Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a truly horrible illness. It is a progressive fatal neurodegenerative disorder that leads to worsening muscle weakness. Weakness in the limbs initially makes handwriting sloppy and makes it hard to button clothes and eventually causes paralysis. Patients also develop weakness in the muscles that control swallowing and speech, eventually requiring them to use feeding tubes and computer text-to-speech software. Eventually the ...

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The ALS Association, and the British version, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, have made boatloads of money off of the ice bucket challenge. Originally the idea was that a person would challenge another person to donate money for ALS research and if they hadn’t done so in 24 hours, they would dump a bucket of ice water over their head. It turns out that people like dumping ice buckets over ...

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Top stories in health and medicine, August 7, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. Return to Warfarin Okay After TBI? Restarting warfarin (Coumadin) after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) improved overall outcomes despite the bleeding risk.
  2. Dietitians Take Aim at Food Industry Sponsorships. Andy Bellatti has been troubled by some of the continuing education programs he's seen at the Academy of Nutrition and ...

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Top stories in health and medicine, August 1, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. The 40-Minute Office Visit. The State stopped by to see us the other day. Wow, that sounds ominous.
  2. FDA to Expand Reach on Diagnostic Tests. The FDA plans to take over regulation of "home brew" diagnostic tests developed and used within individual clinical laboratories.
  3. Lytics for Stroke ...

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Ask almost any physician why they chose medicine, and they'll answer, "I wanted to make a difference in the lives of patients." But in today's high-pressure healthcare environment, it's easy to get caught up in performance metrics and obsessed with efficiency. We tell ourselves, "It's OK, as long as we're delivering great clinical care, we're delivering great care. After all, the massive heart attack was averted. The wound was stitched. What ...

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It all comes down to willpower, right?  Strength of purpose.  Muster the resolve to skip dessert, and you have a shot at losing that spare tire hanging off your belly.  Succumb to your temptations, however, and you are simply being weak. But is it just weakness that causes us to overeat? A study in Psychological Science suggests that our inability to resist that mouthwatering looking chocolate cake doesn’t arise simply because our ...

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I have made several observations as to why developmentally challenged people are losing out in our health care systems. Given that there are 11 million children in the United States with an emotional, developmental or behavioral condition, we really can’t afford to neglect this important issue. My first observation is that primary care remains a chronically undervalued component of health care delivery in the U.S. Despite the 60 million Americans who ...

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The interview had lasted fifteen minutes so far, and we'd made minimal progress. I was a medical student doing a rotation at a physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic back in my home state, Wisconsin. It was the end of the day; to save time, the senior resident, Paul, had joined me in the exam room so that we could hear Leora's medical history together. A year earlier, Leora, in her mid-fifties, ...

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My heart sinks each time I see the subject line in this too common email I receive in my medical practice: “Sad news: Matthew was fine when he went to bed last night but his mother found him dead in bed this morning.” Matthew (not his real name) had epilepsy with seizures that persisted despite use of currently available antiseizure medications. We started Matthew’s evaluation when the latest antiseizure medication had been ...

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It was an ordinary summer day.  People were milling on the main thoroughfare, bikes zig-zagging through traffic, cafés and pubs spilling onto the sidewalk, patrons sipping their way through a lazy Friday afternoon. We were ordinary that day too.  Just another family, managing the hectic jumble of kids’ lessons, bills, our careers, endless streams of birthday parties, too little sleep and the occasional date night out. But it was all shattered with ...

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