Ceremonial PTSD therapies favored by Native American veterans

Native American veterans battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder find relief and healing through an alternative treatment called the Sweat Lodge ceremony offered at the Spokane Veterans Administration Hospital.In the Arizona desert, wounded warriors from the Hopi Nation can join in a ceremony called Wiping Away the Tears. The traditional cleansing ritual helps dispel a chronic “ghost sickness” that can haunt survivors of battle.These and other traditional healing therapies are the treatment of choice for many Native American veterans, — half of whom say usual PTSD treatments don’t work — according to a recent survey conducted at Washington State University. The findings will be presented at the American Psychological Association conference in Washington D.C. this August.The study is available online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/nativeveterans.Led by Greg Urquhart and Matthew Hale, both Native veterans and graduate students in the College of Education, the ongoing study examines the attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of Native American veterans concerning PTSD and its various treatment options. Their goal is to give Native veterans a voice in shaping the types of therapies available in future programs.”Across the board, Native vets don’t feel represented. Their voices have been silenced and ignored for so long that they were happy to provide feedback on our survey,” said Hale.Historically, Native Americans have served in the military at higher rates than all other U.S. populations. Veterans are traditionally honored as warriors and esteemed in the tribal community.A 2012 report by the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that the percentage of Native veterans under age 65 outnumbers similar percentages for veterans of all other racial groups combined.The WSU survey provides a first-hand look at the veterans’ needs, but more importantly, reveals the unique preferences they have as Native American veterans, said Phyllis Erdman, executive associate dean for academic affairs at the college and mentor for the study.Cultural worldviewUrquhart said many Native veterans are reluctant to seek treatment for PTSD because typical western therapy options don’t represent the Native cultural worldview.”The traditional Native view of health and spirituality is intertwined,” he explained. “Spirit, mind, and body are all one — you can’t parcel one out from the other — so spirituality is a huge component of healing and one not often included in western medicine, although there have been a few studies on the positive effects of prayer.”For many years, the U.S. government banned Native religious ceremonies, which subsequently limited their use in PTSD programs, said Urquhart. …

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Sugarcane converted to cold-tolerant, oil-producing crop

A multi-institutional team reports that it can increase sugarcane’s geographic range, boost its photosynthetic rate by 30 percent and turn it into an oil-producing crop for biodiesel production.These are only the first steps in a bigger initiative that will turn sugarcane and sorghum — two of the most productive crop plants known — into even more productive, oil-generating plants.The team will present its latest findings Tuesday (Feb. 25) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C.”Biodiesel is attractive because, for example, with soybean, once you’ve pressed the oil out it’s fairly easy to convert it to diesel,” said Stephen P. Long, a University of Illinois professor of plant biology and leader of the initiative. “You could do it in your kitchen.”But soybean isn’t productive enough to meet the nation’s need for renewable diesel fuels, Long said.”Sugarcane and sorghum are exceptionally productive plants, and if you could make them accumulate oil in their stems instead of sugar, this would give you much more oil per acre,” he said.Working first with the laboratory-friendly plant Arabidopsis and later with sugarcane, the team introduced genes that boost natural oil production in the plant. They increased oil production in sugarcane stems to about 1.5 percent.”That doesn’t sound like a lot, but at 1.5 percent, a sugarcane field in Florida would produce about 50 percent more oil per acre than a soybean field,” Long said. “There’s enough oil to make it worth harvesting.”The team hopes to increase the oil content of sugarcane stems to about 20 percent, he said.Using genetic engineering, the researchers increased photosynthetic efficiency in sugarcane and sorghum by 30 percent, Long said. And to boost cold tolerance, researchers are crossing sugarcane with Miscanthus, a related perennial grass that can grow as far north as Canada. The new hybrid is more cold-tolerant than sugarcane, but further crosses are needed to restore the other attributes of sugarcane while preserving its cold-tolerance, Long said.Ultimately, the team hopes to integrate all of these new attributes into sugarcane, he said.”Our goal is to make sugarcane produce more oil, be more productive with more photosynthesis and be more cold-tolerant,” he said.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The original article was written by Diana Yates. …

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Sodabriety: Teens at risk for obesity switch from sugared drinks to water with peer intervention

