Archive for April 1st, 2011|Daily archive page
Not Everyone On Board With Autism ‘Awareness’
As Autism Awareness Month kicks off, hundreds of buildings will light up blue and a documentary about autism will screen nationally, but not everyone in the autism community is pleased with so much attention being paid to “awareness.”
Through Facebook, a budding movement is growing among those hoping to shift the conversation from one focused on a cure to an effort centered more on tolerance.
“I was a bit tired of seeing ‘awareness day’ events tied to organizations that are asking for donations,” says Paula Durbin-Westby, 52, who has autism and started a Facebook event called “Autism Acceptance Day” after hearing from others who felt hurt by traditional awareness events that didn’t highlight positive aspects of the developmental disorder.
So far, more than 1,000 people have signed on to participate in the grassroots effort. Meanwhile, a similar Facebook group called “Autism Understanding and Acceptance” has just over 1,700 members.
“A lot of what gets passed off as awareness paints autism as a death sentence,” says Melanie Yergeau, 27, an Ohio State University graduate student with Asperger’s syndrome who’s helping plan a poetry and essay reading featuring the work of individuals with autism in honor of Autism Acceptance Day. “This year we want to start off April with an acceptance message.”
The efforts come as more traditional awareness month activities are taking hold.
“Wretches & Jabberers,” a film about two men with autism, will start playing Friday at AMC Theatres. The movie will screen in 40 cities across the country during April through a deal with the Autism Society, which will receive some of the proceeds.
Meanwhile, more than 700 buildings and landmarks around the globe including Niagara Falls, the Empire State Building and the Sydney Opera House in Australia will light up blue Friday and Saturday nights as part of an Autism Speaks effort to mark World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
Many NBA teams are also participating in the “Light It Up Blue” initiative by turning arenas blue, airing public service announcements during games and other activities.
This program will create a financial incentive for doctors to take more interest in a patient’s follow up care, thereby, providing better care.There are some who say that the entire medical and pharma system is based on making money and not on getting you better. I guess this proves it.The promise of “better care for patients” apparently wasn’t enough in order to get this program off the ground…they had to both pay doctors more AND show a savings to the government.While I applaud the program to increase follow up care, this seems to me like doctors are now going to get paid more to do what they should already be doing (and are doing in other countries).The USA medical system is ranked 37th in the world by the World Health Organization.
WASHINGTON | By Donna Smith
(Reuters) – U.S. Medicare regulators on Thursday launched a program for doctors to deliver more follow-up care to patients that they predict will save the government as much as $960 million over the next three years while providing better healthcare for the elderly.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed rules under President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul setting out guidelines for doctors and hospitals who form so-called accountable care organizations to deliver Medicare services.
The idea, called coordinated care, is to give primary care physicians a financial incentive to follow up on patients who are sent to the hospital or prescribed a course of treatment.
The traditional pay for service structure provides no such incentives, which take the form of a share of any cost savings.
“We’ve known for a long time that too many Americans fail to get the best care when they walk into a hospital or a doctor’s office,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a telephone press conference.
“One in every five Medicare beneficiaries who leaves the hospital is back within 30 days. In many cases it is because they failed to receive the correct follow up care,” she added…
Adult Stem Cells Help Patients with Aggressive Multiple Sclerosis
by David Prentice – March 22, 2011
A team of scientists from Thessaloniki, Greece, have shown that chemotherapy followed by adult stem cell transplant can stop progression of aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS). The team observed a group of 35 patients who received transplants of their own bone marrow adult stem cells after being treated with chemotherapy to wipe out the rogue immune cells that were attacking their nervous system and causing their MS. An average of 11 years after their transplants, 25% of the patients in Greece have not seen their disease progress, the researchers report. Among patients with active lesions on MRI scans before their transplants, indicating that they were in an inflammatory phase of the disease, 44% have not progressed. For 16 people, symptoms improved by an average of one point on their disability scale after the transplant, and the improvements lasted for an average of two years. The participants also had a reduction in the number and size of lesions in their brains. But two patients died from transplant-related complications. The results are published in the journal Neurology, the journal of the American Association of Neurology. Co-author Dr. Vasilios Kimiskidis said:
“Keeping that in mind, our feeling is that stem cell transplants may benefit people with rapidly progressive MS. This is not a therapy for the general population of people with MS but should be reserved for aggressive cases that are still in the inflammatory phase of the disease.”
