Is it worth the headache?

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Over the years, the number of concussions in the NFL has increased massively.  Between 2014 and 2015, the concussion percent rose over 30%.  The most common reason for concussions in the NFL is head on head contact, which is why they banned “head slaps” for good.  The NFL continues to think of new rules and policies that could possibly decrease the amount of concussions.  For example, they’ve advanced the “roughing the passer” penalty to make it more strict and inclusive, as well as the “unnecessary roughness” penalty.  So the question is, what are more effective ways the NFL could further prevent concussions?

In my opinion, the only reason NFL players still occasionally “bump heads” intentionally is because the consequence is bearable and not intimidating. The highest penalty for “unsportsmanlike conduct” is 15 yards in the current game.  I think the consequence should be more lasting and punishing.  I believe if a player is clearly headbutting on purpose and continuously, there should be talk of a possible suspension.  The only thing 15 yards accomplishes is maybe a yell from the coach, but a short 1, maybe 2 game suspension will surely prevent players from making the same mistake.  Also, most players keep quiet if they notice double vision, blurriness, or other symptoms of a concussion.  They would rather play in the game and not miss any opportunity to compete.  If players told someone right away if they were experiencing any symptoms, it would prevent their concussion from getting even worse.  Even if this strategy won’t technically prevent concussions, it would stop the players from making the injury even worse.  If a player notices any concerning symptoms, they should tell their coach immediately.  Lastly, there are some ways players could prevent concussions by just being more aware on the field and knowing some strategies during play.  All in all, even though the NFL has managed to decrease concussion numbers over the years, I think with these strategies, they could really put NFL concussions in the past.


Alzheimer’s- a progressive, incurable disease


More than 3 million people each year are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This is a progressive disease which means that the symptoms of it become worse and worse over time. It can start out as simple as forgetting where your car keys or glasses are. However, it can escalate to the point where people can’t recognize their loved ones, speak, or perform other body functions that are necessary in order to survive. This is an effect of the death of nerve cells and loss of tissue throughout the brain.

The non profit organization, Alzheimer’s Association, has a mission of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s through the advancement of research, providing and increasing support for all those affected, and reducing the risk of severe Alzheimer’s through the advocacy of brain health. Many of you reading have most likely heard of the lokai bracelets. These bracelets are made in all different colors and patterns to show support and raise awareness for different diseases and organizations. One bracelet which is purple, supports the Alzheimer’s Association. 10% of the net profit made by selling these purple bracelets is donated to that organization which brings them closer to fulfilling their mission. Speaking from the point of view of someone who has lost a loved one from Alzheimer’s and who also has a loved one who is currently living with the disease, it is greatly appreciated to see others supporting the same cause. Every penny counts when you’re trying to find a cure for a disease that causes people to not even recognize those who they’ve known for their entire lives.


Therapy Dogs


For my blog post this quarter, I have decided to write about therapy dogs and how they help those who need it most. Therapy dogs are dogs that are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in places such as hospitals and nursing homes. There are three basic types of therapy dogs. The first type of therapy dogs are called “Therapeutic Visitation” dogs. These are common household pets whose owners take them to visit different places such as hospitals, nursing homes, detention facilities and rehabilitation facilities. Visitation dogs helps people who are away from their family due to mental or physical illnesses and make them feel loved. These truly special dogs help brighten the day of those who are away from their loved ones. The second type of therapy dogs are called “Animal Assisted Therapy” dogs. Animal Assisted Therapy dogs help improve a patient’s mental, physical, social and emotional state. There are many different settings that they may visit. The most common places where dogs make their appearance are hospitals, nursing homes and therapeutic boarding schools for teens. However, there is a reason why the dogs take an adventure in a place like hospitals. Some are involved with specific therapeutic goals, such as assisting with patients who are working towards gaining motion in some limbs and  increase their motor control by completing an easy task such as basic pet care skills. Finally, the last type of therapy dog is called a “Facility Therapy Dog”. These dogs mainly work in nursing homes. They are often trained to help keep patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease from getting into trouble. These types of dogs usually live at the facility.


