February 2, 2018


Georgia Health News

A Hand Named Skywalker

In a Georgia Institute of Technology lab, science fiction has moved to a galaxy a little closer.

Gil Weinberg, the director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology has developed an ultrasonic sensor that allows amputees to individually move the fingers of their prosthetic hands. It’s a movement that even the most state-of-the-art, commercially available prosthetic devices do not offer. Weinberg named his device “Skywalker” in honor of the hero of the ”Star Wars” saga who gets a fully functioning bionic hand after losing his own in a duel against villain Darth Vader.


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December 15, 2017


90.1 WABE

Pain Treatment, the European Way?

The opioid crisis in the United States forces physicians to focus more on alternative pain therapies, ranging from acupuncture and mindfulness to food supplements.

Dr. Anne Marie McKenzie-Brown is familiar with pain. Pain of varying degrees, stages, perceptions, types and sources. “All of my patients have chronic pain, some have muscular skeleton pain, some have nerve pain,” says the director of the Emory Pain Center, an outpatient clinic located at Emory University's Hospital Midtown.

And then there is the dark side of pain management - opioid addiction. More than 53,000 Americans died from opioid abuse in 2016.

Such staggering numbers have McKenzie-Brown and many of her colleagues studying new ways to manage pain. “We should consider multiple ways to treat pain,” McKenzie-Brown says, “and not exclusively refer to opioids as pain medication.”



October 25, 2017



Atlanta Experts Discuss Innovative Approaches to Antibiotic Resistance

The rise of deadly, drug resistant superbugs is one of the world's most pressing public health concerns.The dangerous development is driven by overuse and misuse of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, resulting in a dramatic increase of people infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria.

By 2050, 10-million people globally could die from drug resistant bugs, which could lead to a loss of productivity of $100 trillion. Experts from the fields of public health, medicine and biology discussed innovative approaches to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance during an Atlanta Chapter event of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ).



October 3, 2017


Georgia Health News

The Crowd as a Last Resort

More and more Americans turn to crowdfunding for help with rising medical costs, but the competition for sympathy can be tough

Maurice Tanner has some good days, but many more bad ones. On the bad days, he’s depressed and tired. “I cry a lot,” he says, in a soft, almost apologetic tone.

On a bad day, he sits in a rocking chair on the wooden porch of his house near Oxford in metro Atlanta, wearing his slouch hat and staring out at a gravel path that leads to a small road. He looks at the lush grass, the large oak trees, the neighbor’s mobile home and a gray propane tank.

In March, Tanner, who is 62 and tall, with a shuffling walk, was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer. The tumor has spread to his bone marrow and lungs. He also suffers from myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes severe muscle weakness, as well as from diabetes and epilepsy.

On a bad day, he wonders how much longer he can afford to be sick. That’s why his wife, Katherine, started a crowdfunding campaign for him on GoFundMe.com. “I thought, ‘How can we pay for all those treatments?’ ” she says. “Then someone at church suggested I give crowdfunding a try.”



September 26, 2017


Georgia Health News

Hipster Health Insurance "Oscar" may come to Atlanta

The New York based insurance startup, co-founded by Josh Kushner, brother of President Trump's son-in-law, plans to expand its footprint in the coming years.

Mario Schlosser is used to giving tours of his company’s headquarters, and he’s used to the visitors’ reaction to it.

“Everyone who’s familiar with the world of health insurance says this has a totally different feel to it,” says the 39-year-old founder and CEO of Oscar Health.

The New York City office is located in the iconic 19th-century red brick Puck Building in Manhattan’s trendy Nolita district. In a large, breezy loft with white walls, red ceiling pipes, yellow cafeteria chairs and a few ping pong tables sprinkled around, employees wearing large headphones work on slick, silver laptops.

Oscar calls itself a health insurance company, but it is really a technology start-up. Founded in 2012, Oscar has stirred up the individual and the small group market, trying to redefine what health insurance looks like in the 21st century. The result is an insurer that works largely online and is as easy to navigate as an instant messaging or music streaming service.



