Doctors remove 8 tapeworm eggs from woman’s brain


A Texas woman suffering from debilitating headaches after a trip to Mexico was stunned when she learned the source of her pain: tapeworms that had burrowed into her brain.

Yadira Rostro, 31, of Garland, Texas, northeast of Dallas, recently visited Methodist Dallas Medical Center with headaches that were causing sight impairment for nearly nine months, Fox 8 reported. When doctors investigated her brain, they discovered sacs of larvae from eight tapeworm eggs that had been growing.

Doctors expect Rostro to make a full recovery after removing the larvae. They suspect that the parasite found their way into the woman’s brain after she ate food contaminated with fecal matter during a trip to Mexico. reported that typically, the common parasite will go right through patients, but Rostro was simply unlucky. In her case, the critters invaded her bloodstream then traveled to her brain. The news station reported that as their eggs developed, fluid accumulated in her brain, leading to the headaches.

“I think she’s just happy to be alive,” Richard Meyrat, a neurosurgeon at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, told “Her headaches are gone, and she’s feeling better.” Meyrat added that he’d never seen anything like Rostro’s case before.

Rostro  told, “I’m very grateful to God that I’m in his hands.”

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Brain-computer link enables paralyzed California man to walk


(courtesy University of California, Irvine)

A brain-to-computer technology that can translate thoughts into leg movements has enabled a man paralyzed from the waist down by a spinal cord injury to become the first such patient to walk without the use of robotics, doctors in Southern California reported on Wednesday.

The slow, halting first steps of the 28-year-old paraplegic were documented in a preliminary study published in the British-based Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, along with a YouTube video.

The feat was accomplished using a system allowing the brain to bypass the injured spinal cord and instead send messages through a computer algorithm to electrodes placed around the patient’s knees to trigger controlled leg muscle movements.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, say the outcome marks a promising but incremental achievement in the development of brain-computer interfaces that may one day help stroke and spinal injury victims regain some mobility.

Dr. An Do, a study co-author, said clinical applications were many years away. Results of the UC Irvine research still need to be replicated in other patients and greatly refined.

Nevertheless, the study proved it possible “to restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury,” said biomedical engineer Zoran Nenadic, who led the research.

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The steps taken a year ago by the experiment’s subject, former graduate student Adam Fritz, who injured his back in a motorcycle accident, appear modest as seen in the video.

Fritz propelled himself over a distance of 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) across the floor of UC Irvine’s iMove Lab, though his weight was partially supported by an overhead suspension harness and a walker he grasped to keep his body upright, researchers said.

The weight support was necessary because the patient lacked any sensation in his legs or feet, Do explained.

Still, the experiment built on earlier UC Irvine studies in which brain signals were transmitted to a robotic prosthesis attached to the patient’s legs to produce movement, Do said.

In previous research by other scientists, a brain-computer interface has been used to allow paralyzed patients to grasp a cup of coffee with a robotic arm and raise the beverage to their mouths.

The latest study, which began about five years after Fritz became paralyzed, involved months of mental training in which he practiced thinking about walking to produce necessary leg-moving brain waves.

Those signals were then picked up by an electroencephalogram (EEG) he wore as a cap and were transmitted to a computer for processing by a special algorithm that could isolate the messages related only to leg motion and convert them to signals that would stimulate the patient’s muscles to walk.

The scientists and patient first practiced with a virtual-reality-like video game in which Fritz was trained to control a walking avatar. He also underwent extensive physical rehab to strengthen his muscles.

Fritz next practiced walking in the actual lab while suspended slightly above the floor. On his 20th outing, he finally took his first real steps on the ground.

Researchers hope to refine the technology by miniaturizing the EEG component enough to be implanted inside the patient’s skull or brain, allowing for clearer reception of the neural messages and perhaps the delivery of pressure sensation from sensors in the foot back to the brain.