Tucked neatly at the edge of rolling Appalachian foothills, the parking lot of a local high school is a meadow of flickering green ribbons tied to car antennas, reminding students about the dangers of drinking — drinking sugar-filled beverages, that is.The ribbons are part of a program developed by local teens and Laureen Smith, RN, PhD, a researcher from The Ohio State University, to help reduce the overconsumption of sugary drinks, which are closely linked to Appalachia’s glaring health disparities.”Teens that grow up in this region are ultimately more likely to die from cancer, diabetes and heart disease than any other place in the nation, and obesity is the common risk factor for all of those illnesses,” said Smith. “A child’s odds of becoming obese increases almost two times with each additional daily serving of a sugar sweetened drink, and Appalachian kids drink more of these types of beverages than kids in other parts of the country.”Dubbed “Sodabriety” — the teen-led program Smith helped create is trying to reverse that trend. The 30-day project asked groups of teens from two southern Ohio high schools to develop and then lead educational campaigns designed to convince their peers to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and tea, and to drink more unsweetened beverages. By the end of the program, not only did some teens completely give up sugared drinks, but water consumption nearly doubled.Smith, who was supported by funding from Ohio State’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), was inspired to start the “Sodabriety” project when previous research found that among teens in the area, the daily intake of sugared liquids equaled water consumption. Oversized drinks were particularly popular among the teens — many of who later admitted they had no idea the mega serving could add almost 500 calories to their daily intake.”Sugar sweetened beverages are the largest source of sugar in the American diet. For some teens, they account for almost one-third of daily caloric intake, and that amount is even higher among Appalachian adolescents,” said Smith, who is also an associate professor of Ohio State’s College of Nursing “If we can help teens reduce sugared-beverage intake now, we might be able to help them avoid obesity and other diseases later in life.”But in a place where sugar laden sweet tea is more popular than water, and soda vending machines are easily accessible — the researchers knew they were in for a challenge. Cindy Oliveri, a project assistant on Smith’s team recalls doing a site visit to prepare for the program, and looking into classroom after classroom only to see sugared drinks sitting on the desks of students and teachers alike.”We knew it there would be cultural and social obstacles to getting people to give up the sugar. Teens don’t want to hear an adult tell them what’s good for them,” Oliveri said. “That attitude completely changes when you get kids to talk to other kids. It’s an example of where peer pressure can have a positive impact.”Groups of teens representing a range of grades and interests came up with a variety of ways to educate peers about sugared drinks ranging from ribboning students’ cars and including daily “sugar facts” during morning announcements, to performing soda themed rap songs at student events and giving away free water bottles emblazoned with a ‘what’s in your cup?’ slogan. …

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Early childhood education can pay big rewards to families, society

High quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children can simultaneously reduce inequality and boost productivity in America, contends James Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and one of the nation’s leading experts on early childhood education.”With the global rise in income inequality, children born into disadvantaged environments are at much greater risk of being unskilled and facing many obstacles in life — which is bad for individuals and bad for societies,” said Heckman, who delivered a talk “Giving Kids a Fair Chance Early in Life: A Strategy that Works” on Feb. 14 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual meeting in Chicago.He pointed out that economic and socially related gaps in cognitive and non-cognitive skills emerge early, and can be traced in part to adverse early environments.”With smart policies we can arrest the polarization between skilled and unskilled, focusing on early years when change is possible,” he said. Strong early childhood education programs can help overcome the gaps and help children become better prepared for success in life, he said.Heckman spoke at a seminar titled “Talking to Kids Really Matters: Early Language Experience Shapes Later Life Chances.” At the session, scholars discussed the importance of verbal engagement by caretakers in the development of children’s language and cognitive abilities.Researchers have found that the timing, quality and quantity of talking with children are crucial to the development of language and cognitive abilities. In one study, some mothers spoke many thousands of words a day to children, while another spoke only 600 words to her infant over a 10-hour day, organizers of the seminar pointed out.The gap reduces the children’s vocabularies and undermines their performance in school, scholars contend. Early childhood education programs can make up for some of the differences.Heckman has studied extensively early childhood programs, including the Perry Preschool Project and the Abecedarian Project, and found that they were especially effective in helping children from disadvantaged families succeed in school and later in life.When the oldest participants were studied (at age 40 for the Perry program and age 35 for Abecedarian), the people who received services when they were younger scored higher on achievement tests, attained higher levels of education, required less special education, earned higher wages, had better physical health, were more likely to own a home, and were less likely to go on welfare or be incarcerated than other children from similar backgrounds.Non-cognitive skills, which can be fostered at an early age, are as important in the children’s futures as are academic preparation, Heckman said. Those skills include perseverance, attentiveness, motivation, and self-confidence. Those skills help students perform better in school and later on jobs, he has found.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Citizenship goes digital: Online gaming effective in teaching civics