August 4, 2017


90.1 WABE

These Classes Teach The Kiss Of Life — Exclusively For Pets

There's a growing demand for CPR and first aid courses for cats and dogs. Veterinarians often have mixed feelings about this trend.

Summer is a busy time for Anne Blanton — and a time full of adventures for her four-legged clients. Blanton is the owner of Brookhaven Barks, a pet-sitting agency mostly for dogs.

Blanton often has to deal with the flip side of summer temptations, in Georgia particularly — snakebites and heat strokes, for example, and all the nicks and cuts that come with exploring the outdoors. "I want to be fully prepared for any type of emergency," she says.

That's why she decided to enroll herself and her employees in a CPR and first aid course, one specifically designed for pets. I dropped in on a class in Atlanta.



July 26, 2017


Georgia Health News

Hyperventilating reporters and badly strained metaphors

Can the health care bill be resuscitated? Is it in critical condition? Or is the legislation heading for a full recovery? And will all the drama be too much for us? A personal perspective.

By nature, health policy isn't a "sexy" subject. It doesn't hold the excitement or mystique of wars, foreign crises and high-stakes diplomacy. There's rarely a glam factor in analyzing the inner workings or Medicare Part B or the long-term impact of hospital mergers.

Health policy is dry, detail-driven, technical and — yes — complicated, as President Trump has acknowledged.

Of late, however, health care experts and journalists covering health policy have been working in the spotlight, not just for a few days or a few weeks, but for almost 200 days. Since Trump took office, he and the Republican-dominated Congress have tried to make good on their campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

The political results of the GOP effort have been modest so far. What's clear, however, is that the continuous debate over repeal and replace, repeal only, maybe rebuild and repair, or simply do nothing, has pushed health care reporters to desperately reach for handy medical metaphors, one after another.



July 5, 2017


90.1 WABE

In the Eyes of the Patient

Ophthalmologists are often among the first to detect serious diseases during routine exams

Only about half of all adult Americans get regular eye exams. That's according to the CDC. Yet a visit to an eye doctor cannot only improve vision. It can also save lives. Eye exams often reveal systemic diseases, some serious, like cancer, stroke, heart problems, and Multiple Sclerosis. Research at Emory and other universities even suggests that Alzheimer's may soon be detected early - with help of new eye imaging technology.



June 26, 2017



Deutschlandfunk / German National Public Radio

Filling The Gaps in the Safety Net

Charity clinics and community health centers are bracing for a major increase in uninsured patients, as efforts mount in the U.S. Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare. More than 20 million Americans could lose their coverage under a new legislation.

Atlanta, Ga. -- The waiting room at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic is packed with patients, each of its 16 treatment rooms is occupied. Whether it's a cavity or a crown, a root canal or an infected wisdom tooth, dentures or implants: The downtown Atlanta clinic handles almost every dental ailment.

It's a normal day in a not so normal dental office.

"The Ben Massell Dental Clinic provides free service to the unserved in Atlanta," says the clinic's director, Keith Kirshner.

Ben Massell is one of about 1,200 charitable clinics in the United States. There's always a need for their services, says Kirshner, even though the need fluctuates, depending on political and economic changes.



April 24, 2017


Georgia Health News

Cold Caps are Gaining Traction in the United States

Scalp Cooling Technology Can Prevent Hair Loss during Chemotherapy, but the Treatment is Costly, Labor-Intensive and Doesn't Work for Every Patient. And there are Risks Involved, Doctors Warn.

Emily Ferguson is happy when she looks in the mirror and recognizes herself, a slender and athletic woman with medium blonde hair cut at shoulder length. And she’s relieved that she doesn’t have to worry about how to cover her head when she goes for a run, or swims in the ocean with her three kids. Feeling and looking normal, Ferguson says, sometimes helps her forget that she’s ill.