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Eye Exercises Can Reduce Our Natural Blind Spots


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By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2015 2:05 PM CDT

(NEWSER) – Your blind spot could shrink using simple exercises, say researchers who think they could help prevent blindness and possibly even restore sight to those who’ve lost it. All humans have blind spots due to the lack of photoreceptors where the optic nerve passes through the retina. But we don’t notice them because our brains use nearby photoreceptors to fill in the gap. The New York Times reports researchers from Australia’s Queensland University used a computer monitor, an eye patch, and a picture of a ring placed directly into the blind spot to increase the sensitivity of blind-spot-adjacent photoreceptors in 10 subjects—admittedly a very small sample. After 20 days of training, the subjects had shrunk their blind spots by 10%, Live Science reports.

That change, while “quite an improvement” in vision, was not noticeable to the subjects, Live Science reports, though that wasn’t necessarily the important part. “The real significance is that our data shows that regions of blindness can be shrunk by training, and this may benefit people who suffer from pathological blindness,” says Paul Miller, author of the study. Miller says eye exercises similar to the ones used by researchers could help fight blindness caused by macular degeneration and could be combined with other new technologies to help people see again. (New technologies such as bionic eyes currently helping blind people read again.)

‘Unicorn woman’ appeals for help as rare condition causes horn-like growth


An elderly villager has become known as the “unicorn woman” after an abnormal growth on her head appeared to take the shape of a single large horn. (CEN)

A woman with an abnormal growth on her head that appears to be in the shape of a large horn has become known in her village as the “unicorn woman.”

Liang Xiuzhen, 87, of China’s Sichuan Province, noticed something resembling a black mole growing on her head seven or eight years ago, Central European News (CEN) reported.

“My mother complained about this mole-like growth on her head that itched all the time,” Wang Chaojun, Xiuzhen’s son, told CEN. “We found ways to cure her itch using traditional Chinese medicine, and then left it be.”

However, about two years ago, the mole gave way to a small horn-like mass that was about the size of a small finger. Xiuzhen then “broke” the horn in February but it grew back and a rapid pace, now measuring 5.1 inches long, CEN reported.

“Now the horn hurts my mother and prevents her from sleeping. It also bleeds from time to time,” he said.

Doctors diagnosed the growth as cornu cutaneum, a keratinous skin tumor that has the appearance of a horn, according to CEN. Doctors say they can surgically remove the growth, but the family is hesitant because of Xiuzhen’s age.

“My mother is old, and the horn is on her head which is a very sensitive area. I’m not confident [in the idea of] surgery,” Chaojun told the news agency. “If something goes wrong [during surgery], it would be terrible.”

Most cases of cornu cutaneum are small and benign, but it can become much larger and malignant.

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‘Dead’ woman wakes up screaming at funeral home


Prosecutors in Germany have charged a doctor with negligent bodily harm for declaring a 92-year-old woman dead, only for her to awaken again in a refrigerated room at a funeral home.

Essen prosecutor Birgit Juergens said Tuesday the 53-year-old doctor, whose name wasn’t released in line with privacy regulations, could face anything from a fine to prison time if convicted.

The doctor is alleged to have pronounced the seriously ill woman dead in March after a caregiver found her without a pulse and not breathing at a retirement home.

That evening, a worker at the funeral home where she’d been taken heard a scream from the refrigeration room and discovered the woman alive.

Juergens says she died two days later in a hospital from heart disease unrelated to the incident.

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Father, son lose lives to manure pit’s deadly gases

Father, son lose lives to manure pit's deadly gases

This file photo shows a hog farmer approaching the million gallon manure pit under the hog barn on his family farm. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

An Iowa father and son are dead after tangling with a deadly aspect of hog farming: their manure pit. Typically situated below a barn, the manure’s noxious fumes don’t escape easily, and the hydrogen sulfide— along with methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide— can be a deadly mix.

Unfortunately this proved to be the case for the second Midwest father-son duo this month when Iowa farmers Gene and Austin Opheim were repairing a pump and equipment fell into the manure pit.

Austin, 32, went into the pit to retrieve it but was quickly overcome by the fumes, and his father, Gene, 58, went in to save him, reports the Des Moines Register.

“(Gene) was carrying Austin on his back and bringing him up and he got almost to the top and he got overcome, and down they went,” says the sheriff.

The pair are described as so close they were “like glue.” Earlier this month, another father and son in Wisconsin fell into a similar trap when they tried to retrieve a broken wheel from a hog manure pit.

