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Health Information In the News: Discover Rush Fall 2012

The 'smart' new approach to pain management
A new neurostimulator available at Rush uses the same motion sensor technology as your smartphone. But unlike any app, it helps people get relief from chronic back and leg pain.

Like previous neurostimulators, this one, the AdaptiveStim with RestoreSensor neurostimulation system, features a device similar to a pacemaker. Implanted in the spine, it interrupts pain signals en route to the brain from the nerves, causing the patient to feel a tingling sensation instead of a sharp pain.

The drawback to other neurostimulators is that patients must manually adjust the level of stimulation, using a handheld control every time they change body position. That's because when the person moves, the position of im-planted electrodes in relation to the spinal cord changes. When the electrodes are farther away from the spine, the patient feels less stimulation. When they are too close, the patient may get overstimulated.

According to Sandeep Amin, MD, a pain specialist at Rush, the RestoreSensor device is the first to sense and automatically adjust stimulation relative to changes in body position.

"It's like flipping a switch," Amin says. "Patients don't have to make frequent adjustments, and they're thrilled to be pain-free."

Air pollution may hasten cognitive decline
Most of us don't spend a lot of time thinking about the air we breathe. But according to a new study led by a researcher at Rush University Medical Center, the quality of our air may ultimately affect the way we think.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, indicates that prolonged exposure to particulate air pollution may accelerate cognitive decline in older adults. In the study, women ages 70 to 81 who had long-term exposure to higher levels of particulate matter experienced greater decline in cognitive function over a four-year period.

Particulate matter comprises all solid and liquid particles suspended in the air, including dust, pollen, soot, smoke and liquid droplets. Particles that are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter — one-thirtieth the width of a human hair — are called "fine." Larger particles are called "coarse." The study showed that higher levels of long-term exposure to both fine and coarse particulate matter were associated with significantly faster cognitive decline.

"If our findings are confirmed in other research, then air pollution reduction is a potential means for reducing the future population burden of age-related cognitive decline and, eventually, dementia," says lead study investigator Jennifer Weuve, MPH, ScD, a researcher in the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging.

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Discover Rush Summer 2012
In the News: Discover Rush Fall 2012

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