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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Israel Hosts Global Conference to Promote Women’s Rights

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Hebrew University Stand With Us Campus Coordinator Lee-El Lewinsohn recently accompanied 25 students to the International Women’s Conference, which focused on women’s rights in Israel and promoting worldwide gender equality. Leading Israeli public figures, including politicians, activists, businesswomen, journalists, and religious leaders, spoke at the conference. Commenting on the conference, Lewinsohn noted, “Israel faces many challenges, and so do the women in Israel, but our strong pluralistic and democratic society has achieved many goals and is constantly in flux, changing, growing and improving.”

Participant countries of origin included Nepal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, and even the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. Shelisa Martin Clarke, a public health administrator who came from Nevis, said she learned “from the Israeli perspective” how to deal with domestic and gender based violence in her country. Sabina Deshemaru, a Nepalese student at the Hebrew University, noted, “I want to approach the Nepalese army and to see if there is a chance to replicate the idea of how Israel works with people who have post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Rilwan Raji, a Nigerian doctor, emphasized that Israel “is an inspiration” with regard to women’s rights, noting that he is consistently impressed by women serving in high level positions in the IDF, the Knesset, and Israel’s foreign service. “Basically, the most important thing is how women are integrated into the political system, for the more women are in politics, the better will be the plight of the girl child. For me, it’s unbelievable that Israel has so much to offer despite the conflict. It shows that the security situation is not an excuse for lack of development,” he said. He claimed that Nigeria frequently uses the existence of the Boko Haram Islamist terror group, which attacks schools, healthcare clinics and churches, as a pretext for lack of development.

Luchuo Engelbert Bain, a doctor from Cameroon, learned from the Stand With Us conference how to communicate pro-women’s health messages that emphasize that the “problems of women are the same the world over, even though the degree differs.” He also noted the importance of inspiring men to take an interest in promoting women’s rights. According to Bain, the information he gathered at the Stand With Us Conference will help him educate women about the dangers of HIV and the need to protect themselves against risks in Cameroon posed by arranged childhood marriages, forced marriages to deceased husbands’ brothers, and prostitution, all of which lead to the spread of HIV.

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Video Games Can Help in Stroke Rehab, Says Israeli Research

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Common interactive video games may be  an affordable and effective alternative to traditional therapy for stroke victims, says Tel Aviv University’s Medical School Dr. Debbie Rand.

patients undergo hours of rehabilitation after a stroke to restore movement, speech, and overall functionality, but many still return home without the ability to perform daily tasks, such as dressing, cooking or driving.

Dr. Rand’s recent study, in collaboration with a team from Sheba Medical Center, found that people recovering from stroke who use video games as a therapeutic method are more physically active during rehabilitation sessions, making more movements overall than those who experience traditional motor therapy.

Interactive game consoles require players to move continuously to interact with the virtual games, Dr. Rand explains. In her study, not only did the players perform double the number of arm movements during each session compared to patients in traditional therapy, but all of their movements also were purposeful or “goal-directed” and not just repetitive exercises.

When individuals plan their movements and move deliberately in order to accomplish a specific goal, it is likely to have a positive impact on brain plasticity — changes in the brain that are crucial for recovery from brain damage caused by stroke, Dr. Rand notes.

Players’ movements require precision and balance, and there is a cognitive benefit in that video games require strategy and planning. The individuals are motivated and enjoy the activity, making it  more likely that they will continue the treatment regime long-term, she believes.

She tested the effectiveness of interactive video games compared to traditional therapy comparing individuals who had experienced a stroke one to seven years before the study began. They  were randomly assigned to one of two groups of 20 participants each — a traditional therapy group, who completed traditional rehabilitation exercises, and a video games group which played video games using Xbox Kinect, Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii gaming consoles. Each group received two sessions a week with occupational therapists for a period of three months.

Although both groups showed improvement in functions such as grip strength of their weaker and stronger hands and gait speed, participants in the video games group continued to improve their grip strength for three months following the intervention, while the traditional group did not.

