Acupressure effective in helping to treat traumatic brain injury
A new University of Colorado Boulder study indicates an ancient form of complementary medicine may be effective in helping to treat people with mild traumatic brain injury.
The study involved a treatment known as acupressure in which one's fingertips are used to stimulate particular points on a person's body -- points similar to those stimulated with needles in standard acupuncture treatments, said CU-Boulder Professor Theresa Hernandez, lead study author. The results indicate a link between the acupressure treatments and enhanced cognitive function in study subjects with mild traumatic brain injury, or TBI.
"We found that the study subjects with mild traumatic brain injury who were treated with acupressure showed improved cognitive function, scoring significantly better on tests of working memory when compared to the TBI subjects in the placebo control group," said Hernandez.
The acupressure treatment type used in the study is called Jin Shin. For the study, Hernandez and her colleagues targeted the 26 points on the human body used in standard Jin Shin treatments ranging from the head to the feet. The study subjects all received treatments by trained Jin Shin practitioners.
According to practitioners, Jin Shin acupressure points are found along "meridians" running through the body that are associated with specific energy pathways. It is believed that each point is tied to the health of specific body organs, as well as the entire body and brain, Hernandez said.
The study involved 38 study subjects, each of whom was randomly assigned to one of two groups -- an experimental group that received active acupressure treatments from trained experts and a control group that received treatments from the same experts on places on the body that are not considered to be acupressure points, acting as a placebo. The study was "blinded," meaning the researchers collecting data and the study participants themselves did not know who was in the experimental group or the placebo group until the end of the study.
The team used a standard battery of neuropsychological tests to assess the results. In one test known as the Digit Span Test, subjects were asked to repeat strings of numbers after hearing them, in both forward and backward order, to see how many digits they could recall. Those subjects receiving active acupressure treatments showed increased memory function, said Hernandez.
A second standard psychology test used for the study, called the Stroop Task, measured working memory and attention. The test subjects were shown the names of colors like blue, green or red on a computer screen. When the names of the particular colors are viewed on the screen in a different color of ink -- like the word "green" spelled out in blue ink -- test subjects take longer to name the ink color and the results are more error-prone, according to Hernandez. The Stroop Test subjects in the CU-Boulder study wore special caps wired with electrodes to measure the brain activity tied to specific stimuli. The results showed those who received the active acupressure treatments responded to stimuli more rapidly than those who received the placebo treatments, Hernandez said.
"We were looking at synchronized neural activity in response to a stimulus, and our data suggest the brains of those in the active acupressure group responded differently when compared to those in the placebo acupressure group," she said.
Moles the secret to youthful skin
Moles can be beautiful and make keep you looking more youthful, the researchers suggest. Researchers at Kings College London found that they not only could mean younger skin, but better bone density as well. They said that the cells of people with many moles had properties which allowed them to renew themselves more often. However, there may be a price to pay - more moles have been linked to a higher rate of cancer, both skin and other types.
Most people have between 30 and 40 moles, but some have as many as 600. A series of studies carried out by the King's College team, and Dr Veronique Bataille, a dermatologist based at Hemel Hempstead General Hospital, looked at the relationship between mole numbers and other physical characteristics.
When you have a patient with lots of moles, we noticed they tended to age better” Dr Bataille Lead researcher First Dr Bataille noted that people with large numbers of moles appeared less vulnerable to some of the effects of skin ageing, such as wrinkles and blemishes.
The latest study in 1,200 twins suggested that high mole numbers also meant that people were less affected by age-related reductions in bone density, which could mean a lower risk of brittle bone disease and bone fractures later in life. Those with more than 100 moles were half as likely to develop osteoporosis compared with those with 25 moles or fewer.
The reason for these links are unclear, but researchers have noticed that people with large numbers of moles have differences in the strands of DNA in each cell which carry their genetic code. Sections on the end of these strands are called telomeres, and are effectively a countdown timer governing the number of times a cell can divide to produce new cells. The longer the telomere, the more cell divisions can take place over a lifetime - and more moles were linked to longer telomeres.
The underlying ageing mechanism could be a trade-off which allowed longevity without unduly raising the risk of cancer, she said. Those with more cell divisions, and more youthful looks, might be increasing their cancer risk. "As a clinician, when I get a patient with lots of moles, I automatically want to know about their family history of cancer, so I can think about prevention. "This is not just melanoma, but also more common cancers such as breast and colon cancer."
Index finger length prostate cancer clue
A British Journal of Cancer study found men whose index finger was longer than their ring finger were significantly less likely to develop the disease. Researchers made the discovery after comparing the hands of 1,500 prostate cancer patients with 3,000 healthy men. The length of the fingers is fixed before birth and is thought to relate to sex hormone levels in the womb.
Being exposed to less testosterone before birth results in a longer index finger and may protect against prostate cancer later in life, say researchers at the University of Warwick and the Institute of Cancer Research. One of the report authors, Professor Ros Eeles, said more studies would be needed, but if these confirmed the findings it could be used a simple test for prostate cancer risk.
Dr Helen Rippon, head of research at The prostate Cancer Charity, said the research added to growing evidence that the balance of hormones we are exposed to before birth influences our health for the rest of our lives. But she said men with shorter index fingers should not be "unduly worried". "They share this trait with more than half of all men and it does not mean they will definitely develop prostate cancer in later life."
Trigger points and chronic tension type headache
A study from Spain recently evaluated the relationship between the referred pain pattern and areas from trigger points (TrPs) in head, neck, and shoulder muscles in children with chronic tension type headache (CTTH).
Fifty children (14 boys, 36 girls, mean age: 8 tears) with CTTH and 50 age- and sex- matched children participated. Bilateral temporalis, masseter, superior oblique, upper trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, suboccipital, and levator scapula muscles were examined for TrPs by an assessor blinded to the children’s condition. TrPs were identified with palpation and considered active when local and referred pains reproduce headache pain attacks. The referred pain areas were drawn on anatomical maps, digitalized, and also measured.
The study found that the total number of TrPs was significantly greater in children with CTTH as compared to healthy children. Active TrPs were only present in children with CTTH . Within children with CTTH, a significant positive association between the number of active TrPs and headache duration was observed: the greater the number of active TrPs, the longer the duration of headache attack.
Significant differences in referred pain areas between groups and muscleswere found: the referred pain areas were larger in CTTH children, and the referred pain area elicited by suboccipital TrPs was larger than the referred pain from the remaining TrPs. They found significant positive correlations between some headache clinical parameters and the size of the referred pain.
The researchers concluded that: Our results showed that the local and referred pains elicited from active TrPs in head, neck and shoulder shared similar pain pattern as spontaneous CTTH in children, supporting a relevant role of active TrPs in CTTH in children.
The study was published in Journal of Headache Pain. 2011 Feb;12(1):35-43.
Using massage to ease constipation.
Constipation is a painful and serious condition that patients often find difficult to talk about. It is usually treated with laxatives alone. A Study from Department of Nursing, Umeå University, Sweden recently published in Nursing Times evaluated whether abdominal massage is an effective treatment for constipation.
They evaluated 60 people with constipation, half received 15 minutes of abdominal and hand massage a day, five days a week, for eight weeks, as well as prescribed laxatives. The rest received prescribed laxatives only. Interviews with participants were also conducted.
The results showed that abdominal massage used with laxatives reduced abdominal pain, increased bowel movements and improved quality of life compared with laxative use alone. Patients reported positive experiences of abdominal massage but it did not reduce their laxative use.
The author concluded that abdominal massage was seen as a pleasant treatment that can be offered as an option in constipation management.
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