Other researchers not associated with the current study commented that this was still a big step forward in the use of adult stem cells to treat MS Dr. Richard Nash of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle noted:
“This is the first long-term paper that’s being published on this.”
Nash is part of a National Institutes of Health trial of stem cell transplants for MS, but he was not involved in the Greek study.
Dr. Richard Burt, Chief of the Division of Medicine-Immunotherapy for Autoimmune Diseases at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, points out:
“It’s the only therapy to date that has been shown to reverse neurologic deficits. But you have to get the right group of patients.”
Burt published a study in 2009 in The Lancet in which 17 out of 21 patients with relapsing-remitting MS improved after stem cell transplants.
In a gentler method of treatment, Prof. Neil Scolding and colleagues published positive results in 2010 for stabilization of MS patients using their own adult stem cells.
Adult stem cells continue to lead the way, showing published evidence of positive benefits for thousands of patients with dozens of diseases and conditions.
Stem cell therapy goes to the dogs
Things were getting bad for Doodle. Despite her youthful name, the 9-year-old German Shepherd was experiencing joint pain from bilateral hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. She would get sore and tired from long weekend walks and started falling up the stairs.
Her owners, the Dahl family of Oak Brook, had tried different options before landing on animal stem cell regenerative therapy, a procedure that’s a hot topic in the veterinary world. Last week, Doodle received reportedly the first such one-day operation in Illinois at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove.
The practice of using stem cells, derived from the animal’s fat, to treat joint problems could be discouraging for pet owners because of cost and timing. The animal used to have to go twice to a vet hospital: once for surgery to remove fat cells and once again for the injection of the stem cells into the inflamed joint. The cost was around $2,700.
Leslie Dahl, Doodle’s owner and a veterinarian herself, didn’t want to go that route. She had tried anti-inflammatory medication, but Doodle’s stomach couldn’t handle it. She tried collagen injections, but they didn’t fully relieve Doodle of her pain. Plus, the animal already was difficult at the vet’s and she was concerned that Doodle would get too anxious between the visits.
So when the Veterinary Specialty Center started looking into a new procedure that allows the stem cells to be processed in the same facility on the same day for about $1,900, Dahl was intrigued.
The process is essentially the same. Fat is removed and then processed by being put in a centrifuge and spun until the stoma stem cells are separated. They are then isolated, activated and injected back into the animal.
In the clinic before a lab was established, the cells were shipped to California, said Mitch Robbins, a surgeon at the Veterinary Specialty Center. The pet would be under anesthesia for removal of the cells, then a second time for the re-injection.
Doodle’s operation, and that of another dog called Fergus, were the center’s firsts in which the stem cells were processed in house, Robbins said.
He said he’s seen about 70 to 80 percent of the animals improve significantly with the treatment that’ s been available since about 2005.
“It’s been around for a little while,” said Kimberly May, a veterinarian and assistant director of professional and public affairs for the Schaumburg-based American Veterinary Medical Association. “We’ve actually been using it in horses for quite a while; now it’s being promoted for joint disease and hip dysphasia. It’s definitely growing, especially for pet owners who are hearing all these anecdotal stories.”
Research is progressing on the treatment’s effectiveness, May said.
“You find out what it really works for and where it doesn’t work,” she said. “We’re still in that stage with the stem cell procedures.”
Robbins said success depends on the animal’s ailments. Pets that don’t respond may be experiencing pain from a source other than inflammation of the tissues around the joint.
“Some dogs do better, some do worse, some don’t respond at all,” he said.
On average, the animals he treats get re-injected every 18 months, he said. The cells can be stored, with subsequent procedures costing about $600.
Robbins believes the one-day procedure and lower cost will encourage more pet owners to help out their older dogs with arthritis or inflammatory problems. Dahl said her family would have had to euthanize Doodle if pain prevented her from moving, but that would have been a really tough decision since they embrace the dog’s quirky personality.
So far, Doodle’s recovery has been going well. It takes about 10 days to heal from the initial surgery and about four to five weeks to see results.
Doodle is still throwing balls to herself and performing stuffed animal tricks, but is not quite back to going up and down stairs.
“I don’t expect this is going to be a magic bullet to give her back her youth,” Dahl said. “But to get her where she’s not falling and she’s not in pain after going for just a moderate walk, that’s quality of life.