I think that therapy dogs are so important to the community. They can give someone so much love that they may be missing in their life. These extraordinary dogs help people deal with depression, anxiety, cancer and so much more. They are there to listen, to comfort and to love without judgement. There is a sort of feeling that that is hard find with other people and it helps some open up. There are so many ways that therapy dogs help everyone around them. Depression and anxiety have recently become a big part of lives all across the world. Those with depression try to avoid the outside world because of the fear and stress of what may happen. “Anxiety and depression involve emotional turmoil and negative internal ‘self-talk,’” Dr. Katie Kangas, co-founder of the Pet Wellness Academy, explains. “These thoughts typically spiral into unrealistic negativity and this continues in a vicious cycle.” Kangas goes further into explaining how dogs provide a comforting companionship. Her and her group of colleges discussed whether or not having a dog for depression was a good idea and they come to the conclusion that it would help with so many more ways to help than doctors can even prescribe. It helps them have one focus and one responsibility. “A dog needs to be fed, needs to be walked, and needs to be pet, so on days when a person feels least motivated, a thump of a happy tail motivates a person to get back to living,” Demling says.

Along with an opportunity of responsibility, dogs also give their owners and companions unconditional love. After some studies, it was a unanimous agreement that 100% of the time, a dog does not judge when a person is depressed, anxious, lonely, wearing the same clothes as yesterday and can’t get out of bed. It makes people feel like they have a true friend during their difficulties.

One of the most important things about therapy dogs is that when working with people with depression, anxiety and almost any other disease, they are able to recognize signs of a panic attack or seizure coming. “The mere presence or non-reaction to a stimulus of a trusted companion often calms an attack,” Demling explains. “Dogs can also be trained to use passive methods to block strangers from approaching their handler unexpectedly.”

With someone to always be able to talk to, to be comforted at difficult times and for unconditional love without judgement, I believe that therapy dogs are a necessity in this wonderful world. Just think about how happy it will make someone feel, how they will have comfort that is difficult to find in people, as well as the smile on their face when they find a beautiful animal lying down next to them.


Female ACL Injuries

Each year, the number of female athlete participation grows but, unfortunately, with that growth in participants, there has been an increased number of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. ACL injuries in female athletes are a problem for women, coaches and the sports medicine community. ACL injuries usually occur without contact from another person and most often occur while the athlete is participating in sports like soccer, basketball, or gymnastics. Over two-thirds of non contact injuries are a result of one-step/stop deceleration, cutting movements, sudden change in direction and landing from a jump with inadequate knee and hip flexion. Female athletes have four to ten times more ACL injuries than male athletes. There are some theories that include differences in anatomy, knee alignment, ligament laxity, muscle strength and conditioning on why there is a higher percentage of injured in women rather than men.

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I personally, am a female soccer player and I have encountered so many girls with ACL tears. I have been in two games where a player tore her ACL and I have watched another girl tear her ACL. Many of these injuries result in surgery and about a year of recovery time before you are cleared to play again. Now that ACL tears have been frequently common, most coaches and athletic trainers focus on muscle strength in the knees to help prevent ACL injuries. I’ve seen girls ignore other knee injuries and continue to play which also can put pressure on your ACL and over time your ACL can tear under the pressure. Knowing and practicing healthy ways of preventing ACL tears will help you in the long run.


Viral Meningitis- A Brain Swelling Disease

Viral Meningitis is the inflammation of tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord. This is the most common type of meningitis. The most common cause of viral meningitis is non-polio enteroviruses. Other viruses that can cause meningitis are: mumps virus, measles virus, influenza virus, arboviruses and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. This virus can happen in anyone at any age. Higher risk people are: children under five years old and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of this types of virus are: fever, poor eating, sleepiness or trouble waking up from sleep, irritability, headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to bright light, nausea, and vomiting. To diagnose this disease there are several lab tests that need to be done which are: naso-oropharyngeal swabs, rectal swabs, stool, cerebrospinal fluid, blood and serum. Most people who get this form of meningitis completely recover in 7-10 days but some require antiviral medication and hospitalization. If a person suspects that they may have this disease a doctor must be seen to diagnose the disease and prescribe treatment.

As a survivor of this disease, I wish my family knew more about this type of disease when I was born. At the time that I was diagnosed, I feel doctors concentrated most of their concern on older children especially those headed to “dorm life” as many colleges require a vaccination for this disease prior to starting freshman year. I feel that parents of young children should be made aware of the importance of getting their child vaccinated for common illnesses. It is said that young children not vaccinated can have this disease caused by chicken pox, measles and mumps that we have vaccinations for at very early ages. A question that still remains for me is how can they tell what permanent effects will happen to a survivor for the rest of his/her life. This disease has had a personal effect on my family and myself that has allowed us to help others that may be faced with this diagnosis.


Rain? Healthy? What?!

