Effectiveness of Over-65 Pneumonia Jabs

It looks like pneumonia vaccinations for the over-65s are going to be scrapped in Great Britain as they have been proven to “not save lives.” The jabs that are meant to offer protection for a 10 year period, at a cost of approximately £20, but according to government-advisory body, the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization), it has had “no discernible impact” on lowering the number of pneumococcal disease. Simply put, it doesn’t offer the protection necessary for the older generation. Thus Professor David Salisbury (Government director of Immunization) has said the program should be stopped at least for the older generation. It is worth continuing it for children (but it is a slightly different vaccine anyway).

Other Problems with the Jab

It’s one thing if the vaccine is just not so effective, but it’s another thing if it becomes dangerous and that seems to be the case. In fact, the jab in “older people has been linked to 30 deaths and more than 3,300 reported side effects, including heart disorders and joint and muscle pain, according to official figures from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.” So why is this happening? In theory, the vaccine should be preventing “23 common types of pneumococcal disease bugs.” But somehow it’s not doing the trick, at least in the over-65 age group. There has also been criticism that this scenario wasn’t revealed earlier. As Charlotte Linacre from the TaxPayers’ Alliance commented, “the Department of Health shouldn’t just throw money at a project without reviewing its effectiveness.” While this is all very well and good however, there is bound to be criticism and questions about how to help the over-65s in this regard. True, it may not work, but for sure this group is particularly vulnerable to this disease and need some kind of protection. Maybe this topic will be explored, and hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

America’s Top Beaches This Year

As the summer approaches, thoughts of the beach and sunshine abound. Before you plan your upcoming vacation, you may want to consider which beaches will best suit the needs of both you and your family.

According to Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, Florida’s Siesta Beach is the number one U.S. beach this year. Leatherman is the director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research in Miami. He explained that the gentle white sand and clear waters make the beach unique.

“It’s an idyllic place,” Leatherman said.

In total, three of Florida’s beaches were ranked among the top ten. Others include vacation spots in California, the Carolinas, New York, Hawaii and Massachusetts.

Dr. Beach’s rankings are published annually. While evaluating each beach he considers the water and sand quality, environmental treatment and safety. Communities are not notified before an inspection.

He says, “I’m still searching” for the perfect beach. “But I’ve found a lot of great beaches.”

This year’s number two spot was given to Coronado Beach in San Diego. Leatherman described it as “the toast of Southern California” and “a veritable oasis by the sea.”

Varicose Veins Valediction?

Can we finally say goodbye to varicose veins? If so, is there a chance that the process will not have to be so invasive? Apparently so and it will be available to Brits through the NHS, rendering it a financially pain-free process too. ClariVein works by putting a catheter and drug in the vein with only the use of a local anesthetic. This means you can do it as an outpatient – no overnight hospital stay is required. First offered by a consultant vascular surgeon (Eddie Chaloner) in the UK privately a year ago, NHS patients in Lewisham can now get it too.

Around 30 percent of British adults suffer from varicose veins (usually on the legs and feet) due to a cessation of operation of the small valves in the veins rendering the blood to flow backwards, assembling in the veins, leading to swelling and often pain.

Until recently, the way to deal with this was with a “high tie and strip” operation, in use for the last century, with a general anesthetic, cutting the groin “before the vein is literally stripped out of the leg,” which could lead to pain, bruising, wound infection and then a recovery time of around six weeks. As well, it is estimated that around 30 percent of those who have this operation will probably need it again around five years later.

Other treatments have been used, only requiring a local anesthetic but still have problems since it utilizes “multiple injections of fluid and anesthetic around the vein in the leg, which some patients find sore. There is usually some bruising and there's a small risk of damage from the laser heat to the nerves close to the vein.” This new technique on the other hand won’t cause any nerve damage since it doesn’t need heat to seal the vein or require lots of injections, rendering the procedure “literally painless for the patient.” Simply, a small incision on top of or beneath the vein is made to insert the thin catheter that’s attached to a motorized hand piece. Spinning at around 3,500 revolutions per minute, the catheter causes the vein to collapse by damaging it a little bit and all the patient senses is a buzzing. Following this Fibro-Vein is sprayed into the vein which then seals it. The whole process only takes around 20 minutes.