Can playing online video games help students learn civics education? According to Baylor University researchers, the answer is yes. Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in Baylor’s School of Education studied the effectiveness of iCivics, a free online website founded by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that teaches civics concepts using 19 educational games.The study, published in The Journal of Social Studies Research, shows iCivics is an effective tool for teaching civics concepts to primary and middle school students.As part of the study, more than 250 students in two Waco-area school districts played iCivics games for six weeks, twice a week for 30 minutes. Students took pre-tests and post-tests and completed journal entries on their experience.”Students’ scores on a test of civic knowledge significantly improved after playing iCivics for the sample as a whole,” LeCompte said.Statistically, most of the grades showed improvement in their civics education, but with younger students exhibiting the most gains.”Students in grades 5 and 8 showed improvement in test scores with eight-grade students scoring nearly five points higher on both,” Blevins said. “Students in fourth grade showed a marked improvement of nearly 10 points, the highest out of all of the grades.”High school seniors’ post-tests remained static with no improvement, but as LeCompte noted the iCivics games were designed for students in sixth through eighth grade.Additionally, Blevins and LeCompte conducted interviews with teachers about their experiences and observations of students playing the games.”Teachers indicated that their students loved the games and learned without even realizing they were learning complex civics concepts,” Blevins said.In today’s digital world, youth are growing up using the latest technology and tools. This research study has important implications for the future of online gaming and technology in the classroom.Blevins and LeCompte found that teachers serve as important gatekeepers in determining how civics education is taught in their classrooms, including moving towards an environment that “embraces the skills of today’s digital natives.””Regardless of state and national policy towards social studies assessments, teachers can and should focus on providing meaningful learning opportunities that are inclusive of civics education,” LeCompte said.The iCivics games consist of several modules that include citizenship and participation (Activate), The Constitution and Bill of Rights (Do I Have a Right, Immigration Nation, Argument Wars), budgeting (People’s Pie), separation of power (Branches of Power), political campaigning (Win the White House), local government (Counties Work), the Executive branch (Executive Command), the Legislative branch (Lawcraft, Represent Me), and the Judicial Branch (We the Jury, Supreme Decision). Each module has different games to teach the concepts presented in the modules.Students were able to answer questions and respond to various scenarios presented in the games. In Immigration Nation, students were able to grant entry to people based on immigration laws. To learn how taxes are collected and budgets are created, students played People’s Pie and had to determine corporate, payroll and income taxes, decide what federal program to fund or eliminate from the budget, and respond to upset citizens based on funding decisions.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Baylor University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Peaches can be profitable in three years: Researcher to growers

Florida peach growers, some of whom are looking for an alternative to citrus as greening takes a toll on that crop, could see a small profit by their third year of operation, a UF researcher says.Greening, a disease first found in Florida in 2005, has led to $4 billion in lost revenue and industry-related jobs since 2006 for the $9 billion-a-year citrus industry.As some farmers turn to peaches, they want to know how long before they turn a profit and how long they can sustain that profit, said Mercy Olmstead, assistant professor in horticultural sciences at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Growers should see steady profit through years 10-12, when the tree starts to decline in the South.”This is good news,” she said. “It is typically seven years before you get a commercial crop on citrus and probably eight before you are profitable.”Olmstead co-wrote a paper that created four-year peach orchard budgets and growing operation plans with former UF doctoral student Kim Morgan, now an assistant professor in agriculture and applied economics at Virginia Tech.Florida peaches go to market earlier than others around the nation, giving growers here a leg up on national competition, Olmstead said.Growers invest about $11,600 in a peach orchard during the first two years before they see a profit, with a third-year income of about $10,150 per acre, with $8,342 in grower costs, for a profit of about $1,800, , she said.A 2011 Florida grower survey showed peaches grown on about 670 acres, according to the paper. Another 300 to 400 acres were added in 2012. Those acres are now producing about 4.5 million pounds per year, at an estimated value of $6 million, the paper says.While an assistant professor at Mississippi State University, Morgan interviewed 26 of the estimated 40 Florida peach growers and then created four-year budgets and operation plans for the growers. The growers had varying amounts of experience, from just having established an orchard to five or more years’ experience, Olmstead said.The budget plans included prices of pest sprays, tree costs, fuel, repairs and more. Morgan presented her paper last summer at the Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society, and it is online at society’s website, http://www.fcla.edu/fshs.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Workers Memorial Day–Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living

