Are There Negative Effects of Heavy Weight Lifting?

By Michelle Yip

If you watch videos online, you may have come across some that give us an inside look into the world of weight lifting, or you may simply be into the sport yourself. Some of the videos even depict the strength of such athletes by showing them having the ability to pull small airplanes by their waist. Weight lifting has been one of the most popular competitive and non-competitive sports out there. There are various famous faces of athletes who are recognized for their high levels of muscle mass and are world champions for their abilities to train and lift heavy weights. It is well known that completing about thirty minutes of aerobic exercise a day with balanced meals is vital for a well-rounded lifestyle. Videos showing the lifestyle of a heavy weight lifter often depict extremely high levels of protein and calorie in-take, along with physical stress and excursion to the body to attain new highs on the body. So what does this stress do to the body long term? Can over-exercising, such as body building, lead to medical problems later in life? If something such as overeating can lead to diabetes and high blood pressure, what can over-exercising do?

As an example, Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for his bodybuilding career, in addition to his filmography and his political career. In his bodybuilding career, he has won many first places and several second places. He was a dedicated athlete who was passionate to sculpt his body, to say the least. That being said, his day to day life was focused on weight training and eating. According to an interview given to Schwarzenegger, the athlete trained twice a day, the first session being very early in the morning before the sun rose (typically 7am.). Many times, he would also train at the Muscle Beach during this time, an outdoor gym by the beach that allowed him to tan at the same time he trained. He had a few training partners and friends, including Franco Columbu. Those two would reminisce about how they ate more than three meals a day, where each meal contained everything you can think of. A typical person’s plate would show one meat or poultry group whereas, their plates contained multiple meat or poultry groups. Schwarzenegger trained again at the end of the day, aiming for improvement for his competitions.

Evidently, the regimen of a bodybuilder involves a lot of strain. So what is the biology behind bodybuilding? According the Built Lean, a website dedicated to bodybuilding, the three components to muscle growth include muscle tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress. Muscle tension refers to increasing efforts and mass over time to build the ability and stamina of the muscle. Muscle damage refers to lactic acid production, inflammation due to excursions, and the release of what is known as “satellite cells.” Such cells allow for regeneration and regulation of muscles and muscle groups. Finally, metabolic stress refers to the response of the body and its cells to cell stress and an excess level of excursion. Although this sounds detrimental and overall daunting, it is not. All three are experienced by everyone. For example, a person who typically runs two miles a day will undergo muscle tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress if they decide to run three or four miles. A person who typically bench presses ninety pounds will undergo all three if they begin to bench press a hundred pounds. Any increase, even the slightest, will lead to such a result.

With everything that is both necessary and unnecessary in life, the recommendation is moderation. We eat in moderation, we sleep in moderation, we take leisure (or we should) in moderation. This ideology goes the same with exercise. An article written by Darwinian Medicine, a site that strives for using and understanding genetics to better health and medicine, suggests that body building habits can cause “suboptimal gene expression.” Many body builders rely on eating very large amounts of food along with using supplements such as protein to help their work in training. The writer suggests that similar to how the body has a limit for everything, the body also has a limit to how much exercise it can handle and what is considered actually healthy. Placing large amounts of strain onto the body can lead to damage to the systems of the body including immunity and cardiovascular. The writer stems this belief based on studies and conclusions done on stress on the body along with understanding evolution. The diet and habits are also considered extremely different when compared to early people. Nomadic humans underwent long periods of time with constant exercise (running, walking, hunting, building, etc.) but such physical labor is not comparable to what a body builder does. There are also studies that support mental health and bodybuilding. A person can become obsessed with body image and develop a bad body image over time.

Body building has been a largely enjoyed competition filled field that both the consumers and competitors enjoy. Famous people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger have dedicated a majority of their lives to bodybuilding and entering competitions. Even today, social media is full of body builders. The Instagram Explore Page will contain a few bodybuilding users showing off their abilities. Although this lifestyle is full of excruciating hard work, such work may not be exactly healthy to the body. An excess intake of a certain substance will lead to negative result in the end. For example, an excessive intake of a high fat diet can lead to high cholesterol later in life and even elevated risks to strokes and heart attacks. An excessive intake of sugar can lead to diabetes later in life along with other health hazards. A regular diet is in need of sugar and fats, but the important part of bringing such macromolecules into the body is in moderation. This idea can be applied to exercise. A healthy lifestyle incorporates exercise but over-exercising leads to high levels of stress to the body. In the end, the research behind bodybuilding is limited. But it is seen that over stress to the body has the potential to lead to damage to the systems of the body. In addition, physical training aside, the abnormal intake of factory made protein supplements and other supplements to enhance results can also cause excessive strain on the body.


A Day In Arnold's Life: The Perfect Routine To Build The Perfect Body. (2018). Retrieved 24 March 2018, from

Leyva, J. (2018). How Do Muscles Grow? The Science Of Muscle Growth. BuiltLean. Retrieved 24 March 2018, from

Yin, H., Price, F., & Rudnicki, M. (2013). Satellite Cells and the Muscle Stem Cell Niche. Physiological Reviews, 93(1), 23-67.

Cherry Lam
Can Your Diet Affect the Way You Feel Pain?

It is no secret that the foods we eat directly affect our health. As we are almost three weeks into the new year, we can look back at some of the resolutions that we have made. One of the most common resolutions that people make is changing the way that they eat. Sometimes we do this because we wish to lose weight, other times we simply just want to become healthier. Either way, there are times in which we are enticed by fad diets. Fad diets are those in which are popular for a short period of time and often promote a certain gimmick, with one example being the promise of losing weight very quickly. Examples include celery juicing, which is what it sounds like, or the atkins diet, which promotes a low carbohydrate way of eating. Why fad diets are popular is understandable, as most of us want the best possible results in the shortest amount of time.

