It’s Too Soon to Say That Green Bay Packers’ Jermichael Finley is “Going To Be Fine”

ku-bigpicGreen Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley sustained a serious head injury this past weekend while the team hosted the Cleveland Browns at home, for the second time this month. Though he appears to be recovering movement in his extremities, despite having suffered temporary paralysis immediately after the injury, it’s a stark reminder that the effects of head trauma in football can be brutally immediate.

We still don’t know which neurological injuries will be transient and which will be permanent. Assuming Finley is able to regain full sensation in his arms and legs, he will have suffered something called transient paresis, a horrible consequence of cervical spine injury.

Athletes can experience this type of injury in one of four ways; the neck may be 1. hyperextended, 2. hyperflexed, 3. compressed, or 4. subjected to indirect blunt force.1 Assuming any of those occur, and cause an interference with teh spinal cord, the thin bundle of neurons that extends down from the base of the skull and serves as a mean of transporting sensory and motor information to other parts of the body, as well as being a center for coordinating certain reflexes, it spells disaster.

Hyperextension and hyperflexion of the neck can result in what we commonly call whiplash2, a catchall term for sudden strain to the muscles, bones and nerves in the neck. During whiplash, ligaments or vertabrae can fold into the spinal canal, compromising the spinal cord. Reasons for neurologic symptons haven’t been sorted out yet, however it seems to be related to physical trauma to the neurons in the cord or a compromise in blood flow.

In addition to whiplash, neck injury can result from compression or blunt force trauma, which destabilize the vertebrae, ligaments, and connective tissue that support and protect the neck. In this scenario, blunt force trauma can cause any of these body parts to herniate into the spinal column, causing neurologic symptons, like the ones Finley had experienced after he connected with Browns safety Tashaun Gipson. However, before we attempt to prognosticate, it is important for us to know exactly the type of injury Finley sustained and, more importantly, what his neck anatomy looked like before and after the latest injury.3

In the fourth quarter of last night’s Packers game, Finley took a slant pass from Aaron Rodgers and lowered his head just as Gipson was moving in to tackle him. Gipson connected with Finley by hitting his head with this right shoulder-pad, and Finley fell limply to the ground almost immediately, signaling, initially, what most though was an immediate knock-out caused by concussive force, i.e. it was assumed Finley was immediately and severely concussed. This signaled the medical team to hit the field promptly. The tight end then spent the next few minutes on his back on the turf as the Packers’ training and medical staff immobilized his head and neck before he was taken off the field in a stretcher and brought to the ICU.

Players and fans were understandably disturbed by the play. When teammate Andew Quarless initially approached Finley, he said his fallen teammate couldn’t move and players could be seen with tears in their eyes as he was carted off the field. ESPN has nfl_a_finley_b1_300x200since reported that Finley has regained almost all movement and a source has since told that Finley’s hospital stay is precautionary and that “he’s going to be fine.”

The truth is that that statement cannot be made with 100% positivity, because it’s simply too soon to tell.

Whenever a football player hits the field and is expected to incur a tackle (just about every player on every down is expected to incur a tackle), he’s potentially at risk of one of the four aforementioned types of neck injuries. If a player is hit the wrong way, and the spinal cord is compromised, players like Finley can feel unusual sensations in their extremities immediately. The most common symptom is the so-called burning hands syndrome, which is suggestive of a lesion to the central part of the spinal cord. In addition to numbness and tingling, the player may be unable to move certain parts of the body. This lack of movement can range from mild weakness to full paralysis, dependent on the severity of the injury. Often, there is no other neck pain at the time of injury. Symptoms can generally last less than 10 – 15 minutes, but may last as long as two days. It’s important to know that Finley is still in a critical recovery window, and will be for at least one more day.

It’s unclear as to whether Finley should ever return to Football even if he recovers. A recent study suggests that some NFL players can safely return to the field after certain types of head and neck injuries. That’s far from medical dogma, though, especially for a repeat victim like Finley.

Finley’s first injury of the season occurred on Sept. 22, when he was the victim of a helmet-to-helmet hit by Bengals safety George Iloka. Finley staggered off of the field and was soon after diagnosed with a concussion. Finley was visibly shaken by the head injury, as were those around him. Speaking to ESPNWisconsin, Finley said at the time, “I get calls from my grandma all the time. I tell her I only want to play 8 to 10 more years, and she says, ‘Boy, you need to quit this dang game.’ That’s the thing. I know the risks. But family members that care about you, they see it from a different perspective than we do.”

