Health

Health

Battle-Tested Medicine

Dr. Allan Hawryluk was dreading the difficult hours ahead—his patient was on blood thinners, and bleeding uncontrollably following a tooth extraction. The Mississauga dentist knew it could be hours before the bleeding was brought under control with sutures and chemical compounds. Then he tried a sample of the new HemCon dental dressing. “The bleeding stopped completely and immediately,” he said. “I just didn’t believe it.” In the year since he first used it he has gone on to use the new dressing to stop bleeding in the mouth of a National Hockey League player who “was able to return to fight in the third period.” He now keeps HemCon in supply for the “impossible cases” he comes across in his practice. Since its introduction about a year ago, increasing numbers of dental patients ...
Health

Thinking Bionics

Robert Anderson dreams of the day he can once again look at a pencil and pick it up with his left hand, something he has not been able to do since he lost most of his left arm and his left leg in a helicopter crash in 2006. The wildfire ranger from Grande Prairie, Alta., has a mechanical arm with a hook on the end. In March, Anderson underwent nerve- implantation surgery that should make it possible for him to operate a revolutionary bionic arm. He is now waiting to see if the nerves have grown and will allow him to move the arm in response to his thoughts. And for that, Anderson will be very grateful, indeed. The state-of-the-art technology behind this development in prosthetics might not have been possible in Anderson’s lifetime had it not been for funding from the United State...
Health

The Sun Also Heals

Ancient Greeks used to pray to Apollo, the sun god, to stop epidemics and cure diseases. Turns out they weren’t far wrong: sunlight is vital to human health, as modern Canadians have learned to our cost. For a whole generation—on doctors’ advice—we have slipped on shirts, slapped on hats, slopped on sunscreen and shirked the sunshine to avoid skin cancer. We have cut back on eggs and milk to reduce risk of heart disease, and we have curbed our appetite for cod-liver oil, mackerel and wild salmon. We have cut ourselves off from the sources of vitamin D. Result? It is estimated that 97 per cent of Canadians are vitamin D deficient in winter and most of us have insufficient levels even in summer. Some researchers believe lack of the “sunshine vitamin”—so-called because our bodies...
Health

A Shot of Prevention

January can be the cruellest month north of the 49th parallel; it is the height of the flu season, during which up to one in four Canadians will get sick. Influenza and resulting bacterial infections kill roughly 6,700 Canadians each year and send 75,000 to hospital. And tens of thousands more become less severely ill; those with jobs will miss about three days of work, on average, and when they do drag themselves back, their productivity will suffer for as much as two weeks. So preventing spread of the flu has substantial health and economic benefits. Enter the annual flu vaccination campaign. "We know vaccination decrease...
Health

Pets Liven Up New Veterans Residence

PHOTO: TOM MacGREGOR Staff and residents of the Kipnes Centre enjoy visiting Ramsay, one of two trained miniature ponies at the centre. Veterans in the new Dianne and Irving Kipnes Centre for Veterans in Edmonton may have trouble explaining to their families that there is a pony in their room. But it's true. Trained miniature ponies have been added to the menagerie at the home for 120 veterans on the former Canadian Forces Base Griesbach in north Edmonton. Buddy and Ramsay are two house-broken animals bred for their gentleness and ease around people. Though they have their own coral outside the centre with a shelter, they are brought into the centre to...
Health

Access To Medical Records

PHOTO: METROPOLIS STUDIO Your insurance company wants to know if you've ever had jaundice. Your children want information about a blood disease that runs in your family. You want to find out if you've ever been prescribed a medication that's now making headlines for long-term side effects. Unless you have a perfect memory, you likely can't recall these sorts of details off the top of your head. So where do you turn? The most likely place to find this information is in the medical records maintained by your family physician and by hospitals where you've received treatment. By law, every health care provider is required to maintain certain informat...

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