Unintended Consequences

Grind for September 18th, 2018
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

– Henry Ford

A Real Headache

The Headline

CDC releases new guidelines for concussion treatment in children

The Grind

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) this month published its first official recommendations for healthcare workers treating young people with concussions.

The guidelines, which were released after an exhaustive review of current research, urge physicians not to conduct CT scans, MRIs, SPECT scans, or X-rays when diagnosing a concussion.

Instead, the CDC recommends three days of rest followed by a slow return to normal activities. The report highlights social and emotional support as well as the importance of proper sleep.

Research suggests athletes who continue to play their sport after a concussion will have worse symptoms and a longer recovery time as well as an increased risk for long-term impairments.

Repeated trauma can be costly and in some cases deadly.

The Background

Concussions are a real possibility for active kids and teenagers, who won’t think twice before diving for a football or leaping out of a treehouse.

Scientists don’t know a lot about brain trauma, but they have linked repeated concussions to learning impairments, mood troubles, and increased risk for degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Concussions sustained during childhood – when the brain is still developing – can be particularly dangerous.

As noted in the report, each case is different and treatment should always be focused on what the patient can handle. Physicians are urged to use combinations of various tools, scales, and cognitive tests to help young patients recover from a concussion.

Did You Know?

The Headline

Humans are using so much water that it’s actually increasing the salt content of our oceans

The Grind

Regions without adequate drinking water typically use a process called desalination to remove salt from seawater to make it potable.

The most common desalination technique is reverse osmosis – in which saltwater is pushed through a membrane that salt can’t pass through.

You end up with drinking water on one side and salty sludge on the other side. In most cases, the extra salt is dumped right back into the ocean.

The Implication

As researchers are starting to point out, all that extra salt could have devastating consequences for ocean life. And with four billion people currently facing severe water scarcity, it’s a problem we need to address sooner rather than later.

“Increasing salinity is one of the most important environmental issues of the 21st century,” says University of Southern California researcher Amy Childress.

To avoid harming salt-sensitive organisms like giant kelp and red abalone, researchers are urging desalination plants to dilute their salty leftovers with water that is clean enough to dump in the ocean but not clean enough to drink.

Such a change would create more work for desalination facilities, but would also go a long way towards protecting delicate ocean habitats like coral reefs and the yummy fish that live there.

Did you know… Flu shots only work about 70% of the time.