Generally, the main complaints with fad diets are that they are difficult to follow for long periods of time, that the weight you do lose may easily be gained again, or that they are simply not healthy and do not include all the essential nutrients we need. Therefore, it may not be wise to follow them. Rather than that, knowing simply the correct foods as well as creating proper health habits may be good enough. Some foods are better for certain situations. The example that we will write about is what foods to eat to minimize inflammation. While medications are often prescribed to prevent inflammation, it is also possible to reduce it by adjusting your diet. By eating certain foods, while avoiding others, you can potentially strengthen your body’s immune system.

Carbohydrates are important for the body, as they provide energy which the body needs to function. They are also important for your digestive system, as they feed the bacteria which live inside of it. The human digestive system contains many beneficial bacteria, collectively called “gut fauna,” which are not only vital to the process of digestion (they break down food our stomachs cannot), but also help bolster our immune system by outcompeting harmful bacteria. Thus, in order to prevent inflammation, you have to not only feed yourself, but the bacteria inside of your gut. The best way to consume carbohydrates is through whole grain, nuts, and legumes. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also an excellent source of carbohydrates, as they also provide vital nutrients which are not  found in normal grains. Fruits and leafy greens, in particular, contain antioxidants and polyphenols, substances which help prevent inflammation.

Proteins perform many functions within your body, though they are especially important for the maintenance of muscle tissue. The best sources of protein for your diet are those found in seafood. Seafood, particularly from cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, herring), will not only provide protein for your diet, but are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These substances metabolize into compounds vital for various bodily functions, such as blood clotting and the contraction of blood vessels. While cold water seafood is the best protein source for reducing inflammation, other light meats, such as poultry, are also acceptable substitutes.

Lipids, commonly known as fats, help the body store energy and produce certain hormones. While the human body does not need as much fat as it does carbohydrates and proteins, it still needs a regular source of fat. It is best for one to consume unsaturated fats. There are two types of unsaturated fat: monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat. The best sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, avocados, peanut oil, and most nuts. Polyunsaturated fats, including the healthy omega-3 fatty acid, can be sourced from cold water fish, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil. Sources of fat which should be avoided include margarine, shortening, lard, and any fried food. Such foods often contain saturated fats and trans-fats, which contribute significantly to the development of heart diseases and often cause excess inflammation.

By following this dietary advice, once can potentially reduce or even prevent excess inflammation in their body, reducing the chronic pain which they feel as a result. In addition to eating right, exercise is also important. Therefore, rather than following fad diets, consuming the correct foods that are best for the results that you want may be the way to go. You should also make sure to continue to commit to eating healthy for longer periods of time.


  1. Harvard Health Publishing. “Foods That Fight Inflammation - Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Blog,

  2. “Fighting Inflammation with Food.” UW News,

  3. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.” Obesity Prevention Source, 4 June 2018,

  4. Harvard Health Publishing. “The Truth about Fats: the Good, the Bad, and the in-between - Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Blog,




George Galanis
Artificial Intelligence in the Healthcare System

The modern healthcare system is rapidly developing with the integration of new technological advancements. Healthcare has always been seeking for more intelligent solutions to the many problems that it faces, and the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) is one that is on the rise. From general checkups to cancer, there are countless ways to incorporate AI into our healthcare system that will allow us to establish more accurate, effective and significant interventions at every specific moment in a patient’s care.

AI, in simple terms, is any function that a machine can perform by itself without requiring human assistance. There are a few types of computer AI that could help improve the healthcare system. The first one is the use of “human algorithms.” This process is actually not completely independent of human cognition, as it uses human-created algorithms as a basis for analyzing data and recommending treatments. “Machine learning” is another type of AI variant that relies on neural networks, which is a computer system modeled on a human brain. This type of AI can be quite unpredictable, even to the programmers. This system involves multiple probabilistic analyses, which allows computers to simulate and even broaden the way the human brain evaluates and processes data.

Just these two variants of AI alone can bring to mind various uses for AI in the healthcare system. In a country like the US where the doctor to patient ratio is 2.3 per 1000 people, using machines that have human algorithms based on a physician’s critical thinking and decision could help give a quick general diagnosis while also allowing to cater to more patients. Predictions of the various outcomes or stages a patient’s disease could face could also be made with the machine’s learning technique, providing us with information or possible situations that humans would have missed.

The 2018 World Medical Innovation Forum on artificial intelligence showcased twelve technological areas of the healthcare industry where AI was most likely to flourish in the next decade. One brilliant idea that was discussed on this forum was that of the unification of the mind and machine. It expands on how AI can help bridge the gap of communication between the doctor and a patient who has lost the ability to interact due to neurological trauma or something similar. This can be achieved through the use of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) that is backed with AI, which can help decode the neural activities associated with the patient's body. This could be a revolutionary way to treat patients who suffer from strokes or spinal cord injuries. Another interesting topic that was brought up in the forum was reducing the burdens of electronic health record use. Health officials are developing a new way to automate information into patient documentation, which ultimately saves a lot of time during a typical doctor's appointment. They are also planning on developing AI assistant applications that can request refills and schedule appointments for you: looks like Google has already gotten started on that one though.

An important point to consider however is the ethical aspects of integrating AI in the healthcare system. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine believe that the rapid growth of AI requires physicians and scientists to be cautious when evaluating and making decisions. Some concerns are that “human algorithms” would cause bias and that the machine will not incorporate the opinions of other experts. Physicians should also understand the mechanisms behind every algorithm and be able to critically assess them as well as properly explain them to the patients if necessary. Another ethical problem is definitely the lack of employment when “data becomes the doctor.” Not only medical professionals, but other sectors including health administration staff would also not be required as much.

In a nutshell, there are both pros and cons to incorporating artificial intelligence into the healthcare system. However, the innovations in health technology could make diagnosing and treating patients easier and more effective in the future. Ethical concerns should definitely be addressed and human resources and scientists should come up with ideas to still incorporate manpower into the healthcare system, should it ever feel like it might diminish.