It’s a perspective that is worth considering by Finley. While fans may want Finley back, and the organization may want him back (Finley is currently having a great season through week 7, racking up 300 yards on 25 receptions and 3 touchdowns) one can reasonably argue that he should never step on a football field again. There are reports of athletes with transient neurological symptoms—the same as Finley reportedly experienced here—who subsequently developed permanent neurological injury. No one wants to see his name added to that list.

After his previous concussion, Finley’s five-year-old son had one request. “Daddy,” he said, “I want you to stop playing football.” He’s not the only one.

1A recent case of a Canadian professional hockey player recently developed transient paresis after being struck in the back of the neck by a puck Winder MJ, Brett K, Hurlbert RJ. Spinal cord concussion in a professional ice hockey player. J. Neurosurg. Spine. 2011; 14: 677–80. [Context Link>).

2Before the invention of the car, whiplash injuries were called “railroad spine” as they were often seen in connection with train collisions

3Football players often have unusual neck anatomy. In 1993, a new condition was described called Spear tackler’s spine that occurs in football players who habitually tackle using the top of the head as the initial point of contact. These players have narrowing of the cervical spinal canal and straightening of the normal neck curvature. They are also predisposed to permanent neurologic injury and should avoid all contact sports.

via Jean-Francois Hibbert


Yellow fever mosquitoA recent report out of Fresno, CA has identified a mosquito that can carry dengue and yellow fever has been found in California, prompting intense eradication efforts in the Central Valley and warnings from officials about how to keep the pest from spreading.

“It could change the way we live in California, if we don’t stop it,” said Tim Phillips of the Fresno Mosquito and Vector Control District. “Imagine not feeling safe to sit out in your backyard in the afternoons.”

The yellow fever mosquito, or Aedes aegypti — a white polka-dotted bug that bites during the day and can lay its eggs in less than a teaspoon of water — was first detected in June in Madera.

“We were shocked,” said Leonard Irby, district manager of Madera’s abatement program. “We never expected this mosquito in California.”

An eradication effort has been launched that includes agents going door-to-door to warn people about standing water. However, soon the mosquito was found in Clovis and Fowler, and had turned up in August in the Bay Area’s San Mateo County, and this week in Fresno. Officials have begun spraying homes with insecticide in areas reported to have seen the pest.

“This affects all of California,” Irby said. “It requires everyone’s help: Turn over plant saucers, wash out dog bowls, remember this mosquito can lay eggs even in the cracks of cement if water is left there for a couple of days.” The bug can even lay eggs in flowering plants such as bromeliads.

As of now, no mosquitos have been found in the Los Angeles area, and across California, vector control agents constantly trap mosquitos to look for any invasive species.

Due to the recent infestation of the Asian Tiger mosquito in Southern California, agencies have been already monitoring more traps, stated Mark Daniel, Director of Operations for the Greater Los Angles County Vector Control District.

“There is no evidence of aegypti in Los Angeles. But you can never say with 100% certainty,” he said. “Our brother and sister agencies in the Central Valley are being very aggressive and we’re on high alert.”

At this point, the trapped mosquitos have appeared to be disease free, and the California Department of Public Health has reported 200 cases of dengue fever since 2010, all of them having been contracted outside of the country.

“Presently, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya do not occur within California,” Dr. Gilberto Chavez, deputy director of the California Department of Public Health’s Center for Infectious Disease, said. “There is presently no risk of these diseases being acquired locally and traveling within the state.”

But the state is warning to medical community to be on the lookout and cautious of any potential infections or cases.

Yellow fever is a virus that causes fever, chills, nausea, headache and a prominent backache. Extreme cases cause jaundice, and can be deadly. Dengue causes head and muscle aches, a rash similar to measles and can also kill. Chikungunya is characterized by high fever, rash and months of joint pain.

It is not clear where the bugs are coming from, however, the first detections occurred in affluent neighborhoods. Vector Control agents asked people whether they had recently traveled outside of the country or had brought back plants or produce. Many had, but agents found no mosquitos in local nurseries or big box stores and few shared travel destinations, official had said. So far, there has been no common thread linking the infected areas.

