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Category: Health

UW-Madison researchers using Tai Chi, video games to improve balance among adolescents with autism

Wisconsin Public Radio

New research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows balance training using video games changed the brain structure of adolescents with autism and helped improve balance, posture and the severity of autism symptoms.

Brittany Travers, a UW-Madison occupational therapy professor and Waisman Center lead researcher, said she and her colleagues are interested in finding ways to better interventions that improve the motor skills of individuals with autism. She said prior research has shown balance control appears to plateau earlier in kids with autism than those without. As people age balance becomes more of a challenge for everyone, Travers said.

“But the speculation is that autistic individuals may be more at risk for falls and later in life if these balance challenges are not addressed,” Travers said.

More than 1,100 Wisconsin nursing home workers test positive for COVID-19, the highest weekly total of the pandemic

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: “We’re likely to see more infections, and those breakthrough infections can be quite serious,” said Patrick Remington, a former epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s preventive medicine residency program. “I think any place where outbreaks are likely to happen – and certainly long-term care facilities are places where that can happen – we should be concerned.”

Beloit College mandates COVID-19 booster shots while UW-Madison starts collecting booster data

Wisconsin State Journal

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank told a faculty committee during a Monday meeting that she didn’t know what percentage of the campus community is boosted beyond those who received it at University Health Services. The university will be encouraging students and staff to report if they have been boosted off-campus to get a better picture of booster status across UW-Madison.

You can eat healthier without focusing on weight

Popular Science

Fiber is the material in plant-based foods that our body’s can’t digest. For a long time, scientists thought of it as junk, says Beth Olson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Today, we know that it’s essential. Fiber feeds the bacteria in our guts, which could have an indirect effect on everything from our mood to our immune systems, Olson says.

Becerra asks CMS to reconsider Medicare Part B 2022 premiums


A local news report in Wisconsin quoting the lead doctor on the University of Wisconsin Health’s Moderna vaccine trial for children 6 months to 4 years old caused a stir on Covid and science Twitter over the weekend. That’s because he said FDA had again asked vaccine manufacturers to add a few hundred more kids to their trials. (Pros may recall this first happened over the summer.)

Now Dane Co. hospitalizations have hit record numbers


Health officials in Dane Co. have already been sounding the alarm about running out of beds. UW Health’s Dr. Jeffery Pothof said last week the hospital is at 100% capacity, “trading patient for patient,” as it tries to help everyone coming to its doors.

‘We’re just a sitting duck’: UW Health pediatrician says child COVID-19 vaccination rates are too low

Wisconsin Public Radio

The American Academy of Pediatrics says in its latest report that COVID-19 cases among children have reached the highest case count ever reported since the start of the pandemic — and hospitalizations are rising across the country.

In Wisconsin, 13 pediatric patients on average are being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 every day, according to federal data for the week ending Jan. 5. That’s a 71 percent increase from the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That number is concerning to UW Health pediatrician Dr. James Conway.

“You know we’re certainly seeing more hospitalizations in adults. But kids, we’re still worried that we’re actually on the front end of the curve,” Conway said.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson uses God in one of multiple attempts at sowing doubt over the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Ajay Sethi, associate professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explained that “viruses like SARS-CoV-2 evolve as they replicate in a person with infection and as they spread from one person to the next. When that evolutionary process yields a strain that has a genetic make-up which is very different from the original virus, it is considered a ‘variant.’ ”

He added that “a virus is a ‘variant of concern’ if it has the potential to threaten the pandemic response in some way. It may be more infectious than other variants, cause more severe illness, not be detectable by current tests, less affected by current treatments, partially escape immunity provided by current vaccines, or a combination of these.”

Some private colleges, universities delaying start of spring semester classes, requiring vaccinations amid COVID-19 surge

Wisconsin Public Radio

Some private colleges and universities in Wisconsin are delaying the start of spring semester classes, requiring negative COVID-19 tests or vaccinations and boosters for students and employees amid a rapid surge of new COVID-19 infections. At the same time, the University of Wisconsin System says students “will return on-time and as normal” for classes starting this month.