Bresnick, Jennifer. “Top 12 Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Impact Healthcare.” HealthITAnalytics, HealthITAnalytics, 30 Apr. 2018,

News Center. “Researchers Say Use of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine Raises Ethical Questions.” News Center,

Pearl, M.D. Robert. “Artificial Intelligence In Healthcare: Separating Reality From Hype.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Mar. 2018,

Milaskha Mukhia
The Fading Physicians

By Gregory Belizaire

In spite of the daily stresses that plague us all and an overarching narrative that the world is coming to an end, the modern day is full of great new ideas and constant innovation, with new technological advancements every day leading to healthier, more prosperous, and more educated populations than have ever existed before. Speaking broadly, there has never been a better time to be alive with considerations to safety and health. With this unprecedented progress however, comes unforeseeable consequences. Better medications and more sanitary conditions lead to longer lifespans, but this does not guarantee an indefinite avoidance of medical issues. The median age of the United States has risen from 28 years old in 1970 to 38 years old in 2017, and considering the population increased from roughly 200 million to 325 million individuals in that same time span, this means there is a considerably higher number of people reaching elderly ages than ever before and at an increasing rate. Despite all the medical progress made thus far, the human body still has its limitations, and there are a multitude of new problems that arise in people that reach these ages. And unfortunately, it would seem that the medical field as it stands today is not equipped to adapt to this rapidly changing demographic.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, “the United States could see a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030, impacting patient care across the nation” (“Increasing Physician Shortages in Both Primary and Specialty Care”). This number is astounding, and only creates a projection based on an expected 11% increase in general U.S. population growth, along with a 50% population growth of those aged over 65 by 2030. These numbers do not necessarily consider many underserved communities, and if universal healthcare or a similar government program is implemented, this number can only be considered an incredible underestimation.

Fortunately, this is not a problem that has gone unnoticed. Ken Pham is one of many individuals that has proposed certain measures to combat the decreasing rate of physicians in the workforce. In an article on possible policy measures to deal with this growing issue, he writes that policymakers need to “reform the current system of graduate medical education” through an increase in funding for training medical residents (“America’s Looming Doctor Shortage”). On the aspect of education reform, the NYU School of Medicine has taken this idea to heart and now has granted free tuition to its students, incentivizing more applicants. In addition, according to Pham, there are thousands of medical graduates who do not match into residency programs following their graduation from medical school. This is a clear waste of the knowledge and skills these students have worked to gain, and Pham suggests that, “Employing them via provisional license and allowing them to practice under supervision would allow them to use their medical education, recapture the value of their degrees, and help to alleviate the emerging physician shortage” (“America’s Looming Doctor Shortage”).

While the healthcare system involves a variety of vital positions and key moving parts, physicians are the backbone of its delivery, and with the increasing shortage of them across the United States there are many problems to anticipate in the coming future. But with the increasing number of incentives, and its place as still one of the most respected and secure job positions available, perhaps it is just another temporary obstacle on the road of human progress.


“Median Age of the U.S. Population 1960-2017 | Statistic.” Statista,

“New Research Shows Increasing Physician Shortages in Both Primary and Specialty Care.” AAMCNews, AAMC, 11 Apr. 2018,

Pham, Kevin. “America's Looming Doctor Shortage: What Policymakers Should Do.” The Heritage Foundation, 5 Sept. 2018,

“United States Population | 1900-2018 | Data | Chart | Calendar | Forecast.” Kenya Government Debt to GDP | 1998-2018 | Data | Chart | Calendar,  

Cherry Lam
Posture And Pain

Many of us have memories of our mother, doctor, or physical therapist warning us to fix our postures. And they were right to warn us -- it is very important to have good posture, as back pain often results over the course of the day from everyday behaviors and habits. However, what exactly is posture? We often think of posture as a static position, but this is not completely true. According to, posture is the sum of dynamic motions, habits, and responses to things that make you less upright or functional, with one example being gravity. As such, it is difficult to “fix posture” as it is a compilation of your motions, of how you live and move throughout your daily life.

In order to improve our posture, we must first identify what good posture looks like. The following information comes from A good sitting posture involves having a straight back against the back of the chair with elbows at 75 to 90 degrees angles. Knees should be even with the hips, and feet should be planted on the ground fully. It is important for shoulders to be straight when facing the desk. An important note is to consider investing in ergonomically designed chair if you work a sedentary job that requires large durations of time sitting. This would provide proper back support and help alleviate or avoid back problems. Even with an ergonomic chair, it is important to stand up once in a while to take a break from sitting and stretch.

A good standing posture is something less thought about. The following information also comes from This involves standing with most of your weight distributed on the balls of your feet, with feet slightly spread around to be around shoulder-width. The head should be square on top of the spine, and you should be standing straight and tall, with knees unlocked. When standing for long durations of time, it is important to shift your weight from one foot to another periodically or to rock from your toes to heels. In order to understand what good standing posture looks like, you can stand up against a wall so that your shoulders and your bottom touch the wall. In this position, optimally the back of your head should be hitting the wall as well. If the head is not touching the wall, then your neck is going too forward. When walking, eyes should be facing straight forward, and the shoulders should be aligned with the rest of the body. Essentially, you should focus on good standing posture as well when walking.

A key underlying concept in posture, be it for standing, sitting, or walking, is that staying in the same position for long periods of time is not good for your body, even if it is considered to be good posture. As such, it is important to take occasional breaks to stretch and relax, moving your muscles and bodies to relieve stiffness. For example, if you are on a long drive, you should make sure to plan several stops around the way to stop driving for a couple minutes, stand up and walk around, and stretch your back and legs. The overwhelming cause of bad posture is often tense muscles, which causes us to pull our body out of alignment. Relaxing the major back problems can help ameliorate your problems immensely. Many people find chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation, yoga, and mental relaxation techniques to be helpful in doing so.

