In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

February 26th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Fit for the Fight Against Dementia

By In the Loop

SkierCrossCountry805The Birkebeiner cross-country ski race in Hayward, Wisconsin, is one that Kurt “Charlie” Steil has skied many times (24, in fact). He even finished in the top 20 in 1988, earning him recognition as his local newspaper’s Male Athlete of the Year. This year, however, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin, resident pinned the phone numbers of his friends and family on his jacket in case he got lost on the trail. The Leader-Telegram reports that Charlie was on a four-year hiatus from the Birkie (as the locals are wont to call it) due to health conditions that involved short-term memory loss. This year, as the newspaper tells it, he was “coaxed out of Birkie retirement largely by his daughter, Carie Steil, 28, a local physical therapist who is doing her first one.”

In 2012, Charlie’s friends and family began to notice his memory loss and the newspaper reports that he was diagnosed with “amnesthic mild cognitive impairment, or short-term memory loss, robbing him of his ability to go about his daily life the way he once did.” This diagnosis prompted Charlie to retire early from his job as supervisor of cardiopulmonary services, rehabilitation and diagnostics at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, where he'd worked for 26 years. [...]

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Tags: Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Birkebeiner, Dr David Knopman, Eau Claire, Mild Cognitive Impairment

February 26th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Playing 'The Aging Game'

By In the Loop

AgingGame805While there’s plenty of uncertainty in life, one thing is sure: Despite our best efforts, we’re all going to get older. And when we do, we’re likely going to have to make adjustments to the way we live and even the way we receive health care. Thankfully, respiratory care students in the University of Minnesota - Rochester’s Health Professions Program will be ready. (They’ll have our aging backs, if you will.) As part of their studies, they’re working to improve their understanding of the needs of elderly patients through an exercise called “The Aging Game.”

Officially an “educational collaboration” between the university and Mayo School of Health Sciences, the game is “a simulation designed to allow students to personally experience the losses that occur with aging,” Mayo’s Vanessa King tells UMR News Online. King is the Mayo School of Health Sciences Respiratory Care Program director.

The Aging Game, designed by Mayo’s Darryl Chutka, M.D., helps students empathize by giving them a taste of how the older side lives. [...]

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Tags: Mayo School of Health Science

February 26th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Quote of the day

By In the Loop

“Do not deprive me of my age. I have earned it.”

May Sarton, from The Poet and the Donkey: A Novel

February 24th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

A Gift From Within

By In the Loop

Young child in a purple dressLook at the month of March 2015 Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center calendar, and you’ll see the smiling face of 11-year-old Melanie Gates of Rochester, Minnesota. For good reason. In March 2011, Melanie’s life was saved by an “outstanding care team and 42 blood transfusions during a six-day period” while she was in Mayo’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, according to her mom Amber Gates. It wasn’t Melanie’s first time there, but for her family, it was one of the most frightening.

Even before that, Melanie was no stranger to blood transfusions. In April 2003, when she came into the world eight weeks ahead of schedule due to in-utero pulmonary complications, she received her first four units of blood immediately after birth. And at age 5, Melanie was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder. Because of this disease, Melanie is challenged by bleeding tendencies, as well as extremely low blood counts. By the time she was 6, she was dependent on red blood cell transfusions to maintain sufficient hemoglobin levels.

“I just recently looked at Melanie’s records,” Amber tells us, “and I counted 143 blood transfusions since she was born, with her most recent one happening last week.” When Melanie’s hemoglobin levels drop, she feels miserable. Her symptoms include headaches, fatigue and decreased body temperature, and she has difficulty breathing. “It is always amazing to see the ‘gift of blood’ flowing into her during a transfusion,” Amber says. “This gift from a perfect stranger improves her quality of life, and gives her back her pep and ability to enjoy being a kid.” [...]

