By: Jason Neufeld
Smoking: Bad for Your Health & Healing
A British study conducted at the University of Lincoln, published in March 2014, shows that the quality of healing bone cells in smokers are inferior (divide slower) when compared to those same cells in non-smokers. Diminished cellular activity means a slower healing process.
Rotator Cuff Injuries: If you need arthroscopic rotator-cuff surgery…once may be enough.
The Orthopaedic Research Institute in Australia presented a study at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine conference in March 2014 that seems to indicate that the long-term outcomes of second / revision rotator cuff surgeries are likely to do very little long-term good for the patient. The results showed significant short-term (six months after surgery) functional improvement which all but evaporated by the two-year-post-surgery mark.
However, it should be noted, that the long-term results after the first arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery were substantial. It seems that the shoulder will reach a maximum medical improvement status post first surgery and return to that baseline even after a subsequent reparative shoulder surgical procedure. The lead scientist noted that this study substantiated the need for additional studies to identify ways to improve the long-term results of second or revision rotator-cuff surgeries.
Subconcussive Traumatic Brain Injuries
Another March 2014 study, published by the Wolters Kluwer Health organization, found head trauma could lead to detectable brain damage, even when the trauma did not result in a concussion. Concussions are thought of as a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), however a concussion is diagnosed based on observed behavioral symptoms such as confusion, headaches, dizziness and nausea. Concussions were originally thought to be temporary – but recent research seems to indicate the likelihood of long-term effects.
The WKH study used a technique referred to as the impact-acceleration model to create diffuse axonal brain injuries in rats (diffuse axonal brain injuries show visible evidence of traumatic brain injury on a cellular level). Even when a scan showed a brain injury, the subjects (rats) did not always show a corresponding behavioral change (e.g. coordination, anxiety, depressive behaviors, balance or any other observable functional deficit) that the scientists would expect to see on a more pronounced/severe TBI. This has led to concern over what has been labeled sub-concussive injuries.
One prominent study looked at high-school football players who had been scanned and found neurological changes/deficits where no concussion had ever been diagnosed (i.e. no behavioral changes to lead to such a diagnosis) but had endured repeated blows to the head. More and more people, who have never been diagnosed with a concussion, are found to have long-term degenerative changes in the brain.
However, as this study focused on rats, the researchers were quick to note that further research is necessary.