Beyond the physical advantages, Dr. Rand believes that video games could be an excellent alternative to traditional therapy simply because they’re more fun. In the video game group, 92 percent of participants reported enjoying the experience “extremely” or “very much,” opposed to 72 percent of the traditional group.

If patients are enjoying the therapy experience, it’s more likely that they will adhere to the therapy regime long-term, noting that game consoles are now widely available and fairly inexpensive. Participants who were in the video game playing group reported: “It was lots of fun,” “it stimulated all of my senses,” and “I finished the sessions wet from sweat, which proves that I really worked hard.”

The group environment also contributed to the success of the therapy, Dr. Rand says. Often, individuals with stroke are isolated and don’t have a very active social life. This program allowed them to connect with people like themselves, and encourage and support one another’s efforts.

In future studies, she intends to investigate whether these interactive video games will be as effective if they are used independently by patients at home to keep up activity levels — a crucial element of rehabilitation following a stroke.

Mother Blames Mohel for Baby’s Herpes after Circumcision

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

This year’s second case of herpes resulting from the “metzitzah b’peh” custom immediately after circumcision was reported in New York, and the mother of the baby has blamed the mohel for performing to rite without her consent.

The baby survived after contacting the disease following the ritual of the mohel sucking a bit of blood after the circumcision, a custom that is practiced mainly by the Haredi orthodox community in the United States but which is common throughout Israel.

Controversy over the procedure and numerous reports of Herpes prompted the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to require parents to sign a consent form before the procedure can be performed.

The mother of the baby said she the mohel did not ask her for permission.

Free Tay-Sachs Screenings at Philadelphia’s Einstein Center

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia is offering free Tay-Sachs disease screenings to those of Irish descent until the end of May.

The screenings, which involve a simple blood test, are free to those who are at least 18 years old and have at least three grandparents of Irish descent.

Screenings will take place at the following locations and times:

– Thursday (today), 4-6:00 pm at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, 559 W Germantown Pike, East Norriton;

– Saturday, April 20, 9:30-11 a.m. at the office of Dr. John L. Sabatini, PC at 301 Oxford Valley Road, suite 905A, Yardley, Pa.; and

– Monday, May 13 from 12:30 pm till 2:30 pm at the IrishCenter of Philadelphia (Commodore Barry Club) at 6815 Emlen Street, Mt. Airy, Pa.

Tay-Sachs Disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that can be passed on to children when both parents are carriers of an altered gene. Babies born with Tay-Sachs disease appear normal at birth, and symptoms of the disease do not appear until the infants are about four to six months of age when they begin to lose previously attained skills, such as sitting up or rolling over. Children then gradually lose their sight, hearing and swallowing abilities. These children usually die by the age of five.

In the past, Tay-Sachs was often thought of as a Jewish genetic disorder due to its large presence among Ashkenazi Jews. But, cases of Tay-Sachs have been identified in the Irish population in Philadelphia over the last few years, according to the Lansdale Reporter.

Dr. Adele Schneider, director of clinical genetics at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, and her team at Einstein are conducting a study to find out just how high the carrier rate is among people of Irish descent. The study, the only one done in the Irish population since DNA testing for the gene mutation has been available, aims to screen 1,000 people, and is funded by the Albert Einstein Society and the National Tay-Sachs & Allied Diseases Association of Delaware Valley.

Court De-Fizzes Mayor Bloomberg’s Soda Ban

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

A New York state judge ruled that the New York City “big soda can” ban promoted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg is illegal. It was slated to take effect Tuesday morning.

“It is arbitrary and capricious because it applies to some but not all food establishments in the city, it excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories on suspect grounds, and the loopholes inherent in the rule … serve to gut the purpose of the rule,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling.

The mayor said he will appeal the decision.