Omicron variant drives new, faster spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Examiner

Quoted: “This current increase is being fueled by the new omicron variant, which is more infectious than delta” — until recently, the predominant variant of the virus in Wisconsin, said Ajay Sethi, an epidemiologist and faculty director of the master’s degree in public health program at the University of Wisconsin  School of Medicine and Public Health.

Madison health systems postpone non-emergent surgeries amid peak capacity


UW Health’s chief quality officer Dr. Jeff Pothof said the health system is “extremely short staffed right now.” “We’re doing our best to care for as many patients as we can, but the need is outpacing our capacity,” said Pothof. “With COVID cases rising and staff out because they’re awaiting test results or have tested positive, we’re hitting our limits.”

UW-Madison professor pens haiku collection detailing medical treatment

Wisconsin Public Radio

Ellen Samuels has spent a lot of hours in loud, cramped MRI machines.

She said medical personnel would give her these “little headphones” to play music, but the sound of banging metal coils and vibrating electrical pulses all but muted that music.

So to pass the time, she would craft poems in her head. Without the ability to jot them down, she imagined haiku because the five-seven-five-syllable format was easier to remember.

UW Health: More kids hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before


Children’s hospitals, including one in Madison, are strained with children fighting coronavirus, and a mix of factors explains why kids are the latest targets of the pandemic. “We’ve had more kids with COVID in the last couple of months, and certainly in the last month, that I can recall at any point in the pandemic,” said Dr. James Conway, a pediatric infectious disease physician and medical director of UW Health’s immunization program.

Dane County COVID-19 cases hit all-time high

Wisconsin State Journal

The number of people hospitalized has taken only a small dip in recent days, with an average of 115 people hospitalized over the last week, per Public Health data. Hospital officials have warned they are reaching a breaking point with COVID-19 patients, and UW Health said it is reducing the number of nonessential procedures it schedules amid the ongoing surge.

“Very full” UW Health warns it’s running out of room, medical staff stretched thin


Rooms are running out and medical staff are stretched thin at UW Health facilities as the Omicron variant drives a new surge of COVID-19 cases, the health system is warning. On Tuesday, UW Health Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jeff Pothof cautioned that if this trend continues, they may not have space or staff needed to care for the number of patients they are getting.

How Shark Antibodies Could Aid the Fight Against Coronavirus and Prepare for Future Outbreaks

Smithsonian Magazine

Nurse sharks (Ginglymostomatidae) are slow-moving, bottom-dwelling predators that stalk prey in warm shallow waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In a new study published in Nature Communications, scientists suggest the sharks could lend a fin in a new, more effective treatment for Covid-19.

‘Drug cocktail’ may be needed as COVID variants attack immune system on multiple fronts

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: “If you’re a virus and you turn off the innate immune system, it’s like a thief cutting off the alarms in a bank in order to sneak in,” said Thomas Friedrich, a professor in the department of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

Wisconsin’s athletic director tests positive for COVID-19 and will not be able to travel for the Badgers’ bowl game

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

University of Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not travel to Las Vegas for UW’s bowl game.

McIntosh must quarantine for 10 days.

“I would encourage everyone to follow the advice of medical professionals and get vaccinated, boosted, tested and wear a mask,” McIntosh said. “Those mitigation measures may not keep us from contracting COVID, but there’s a good chance they will keep us from having a severe outcome.”

Several UW football players and staffers affected by latest COVID-19 wave on UW campus

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The latest COVID-19 wave that is sweeping across the University of Wisconsin campus has affected the UW football team.

Multiple sources close to the program told the Journal Sentinel Saturday both players and staffers tested positive in recent days and that the Badgers would be short-handed when they face Arizona State Thursday in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Sharks may be able to protect us from coronavirus, research suggests. Here’s how

Miami Herald (McClatchy)

Although some may fear sharks when swimming in open waters, these often misunderstood creatures may hold a way to help protect us from the coronavirus, new research suggests. As one of the ocean’s top predators, sharks have antibody-like proteins that can stop the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a study published Dec. 16.