Admit it. When you hear the pitter-patter of raindrops on your window, or feel wet droplets hit your shoulders and the ground around you, the first instinct you have is to pull up the hood of your sweatshirt or pull out the umbrella from the depths of your bag.  The questions is, why is everyone so afraid of the rain?  Is it because it will mat your hair, or ruin your new faux-leather bag? Or is it because it will make your new Jordan’s muddied and imperfect? Either way, hiding under the rain can actually prevent you from health benefits. Rain water and being in rainy weather can benefit your health.

It’s all about science. Rain water contains negative ions, and for those of you who aren’t science people or don’t see how there can be positives in something with “negative” in the name, negative ions produce a net positive effect on our health. These special ions are created in moving water, and are tasteless, odorless and invisible molecules that we breathe in when we are in environments with moving water.  After entering the bloodstream, they create “biochemical reactions that help to relieve stress, alleviate depression, and even boost our energy” says Patty Peoples of Redlands Daily Facts, an International Sport Science Association fitness nutrition specialist. The greatest thing about it, is that this medication to make you feel good is free and right outside your door (on a rainy day that is), and there are virtually no side effects besides having wet shoes or frizzy, matted hair.

I have always loved rainy weather, and now I know the science behind it.  In fact, I can directly relate to the part about relieving stress just by being outside in the rain. It is also comforting that I am not the only one who says that rain makes them happy, because whenever I tell someone I love when it rains, I receive the “Are you serious?” face.  I think that people should take advantage of the positive effect of rain and negative ions more often, especially because it boosts depression and relieves stress. Next time the sky is overcast and the rain starts falling, I challenge everyone to go outside and asses your mood after 10 minutes in the rain.  Remember, the only down side is wet *changeable* clothing.



Ebola: Threat of overreaction?

Lately a new fatal virus has been spreading through Africa at a rapid pace. This virus is known as  Ebola haemorrhagic fever or Ebola for short. This virus that is believed to  originally come from fruit bats is spread between people from body fluids like blood. People may have been come affected first from animals. Once you get Ebola you might not even know you have it for another three weeks. Some symptoms to look for our fever,intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, nausea and sore throat. Then comes the ,vomiting, diarrhoea, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Of course you could have a different virus with just similar symptoms.  There has only been eight cases of ebola in the US. According to CDC there has been 8997 cases with 4493 casualties.

The US has nothing to worry about. We have some of the best medical treatment in the world and we shouldn’t be as worried as we are. The reason West Africa is having so much trouble with Ebola is because of their lack of health care and that the people there aren’t as hygienic as here in the US. I believe we shouldn’t as worried about Ebola. I don’t think the news should be covering Ebola as much as they do and focus on other virus like enterovirus D68 which has been paralyzing kids and is an actual realistic worry in the US. So yes I do believe that Ebola is an overreaction but it is still a dangerous disease. We must be careful, but we most likely won’t have anything to worry about.


Ebola vs. the Enterovirus: Which Should Scare us more?

Currently in America, two diseases have been taking over the news, and the lives of many people, lately. These diseases are Ebola and the Enterovirus. If you are anyone like me, you try to figure out a way to make sure these illnesses came no where near you, but do you really know what we are running from? They might have blown up in the news, but there is a lot that we need to bring to light about these epidemics in order to fully understand what they are, and which one is the bigger problem.

The definition of Ebola is “an infectious and generally fatal disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding, spread through contact with infected body fluids by a filovirus ( Ebola virus ), whose normal host species is unknown”. I am positive you don’t understand this, so let me break it down for you by giving you the facts. Lets start at the very beginning. The Ebola virus was first found in 1976 on the banks of the Ebola River and was suspected to have originated in bats. Smaller outbreaks have occurred over the years, but this is the largest yet. Reasons its so deadly is because it shuts down the immune system first, and can kill within a single week. With only a 50% survival rate, it makes sense why people would be so scared. But think about this. When was the last time you came in contact with someones bodily fluids? If your answer is never, then you’re in luck because you can only catch this virus by touching these things. Also, if you are a US reader, your chances of catching this are extremely low, so take a breather. Even the flu kills more than Ebola. Just be careful around those bodily fluids, okay?