So this really is a good solution. And it will certainly make many Britons happy that they won’t have to foot the bill for the procedure either.

Paralyzed US Woman Takes First Steps

Has medical technology really come that far? Is it really the case that those who are paralyzed from the waist down are going to be able to actually walk? Apparently so. This has been the case with Stephanie Sablan who was injured in a car accident 4 months ago and is now walking. Aided by the eLEGS exoskeleton Sablan was able to walk. In layman’s terms, the exoskeleton is a battery-powered pair of robotic legs in a backpack. Due to this incredible technological device, Sablan walked around a room in California at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. It’s not all about technology though. Salblan had to work hard. Her initial walking was aided by a physical therapist but it only took until the fourth session that she could move “on her own using crutches containing special sensors.”

Paralyzed Walking

So how does this actually work? The patient has to put the tool – weighing in at 45 lbs – on their legs and shoulders with Velcro straps. Given that the machine is so heavy though, wouldn’t that be problematic for the paralyzed patient? No, since the battery power is able to support the weight, thus not pressuring the individual. Moving the right hand forward with crutches renders a reaction from the device to move the left leg with the motors and then vice versa on the other side. Sablan commented, “my first steps were pretty incredible….I definitely had to hold back my tears. It filled that void that was taken away from me.” The hope of course is that ultimately the patient will no longer need the wheelchair and be able to “jump into the eLEGS and go take a shower.” That is the hope of the device manufacturers too. It was made at the Rehabilitation Research at the Valley Medical Center. There is still a way to go and researchers are currently looking into how long patients are able to stand and walk around using the device and the plan is to “test it on up to 10 people by the end of the year.”

Princess Beatrice’s Wedding Hat Sold for $131,000

While talk of the actual wedding may have died down, it is certainly still on the radar. And, surprisingly, popular stories don’t necessarily feature Prince William or his new wife.

Princess Beatrice’s hat, which she wore to the royal wedding, has been sold for $131,000 (81,100 pounds) on eBay.

The sale of the “toilet seat” hat will benefit both UNICEF and Children in Crisis.

Princess Beatrice, daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, hadn’t been expecting so much publicity.

“I’ve been amazed by the amount of attention the hat has attracted,” she wrote on the auction website. “I hope whoever wins the auction has as much fun with the hat as I have.”

Philip Treacy, the hat designer, shared that he was “delighted, flattered and touched by HRH Princess’ Beatrice’s decision to donate the hat to charity.”

The hat’s starting price was 5,000 pounds.

DIY X-Ray?

The AnatOnMe – a new device that is able to “project X-rays” on to parts of the body – may become extremely useful in the physiotherapy process. Developed by Microsoft researchers, it has a digital camera, infrared camera, projector and laser pointer and has the capacity to “display stock images of six types of injury directly on to the patient's skin or a model to help them understand the impact it has had on their body.” Six types of injury can be displayed by the project “directly on the patient’s skin.” Alternatively, a model can be used for this, which will help practitioners develop a greater understanding on the impact this has had on the patient’s body.

Great Aid to Doctors

This tool will really be of great assistance to doctors. It is going to be able to provide a picture comprising “underlying bone structure, muscle tissue, tendons and nerves.” Pictures are taken and progress through video documented while there are checks made on how well the patient is performing their exercises. Using an infrared camera, a doctor has the capacity of “drawing on the image with the laser pointer.” The picture can then be printed and added to the patient’s file.

Other Benefits

There will be other benefits to this tool as well. In general, those suffering chronic conditions are less likely to continue with their treatments – statistics show this figure to be around 30 to 50 percent who wouldn’t stay the course. So with this gadget there is now a greater chance that they will be treated as needed. The hope from the researchers is that the gadget will be more successful in encouraging their patients to complete their physiotherapy courses. As well, those who have tried out the device from a reviewing standpoint, were said to have “delivered a more engaging and informative experience than a traditional consultation.” It is also quite an interesting concept vis-à-vis technology since until now, this has been “relatively absent from face-to-face communication and education opportunities between doctors and patients.”