Bloomberg previously has passed legislation to prohibit smoking in restaurants and parks and to require restaurants show the calorie count of meals. The ban of soda drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces was aimed at fighting obesity.

Israel Start-Up’s Anti-Obesity Pill Set to Go Big Time

Monday, March 11th, 2013

The Israeli start-up Gelesis is in advanced talks with a large pharmaceutical company to develop its pill that makes fat people feel their stomachs are full, resulting in less food intake and a loss in weight.

The pharma company was not identified by Israel’s Globes business newspaper, which said that Gelesis soon will publish results of a recent clinical trial of the pill.

Instead of asking the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider the product as a nutritional supplement or medical device, the Israeli company wants to offer it is a medicine to increase its market appeal.

The value of the deal with the foreign pharmaceutical company could reach hundreds of millions of dollars. The unidentified company will invest millions of dollars for developing the pill and will pay royalties on sales, Globes added.

The slim-down pill is made from indigestible edible fiber taken before a meal. The pills, after coming in contact with water, inflate and  make food more viscous, keeping it in the stomach longer, and creating the sense of being sated.

A study of the pill’s effects several years ago showed a high rate of those who said they felt they had enough to eat, while only 16 percent reported they suffered side effects of discomfort, which Gelesis may be able to reduce by changing the dosage for certain individuals.

Obesity is a leading cause of death, and the leading treatment for obesity is through surgery.

The obesity treatment market currently includes various appetite suppressants, but the leading solution for morbid obesity is stomach bypass or reduction surgery. Although other products for filling the stomach are under development, Gelesis’ edge is that its product works with food.

A small number of diet drugs are on the market or are being studied by the FDA, but their success has been limited.

Besides Gelesis, at least one other company, EntroMedics, has developed a system to limit the expansion of the stomach and control hunger sensations. However, clinical trials last month were disappointing.

Canadian Doctors to Drop Anti-Circumcision Stance

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Canadian pediatricians are preparing to reverse a 17-year-old policy that recommends against circumcision and instead will adopt a more balanced view that in effect suggests that the parents decide.

Recent Canadian research shows that approximately half of Canadian parents would consider circumcising their sons, and the most important single factor is whether the father is circumcised, according to a University of Saskatchewan study that was reported by the Vancouver Sun.

The Canadian Pediatric Society in 1996 adopted a clear policy against circumcisions, which is practiced by Muslims as well as Jews, and declared that circumcision is medically unnecessary for the “well-being of the child.”

Many anti-circumcision activists consider the procedure “genital mutilation” and insist that it takes away the human right of a person, even a baby, to decide for himself whether to undergo the procedure.

The new policy puts a bit of sanity back into society by actually implying that parents can decide what is best for their children, at least in terms of circumcision.

“There isn’t going to be a ‘prescription’ for Canadian males in terms of circumcision,” society president Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, told Postmedia News.

He said the pediatricians are trying to adopt a policy, to be announced in June, which will consider the risks and benefits of circumcision and also will respect personal references as well as religious issues.”

The pediatricians have been discussing a new policy for three years, an indication to the controversy that will follow whatever policy it adopts.

“There are very strong opinions on both sides of this issue,” Stanwick said. “We know that we’re wading into something that, no matter what we write, will not be strong enough for probably either side.”

American Academy of Pediatrics last year angered anti-circumcision activists by stating that the health benefits of circumcising newborn baby boys outweigh the risks.

Many African countries have adopted circumcision to prevent diseases, especially HIV, and a recent study by American doctors concluded that circumcision provides protection against urinary tract infections, penile cancer and the transmission of some sexually transmitted infections.

“The organization isn’t recommending universal circumcision. Instead, it says the final decision should be left to parents,” the Sun reported.

Stanwick said that despite the benefits of circumcision, the procedure is a surgery and therefore
not without risk,” such as bleeding and hemorrhage, infection, inflammation and tightening at the end of the penis.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/canadian-pediatricians-to-remove-opposition-to-circumcision/2013/03/04/

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