However, some studies seem to indicate that bad posture may not be the root cause of many of our physical problems. In his article, Paul Ingraham indicates that although posture is very important to our health and wellbeing, we may be giving it more credit than it deserves. He writes that the perceived importance of posture is far greater than the actual importance of posture, and that the problems with posture are blown out of proportion. Stubborn pains and aches are better alleviated by a good massage or some physical activity, rather than nitpicking endlessly on your own posture.

Naturally, we avoid many of the worst postural problems, as we will not willingly take positions that would cause us physical pain. However, we do not always avoid unnecessary stress, which causes what postural problems we may have. We may not want to work a 9 to 5 job in front of a computer, but we do. Posture is one of many causes of pain problems, but sometimes it should not be the first fix to make to alleviate an ache. For example, it has been proved that a hunched back does not lead to shoulder pain, despite what we have been grown up being told by our parents and doctors.

Good posture is dynamic -- it requires you to keep moving, not stay in one position for too long. We have become sedentary creatures, which often creates limitations on improving our postures. Often time, posture is the result of a long time, perhaps even a lifetime, of habits and adaptations, making it nearly impossible to improve. In fact, postures that cause severe damage and have an easy fix is rare. Although maintaining a good posture would definitely help improve physical pain and ameliorate your quality of life, it may not have as large an impact on our lives than we emphasize. Remembering to exercise and being in dynamic motion may be more important than having good posture. Your parents or doctors are not wrong -- maintaining good posture is important, but it should be done in conjunction with other actions to actually improve motor function and ailments.


Mary Yoshikawa
New Location + The New and Improved Genome?

We are happy to announce Dr. Karan Johar’s new office location at 993 Park Avenue New York, NY 10028!

By Young Mykhal

In the near future, your commercials may no longer be speaking about how to stop you from going bald or offering treatments for heartburn, but rather for a new type of advertisement - genetic editing. Why? It may possibly be to start preparing you for the advent of gene therapy, specifically CRISPR-Cas9, a process with the potential to cure genetic diseases. Now to say that this will actually be advertised soon is a long shot because not only is it expensive but it is far from complete. Regardless, that does not bar the fact that the advent of gene therapy is exciting, and it shows, as it is trending as possibly one of the greatest breakthroughs in medical history.  

Gene editing is not as easy as it sounds. The general definition of gene editing is that it is a process of going into your genetic code and changing how your genes are expressed with the usual intention being to make you healthier and curing you of any genetic anomalies. Take for example the genetic disorder Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a neuromuscular condition characterized by the wasting and weakening of muscles. What causes this is a defective form of the protein dystrophin, which normally maintains the shape and integrity of muscle cells. In DMD, this protein is not functioning properly, resulting in muscle wasting. It is a disease affecting about 1 in every 5,000 newborns, with males being the most common cases. Here is where gene therapy could come in. With the help the gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9, diseases such as DMD could be cured. CRISPR-Cas9 stands for, get ready, “clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats” and Cas9 is the associated protein that cleaves DNA. In short, this mechanism is able to go to a specific sequence in your genetic code and excise DNA, potentially curing people of certain gene diseases. Why is it taking so long though?

Gene editing is a tedious process and it is far from perfect. One wrong cut in your gene and you can end up with some pretty bad results. Sometimes even with the right cut your DNA could end up repairing incorrectly, causing even more problems. Scientists now are trying to perfect this technology to increase its efficacy. Although it is not perfect, it is not to say that it has not had its fair share of successes, with one positive result being the curing of a condition called Epidermolysis Bullosa. A team of medical scientists in Italy’s Ruhr-University Bochum have managed to treat a boy suffering from this skin eating genetic disorder with help from other techniques. In short, these scientists were able to change the genes of skin stem cells (cells that can form new cells) to allow the production of new skin cells rather than the broken cells created by the condition.

Curing disease is always a great idea to look forward to, allowing us to shift further from the genetic disease paradigm medical scientists face. However, some have thought of other ways to utilize this technology that may sound unconventional and debatable to others. Human germline editing has been proposed to give children physical characteristics we desire before they are born. Is this George Orwell's Brave New World coming to life? Possibly, but not quite. Now before we start creating supermen it is important to remember that germline editing still is not invulnerable to the imperfections of CRISPR-Cas9. However, trying to regulate the editing of human germline cells may be one of the most prevalent debates when gene editing becomes a common reality.

Everyday something new is being discovered by CRISPR-Cas9, increasing its application potential. It is too early to start trying to think about how you want to change your genetic code. However, you can still perform actions to live a healthier life, like getting screened for any genetic diseases you may have or will possibly develop in the near future. Being prepared is always a great option because in this day and age, you are now empowered with knowledge of your family history and other useful information. In time CRISPR-Cas9 will hopefully outperform its other gene editing ancestors Zelda and Talens, allowing us to triumph over the many prevalent medical and environmental issues we have today.


Bosley, K. S., Botchan, M., Bredenoord, A. L., Carroll, D., Charo, R. A., Charpentier, E., ...Zhou, Q. (2015). CRISPR germline engineering--the community speaks: Nature Biotechnology asks selected members of the international community to comment on the ethical issues raised by the prospect of CRISPR-Cas9 engineering of the human germline. Nature Biotechnology, 33(5), 478+. Retrieved from

Gladstone Institutes. (2018, January 18). Researchers create first stem cells using CRISPR genome activation: Activating a single gene is sufficient to change skin cells into stem cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 20, 2018 from

Ruhr-University Bochum. (2017, November 8). Boy is given new skin thanks to gene therapy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 20, 2018 from

Nature Communications 8, Article number: 14454 (2017 doi:10.1038/ncomms14454. Muscle-specific CRISPR/Cas9 dystrophin gene editing ameliorates pathophysiology in a mouse model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Retrieved January 19, 2018 from

Cherry Lam
An Overview of Scoliosis

With roughly three million new cases in the United States every year, scoliosis is a condition that we should be aware of. Scoliosis is the condition in which the spine curves into a ‘C’ or ‘S’ shape, usually in the area of the chest or the lower back, but not always. Often appearing in children, this condition may be able to naturally correct itself throughout growth and development. However, age and severity of the condition are two important factors that will determine if further intervention is required, such as physical therapy, bracing, or even surgery.