In recognition of Workers Memorial Day 2013,Worthington & Caronwould like to acknowledge all of the working men and women who have been hurt, taken ill or have died in pursuit of their piece of the “American Dream”. This, of course, includes hundreds of thousands of workers who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis as a result of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established on April 28, 1971 with the mission of assuring safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education and assistance. The anniversary of this day has been designated Worker’s Memorial Day, a day to honor all men and women who have been injured or have lost their lives …

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Asbestos is The Way of Life for Russian Mountain Population

It is unbelievable that there is a place in today’s world where a person’s daily routine could involve shaking asbestos dust off laundry hanging on a clothesline or sweeping asbestos dust out of a window sill to let in the morning light. In the eastern slopes of Russia’s Ural Mountains, such a place does in fact exist.In the recent New York Times article, City in Russia Unable to Kick Asbestos Habit, author Andrew Kramer gives a detailed description of life in the mountain city of Asbest. With a population of 70,000, Asbest is home to the largest open pit asbestos mine in the world. The mine it is about half the size of Manhattan and descends about 1,000 feet down into the earth. The city’s anthem is, “Asbestos, …

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Suicidal talk on Twitter mirrors state suicide rates

Oct. 10, 2013 — Heart-breaking accounts of cyber bullying and suicide seem all too common, but a new study offers hope that social media can become an early warning system to help prevent such tragedies.Researchers at Brigham Young University examined tweets originating from all 50 states over a three month period. Sifting through millions of tweets, their algorithms searched for direct discussion of suicide, as well as keywords and phrases associated with known risk factors such as bullying.”With social media, kids sometimes say things that they aren’t saying out loud to an adult or friend in person,” said Christophe Giraud-Carrier, a BYU computer scientist and one of the study’s seven authors.They found 37,717 genuinely troubling tweets from 28,088 unique users for whom some location information was available. As they report in the journal Crisis, each state’s ratio of suicidal tweets strongly correlated with its actual suicide rate.In Alaska, which has the nation’s highest suicide rates, the BYU researchers identified 61 Twitter users as at-risk individuals. In Texas, where the rate of suicide is slightly lower but the population is significantly higher, more than 3,000 Twitter users were flagged as at-risk cases. In Utah, the study found 195 Twitter users who may be at risk.”Somebody ought to do something,” Giraud-Carrier said. “How about using social media as a complement to what is already done for suicide prevention?”That would be fairly simple to do on Twitter, where most tweets are visible to the public and open for a response.”Tweets may be useful to address some of the functions that suicide hotline groups perform, but at the discretion and potential for such organizations to provide those services via Twitter,” said Michael Barnes, a health science professor at BYU and a study co-author.Previous research found that about 15 percent of tweets contain at least state-level location information, suggesting that state health departments might also play a role.For other social media platforms, the BYU researchers want to develop an app for schools that will incorporate and analyze information that students post. The idea is that schools make a connection with the students and obtain permission to receive the content they post socially. The app’s algorithms can notify counselors when a student posts something that is a cry for help.”Suicide is preventable,” said Carl Hanson, a BYU health scientist and study co-author. “Social media is one channel for monitoring those at risk for suicide and potentially doing something about it.”

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Increased use menthol cigarette found among young people

Aug. 30, 2013 — A new study on mentholated cigarette use in the U.S. finds an increase in menthol cigarette smoking among young adults and concludes that efforts to reduce smoking likely are being thwarted by the sale and marketing of mentholated cigarettes, including emerging varieties of established youth brands.”Our findings indicate that youth are heavy consumers of mentholated cigarettes, and that overall menthol cigarette smoking has either remained constant or increased in all three age groups we studied, while non-menthol smoking has decreased,” says lead researcher Gary Giovino, PhD, professor and chair of the University at Buffalo Department of Community Health and Health Behaviors.Giovino, one of the world’s leading tobacco surveillance researchers, estimated menthol and non-menthol cigarette use during 2004-10 using annual data on nearly 390,000 persons 12 years old and older who took part in the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. The data included more than 84,000 smokers.The results, which were published online in the international journal, Tobacco Control showed that:• Among cigarette smokers, menthol cigarette use was more common among 12-17 year olds (56.7 percent) and 18-25 year olds (45 percent) than among older persons (range 30.5 percent to 32.9 percent).• Menthol use was associated with being younger, female, and of non-white race or ethnicity.• Among all adolescents, the percent who smoked non-menthol cigarettes decreased from 2004-10, while menthol smoking rates remained constant.• Among all young adults, the percent who smoked non-menthol cigarettes also declined, while menthol smoking rates increased.• The use of Camel menthol and Marlboro menthol increased among adolescent and young adult smokers, particularly non-Hispanic whites, during the study period.”The study results should inform the FDA regarding the potential public health impact of a menthol ban,” Giovino says.”The FDA is considering banning menthol cigarettes, or other regulatory options,” he says. “This research provides an important view of the trends and patterns of menthol use in the nation as a whole. The FDA will consider these findings and findings from multiple other studies as it goes forward.”Giovino is particularly alarmed that the findings show youth are heavy consumers of mentholated cigarettes and the use of menthols is specifically associated with being younger, female and of non-white ethnicity.”This finding indicates that mentholated cigarettes are a ‘starter product’ for kids in part because menthol makes it easier to inhale for beginners,” says Giovino. “Simply stated, menthol sweetens the poison, making it easier to smoke. Young people often think menthol cigarettes are safer, in part because they feel less harsh.”When I was growing up, one of my older friends said he didn’t think that menthol cigarette smoking was that dangerous because he was told that they were good for you if you got a cold,” says Giovino. “It turns out that Kool was advertising that way for a long time but was stopped from doing so by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) around 1955.”This ‘urban legend’ has persisted.”

