies here until they figure out the health ramifications for us down the road,” said Ms. Morrison, who has sued the DePuy division of Johnson & Johnson, which made her implants.
What To Do Now
If you already know that you received one of the recalled DePuy hip replacement systems, or any metal-on-metal hip replacement, we recommend two things:
1. Schedule a follow-up appointment with your surgeon, even if you’re not currently having symptoms. It is possible that you could have early signs of failure before you recognize the pain. Your doctor will be able to evaluate how your hip is functioning and whether the recalled implant is in need of replacement.
In that visit, your orthopaedic surgeon may also want do a blood test that looks at the level of microscopic metal particles around your hip. Metal particles are a sign that recalled implant has failed. If the blood test indicates a high level of these particles, your surgeon may want to do a second blood test three months later. These levels may be high even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, so this blood testing is very important.
2. Call HensonFuerst Attorneys for important information about your rights. If you or someone you care about received one of these defective joint replacement components, we would like to speak with you right away. You may have a legal case and be able to collect compensation for the injury caused by this faulty medical device.
What’s most important: DO NOT contact DePuy, or SIGN ANY RELEASES OF YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS TO DePuy or JOHNSON & JOHNSON or any other manufacturer before you talk with a lawyer. On DePuy’s website, they ask patients to register with them and receive a claim number. DO NOT DO THIS YOURSELF. Let a lawyer handle everything. Big corporations look out for their own financial interests, not the interests of people who may have been harmed. If Johnson & Johnson was interested in helping patients, they would not have allowed the device to continue to be sold even after they knew it was causing serious problems.
At HensonFuerst, your health is our top priority. We dedicate ourselves to protecting individuals from the greed and callousness of large corporations. Let us work for you. Our attorneys are available 24 hours/day, every day of the year at 1-800-4-LAW-MED (1-800-452-9633). Or, visit our website at www.lawmed.com for more information. You can also fill out a free online consultation form for an immediate evaluation of your case.
Life Doesn’t Wait, and neither should you. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers!
This law firm is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or associated with the Associated Press, DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., or Johnson & Johnson
To see the HensonFuerst YouTube video about the DePuy hip recall, click here: HensonFuerst YouTube video
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Hip Implant Complaints Surge, Even as the Dangers Are Studied
Football Players Demand Better Health Monitoring
August 22nd, 2011
On July 21, 2011, we posted a blog about the lawsuit brought by former pro football players against the National Football League (NFL) for concealing information about the harmful effects of concussion from players, coaches, and trainers. And not only did the NFL drop the ball (pun intended) on its duty to inform players of the risks, they also failed to protect players from known risks.
According to a recent article in The New York Times, the lawsuit may become the first concussion-related class action against the NFL. A group of players is seeking damages for injured players, but also changes in the medical monitoring of players. The latter is the groundbreaking part of the lawsuit. According to the group’s lawyer, Larry Coben, while there have been improvements in the way concussions are analyzed and treated, there is much room for improvement in identifying injuries.
Specifically, Coben cited the use of blood tests as a way to diagnose concussions, saying the United States military has already begun using the technique and contending that such tests would increase player safety in the N.F.L.
Coben also asserted that the N.F.L. should be using testing procedures that examine genetic markers for indications of whether a player may be more at risk for developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy later in life.
“Modern technology is advancing,” Coben said in a telephone interview. “We need to get past just using doctors on the sideline and in the locker rooms to see if a player has been hurt.”
Class action lawsuits are tricky stuff, but the medical side of this lawsuit may be even more difficult. Some experts don’t believe that blood testing for head injuries is not quite ready for widespread use. But monitoring seems like a wonderful idea in a sport where the injury rate is 100 percent. However, according to the article in The New York Times, not everyone agrees that extra monitoring is important, or even necessary.
Jets linebacker Josh Mauga, who sustained a concussion last season, said the current concussion management program was thorough and sufficient. Mauga described the series of tests he had to pass (including balance and visual exams) before he could resume exercising after his concussion. And, when he felt symptoms during light jogging, he said he was sent back to the beginning of the process each time.
“I did those balance and vision tests so many times,” he said. “Because any time I started to feel anything, I had to start all over again. It took me three weeks.”
Still, it’s a lot to put the entire load of concussion recognition on young, eager-to-please athletes who might not be willing to sit on the sidelines while his teammates play to glory. But, as we’ve been reporting for months now, concussion is not a small or insignificant injury. Repeated concussions can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is a progressive neurologic condition. Football players have a right to be concerned. We’ll be watching the status of this lawsuit, and will report back when there is news.
To read the entire article in The New York Times, click here: Concussion Suit Seeks Better Health Monitoring
Window Falls Still a Risk for Children
August 22nd, 2011
Every week, about 100 children and adolescents in the United States are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries sustained from window falls. Approximately 25 percent of the injured children were hospitalized. A new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital documented the incidence and causes of window falls.
[from Center for Injury Research & Policy
Given the window regulations that have been in place for decades, and the sophistication of parents when it comes to keeping their children safe, it seems astounding that more than 5,000 children are hurt from falls from windows each year. (And these numbers don’t include children treated by their family physicians or those who died at the scene.)
The study (which will be published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics) examined window falls from 1990 through 2008. The researchers concluded that while many parents know that windows can be a hazard for their child, they may not be aware just how often things can take a turn for the worse.
Some of the injuries seemed to occur due to the ingenuity of children. For example, nearly 200 children fell from windows each year after climbing on furniture placed near windows. Also, many children pushed out window screens before falling. According to Dr. Gary A. Smith, lead researcher of the study and professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine:
“Screens just pop right out, and that’s not enough to keep a child in,’’ said Dr. Smith.
Another bit of surprising information revealed by the study: Falls from first- or second-floor windows accounted for 94 percent of falls. This may explain why parents weren’t fully aware of the risk—most of us associate window falls with high, multi-story apartment buildings.
According to an article in The New York Times:
Risk for falling out a window peaks between the ages of 1 and 2. About two-thirds of the window falls involved children under 5.
“That’s the age group that are exploring,’’ said Dr. Smith. “They see the open window and don’t see the danger, and out they go.’’
According to the U.S. News & World Report, younger children need to be protected from their own curiosity by installing window guards and moving furniture away from windows. Older children, on the other hand, need to be protected from their fearlessness:
Older children… can figure out how to remove window guards, so they need to be educated about risky behavior that can result in falls.
Tips on Preventing Window Falls
The Center for Injury Research and Policy is a great source of information about preventing childhood injuries, including injuries from window falls. They offer these tips:
- Window screens are not designed to stop a child from falling. A normal window screen is NOT enough to keep children safe.
- It is best to purchase window guards with a quick release mechanism. This will allow the window to be opened easily by an adult in the case of a fire emergency.
- Use window stops to prevent windows from opening more than 4 inches.
- Install locks on sliding windows to prevent children from opening them.
- Move all furniture away from windows. Children can climb on furniture to access windows that are otherwise out of reach.
- Create soft landing surfaces such as bushes or plant beds under windows to help prevent serious injuries in case of a fall.
- Do not allow children to play on fire escapes, roofs or balconies.
- Make sure that older children understand the dangers of climbing out of or jumping from windows.
- Young children should never be left at home unsupervised.
To visit the Center for Injury Research and Policy website (which includes a safety video), click here: Window Falls
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Window Falls Remain a Childhood Hazard
To read the full article in U.S. News and World Report, click here: Falls from Windows Claiming Too Many Children’s Lives