Thursday, June 18, 2015

Spring allergies abound – 6 tips to stop the sneezing

Akron General expert provides tips on how to find relief from allergies

The arrival of spring may bring warmer weather, but that warm, dry breeze also carries pollen. And for the more than 50 million American allergy sufferers, that means it is time to stock up on tissues and allergy medicine – it is spring allergy season.

Unfortunately this spring it is not just pollen that has us sneezing. "We are already seeing more intense mold-related allergy symptoms this spring, especially itchy, watery eyes," says Bela B. Faltay, MD, Chief of Service, Allergy, Akron General Health System. "This is likely due to the volume of snow that has made the ground very moist."

"The late onset of warm weather causes the different species of trees to pollinate at the same time rather than in a gradual sequence," explains Dr. Faltay. "Much like last year, it will also increase the overlap between the tree and grass seasons. For patients allergic to both tree and grass, this can be much more intense."

"Typically grass allergy season occurs later in the spring and into early summer," says Dr. Faltay. "But if the weather remains cool and wet, it may extend the grass season."

If you are an allergy sufferer, and all too familiar with the symptoms of sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes, Dr. Faltay offers these 6 quick tips to help find relief:

  1. Be prepared. Start over-the-counter and prescription preventative allergy medicines early to reduce or even prevent allergy symptoms.
  2. Break out your shades. Wear sunglasses when outdoors to minimize the amount of pollen getting in your eyes.
  3. Turn on the air. Close your windows and turn on the air conditioner (or heater, depending on weather conditions) at home and in the car.
  4. Know the pollen count. Limit time outdoors on high pollen days.
  5. Scrub up. Wash your hair after spending time outdoors.
  6. Get electric. Use your clothes dryer - don't hang clothes outdoors to dry.
What's up doc? Dr. Faltay recommends that you visit your physician if over-the-counter allergy medicine is not relieving your symptoms, or if you have to take them on a prolonged basis for relief.

About Akron General Health System
Akron General Health System, an affiliate of Cleveland Clinic, is a not-for-profit health care organization that has been improving the health and lives of the people and communities it serves since 1914. Akron General Health System includes: Akron General Medical Center, a 532-bed teaching and research medical center, and Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation, the area's largest provider of rehabilitation services; Akron General Partners, which includes Partners Physician Group, the Akron General Health & Wellness Centers, Lodi Community Hospital, Community Health Centers and other companies; Akron General Visiting Nurse Service and Affiliates; and Akron General Foundation.

Recently, U.S. News & World Report ranked Akron General Medical Center as the fifth best hospital in Ohio for the second year running. In 2013, the American Nurses Association bestowed the prestigious "Magnet" status on the more that 1,000 nurses from Akron General Medical Center, Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation and the Health System's Health & Wellness Centers.

For more information about Akron General Health System, visit

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Becomes First Pediatric Rehabilitation Program to utilize Esko Robotic Exoskeleton

Center for Advanced Technology and Robotic Rehabilitation Patients Now Using Ekso™ Robotic Exoskeleton
Device has enabled over 21 million steps globally

ATLANTA – In an effort to remain a leading specialist in pediatric rehabilitation, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is the first pediatric hospital in the U.S. to offer patients enhanced neuro-rehabilitation services through the use of Ekso Bionics' patented technology. Children's is incorporating Ekso—a wearable robot—or exoskeleton— into its Center for Advanced Technology and Robotic Rehabilitation to continue offering the latest technology to help children and teens recover from injuries or disorders that have hindered their motor skills.

The exoskeleton enables patients with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness to stand and walk with minimal assistance. Using motors and sensors, along with the patient's assistance with balance and positioning, the exoskeleton allows the child to walk over ground with an efficient, repetitive gait pattern, helping the body re-learn proper step pattern and weight shifts. The exoskeleton can provide therapists with immediate feedback from each step the patient takes showing how much work the machine is doing verses how much work the child is doing.

"Neuroplasticity is the adaptive capacity of the central nervous system to respond to repeated changes in stimuli, which it may do by reorganizing its structure, function or neural connections," Joshua Vova, M.D., Medical Director of Rehabilitation Services, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "In effect, it can help patients recovering from stroke, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries to learn to walk again, with a proper gait pattern which may help to minimize compensatory behaviors."

Physical and Occupational Therapists at Children's Center for Advanced Technology and Robotic Rehabilitation use technology to help children and teens perform important repetitive movements in different ways. This can help children with impairments build strength and coordination. It can also allow the therapists to work with patients on skills he or she may not be able to perform otherwise. Research shows that therapy with repetitive and random patterns helps the brain and spinal cord work together increasing strength, coordination, function and independence.