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Your eyes may hold clues to stroke risk

Aug. 12, 2013 — Photographing the retina may help detect which high blood pressure patients are more likely to have a stroke. Retinal imaging may be an inexpensive and non-invasive way to assess risk.Your eyes may be a window to your stroke risk.In a study reported in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, researchers said retinal imaging may someday help assess if you’re more likely to develop a stroke — the nation’s No. 4 killer and a leading cause of disability.”The retina provides information on the status of blood vessels in the brain,” said Mohammad Kamran Ikram, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Singapore Eye Research Institute, the Department of Ophthalmology and Memory Aging & Cognition Centre, at the National University of Singapore. “Retinal imaging is a non-invasive and cheap way of examining the blood vessels of the retina.”Worldwide, high blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for stroke. However, it’s still not possible to predict which high blood pressure patients are most likely to develop a stroke.Researchers tracked stroke occurrence for an average 13 years in 2,907 patients with high blood pressure who had not previously experienced a stroke. At baseline, each had photographs taken of the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eyeball. Damage to the retinal blood vessels attributed to hypertension — called hypertensive retinopathy — evident on the photographs was scored as none, mild or moderate/severe.During the follow-up, 146 participants experienced a stroke caused by a blood clot and 15 by bleeding in the brain.Researchers adjusted for several stroke risk factors such as age, sex, race, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, body mass index, smoking and blood pressure readings. They found the risk of stroke was 35 percent higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 137 percent higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy.Even in patients on medication and achieving good blood pressure control, the risk of a blood clot was 96 percent higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 198 percent higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy.”It is too early to recommend changes in clinical practice,” Ikram said. “Other studies need to confirm our findings and examine whether retinal imaging can be useful in providing additional information about stroke risk in people with high blood pressure.”

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Pilot program to decrease emergency room wait times

June 11, 2013 — Emergency department (ED) overcrowding has been a major issue nationally for 20 years and continues to increase in severity. To address this issue, a pilot study has been launched at UC San Diego Health System’s ED to use telemedicine as a way to help address crowding and decrease patient wait times. The study is the first of its kind in California to use cameras to bring on-call doctors who are outside of the hospital to the patient in need.”This telemedicine study will determine if we can decrease wait times while reducing the number of patients who leave the ED without being seen by a physician,” said David Guss, MD, principal investigator and chair of the department of emergency medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “With the ED physicians on site and an added telemedicine physician, patient care may be significantly expedited. If the use of a telemedicine evaluation can be shown to be safe and effective, it may shift how care in the emergency department is delivered.”The study, called Emergency Department Telemedicine Initiative to Rapidly Accommodate in Times of Emergency (EDTITRATE), brings telemedicine doctors to patients when the ED becomes busy. An offsite doctor is paged who then remotely links to a telemedicine station to see patients. With the aide of an ED nurse, these patients are seen based on arrival time and level of medical need. All patients must sign a consent form to participate in the study.Guided by high fidelity sound and video, the telemedicine physician can examine a patient’s eyes, ears, nose, throat and skin, as well as listen to heart and lung sounds through the module. Laboratory and imaging tests can be ordered and results reviewed. Physician ordering and documentation is accomplished through an electronic medical record. …

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