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Tags: blood transfusion, Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center

February 24th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

A Parasitologist’s Perspective on Creepy, Dreadful, Wonderful Parasites

By In the Loop

Dr. Bobbi Pritt sitting by a specialized microscopeBobbi Pritt, M.D., really likes parasites. So much, in fact, that in 2007 – after completing a clinical microbiology fellowship at Mayo Clinic and while studying medical parasitology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – she decided to launch a blog called Creepy, Dreadful, Wonderful Parasites, devoted to sharing her love of parasitology. “I knew that I would be seeing a lot of fascinating cases at this world-renowned school in London, and I wanted to share what I was learning with my colleagues back in Rochester,” she tells us. So, she started her blog “as a means of sharing interesting cases with a small audience of clinical microbiologists.”

That audience isn’t so small anymore. “My audience soon expanded, however, as my classmates at the London school also started following my blog and began spreading the word to their friends and co-workers,” Dr. Pritt says. “I now am amazed to say that I get more than 15,000 hits each month!” While the reach of her blog may have changed, Dr. Pritt tells us her motivation has not. And that’s "to share my passion for parasitology with fellow researchers, parasitologists, pathologists, microbiologists, and infectious disease physicians who have a professional interest in parasites,” she says.

Dr. Pritt posts a new parasite-related case on her blog every week. A week later, she posts the medical answers to that case. Readers can post their best guesses to the blog or just wait until the following week when I post the response,” she says. [...]

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Tags: Dr Bobbi Pritt, Parasites

February 24th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Quote of the day

By In the Loop

"The only gift is a portion of thyself."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

February 19th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

A Surgical Outcome Put to Music

By In the Loop

gentleman playing pianoIt’s not unusual to see a patient playing piano in a Mayo Clinic lobby. It may be a little out of the ordinary, however, to see a patient playing a song as a thank-you to his physician. But music emanates from Mikhail Yudin, and when he wanted to express his gratefulness to Alberto Pochettino, M.D., for saving his life, he chose a number by Brahms that he thought fit the bill nicely.

Mikhail came to Mayo Clinic from Russia in January with severe aortic stenosis, secondary to bicuspid aortic valve and an aortic aneurysm, Dr. Pochettino tells us. “We replaced his aortic root with a mechanical valve and replaced the ascending aorta as well,” he says almost routinely. Mikhail’s daughter, Alena Yudina, who helped interpret, tells us that, “We are here just because this is one of a few clinics where they could do (the surgery) almost without a risk for his life. So we came here to save his life.” She looks at her father, not looking for words to interpret this time. “When we came, the doctor said there is a chance to live with his disease and his condition, maximum one year.” And with a catch in her voice, she adds, “So we didn’t have a choice. And now, everything has changed.”  [...]

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Tags: aortic aneurysm, aortic valve stenosis, Dr Alberto Pochettino

February 19th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

More Than a 'Twinge of Pain'

By In the Loop

BarnardKelly805At first, Kelly Barnard just thought she had a bad stomach ache. She’d felt “little twinges of pain” in her stomach before, she tells the Duluth Tribune, but it was nothing like the pain she’d felt just four days before Valentine’s Day 2013. “It was horrendous,” she tells the paper. “I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t move.” She called her mom, Beth LaVigne, who whisked Kelly from her dorm room at the College of St. Scholastica and drove her to a local emergency room. There, doctors told her something she didn’t expect to hear. “They said it looked like my ovary had basically exploded,” she tells the paper. Kelly underwent emergency surgery to remove a cyst from her ovary.

On Valentine’s Day, Kelly’s phone rang. Her doctors wanted her to come back to the hospital and had more unexpected news for the then 19-year-old: She had colon cancer, and it was “metastatic,” spreading from her colon to her ovary. “So, not the best Valentine’s Day, to say the least,” she tells the Tribune.

After her diagnosis, Kelly tells us that she and her family met with a surgeon who suggested they “take some time” to decide “whether to implant a stent and start chemo immediately or surgically remove the tumor from my descending colon,” she says. She and her family decided time wasn’t exactly something they could spare, so Kelly’s mom called Mayo Clinic to seek a second opinion. “They told us to come immediately,” Kelly says. [...]

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Tags: Colon Cancer, Dr Robert Cima

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