As they searched for clues, officials launched a public awareness campaign, including posters at the Big Fresno Fair.

“A lady read the flyer and she remembered earlier thinking, ‘Hmm, there are mosquitoes biting during the day. That’s different’ and noticing bites on her baby,” Phillips said. “She went home, trapped a mosquito and called us.”

Phillips was on a Department of Public Health conference call about abatement efforts when a biologist identified the mosquito from the woman’s house as Aedes aegypti.

He sent a photo of the brown bug with white markings to the other 14 people on the call. There was silence.

“When the aegypti was in Madera there was concern, then Clovis — more concern, then it got to Fowler and it was ‘Criminy!’” Phillips said. “But, now Fresno. It’s got some people questioning whether we can stop it.”

The hope is that the winter temperatures will freeze the eggs, erradicating the bugs. However, people are often recommended to bring sensitive plants indoors during a freeze, thus facilitating potential survival of the mosquitos’ egg-sacks. The mosquito lays eggs, just above the water line in containers, and after the eggs dry out, they can still survive when more water is added.

The mosquito has been in some parts of the United States for centuries, arriving on New World ships from Africa. It is present in Florida, Texas and Arizona. But this is believed to be the first time it has reached California.

“We don’t want it here,” Phillips said. “But it’s going to take a heck of a lot to stop it.”

via Jean-Francois Hibbert’s Page

Texas Law Firm Investigating Popular Dietary Supplement

Don’t lend money to the new guy, he might not pay you back. Don’t download new software; it might have bugs. Most important of all, don’t buy new drugs; it might kill you.

Unless your life depends on it, don’t trust anything new. New things don’t have established reputations. They haven’t been tested. They haven’t proven themselves to countless people to be worthy of your use. Even if there’s a strong chance the new thing can help you now, there’s also a strong chance that it will screw you over later.

A South Texas law firm of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales is suing USPLabs, LLC for their popular diet supplement OxyELITE Pro. The firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of a 35 year old who believes the pill gave him heart damage.  Bob Hilliard, an attorney from the law firm, claims that USPLabs knew there were potentially dangerous side effects to their diet pill, but they failed to warn consumers appropriately.

Past news regarding the diet pill will only bolster the attorney’s claim. USPLabs recently stopped its nationwide distribution of the pill due to a staggering number of liver failures associated with its consumers. On October 8, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced investigations to see if the pill is linked to some acute hepatitis cases. And more directly related news is that a women who took the pill from March 2012 until February 2013 ended up hospitalized and diagnostic tests revealed that she lost 10 to 20 percent of her heart function.

In April 2012, the FDA sent a warning letter to USPLabs telling them that a drug in the supplement, called dimethylamylamine, has no evidence of being as safe as regular dietary ingredients, that the drug narrows blood vessels and arteries, increasing cardiovascular resistance and elevating blood pressure. This increases the work of the heart, often leading to a cardiovascular event, ranging from shortness of breath to tightening of the chest.

The law firm has a good shot at winning


via Jean-Francois Hibbert

Scientists Say Diamonds May Fall as Rain on Jupiter and Saturn

Saturn11New reports from researchers suggest that the planets Jupiter and Saturn may harbor one of Earth’s most precious minerals within them: diamonds. Planetary experts had previously believed that the planets harbored the mineral deep below the surface, but that is very possibly not the case.  Planetary experts had previously believed that two other planets had diamonds deep below the surface, but were unsure about whether their neighbors did.

Originally, prior to these findings, scientists believed that the two planets were unsuitable for the creation of diamonds, not exhibiting the optimum natural conditions necessary for their creation. However, cluster chunks of diamonds (small enough to hold in your hand) may be floating around in the hydrogen and helium fluid found deep in the atmosphere of the two planets. At lower depths, the extreme pressure and temperature conditions are strong enough to melt the naturally created diamonds, resulting in a sort of liquid diamond rain that showers over the surface of the planets. On planets like Neptune or Uranus, however, where the temperatures are much colder, the diamond rain is more like diamond hail.

Scientists believe, ironically, that diamonds on Jupiter and Saturn did not originate from something so pretty. On the other hand, they believe that they were created by methane gas found in the atmospheres of the two planets. During storms, lightning blasts the methane gas apart (through electrolysis) into something resembling black fluffy soot. Which makes sense considering diamonds are formed from coal. The soot drifts downwards where it experiences massive increases in pressure deep inside the planets.