The symptoms for scoliosis differ for infants and adolescents. For infants, there may be a bulge on one side, preference to lie curved on one side, and in a more severe case, heart and lung malfunction leading to shortness of breath and chest pain. In children from around ages 10 to 12, common symptoms include having the head slightly off-center, clothes hanging off improperly, a shoulder or shoulder blade higher than the other, a tendency to lean to on one side, uneven lengths of legs, and asymmetrical ribs which are at different heights. While scoliosis can be linked to cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, or a birth defect, the causes are idiopathic or generally unknown.

Because of this, idiopathic scoliosis can be categorized into three groups-- infantile idiopathic scoliosis (develops from birth to 3 years), juvenile idiopathic scoliosis (develops from 4 to 9 years), and adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (develops from 10 to 18 years). Studies have shown that idiopathic scoliosis tends to run in families, and so there may be a genetic component to the condition. Two other risk factors are age, where growth can heavily influence development of the spine, and biological sex, where females are at higher risk for curve worsening.

In the extremely mild forms of scoliosis, check ups once every few months are recommended to track the development of the spine, but wearing a brace or surgery is not required. Bracing is a common form of treatment for scoliosis, with there being full-day bracing and nighttime bracing. Full-day bracing is meant to be for 16 to 23 hours a day, with showering and exercise being the only times that it can be removed. On the other hand, nighttime bracing uses hyper-corrective forces and therefore can not be applied when a person is upright, and should be worn for at least 8 hours a day. In general, there is no definite consensus on whether one type of bracing has an advantage over the other. Full-day bracing could be more effective because it is worn for a longer period of time, but nighttime bracing could be more effective if the individual has more motivation to wear it at night instead of during the day. After the bones stop growing during puberty or when there is no change in height, a brace is no longer needed.

A more severe form of treatment is surgery to reduce the severity of the spinal curve and to prevent worsening the condition. The most common form of surgery for scoliosis is spinal fusion, in which two or more bones in the spine are connected so that they are no longer able to move independently. Metal hooks, wires, rods, or screws are used to hold a part of the spine straight to allow for bone fusion. If scoliosis is progressing rapidly in a younger child, a rod that can be adjusted in length as the child grows can be implemented. The rod is lengthened about every six months, and is attached to the top and bottom of the curved region. This is a form of surgery that delays implementing spinal fusion, as it could leave less room for the lungs in a growing child to develop, and may cause the child to have a shorter trunk compared to limbs. This method prevents curve worsening, but a spinal fusion may be performed at an older age if still necessary. Potential complications from surgery can occur, such as such as bleeding, infection, and nerve damage.

Scoliosis is an example of a condition that has a wide spectrum in terms of its severity, as well as its forms of treatment. Interestingly, medication has shown to be ineffective when it comes to treating scoliosis. Instead, wearing a brace and having surgery are the two main types of treatment. As with all other medical conditions, early diagnosis is the key toward getting better.


Stephanie Chan
Color Therapy And Mood

Ever wonder why you can automatically associate a color to a certain feeling from just looking at it? This is because colors do actually give off a certain “feeling”. They are associated with different mental, physical, and emotional effects on people. Red, for example, can increase heart rate and adrenaline. While some colors have been psychologically proven to influence a change in affect, some may be subjective and can be opened to interpretation and perception between different populations or cultures.  

There are three categories of colors: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary colors are basic hues that cannot be mixed together to form and all other colors are created from them like red, blue, and yellow. Secondary colors are mixtures of two primary colors such as green, orange, and violet. Tertiary colors are mixtures of both primary and secondary colors, sometimes resulting in two word names like blue-green.

Color symbolism is the use of color as a representation  of something specific to a particular culture or society. While there is a general meaning behind every color, some colors can represent something totally different from its general meaning based on a culture. For example, the color white gives a sense of purity, innocence, cleanliness, neutrality and space. However in some cultures, like in hinduism, white also means mourning and is typically worn during cremation and mourning period of a loved one. The color black gives a sense of power, authority, strength and intelligence. But again, it can also mean evil or death and is also worn during a funeral. Yellow provides a positive energy representing happiness and optimism. Sometimes  it can also represent hunger and frustration. Green is a natural color that symbolizes growth, prosperity, good health, fertility and harmony but it can also represent envy. The color grey is a neutral color that means practicality and timeless. The color red gives off many emotions. It represents love and roman, but also energy, excitement, intensity and agitation. Orange always gives off an energetic feeling with excitement, warmth, change and prosperity. Blue gives of a calm and serene feeling whose color usually represents cold, wisdom, truth, and focus.

In color therapy, colors are associated with a person’s emotions. It is a holistic healing method that uses light and color to alter a person’s mood or health usually for people with brain disorders or emotional troubles. For example, since the color blue has a calming effect, looking at it can help reduce blood pressure; opposite of the color red. Our auras are represented by different color and intensity, and presenting colors to our environment can help with cleansing and balancing. It is believed that it is the specific frequency and vibration of colors that affect our bodily energies. We know that light enters through our eyes to create images of our physical environment, but it also gets absorbed through our skin. Certain wavelength absorption of light can activate hormones or enzymes in our body to make us feel a certain way. For example, shades of red give off a loving sexual vibration which may activate parasympathetic nervous system and result in increased state of arousal.

The psychological effects of colors are separated into two categories: warm colors which spark emotions ranging from comfort to hostility, and cool colors that spark emotions ranging from calmness to sadness. Some companies even take into consideration color schemes for their interior decoration to give off a sense that will make people need their product. For example, McDonald’s uses yellow because the color yellow increases hunger, making people buy their food.

