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Gene Doping And Sports: The Genetic Enhancement Frontier?

With the 2010 Winter Olympic Games just days away, officials in the anti-doping community are urging researchers and those in the athletic community to re-double their efforts to fight illegal doping. The ethics commentary, called "Gene Doping and Sports, " appears in the February issue of the journal Science. Lead author Theodore Friedmann, MD, professor of pediatrics and director of the Gene Therapy Program at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and his co-authors point to the emergence in the media of a community that approves and even encourages the use of "virtually any enhancing agents that science makes available to them". The authors called on scientists to not be mere bystanders but to "reaffirm their responsibilities to conduct and report their work" ethically.

Athletic Injuries More Frequent In Females

Female athletes experience dramatically higher rates of specific musculoskeletal injuries and medical conditions compared to male athletes, according to exercise physiologist Vicki Harber in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta. According to her paper, depending on the sport, there can be a two- to sixfold difference in these types of injuries between male and female athletes. That's because many training programs developed for female athletes are built on research using young adult males and don't take the intrinsic biological differences between the sexes into account. Harber has authored a comprehensive guide for coaches, parents and administrators, entitled The Female Athlete Perspective, and published by Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L), which addresses these and other medical issues known to influence women's participation in sport.

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High School Pitchers Need To Train Properly Before Season To Avoid Serious Injuries

High school pitchers who go full-speed the first day or week of spring training may be headed down the road to serious injury. "A large number of high school athletes take the winter off and just go out and start throwing as hard as they can, " said Matt Holland, a physical therapist with The Methodist Center for Sports Medicine in Houston. "The problem is that their arms are not in baseball shape and they open themselves up to serious shoulder and elbow injuries." The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that act to stabilize the shoulder especially during the throwing motion. An inflamed rotator cuff (tendonitis) can cause pain when lifting your arm and will most likely dramatically affect a player's performance on the field.

Resistance Training Programs Appear To Improve Some Cognitive Skills In Older Women

One year of once- or twice-weekly resistance training appears to improve attention and conflict resolution skills among older women. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Ph.D., P.T., of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues studied 155 women age 65 to 75. Participants were randomly assigned to participate in resistance training once (54 women) or twice (52 women) weekly, whereas 49 women in a control group participated in twice-weekly balance and tone training. After one year, women in both resistance training groups significantly improved their scores on tests of selective attention (maintaining mental focus) and conflict resolution.

Physical Activity May Be Associated With Reduced Cognitive Impairment In Elderly Population

Moderate or high physical activity appears to be associated with a lower the risk of developing cognitive impairment in older adults after a two-year period. Thorleif Etgen, M.D., of Technische Università t Mà nchen, Munich, and Klinikum Traunstein, Germany, and colleagues examined physical activity and cognitive function in 3, 903 participants (older than 55) from southern Bavaria, Germany between 2001 and 2003. At the beginning of the study, 418 participants (10.7 percent) had cognitive impairment. After two years, 207 (5.9 percent) of the remaining 3, 485 unimpaired study participants developed cognitive impairment. "The incidence of new cognitive impairment among participants with no, moderate and high activity at baseline was 13.

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Exercise Program Associated With Denser Bones, Lower Fall Risk In Older Women

Women age 65 or older assigned to an exercise program for 18 months appeared to have denser bones and a reduced risk of falls, but not a reduced cardiovascular disease risk, compared with women in a control group. Wolfgang Kemmler, Ph.D., and colleagues at Freidrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany, studied a total of 246 older women. Half of the women exercised four days per week with special emphasis on intensity while the other half participated in a wellness program that focused on well-being. Among the 227 women who completed the study, the 115 who exercised had higher bone density in their spine and hip, and also had a 66 percent reduced rate of falls.

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