This is a similar process of how diamonds are believed to be created on Earth. Scientists believe that carbon trapped underground is heated quickly to massive temperatures (2000 degrees Fahrenheit) and also experiences intense pressures (725,000 psi’s) in order to be formed into a diamond. After it is created, it moves quickly to the Earth’s surface in order to cool and solidify.

In order to confirm the hypothesis, scientists would have to send a robotic drilling apparatus to probe the surface of the planet to find the precious mineral. Though this isn’t particularly realistic at this point, to those interested in mineral and planetary composition, the new study is a huge leap forward towards understanding Saturn and Jupiter as well as the similarities that have now been established between several major planets in our solar system.

via Jean-Francois Hibbert

Possible Key to to Developing Successful Human HIV Vaccine – Cats

CatCats, one of the quintessential human pet-companions, may be the furry answer to a deadly disease that has plagued humans for 30 years now, HIV.

In a new study published in the Journal of Virology, a cat AIDS virus protein was found to trigger an effective immune response in blood from HIV-infected humans.  Researchers from the University of Florida and University of California, San Francisco say this finding could lead to the creation of a successful AIDS vaccine for humans.

The scientists have been working on the development of an HIV vaccine that stimulates a T cell response in HIV-positive individuals.  The vaccine components include certain viral peptides – small pieces of protein from HIV, which can prompt the body’s T cells to recognize and attack the virus in infected cells.  However, not all HIV peptides can be used in vaccines.

“In humans, some peptides stimulate immune responses, which either enhance HIV infection or have no effect at all, while others may have anti-HIV activities that are lost when the virus changes or mutates to avoid such immunity,” said corresponding author Janet Yamamoto, a professor of retroviral immunology at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine.  “So, we are looking for those viral peptides in the cat AIDS virus that can induce anti-HIV T-cell activities and do not mutate.”

Yamamoto said that some peptides from the feline AIDS virus – known as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) – worked quite well at triggering T cells to fight HIV in humans.  She said they are hopeful that FIV can be used to help identify regions of the human AIDS virus that can be more effectively utilized in the development of a vaccine.

No T-cell based vaccines have ever before been used to prevent viral diseases, to date.

“So we are now employing an immune system approach that has not been typically utilized to make a vaccine,” she said. “The possible use of the cat virus for this vaccine is unique.”

via Jean-Francois Hibbert’s Page

Walking ‘Cuts Breast Cancer Risk’

Post-menopausal women who walk for an hour a day can cut their chance of breast cancer significantly, a study has suggested.

The report, which followed 73,000 women for 17 years, found walking for at least seven hours a week lowered the risk of the disease.

The American Cancer Society team said this was the first time reduced risk was specifically linked to walking.

UK experts said it was more evidence that lifestyle influenced cancer risk.

A recent poll for the charity Ramblers found a quarter of adults walk for no more than an hour a week – but being active is known to reduce the risk of a number of cancers.

Recreational activity

This study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention followed 73,615 women out of 97,785 aged 50-74 who had been recruited by the American Cancer Society between 1992 and 1993 so it could monitor the incidence of cancer in the group._70258483_womenbeach

They were asked to complete questionnaires on their health and on how much time they were active and participating in activities such as walking, swimming and aerobics and how much time they spent sitting watching television or reading.

They completed the same questionnaires at two-year intervals between 1997 and 2009.

Of the women, 47% said walking was their only recreational activity.

Those who walked for at least seven hours per week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer compared to those who walked three or fewer hours per week.

Dr Alpa Patel, a senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta Georgia, who led the study, said: “Given that more than 60% of women report some daily walking, promoting walking as a healthy leisure-time activity could be an effective strategy for increasing physical activity amongst post-menopausal women.

“We were pleased to find that without any other recreational activity, just walking one hour a day was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer in these women.

“More strenuous and longer activities lowered the risk even more.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “This study adds further evidence that our lifestyle choices can play a part in influencing the risk of breast cancer and even small changes incorporated into our normal day-to-day activity can make a difference.

She added: “We know that the best weapon to overcoming breast cancer is the ability to stop it occurring in the first place.

“The challenge now is how we turn these findings into action and identify other sustainable lifestyle changes that will help us prevent breast cancer.”

Originally Published by BBC News Health

via Jean-Francois Hibbert