"We are excited to work with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to offer leading treatment options for many patients who best benefit from technology assisted therapy. Neurorehabilitation and the increasing importance of neuroplasticity is key to regaining as much of a person's abilities as possible and improving functional outcome, and it's a significant measure of our success to be a part of that," said Nate Harding, CEO and co-founder of Ekso Bionics.  "Working together with Children's is a reflection of our shared commitment to augment human capability."

About Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has been 100 percent dedicated to kids for 100 years. A not-for-profit organization, Children's is dedicated to making kids better today and healthier tomorrow. Our specialized care helps children get better faster and live healthier lives. Managing more than 870,000 patient visits annually at three hospitals and 25 neighborhood locations, Children's is the largest healthcare provider for children in Georgia and one of the largest pediatric clinical care providers in the country. Children's offers access to more than 60 pediatric specialties and programs and is ranked among the top children's hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report. With generous philanthropic and volunteer support since 1915, Children's has impacted the lives of children in Georgia, the United States and throughout the world. Visit for more information.

Photo caption: Chip Madren, now 18 years old, is approaching his five year milestone of being diagnosed with an aggressive, cancerous brain tumor that left him unable to walk, talk or swallow. Following years of physical and occupational therapy, Chip has regained his ability to swallow, talk and now walk. Chip is one of many patients now benefiting from the use of the exoskeleton in Children's Center for Advanced Technology and Robotic Rehabilitation. 

Bascom Palmer Researchers Discover Protein that Leads to Glaucoma

(Miami, FL)  A team of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute researchers have discovered the protein cochlin, most recognized in concentrated levels within the inner ear, is present in the eye and has an effect on glaucoma.  The interdisciplinary team at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine found that levels of cochlin, a protein product of the COCH gene, rise just prior to the elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP) in the eye.  An increase in IOP is a common precursor to glaucoma, an eye disease that affects more than three million Americans.

Sanjoy K. Bhattacharya, Ph.D., M. Tech, professor of ophthalmology; Jianhua (Jay) Wang, M.D., Ph.D., M.S., associate professor of ophthalmology; and Giovanni Gregori, Ph.D., research associate professor of ophthalmology, measured cochlin in experimental models and found peak levels of the protein precede clinical glaucoma symptoms. "The ability to detect and quantify cochlin in the local tissues of the eye prior to clinical detection of the disease offers potential diagnostic and prognostic value," says Bhattacharya. "This discovery paves the way for physicians and researchers to record levels of protein and lipid biomarkers in the eyes for progressive blinding eye diseases such as glaucoma." The findings were shared in the June 5, 2015 online edition of Scientific Report, a Nature Group publication.

Bhattacharya's research concentrates on the cell biology of the trabecular meshwork, an area of tissue in the eye responsible for draining the aqueous fluid from the eye.  An imbalance in the fluid can result in elevation of intraocular pressure, which damages the optic nerve and results in gradual vision loss associated with glaucoma. Vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible.

Wang, an ophthalmologist and engineer, develops state-of-the art imaging equipment that provides clearer images and detailed information about the eye.  This advanced equipment allows researchers to analyze and evaluate cross-sectional images of the entire retinal layer of the eye.  For these studies supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, Wang specifically designed and built a sophisticated optical coherence tomography (OCT) instrument combining two different approaches, (spectroscopic and magnetomotive).  This specialized instrument, available only at Bascom Palmer, was used to detect the levels of cochlin. Utilizing his mathematical expertise, Gregori extracted relevant information from the large sets of data that were sorted, analyzed and quantified for the study. Working with the Bascom Palmer team, were Ayman Aljohani, a clinical postdoctoral fellow and Teresia Carreon, a University of Miami graduate student in research.

The research is funded by NIH grants totaling $1.5 million.   The findings may be found online at:

About Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine – part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, is ranked the best eye hospital in the nation, as published in U.S. News & World Report.  As the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational facility in the southeastern United States, it treats more than 250,000 patients with nearly every ophthalmic condition each year and more than 12,000 surgeries are performed annually. To date, the Institute has trained more than 900 physicians, clinicians and researchers, many of whom now lead academic and clinical ophthalmology centers worldwide. With nearly 80 faculty members and 1,200 staff, the Institute demonstrates exceptional expertise in every ophthalmic subspecialty. Founded in 1962, Bascom Palmer has patient care facilities in Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples, and Plantation, Florida. 

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