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expert-perspectives

Expert perspective: Who delivers babies in rural hospitals?

Since late January, when the story broke about the upcoming closure of the maternity ward at the Grand Marais hospital, I’ve been thinking a lot about pregnant women, clinicians, and hospital administrators in Grand Marais, and in other rural communities in Minnesota and beyond.  For pregnant women in rural areas and for all individuals seeking care, both access and patient safety are necessary components of effective health care systems. They are not negotiable. In order to better understand how to ensure both access and safety, we need to start with relevant information for understanding both capacity and need for care in rural communities.

Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in a rural area, but only about 10 percent of the nation’s physicians are practicing in rural areas. Of the 2,050 rural U.S. counties, 77 percent are designated as health professional shortage areas.  A report from the Minnesota Department of Health highlights the workforce challenges and clinician shortages in Greater Minnesota.  And this is important, because rural Americans suffer worse health outcomes than those in urban areas, having higher rates of death, disability and chronic disease.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research snapshot: A more precise diagnosis for oral cancer

Identifying whether oral cancer has reached the mandible (jawbone) can create uncertainties early on or with small tumors for patients and health care providers.

“Right now, we identify oral cancer’s invasion into the jaw through clinical examination or CT scans but current technology often falls short, especially with early invasions. The problem is there are often uncertainties in knowing how far the cancer has spread,” said Samir Khariwala, M.D., surgeon and assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Minnesota. “For this reason, planning surgery is difficult and there is risk of taking out too much bone or not enough because we don’t know the degree of invasion ahead of time.”

There is, however, a technique available which will allow you to avoid the uncertainty of surgery, the amount of recovery time and the need for additional reconstructive surgery altogether.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research snapshot: New neuroimaging method to research the aging brain

Testing for age-related metabolic decline and loss of cognitive function could soon be seeing improvements.

By developing new ultrahigh field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) technologies, researchers at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) at the University of Minnesota, recently investigated whether new developments could aid in better understanding aging and metabolic disorder in human brains.

Following the establishment of an in vivo assay of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) – a test that works well for human brain application – U of M researchers have developed a new testing technique.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Adolescents who eat regular family meals less likely to engage in eating disorder behaviors finds University of Minnesota study

As a kid, rushing home from a friend’s house to make it to dinner on time may not have been your favorite thing to do. But, it turns out that family meal time may have been worth it after all.

According to a recent study, adolescents, especially girls, who eat more family meals are less likely to engage in harmful eating disorder behaviors. Furthermore, this protection against disordered eating behaviors was found to exist in the majority of families studied, even for adolescents whose families struggled with communication or other challenges.

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expert-perspectives

Commentary: School of Public Health associate professor reflects on the importance of physical education in our school systems

The following commentary was presented in December 2014 to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education by Toben Nelson, Sc.D., associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota regarding graduation requirements for physical education.

“Developing minds and bodies need to be active in order to function at their best. I am here to urge you to reconsider the decision to reduce the number of physical education (PE) credits that students must take in order to graduate from a Minneapolis public school.

In my view, reducing physical education requirements is actually counter-productive to educational goals. Physical activity is critical for physical health. But it has a wide range of other benefits. Regular activity promotes mental health, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves mood. When schools provide structured time for physical activity through physical education, students respond with improved academic performance in the classroom and on standardized test scores.

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expert-perspectives

Middle-aged men most likely to die from alcohol poisoning

In a study released last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found an average of six Americans die each day from alcohol poisoning, and the majority are middle-aged men between 35-64 years old. Alcohol poisoning is caused by consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time.

The study analyzed National Vital Statistics System data, and found that three-quarters of the more than 2,200 people aged 15 and older who died of alcohol poisoning between 2010 and 2012 were between 35-64 years old.

Health Talk spoke with Toben Nelson, Sc.D., associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota about his reactions to the CDC study.

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