And in 2007, a family of four and a hired hand all died from fumes at a dairy farm. The tragedy multiplies when family members try to step in and help one another, one expert says.

In the Opheims’ case, fire and rescue were called to the scene and the men were both removed from the pit, and they were later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, reports CBS Local.

In his obituary, Gene is said to have loved farming, and always carried a tape measure, pliers, and pocket knife. Austin’s obituary notes that he married his kindergarten crush, Brandi, and leaves two children, Addison and Aidyn.

(Another recent death involving manure was more criminal in nature.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Father, Son Lose Lives to Manure Pit’s Deadly Gases

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Maryland 8-year-old is youngest to receive double hand transplant

A Maryland boy who lost both his hands to an infection while a toddler became the youngest patient to receive a successful double hand transplant, surgeons announced Tuesday.

Surgeons at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia told a news conference they operated on Zion Harvey for nearly 11 hours earlier this month. A 40-person team used steel plates and screws to attach the old and new bones. Surgeons then painstakingly reconnected Zion’s arteries, veins, muscles, tendons and nerves.

Zion appeared at the hospital’s news conference with his forearms bandaged, but his hands visible. He demonstrated his still-delicate grip and described waking up with new hands as “weird at first, but then good.”

“He woke up smiling,” said Dr. L. Scott Levin, who heads the hand transplant program. “There hasn’t been one whimper, one tear, one complaint.”

Zion, of Owings Mills, Md., outside Baltimore, contracted sepsis at age 2. The resulting multiple organ failure forced the amputation of his hands and feet; by age 4, he needed a kidney transplant, receiving the organ from his mother.

Leg prosthetics have allowed Zion to be very active, including walking, running and jumping. He learned to use his forearms to write, eat and play video games and has been attending school. Physicians hope he’ll now be able to achieve more milestones, including his goals of throwing a football and playing on the monkey bars.

“It was no more of a risk than a kidney transplant,” his mother, Pattie Ray, said. “So I felt like I was willing to take that risk for him, if he wanted it — to be able to play monkey bars and football.”

Several adults in the U.S. have received double-hand or double-arm transplants in the past few years. Hospital officials in Philadelphia believe Zion is the youngest person to have the surgery, which requires a lifetime of immune-suppressing drugs to ensure the body doesn’t reject the new hands.

Zion already had been taking anti-rejection drugs because of his donated kidney, which made him a good candidate for the hand transplant, doctors said.

Doctors say Zion will spend several weeks in physical rehab at the hospital before returning home. Two rows of relatives attended the news conference, and they stood to be recognized at Zion’s request.

“I want to say to you guys, thank you for helping me through this bumpy road,” he said.

The donor’s family chose to remain anonymous.

Children’s Hospital said it would not hold Zion’s family liable for any costs beyond that which may be covered by medical insurance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Parents give 5-year-old daughter visual bucket list after diagnosis

0731 visual bucketlist.jpg

July 28, 2015: Elizabeth “Lizzy” Myers, 5, gazes through a telescope at the Warren Rupp Observatory in Bellville, Ohio. (AP)

Parents of a 5-year-old girl in central Ohio created a visual bucket list for their daughter after it was learned she has a condition that will eventually cause her to go blind.

Elizabeth “Lizzy” Myers, of Bellville, was recently diagnosed with Usher syndrome type II, a rare genetic condition that causes hearing and progressive vision loss, and can result in blindness.

Her parents have between five and seven years to get her out and see things, particularly at night, her father Steve Myers told the Mansfield News Journal.

“Otherwise, it would be too late to do things like this (view the night sky) or catch lightning bugs,” Steve said

The parents have not made Lizzie aware of her condition yet, but they plan on taking her to attractions like the Northern Lights, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and Yellowstone. The list also includes looking at the night sky and sunsets on the beach.

The family visited the Warren Rupp Observatory in Ohio on Tuesday night and let her gaze at the moon and stars through a telescope.

Lizzy was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss more than a year ago. Her doctor recommended testing for the seven most common types of hearing loss, which all came back negative. He then pushed for genetic testing, which the parents initially denied, trying to spare Lizzy from more poking and prodding.

But now they’re grateful they went through with it.

“If they hadn’t pushed us for genetic testing, we would never have known what’s to come for Lizzy,” Steve said. “Then it would have been too late.”

