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Checkup Medical Column for Oct 21

AAP logoAAP 21/10/2016 By Sarah Wiedersehn

A weekly round-up of news affecting your health.

EXERCISE GOOD FOR THE FORGETFUL

New research shows exercise benefits elderly people suffering cognitive decline.

A study published in the medical journal American Academy of Neurology found regular exercise improved thinking skills in people who already had mild vascular cognitive impairment.

Vascular cognitive impairment is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer's disease.

It causes problems with memory and thinking skills as a result from damage to large and small blood vessels in the brain.

The study involved 70 people with an average age of about 74 who had mild vascular cognitive impairment. Half of the participants took part in one-hour exercise classes three times a week for six months. The other half received information each month about vascular cognitive impairment and a healthy diet, but no information on physical activity.

Those who exercised had a small improvement on the test of overall thinking skills compared to those who did not exercise. The scores of those who exercised improved by 1.7 points compared to those who did not exercise.

THE NOSE PRODUCING BENEFITS FOR FAILING KNEES

Swiss doctors report that cartilage cells harvested from patients' own noses have been used to successfully produce cartilage transplants of the knees of 10 adults.

Two years after reconstruction, most recipients reported improvements in pain, knee function, and quality of life, as well as developing repair tissue that is similar in composition to native cartilage.

Despite this promising start, however, the effectiveness of the procedure needs to be rigorously assessed in larger randomised trials compared to conventional treatments and with longer follow up before any firm conclusions can be drawn about its use in routine clinical practice, say the authors of the report published in The Lancet.

If proven to be an effective treatment, it could help the millions of people diagnosed each year with damage to cartilage because of injuries or accidents.

DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE DANGER OF OSTEOPOROSIS.

Osteoporosis is a 'silent' disease and its impact on health later in life can be deadly, warns the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

Osteoporosis is a disease that leads to decreased bone strength and increases the risk of a broken bone.

Within a year of a hip fracture, caused by weak and brittle bones, 33 per cent of patients remain dependent or require nursing home care and 24 per cent die.

"The danger of osteoporotic fractures to quality of life and independence at older age cannot be overstated," said IOF President John Kanis.

He says a bone-healthy lifestyle lays the foundation for good bone health.

This includes a calcium, protein and vitamin-rich diet, adequate vitamin D, regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise, and avoidance of smoking or excessive alcohol intake.

A COUNSELLOR IN YOUR POCKET

Technology is helping to bridge the support gap for young carers.

A world-first app, developed by Deakin University researchers, will help manage stress for the estimated 200,000-plus young adult Australian caregivers looking after family and friends living with a physical or mental condition.

The new app will act like a counsellor in carers' pockets, allowing them to self-report stress levels daily, before helping them with practical activities to reduce stress and improve their wellbeing.

Research Fellow and app developer Dr Linda Hartley-Clark, from Deakin's Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development within the School of Psychology, said carers aged 18 to 25 had the highest prevalence of mental health disorders of any other age group, and were known for their reluctance to seek help in person to manage their mental health.

"This app gets around that problem by delivering the support straight to the carers via their phones, saving them from even having to ask someone for help, offering flexibility and anonymity," she said.

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