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Improved Telemedicine System Connects Doctors To Autism Patients In Rural Georgia

To get the best care for her three autistic children, Mandi Larkin would drive three hours from her family’s home in Tifton, GA, to Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta. The drive to and from Atlanta was exhausting. Missed work, missed school and the long drive were constant sources of stress.

Today, Larkin’s children receive world-class medical care at her local hospital via a state-of-the-art telemedicine link to Marcus Autism Center. The recently improved telemedicine system was optimized by scientists at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and Cisco Systems, Inc. Marcus Autism Center’s telemedicine room is now a showcase for providers of telemedicine, where improved video capabilities and an ergonomic suite allow patients in rural Georgia to meet face-to-face with medical specialists in Atlanta.

“The accessibility to the doctors in Atlanta is the big thing,” Larkin said. 

Genetic Risk For Autism Stems Mostly From Common Genes

Using new statistical tools, Carnegie Mellon University‘s Kathryn Roeder has led an international team of researchers to discover that most of the genetic risk for autism comes from versions of genes that are common in the population rather than from rare variants or spontaneous glitches.

Published in the issue of the journal Nature Genetics, the study found that about 52% of autism was traced to common genes and rarely inherited variations, with spontaneous mutations contributing a modest 2.6% of the total risk. The research team — from the Population-Based-Autism Genetics and Environment Study (PAGES) Consortium — used data from Sweden’s universal health registry to compare roughly 3,000 subjects, including autistic individuals and a control group. The largest study of its kind to date, the team also showed that inheritability outweighs environmental risk.

Device Helps Rebuild Neural Connections For Stroke Patients

The repetitive facilitation exercise (RFE) is one of the most common rehabilitation tactics for stroke patients attempting to regain wrist movement. Stroke hemiparesis individuals are not able to move that part of their body because they cannot create a strong enough neural signal that travels from the brain to the wrist.

With RFE, however, patients get a mental boost. They are asked to think about moving. At the same time, a practitioner flexes the wrist. The goal is to send a long latency response from the stretch that arrives in the brain at the exact time the thought happens, creating a neural signal. The result is a strong, combined response that zips back to the forearm muscles and moves the wrist.

It all happens in a span of approximately 40 to 60 milliseconds.

How To Choose A Physical Therapist

After an injury or surgery, rehabilitation is often a critical factor on the road to recovery. Since physical therapy is usually a weekly commitment and may be for an extended period of time, convenience is an important consideration, according to JeMe Cioppa-Mosca, vice president of Rehabilitation at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “However, many other factors should also be taken into account when deciding where to go,” she says. “Not all facilities provide the same type or level of care.”

HSS 150th logo“It’s important for people to do their homework before choosing a facility,” says Robin Benick, clinical supervisor of the Hospital for Special Surgery Rehabilitation Network. The network, which marked its 20th anniversary this year, is a resource for individuals looking for a facility in their community that meets high standards of care.

“Many people don’t realize the importance of choosing the right therapist and the right facility for their needs,” Cioppa-Mosca says. 

Missing Sleep May Hurt Your Memory

Lack of sleep, already considered a public health epidemic, can also lead to errors in memory, finds a new study by researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine.

The study, published online in the journal Psychological Science, found participants deprived of a night’s sleep were more likely to flub the details of a simulated burglary they were shown in a series of images.

Distorted memory can have serious consequences in areas such as criminal justice, where eyewitness misidentifications are thought to be the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States.

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