The Myers hope their story encourages other parents to get their children tested.

“It was almost one of the biggest mistakes,” Christine said. “I don’t want another family to miss out on this.”

Doctors use 3-D printing to remove, re-implant skull of toddler with rare condition



A Chinese toddler whose rare condition caused her head to swell four times its normal size is recovering after having her entire skull 3-D-printed, removed and replaced with titanium implants, Central European News (CEN) reported. Doctors predicted the 3-year-old girl would have died without the surgery.

Brave Han Han, of Changsha, the capital of central China’s Hunan province, was born with congenital hydrocephalus, a condition marked by the buildup of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, this type of hydrocephalus isn’t influenced by genetic abnormalities or events that occur during fetal development.

In Han Han, the condition caused her head to swell by nearly 8 square inches and weigh more than half her entire body weight. Her large skull led to poor blood supply, severe pressure in her head and the formation of ulcers on thin portions of her head.

Although doctors warned that the girl’s skull could rupture at any moment, Han Han’s family was not able to pay for her surgery upon her diagnosis at 6 months old. Doctors estimated her surgery would cost between about $64,000 and $95,000, according to CEN.

Her single father, Chen Youzhi, worked to pay for the anti-inflammatory drugs she needed, but the little girl’s head eventually grew so heavy that she couldn’t lift it.

As the weight squeezed her opic nerve, Han Han’s condition was on the verge of blinding her. In September 2014, she became bedridden.

As Han Han’s family begged and borrowed one-fifth of the cost for her surgery from relatives and friends, an online fundraising campaign eventually raised the funds necessary for the life-saving procedure, which doctors described as “whole-brain-shrinking plastic surgery.”

When she arrived at the hospital, a CT scan showed that 80 percent of her brain had been filled with water.

“The first step was to eliminate the infection in Han Han’s head, after which we did a skin graft and inserted a shunt to help remove the fluid inside,” one of her doctors, named only as Dr. Bo, of the Second People’s Hospital of Hunan Province, told CEN.

After repositiong her brain and removing the excess cerebrospinal fluid, doctors used 3-D printing to reconstruct Han Han’s skull and implant the new skull using three titanium mesh implants, which replaced the entire top portion of her head. The surgery took 17 hours total, CEN reported.

Han Han is expected to make a full recovery, as doctors said her normal bone growth will cover the titanium implants to form a new, smaller top portion of her skull.

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Scientists figure out why the trip home feels shorter

Scientists figure out why the trip home feels shorter

In this May 10, 2013 file photo, a woman looks out at the view while hiking the Mines Run Trail, on Shenandoah Mountain, Va. (AP Photo/Daily News-Record, Nikki Fox, File)

Ever wonder why getting to your destination seems to take forever, but the return trip passes in a flash? Japanese researchers this week shed light on the phenomenon.

Writing in PLOS One, the team notes that “studies on the return trip effect have failed to confirm its existence in a situation that is ecologically valid in terms of environment and duration.” So they dug into the “return trip effect” by asking 20 men, ages 20 to 30, to watch two point-of-view movies, about 26 minutes long, featuring either an outbound and return walking trip, or two one-way walking trips on city streets.

The men had to verbally state each time they thought a three-minute interval had passed; afterward, they were asked to rate the films’ length on an 11-point scale, with -5 indicating the first was a lot longer, and +5 indicating the second was far lengthier.

Participants didn’t experience the trips any differently during the films. Afterward, however, those who’d witnessed the round-trips “consistently” found the return leg to be shorter, Vox reports.

“The return trip effect is not a matter of measuring time itself. Rather, it depends on time judgment based on memory,” Ryosuke Ozawa tells the Los Angeles Times.

Vox points to research that shows our brains track the passage of time using two systems, one mathematical and one language-based, with the latter creating “stories” about the timing of events we’ve experienced.

As Vox puts it, “It appears this second system was the one fooled by the return trip effect.” The researchers echo this, writing the results indicate “that the return trip effect does not affect the timing mechanism itself, but rather our feeling of time postdictively.” (When it comes to walking, how you do it can change your mood.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Scientists Figure Out Why the Way Home Feels Shorter

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