Saturday, April 14, 2018

Knee to the Head

"Boomers are going bionic, and they want joint replacements to let them do it all" by Robert Weisman, Globe Staff April 02, 2018

For a generation that pounded its joints doing aerobics, running marathons, and carving up the ski slopes, it’s time to roll out the spare parts.

Take Elliott Francis, 64, who had his second hip replacement surgery in February. Growing up, he was “a jumper and a rebounder,” he said, scooping basketballs off the rim during Roxbury pickup games and later playing in high school and college.

“We thought we’d be young forever,” said Francis, who co-anchors a radio news program in Washington, D.C.

Baby boomers, determined to keep moving no matter what wear and tear and arthritis have wrought, are fueling a surge in joint replacements. Taking advantage of improved artificial joints and surgical methods, aging Americans are getting so many new hips, knees, shoulders, and ankles that orthopedic surgeons are having trouble meeting the demand.....


At least you still have your wits:

"Billion-dollar NFL concussion settlement ‘on the brink of collapse’" by Bob Hohler Globe Staff  March 30, 2018

A rebellion is underway in the billion-dollar NFL concussion case, as lawyers representing thousands of former players are asking a federal judge to curb the league’s influence in the process and correct flaws that have allegedly threatened the settlement’s integrity and left many brain-injured players unpaid.

“The settlement is broken’’ and “on the brink of collapse,’’ said attorney Peter Shahriari, whose firm represents about 250 former players, in a document seeking the court’s intervention.

Shahriari, one of more than 15 lawyers in the case who are pushing for action, claims the league is evading its obligations to compensate brain-injured players by waging “a campaign to hide the truth about the dangers of the game’’ and by calling the former players and their doctors deceptive and fraudulent.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league, which settled the case last year for an estimated $1 billion, is responsibly fulfilling its commitment but is indeed concerned about fraud.

“We are ensuring that legitimate claims are processed and paid in a timely way to those individuals and families who deserve these benefits,’’ McCarthy said. “We believe that it is entirely appropriate to continue to oppose fraudulent and unsupported claims. No legitimate claim has been rejected.’’

The protesting lawyers are pressing for new leadership in their ranks and contend that the NFL’s success in limiting payments to its head-injured former players is evident in the numbers.

As of March 26, 1,731 retired players had submitted claims for monetary awards for various types of brain damage since the process began nearly a year ago, but only 156 — less than 10 percent — have received payments totaling $150 million.

In all, monetary claims by 350 former players have received initial approval for about $380 million in payments, but nearly 200 players have yet to receive a check because of various snags, including NFL appeals.

An additional 214 claims have been denied, including those of former Patriots greats Stanley Morgan and Ronnie Lippett.

Lawyers for the injured players are especially angry about the way they say the NFL has treated players with dementia — “Sadly, the settlement is failing to provide a fraction of what the NFL promised,’’ attorney Gene Locks, who heads the Locks Law Firm and represents about 1,110 former players, wrote the judge.

“One year into implementation, the NFL has turned the settlement into a secret, privately litigated claim system that involves changing standards for claim packages, inconsistent and often improper standards of review, a black hole of audits, alleged deficiencies, anonymous opinions, denials, appeals, remands, and technical squabbles over what a valid diagnosis might be,’’ Locks alleged.

McCarthy said the NFL is adhering to the rules approved by the court and noted that the settlement is administered by an independent party, the BrownGreer firm of Richmond, Va., under court supervision......


Just wondering “how many players will have to die while we wait for the promises made to be fulfilled?’’

"Trials for potential ALS treatment spark cautious hope" by Jonathan Saltzman Globe Staff  April 05, 2018

As he lay in bed at Massachusetts General Hospital, his speech slightly slurred by the disorder, Richard P. Vinci, an engineering professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, said, “ALS is still such a mystery despite the intense efforts of a lot of very smart people who have been working on it a long time.”

MGH and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester are among six sites across the country testing the therapy, NurOwn, developed by BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, which has offices in Israel and New York.

How is that for a kick in the head?

Hopes are high — as they often are at the start of a trial — but the challenge is daunting. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, has long confounded some of the best minds in medicine.

Not everyone is optimistic that the new trial will yield significant results.

Steven Perrin, president and chief scientific officer of ALS Therapy Development Institute, a Cambridge nonprofit biotech research group that’s also searching for treatments, said it was exciting for any ALS therapy to reach a late-stage trial. But BrainStorm’s cell therapy, he said, appears to have only a modest effect on patients.

“The early clinical trial didn’t blow anybody away,” Perrin said. Although he praised BrainStorm for developing a rigorous new trial with 200 patients, he called it a “Hail Mary pass.’’

Today, the only drugs prescribed to slow the progression of ALS are Radicava, approved in 2017, and riluzole, the generic name of Rilutek, which was OK’d in 1995. At best, neurologists say, they have a marginal effect. A third drug, Nuedexta, is prescribed to treat unpredictable episodes of crying and laughter that sometimes occurs in ALS. But the medicine doesn’t affect the underlying disease.

At least some pharmaceuticals companies made some money.

One reason ALS is so challenging to study, said UMass’s Brown, is because it is relatively rare. In Europe and the United States each year, there are one or two new cases per 100,000 people. That’s traditionally meant limited funding for research, although the “Ice Bucket Challenge” — inspired by former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who has ALS — has raised over $115 million since 2014, according to the ALS Association. Most of that has gone to research.

Oh, now I see why the jew$media was promoting that. What this is about is finding a cure because this stuff can strike the elite class.

ALS tends to affect people in their middle-to-late 50s, although it can appear in teenagers and people in their 90s. The rate of physical decline varies, which makes it difficult to determine whether periods of stability are due to a medicine or the natural course of the disease.

About 10 percent of cases appear to be inherited. The other 90 percent occur in people with no family history of ALS. To complicate matters, Brown said, at least 40 genes have been implicated in the disease.

Dr. Robert Miller, the 76-year-old neurologist overseeing the trial at California Pacific Medical Center, said ALS is the “grim reaper of neurological disease,” cutting people down in their prime.....

They shooting into crowds over border fences, too?


Forgot what I was going to say.