So maybe next time you decide to repaint your home, it may be of importance to you to consider the mood you want to provide. If you want to create a state of two different moods, you can use secondary colors. For example, purple is a mix of red and blue and can provide a steady balance between stimulation and serenity. Intensity of colors should also be taken into consideration. A light purple, which includes the mixture of color white, can create a more peaceful surrounding, reducing the tension or intensity that can be created by mixing two prominent primary colors.

Walida Ali
What are neurotransmitters and what do they do?

Imagine sitting down in the doctor’s office for your yearly check-up and the doctor says

she is going to check your reflexes. She taps a reflex hammer to the bottom of your knee, causing

your leg to jerk upwards in reflex. “All good,” she says. But what exactly was she looking for

when she examined your reflexes? Was it to make sure your bottom half isn’t paralyzed? Or

perhaps to test how fast you can move in case of emergencies? Neither. In checking your

reflexes, the doctor is checking for a working peripheral and central nervous system. Essentially,

how well the signals travel through your peripheral nervous system (PNS) into your central

nervous system (CNS) from the point your leg is hit with the hammer to when you react.

The nervous system is upheld by chemical and electrical signals that transport messages

from one part of the body to another. Neurons are nerve cells that take on the job of transporting

the electric signals between each other. A neuron is composed of a cell body will small

projections called dendrites and a long projection called an axon. Dendrites, being close to the

cell body, are used for receiving signals from other nerve cells. The axon is used to sending

messages to other cells. At the end of the axon, where it approaches another cell, is the synaptic

terminal. It is called a terminal because it is the end of the electrical charge that passes through

the neuron to produce the signal. Electrical signals are sent within the neuron and chemical

signals are used between neurons and cells.

At the synaptic terminal, little chemical messengers called neurotransmitters enable

neurotransmission. An axon is often connected to a dendrite from another neuron in order to pass

the signal forward. That dendrite will then be called the postsynaptic area containing the synaptic

cleft. Here, receptors are found on the cell’s surface to receive the chemical signals coming out

of the axon terminal. Neurotransmitters are released when an action potential comes to the end of

the cell. These neurotransmitters are transported within a synaptic vesicle to the end of the cell

and out the cell membrane.

Once outside the cell, it is close enough to quickly bind to the receptors in the

postsynaptic cell membrane. The release of neurotransmitters into the next cell is completely

random, leading to multiple failures the smaller the synapse, such as those in the central nervous

system. Large synapses like the ones found between neurons and muscles (called neuromuscular

junction) are able to take more of the neurotransmitters. If the postsynaptic cell is a neuron, the

receptor opens ion channels within the membrane of the cell that changes the transmembrane

potential for a change in voltage. The receptor can inhibit (calm) or excite (stimulate) a response

in the next cell. The neurotransmitter does not stay in the postsynaptic cell, and only touches the

receptors for a bit, enough to pass on the signal. It is then released back into the synaptic

terminal, where it can do three things. 1) It can be taken by enzymes and metabolized back into

the presynaptic cell or 2) taken back up by the presynaptic cell through active transport in the

cell membrane or 3) diffuse to other parts outside the cells.

Neurotransmitters are the reason why our bodily processes occur so efficiently, and why

we never have to worry about not feeling a bug on our hand and process it quickly enough to

move our hands away (unless you don’t mind). They are the way signals are transmitted through

our bodies between neurons and work resourcefully to not miss its function. Neurons mostly give

off thousands of synapses, with some exceptions. Each of these synapses are sending

neurotransmitters back and forth. Now if you can imagine how many neurons and

neurotransmitters are at work while you are simply moving your eyes back and forth on this

page. Oh, what a world we live in!


  1. “Neurogistics.” What are Neurotransmitters? - Neurogistics,

2. “Integrative Psychiatry.” The Four Major Neurotransmitters and the Neurotransmitter


Naile Ruiz
Barriers To Healthcare in NYC

With the fall season in full flow, we can expect runny noses and pesky colds, meaning more trips to the doctor. Living in in a large metropolis like New York City, it is always important to address health concerns, considering the small and cramped spaces us New Yorkers find ourselves in. Many of us are lucky enough to afford healthcare, but how do we acknowledge and support those who can not? Unfortunately, certain barriers to healthcare prevent many New Yorkers from being healthy and it’s time to talk about how and why this is such a problem. On a larger scale, it is estimated that 28.2 million Americans do not have healthcare.(1) Considering the nuanced advancements in technology and medicine, it is unimaginable that millions of people can not access the help they need. It is expected that class, social identity, and education are three huge components of why health disparities impact millions of Americans.

One broad barrier to healthcare that we often overlook is class. Unfortunately, having money often means having better chances of being healthy. According to a 2015 report by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), 11.3% of Americans making less than $35,000 delayed seeking medical care due to the cost (CDC, 2015).(2) Wealthier Americans, on the other hand, are more likely to seek and receive medical attention. Consider the process of going to the doctor; health insurance as well as copays and medicine bills certainly add up. Combined with the cost of eating healthy and maintaining physical fitness, it is not surprising that poorer Americans struggle to maintain their health.  

Another key player that impacts health is one we can often physically see–social identity and status. Race, gender identity and sexual orientation are groups of identities which uniquely impact healthcare barriers and access to medical attention. For example, there has been a growing trend of oral diseases negatively affecting minority groups. According to a 2011 study on dental hygiene, non-Hispanic White Americans report better dental health than ethnic minorities such as Chinese Americans and African Americans.(3) Gender identity and sexual orientation additionally impact health. According to Dr. Nadav Antebi, social identity plays a huge role in health outcomes in general. Dr. Antebi focuses his research mainly on the role of stigma in relation to health outcomes and positive psychology. When asked about the role of discrimination and bias against HIV-positive individuals, for example, Dr. Antebi says, “HIV stigma may make HIV-positive people experience shame and guilt, which in turn can make them stay "in the closet" about their HIV status. Such feelings are linked to being at risk for a myriad of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and lower well-being.” Therefore, stigma and societal shaming of certain identities complicates the relationship between health and health outcomes. If people of certain races, genders, or sexual orientations are more likely to experience poor health due to discrimination and shame, health proves itself more complicated than we often think.

