Will a New Way to Diagnose CTE Change Football?

Patrick Hruby – The Atlantic:

Better answers may come from a recently announced seven-year, $16 million study funded by the National Institutes of Health and NINDS that’s aimed at diagnosing CTE—a project the NFL was also slated to fund before backing out amid controversy. Headed by Stern, the project is the largest and most thorough study of the disease ever conducted, and will put former football players through a series of tests including an MRI; two PET scans; blood, saliva, and spinal-fluid collection; genetic evaluations; neuropsychological testing; and clinical examinations and histories.

The goal, Stern says, is to create a reliable clinical tool kit—that is, multiple methods of diagnosing CTE …

This is great news for diagnosing CTE in patients before their symptoms become pronounced.

PET scans, I believe, will become the standard for diagnosing other acute illnesses, too, as their associated costs come down and they become more common. One possibility is breast cancer. How many women skip screening for this common disease after feeling the very uncomfortable squish associated with mammography? What if they could simply lie on a table for a scan?

Consider magnetic resonance imaging. Once an expensive, selectively used diagnostic tool, MRI has become a go-to alongside computerized tomography, x-ray imaging and sonograms.


A thought about CTE and football, one that puzzles me: what kind of parent encourages or allows a child, or a high schooler, to begin playing football in the first place, knowing as we do that repeated head blows, a side effect of the game, may well lead to irreversible brain damage?

The NFL is one of the most profitable sports in the world and a kind of rich man’s club of ownership. It will not cease operation simple because its other leading product is traumatic brain injury. This is an example of how capitalism, left unchecked, will consume every resource in its path. But football can be choked off at its source.

The number of new players, from peewee leagues to high school and into college, can dry up. This very notion has been speculated on by George Mason University economist Tyler Cowan. As the flow slows to a trickle, college and pro leagues would become smaller, and eventually cease to be.

As this article indicates, the number of young people entering the sport is decreasing. It should be crashing toward zero.

#football #relic #of #the #past #traumatic #brain #injury #cte #high #school #college

How Science Found a Way to Help Coma Patients Communicate

British neuroscientist Adrian Owen – The Guardian:

“Scott, please imagine playing tennis when you hear the instruction,” I said.

I still get goose bumps when I remember what happened next. Scott’s brain exploded in an array of colour-activation, indicating that he was indeed responding to our request and imagining he was playing tennis.

“Now imagine walking around your house, please, Scott.”

Again Scott’s brain responded, demonstrating that he was there, inside, doing exactly what he was asked. Scott’s family was right. He was aware of what was going on around him. He could respond – perhaps not with his body, in quite the way they had insisted he could, but certainly with his brain.

This story is a fascinating account of medical researchers directly communicating with a coma patient using a functional MRI, even as he lay motionless after twelve years of incapacity.

#neuro #science #coma #communicate #Adrian #Owen

Finding Some Peace After War

Dave Philipps – The New York Times:

“This walk is for recentering,” he said. “I view it as my last deployment. I’m walking my way home.”

All over the country, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are on similar quests. By foot, boat, bicycle, even wheelchair, they are crisscrossing the land this summer, trying to cobble serenity from lives upended by combat.

So worth your time to read these multiple accounts of veterans walking off the effects of war. Do yourself a favor, and read. And maybe take a long walk now and again. It’ll do you good.

#walkItOff #veterans #mental #health

How Much Transgender Troops’ Medical Care Costs the Military

The president cites “medical costs” as the primary driver for his ban on transgender service members in the US military. Wrong.

Christopher Ingraham – The Washington Post:

Considering the prevalence of transgender servicemembers among the active duty military and the typical health-care costs for gender-transition-related medical treatment, the Rand study estimated that these treatments would cost the military between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.

By contrast, total military spending on erectile dysfunction medicines amounts to $84 million annually, according to an analysis by the Military Times — 10 times the cost of annual transition-related medical care for active duty transgender servicemembers.

The military spends $41.6 million annually on Viagra alone, according to the Military Times analysis — roughly five times the estimated spending on transition-related medical care for transgender troops.

Penis pills cost the US taxpayer ten times more than the medical needs of transgender service members, yet there’s no mention of cutting those costs. I guess Mr. Trump has military plans for four-hour boners.

A good question is, why do health insurance policies, in general, cover transgender procedures and related care? The answer comes from the DSM-5: gender dysphoria is a coded diagnosis in the most recent update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for psychiatric disorders. If it’s in there, it’s recognized as a treatable condition and more often covered by insurance.

A little more digging might reveal that the Affordable Care Act includes it in its list of minimum covered ailments. Unlike, for instance, an elective nose job. You get the point.

#Trump #incompetent #fraud #military #transgender #medical #costs

Trump Confirms he Called Health Care Bill ‘mean’


During an interview on “Fox and Friends” Sunday morning, Trump was asked about Obama’s Facebook post condemning the Republican health care plan, and the President responded by saying Obama used the descriptor after he originally did.

“Well he actually used my term, ‘mean.’ That was my term,” Trump said. “Because I want to see — and I speak from the heart — that’s what I want to see, I want to see a bill with heart.”

He was against it before he was for it, but after he was for it in the first place. Who’s on first, what’s on second, I don’t know is on third base. Back is white, up is down, and you’re a fool if you believe anything at all coming out of this man’s mouth.