The enterovirus however, is a different story. The definition of the enterovirus is “any of a group of RNA viruses (including those causing polio and hepatitis A) that typically occur in the gastrointestinal tract, sometimes spreading to the central nervous system or other parts of the body”. Kinda confusing? Let me explain. This virus was first identified in California in 1962, and hasn’t reappeared until now, meaning less people have developed an immunity to it. In the most mild cases, symptoms mimic those of the common cold including fever, runny nose, muscle aches etc. More serious cases can cause patients to have difficulty breathing and would lead to the patient having to be hospitalized. Some cases have also shown paralysis, but that is not very common. Scared yet? Its about to get worse. This disease not only has the symptoms of the common cold, but spreads like one. That’s right. Getting sneezed or coughed on, or by touching the surface previously touched by an infected patient can all cause a person to catch the virus. Because of this, the majority of hospitalizations have been with children. Nevertheless, teenagers are also at an inclined risk because of weak immune systems. However, as bad as it may seem, the Enterovirus season lasts from mid-May through mid-November, so its havoc has almost come to a close. Just make sure to keep clean, and prep for flu season.

In my opinion, I am more scared of the Enterovirus. This is because the symptoms are much like the common cold, so I feel if I caught this virus, I would probably think I just have a regular cold before I realized much too late that I actually have an extremely deadly disease. Also, because it is spread like a common cold, it seems extremely easy to catch. Plus, because I am a teenager and my immune system is weak, I have an increased risk of having a serious case. Lastly, unlike Ebola, the Enterovirus has made it into the state in which I live. Don’t get me wrong, the Ebola virus is a scary thing to think about, but overall, I think that based on the data I found that the Enterovirus is one I am most afraid of.


A Cancer Test That Only Costs Three Cents!


Have you ever experienced a loved one being diagnosed with cancer. If you have, it’s apparent that cancer is no easy battle. In this day and age, technology has enabled researchers to do more and more research on typical cancers (like breast cancer). But what about the more rare cancers, such as pancreatic cancer? Today, I’m here to inform you about Jack Andraka’s process of creating this breakthrough and the challenges he dealt with through this process.

After losing a family friend to pancreatic cancer, Jack started doing some research. From the start, he found out that 85% of pancreatic cancers are detected late (when there is a 2% chance of survival). He knew that he wanted this to change, but how? All great minds start somewhere, and Jack started out by pinpointing a protein (in the bloodstream) that is present in all pancreatic cancer cases and in the earliest stages. This protein is mesothelin. After having an epiphany in the middle of a high school biology class, he was on to something. Basically, he would “lace antibodies to [carbon] nanotubes so that they would react to mesothelin,” ( Now, this theory may seem confusing to the average middle schooler, but Jack states that, “it’s as easy as making chocolate chip cookies.”

In Jack’s seminar, he talked about a preexisting pancreatic cancer test, pointing out how costly such tests were (as high as $800) and that they often didn’t produce accurate results. Now the hard part is over… or is it? Finding a lab to conduct his research was a challenge for Jack. In fact, he wrote to 200 scientists to use their lab and got 199 rejections. John Hopkins University was willing to take him up on his idea, but not without asking him tons of questions. Nonetheless, he kept going and, in the end, produced a sensor for pancreatic cancer through hard work and minor improvements to his plan. This just goes to show how, no matter your age, anyone can achieve great things.

To me, Jack’s story is really inspirational. I guess, whenever you have an idea, you should never be afraid to pursue it. In Jack’s case, he received many rejections, but, in the end, produced a cancer detector that will change millions of people’s lives. The best part about his invention, to me, is how inexpensive it is. At a mere 3 cents, it’s incredibly affordable and has close to a 100% accuracy rate. Jack had spoken in a TED seminar a few months ago. Be sure to watch this video, as you can hear the full story behind Jack’s discovery. This just goes to show that innovation takes hard work but really pays off in the end. It just takes one idea.

~ Mehreen


They are just like you

Down Syndrome is when a child is born with 47 chromosomes instead of 46. You could also call this Trisomy 21. It delays the child’s mental and physical developments. In the USA, it affects 1 in every 800 babies. This syndrome can’t be prevented but can be learned before the child is born. Scientists know that women 35 years of age and older do have a higher risk of having a baby with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome affects the kids mentally as well as physically. They usually have trouble doing things themselves so they need assistance with the harder things they do. These kids can do things that everyone else does but they will learn to do things and learn in school much slower than the other kids.

I have a sister that has down syndrome and she loves school. Nobody treats her differently. I think kids with a need of any kind are more interesting than regular people. They are more outgoing than others and are very fun to be with. I’ve heard stories of people bullying others with a need but I don’t see that at all now. Kids don’t really bully each other in general actually. The kids who speak to the special needs love them. The kids with needs always have smiles when we talk to them and it makes their day. I think all that they really need is someone to guide them in the right path during their different but interesting life.