In addition to wealth and social status, education and access to information also play a critical role in the nature of healthcare. Simply knowing how to afford healthy food or how to prevent conditions such as sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy can save lives. The statistics do not work in the favor of the uneducated, however. Those with a college degree are nearly twice as likely to seek medical attention than those without (CDC, 2015).(4) Sex education, especially, is a critical method of preventing illness and poor health. Certain sexually transmitted diseases, for instance, may be prevented with the use of a condom. Using effective and safe methods of birth control promote health. However, millions of Americans do not have sexual education in school or at home and consequently demonstrate higher rates of unwanted pregnancy, HIV, and STDS. Educating both children and adults about affordable health management may be an effective way to improve health outcomes and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Although changing the infrastructure of the American healthcare system may seem overwhelming, it is possible to take initiative. Changing healthcare can happen at a variety of levels, ranging from government policy to actions of the individual.  Certain initiatives have been implemented in New York City to spread health education and prevent a multitude of health conditions. Just last September, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a program titled “Building Healthy Communities” which aims to ameliorate living conditions and health outcomes in low socioeconomic areas of New York City. At a more individual level, New Yorkers have the ability to improve living conditions for all by taking part in the community emphasizing collective action as well as community empowerment. Consider supporting organizations which help underprivileged groups, such as New Immigrant Community Empowerment, Planned Parenthood, and Coalition for the Homeless.


  1. Early release of selected estimates based on data from the 2016 National Health Interview Survey, tables 1.1a, 1.1b

  2. "Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey,2015.” Ftp:// Centers for Disease Control, 2015.

  3. Shelley, D., Russell, S., Parikh, N. S., & Fahs, M. (2011). Ethnic disparities in self-reported oral health status and access to care among older adults in NYC. Journal of Urban Health, 88(4), 651-662.

  4. "Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey, 2015.” Ftp:// Centers for Disease Control, 2015.

Caitlin Monahan
Stigma On Mental Illness Around The World

Just a year ago, I learned that my great-aunt had passed away. Before that day, I hadn’t even known I had a great-aunt. Allow me to elaborate.

According to the limited information my mother knew and decided to tell me, my great-aunt had been living in a psychiatric hospital for decades. It had been kept a secret, and no one talked about it. But she was there, living and breathing. Nearly fifty years ago, my great-aunt was diagnosed with an undefined mental illness. She was forced to quit her job, and her family, including her brother, my grandfather, made the decision to put her in a hospital. At that time, many people living in Japan were not well-informed about mental illnesses, and there was a general stigma towards individuals with mental illnesses. My grandfather and his conservative Japanese family kept her existence a secret from my grandmother, perhaps out of fear that she wouldn’t marry him if she knew. Only after my grandmother was married to my grandfather did she eventually learn about her sister-in-law in a psychiatric hospital. And still, the entire family kept silent. They kept the secret so well that her grandnephew did not even know she lived until after she died.

Today, people are more accepting and knowledgeable about mental illnesses. However, the social stigma attached to mental illnesses still persists. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies this stigma towards individuals with mental handicaps as “the single most important barrier to overcome in the community.”

Attitudes towards mental illnesses differ across individuals, ethnicities, and cultures. Oftentimes, religion can be a large influence that shapes a culture’s perception on mental illnesses. A society’s view on mental illnesses has a monumental impact on people with mental illnesses. If an individual with a mental health problem is living in an environment where mental illness is viewed in a negative light, he or she may be unwilling to seek for help.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the stigma societies hold toward mental health issues worsens mental health issues. Such societies inhibit suffering individuals from coming out asking for help, because they fear the response of others to themselves, once they have been labeled “mentally ill.” Because these individuals do not disclose their mental health, societies do not recognize how common mental health problems are. As a result, many individuals fall into a vicious, negative spiral of mental illness, feeling isolated, and afraid of being isolated.

It is believed that one out of every four people will experience mental health problems within their lifespan, and 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem. With more education on mental health and treatment, societies can eliminate social stigma towards mental illness. A study on patients with mental health problems conducted by the World Mental Health Surveys revealed that 22.1% of participants from developing countries and 11.7% of participants from developed countries experience some form of anxiety or discrimination due to their mental illnesses. However, the authors believe these numbers understate the true level of stigma associated with mental illnesses, as the data collected was evaluated only by mood changes and anxiety levels.

The difference in perceived stigma between developing and developed countries may result from a difference in education in the general population about mental health and mental health problems. However, stigma towards mental illness does not only depend on the society’s economic status. For instance, many Asian countries, Japan included, have a negative view on mental health problems. This may be due to cultural emphasis on “conforming to norms, emotional self-control, [and] family recognition through achievement.” In such societies, mental illness is viewed as a weakness of the mind, as an embarrassment. Because of the strong relationship between individual and family, an individual with mental health problems may be thought to bring shame upon their family, causing him or her to suffer from unwarranted guilt, worsening his or her mental health further. Even within the United States, there are cultural differences in the perception of mental health problems. In 2010, Carpenter-Song et al. conducted a study on 25 severely mentally ill individuals in Hartford, Connecticut. European American patients seemed more eager to seek from experts in mental health care, as they had biomedical perspectives on mental illnesses. However, African American and Latino patients often sought a less-medicinal approach to mental health problems. The latter ethnic groups perceived more stigma towards mental illness, and viewed medical treatment as “potentially very damaging,” and they were less likely to seek help from health care services.

It may be important to note that cultural perspectives on mental health care may be very different from the biomedical perspective. A study was conducted comparing the perspective on mental illnesses that Indian university students had and American university students had. Indian students were more inclined to view depression as a personal issue that could be fixed and confronted not with medication, but with social interaction and relaxation.