The label “shithead” comes to mind. Despicable just doesn’t cover it.

#Trump #shithead #youOwnHim

Senate GOP Considers Deeper Medicaid Cuts Than House Bill

Peter Sullivan – TheHill:

A leading option in the Senate’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace debate is to make even deeper cuts to Medicaid spending than the bill passed by the House, according to lobbyists and aides.

The proposal would start out the growth rate for a new cap on Medicaid spending at the same levels as the House bill, but then drop to a lower growth rate that would cut spending more, known as CPI-U, starting in 2025, the sources said.

That proposal has been sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for analysis, a Senate GOP aide said.

This is a savvy move by Senator Mitch McConnell. By making the Senate version of the health insurance bill so onerous that the CBO report damns it before a vote, Republicans can say they tried, but failed, and move on with the rest of their agenda. There is no way this, or the House bill, becomes law.

As for the rest of their agenda, well, a healthy debate would be nice. It won’t be over taxes, or foreign policy, or social programs. It’ll be over the removal of the fool we’ve elected president.

That’s a story for another day.

#mitch #mcconnell #senate #republicans #aca #ahca #obamacare #medicaid

America’s New Tobacco Crisis: The Rich Stopped Smoking, the Poor Didn’t

William Wan – The Washington Post:

Americans have finally done what once seemed impossible: Most of the country has quit smoking, saving millions of lives and leading to massive reductions in cancer.

That is, unless those Americans are poor, uneducated or live in a rural area.

The last time Cassell tried to quit was three months ago, after a doctor’s test gave her a lung cancer scare. “It was like losing my best friend,” she said. “My cigarettes have kept me company for 40 years, longer than just about anyone in my life.”

Addiction is like that: it persists despite logic and reasoning.

The same people tend to die younger, too.

#smoking #education #health

Legalized Marijuana Could Help Curb the Opioid Epidemic, Study Finds

Reuters, re-published on NBC News:

Hospitalization rates for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse dropped on average 23 percent in states after marijuana was permitted for medicinal purposes, the analysis found. Hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average.

At the same time, fears that legalization of medical marijuana would lead to an uptick in cannabis-related hospitalizations proved unfounded, according to the report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Ten years from now marijuana dispensaries will be as common as state-owned ABC stores and privately-owned liquor stores are today.

Consider the facts:

  • marijuana is no more addictive than alcohol.
  • marijuana is no more debilitating than alcohol.
  • there is no legal, moral, or logical argument against legalizing marijuana that doesn’t also apply to alcohol.
  • alcohol is legally sold in all fifty states, and in most counties there-in.

#marijuana #legalization #alcohol #addiction #impairment

Trump Loyalists Sound Alarm Over ‘RyanCare,’ Endangering Health Bill

Robert Costa and Philip Rucker – The Washington Post:

Trump’s allies worry that he is jeopardizing his presidency by promoting the bill spearheaded by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), arguing that it would fracture Trump’s coalition of working- and middle-class voters, many of them older and subsisting on federal aid.

Vice President Pence and administration officials scrambled Tuesday to salvage the plan amid widespread dissatisfaction in both the Senate and House over the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that 24 million fewer people would be insured in a decade under the Ryan proposal, titled the American Health Care Act.

Mr. Trump endangered his presidency long before he took the oath of office. His Russian contacts didn’t end with Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.

The GOP is the dog that caught the car, and has no idea what to do with it. For seven years they ranted about and tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Now that they have the political authority to do it the best they can come up with serves, at minimum, those at least comfortably wealthy. The people in need of these health insurance policies get the short end of the stick.

It’d be a comedy if they weren’t literally playing with people’s lives.

#ACA #AHCA #CBO #RyanCare #Trump #GOP #Republicans

A Better Idea for Congressional Republicans

Here’s an essay by David Frum in The Atlantic about how the GOP should handle the Affordable Care Act now that they’ve gained the White House.

Frum, a conservative thinker and generally smart fellow, wrote this over a year before the 2016 election. There are some very good ideas within. First, the obvious:

“No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed.”

Since 2010, the ACA has survived dozens of repeal votes in Congress, three national elections, and two Supreme Court challenges, the most recent of them only last week.

Second, some suggestions for improving the law:

Republicans should accept the Affordable Care Act as a permanent new fact of American society. They should accept universal healthcare coverage as a welcome aspect of any advanced democracy. Instead of fruitlessly seeking to repeal a law now that will in 2016 enter into its fourth year of operation, they should specify the law’s most obnoxious flaws and seek a mandate to reform them.

1) Fix the funding mechanism.

2) Let states run their Medicaid programs their way.

3) End the employer mandate.

Give it a ten-minute read for the details and see what you think.

The ACA is a distinctly American take on mass health insurance for its population. Unlike other western nations, where health care has been nationalized, the ACA incorporates private enterprise into the law. That goes a long way to explain why it’s so messy.

Another alternative is to expand Medicare to cover everyone, cradle to grave, and increase that portion of the FICA tax to cover it. This is basically what most Americans age 65 and over have right now. I’ve seen it up close with my mom. It works. It could use a tweak to the tax rate to cover the bulk of the retiring Baby Boomers, but it does work.

#ACA #Medicare #health #insurance #national #politics #david #frum