Paraplegic walks again
A US baseball champion paralysed from the chest down in a car accident nearly 5 years ago has made history by standing and walking again with assistance, The Australian reports. Rob Summers, 25, of California can stand by controlling his leg muscles himself, and remain standing for 4 minutes at a time, when an implanted electrode is used to electrically stimulate his spinal cord. The case, described in The Lancet, appears to be the first documentation of a patient who had lost all movement after spinal injury recovering some functions.

Longevity blood test
A BLOOD test that tells you how long you are likely to live is to go on sale later this year, the The Courier-Mail reports. The test, which is being developed by Spanish firm Life Length, works by measuring sections on the tips of chromosomes called telomeres. Experts believe the $600 test can predict whether someone is likely to die prematurely from an illness such as cancer, Alzheimer’s or heart disease.

Bulk-billing falls
ACT residents with private health insurance are paying more for medical procedures than other Australians as GP bulk-billing rates in the territory continue to fall, The Canberra Times reports. Medicare statistics show that in the March quarter, only 45.8% of GP visits in the ACT were bulk-billed, down 1.2 percentage points. Bulk-billing rates in other jurisdictions ranged from 69% in the NT to almost 85% in NSW.

New stroke drug
A STROKE prevention drug that could largely replace warfarin would become one of the costliest medicines to government if federal cabinet approves a recommendation it should be subsidised, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Dabigatran (Pradaxa), which became available last week by private prescription for atrial fibrillation, could cost the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme about $200 million a year if the government agrees it should be subsidised.

Transfusion allergic reaction
WHAT you eat before you give blood may result in a severe allergic reaction in people who receive that blood, ABC News reports. A report in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that a 6-year-old boy who received a transfusion suffered such a reaction because three of the five donors had eaten peanuts the night before their donation. The child received the transfusion as part of his treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. He experienced a rash, low blood pressure, swelling, and difficulty breathing, but recovered following resuscitation.

Posted 23 May 2011

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