UW Health utilizing virtual ICU program amid COVID-19 wave


UW Health is using virtual meeting technology to expand the use of eICU programs amidst a new wave of COVID-19, UW Health said Friday. According to UW Health, rural hospitals throughout Wisconsin are facing difficulties as emergency rooms continue to reach capacity.

Wisconsin’s population growth stagnated over the last year

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: In Wisconsin, there were more deaths than births for the first time since the state began keeping vital records, said demographer David Egan-Robertson of the Applied Population Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“It’s just been a complete sea change in terms of how we view the population,” Egan-Robertson said.

A combo of therapies tackling metastatic cancer

WQAD Pittsburgh

Now scientists at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are testing a combination of targeted radiation, given by injection, with immunotherapy.

“We’re just delivering a very low dose to stimulate the immune system, not necessarily kill cancer cells,” explained Dr. Patel.

The researchers tested the therapy in mice and found that even when the mice were given a low dose of radiotherapy their immune systems revved up and wiped out the cancer.

Scientists say they plan to apply for FDA approval to conduct human clinical trials on the combination therapy.

Flexibility in peptides may be more effective to treat diabetes: Study

Asia News International

According to a new research, peptides could be more effective to treat diabetes if they were more flexible and could move back and forth between different shapes.

The study has been published in the ‘Nature Chemical Biology Journal’.

The findings could help improve drug design for these diabetes drugs and possibly other therapeutic peptides.

Limited COVID-19 testing scrambles holiday plans for some UW-Madison students

Wisconsin State Journal

After a fall semester that appears free from the major COVID-19 outbreaks and testing problems associated with last school year, complaints are dropping in the final days before winter break begins. Students find themselves frustrated, scrambling to secure an elusive COVID-19 test during an already stressful time and amid a rise in campus cases.

Seeking refills: Aging pharmacists leave drugstores vacant in rural America

Kaiser Health News

“It’s going to be harder to attract people and to pay them,” said David Kreling, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy. “If there’s not a generational thing where someone can sit down with their son or daughter and say that they could take the store over, there’s a good chance that pharmacy will evaporate.”

Kids under 5 still waiting for Covid-19 vaccine protection

Dr. Bill Hartman, who runs the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine trial for kids 6 months to 5 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, thinks a vaccine for this age group could be available as early as the “first month or two” of 2022.
Even that isn’t fast enough for some parents, but having worked on several trials during the pandemic, Hartman has been impressed with how quickly things can move when there are dedicated volunteers.
“I feel lucky to live in a city that has a population of people that really want to help us get answers so we can end this pandemic,” he said. “I tell the volunteers all the time that someday in the future, they will be able to tell a story about how they helped save the world.”

Health leaders say only Wisconsinites fully vaccinated with booster shot should gather for holidays

NBC 26

This holiday weekend, AAA expects over 100 million Americans to travel. But state health leaders urge unvaccinated people to reconsider.

“If they’re not [vaccinated], really, it’s important that folks do not try to gather,” Dr. Jeff Pothof said.

According to the UW Health Chief Quality Officer, only a group of people who are fully vaccinated with a booster shot should get together during Christmas time.

Plan ahead to celebrate holidays safely: Doctors recommend getting tested for COVID-19 before gathering

CBS 58

Quoted: “If you’re vaccinated and boosted, holiday celebrations for the most part pose really low risk,” UW Health Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jeff Pothof said.

For unvaccinated people, that’s not the case. If someone gets vaccinated or boosted now, they won’t be fully protected by Christmas Day, but Pothof said some protection is better than none.

“The best day to get your booster shot, if you haven’t gotten it, is today, as soon as possible,” Pothof said.

DNA sequencing can help babies with symptoms not explained by newborn screening

Wisconsin State Journal

With older children or adults who have spent years trying to pinpoint the cause of their conditions, speed is not as vital, he said. That’s why genome sequencing for patients at the new Undiagnosed Genetic Disease Clinic is done at UW-Madison’s Biotechnology Center, which can run so-called “long-read” sequencing that can provide even more answers. UW plans to study up to 500 patients at the clinic over five years, with the goal of diagnosing rare disorders and discovering new disease genes.