Attitudes towards mental illness greatly differ among cultures for various reasons. As a result, it is crucial to create mental health care programs that account for the many different perspectives of mental health among cultures and help individuals with mental illness through culturally-sensitive methods. This starts with helping suffering individuals understand that they are not alone in their struggle with mental health, and improving general understanding about mental illness and treatments.






Mary Yoshikawa
Anxiety Reducing Techniques

From a planner inked with an infinite magnitude of undone tasks to misunderstandings with a loved one over a text message, opportunities for anxiety are everywhere. And once anxiety does hit, it has this crafty way of losing its original context, making everything and anything seem as if it’s falling apart.

On a biological level, anxiety emerges from an evolutionary standpoint simply to put you into a mode of full alertness. Thus, there are both mental and physical components to experiencing anxiety, and all involve getting a person ready for the intensity of a fight or flight situation. So what happens when your anxiety fails in its attempt to change perceived threats, and still the anxiety will not go away?

Fortunately, there are legitimate techniques that can be employed, ultimately reducing anxiety and its debilitating impact. They also encourage relaxation, which ultimately leads to deeper breathing, a more stable blood pressure, a slower heart rate, and an increase in overall blood flow and oxygen to the brain.

Proper breathing is the most basic exercise used to reduce anxiety. The practice of deep breathing involves breathing from the diaphragm, which encourages the most and freshest air into the lungs. Sit with your back straight, let air in through your nose, allow your stomach to enlarge while your chest remains relatively still, and then breathe out through your mouth. Repeat for a few minutes, until you feel a sense of ease overtake your body.

The next relaxation technique is known as progressive muscle relaxation, and is often coupled with deep breathing for a more impactful anxiety-reducing workout. The process is meant for anxiety that manifests itself within the body in the form of physical sensations, and involves getting rid of these sources of tension by slowly relaxing each part of the body. The key is to focus on each foot, then each lower leg, then each thigh, then the hips, then the stomach, then the chest, then the back, then each arm, then the shoulders and neck, and finally the face. For each body part, focus on how that body part feels. The sensations within it and surrounding it. When you are ready, tense that area of the body. Imagine it completely overtaking you, as you count to ten with full tension. Then, switch to relaxation. Relax the body part, counting to ten again, and as you do, imagine the negative energy flowing out as the sensation of relaxation takes over.

The key to doing the progressive muscle relaxation technique correctly is realizing that when you are tensing the muscles, you are surrendering to the anxiety within that area of the body. In this case, you enlarge the feelings to then eradicate them, since you have gained control over that area by exaggerating the tension.

Like the progressive muscle relaxation technique is the surrendering technique, which works to reduce the anxiety by allowing you to not resist the anxiety. You are not against the anxiety. You do not have to fight the feelings that come with it. In fact, you can enlarge these feelings. Let them take over you until you realize they hold no true power. They are not as scary as they may depict themselves. There is no need to resist. You will notice the anxiety disappear when you do this, getting weaker with each second. Welcome the anxiety and work on honing in on it to then spread it rather than waging an internal war against it.

Next up is mindfulness, which strives for a calm and peaceful existence. As a philosophy, mindfulness is about living in the present. From each moment to the next. The key to understanding why mindfulness is effective is realizing how temporary everything truly is. No thought, no feeling, no concern, no problem is as permanent, pressing or immediate as it may seem.

The beauty of mindfulness is it can be practiced anywhere. Simply let your breathing anchor you. Focus on its rhythm as you breathe deeply and thoroughly. Let feelings, thoughts, concerns pass. They can come and go as they please. They are not worth any immediate attention to you, and are not worth any response nor judgment. Avoid engaging them. Simply let them come and go as you continue to focus on your breathing. Soon, you will realize you have less going through you mentally and emotionally. Now is the time to increase focus on what surrounds you. Look at everything around you in that second. Study it. Observe it. Be one with it. Your only concern is the present moment, and not any moment before it or after it, or any concerns related to those moments of irrelevance.

The final technique is visualization. Imagine yourself at peace in the most serene place in the world. May it be your favorite beach in a tropical area that you have not yet visited, your childhood treehouse, or simply an imaginary location, such as in the sky with the clouds and birds. Try to experience the imagery of the scene through your senses. Embrace the imagery.

If you are experiencing anxiety, try these relaxation techniques. Find which works best for you and for which situations. And know that there are always licensed mental health counselors available to work with you on finding your technique, as well as changing your thought patterns using a cognitive-behavioral approach and talk therapy. Anxiety disorders exist, and are treatable, so if the extent is beyond manageable by these techniques, know that seeking help will only lead to a more healthy and happy you. We all understand how strong anxiety can be, but relaxation techniques ultimately teach you that they are nothing in strength compared to you and the inner peace that is undeniably within you.

10 Body Parts Grown in Lab: Stem Cell Research Applications

Organ transplants are some of the most dangerous procedures to date. Requiring a long wait time and heavy medication, many are sadly unable to get the treatment they need. Research into the production of artificial organs through the use of stem cells, however, may soon put an end to this problem. By artificially growing organs from a patient’s own stem cells (“blank-slate” cells that can be turned into any type of tissue), the long and deadly wait for replacement organs may soon be over for many.

1. Human Skin

Skin was once of the first organic tissue to be created artificially, in part due to its relatively simple structure. By simply incubating a line of skin cells within cell growth medium, patches of skin can be grown in a manner similar to ordinary bacteria. This artificial skin is vital to treating severe burns and other permanent injuries to one’s skin.

2. Trachea

The trachea is produced by first producing a replica of the patient’s original trachea. This replica is made out of collagen, which is used as a scaffold for the patient’s cells to grow on. Cells from the patient are then harvested and cultivated, before being placed on the scaffold and allowed to grow. As the cells grow, the collagen will break down with negligible effects on the overall structure of the organ.

3. Liver

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai are currently attempting to produce an artificial liver that can be used to treat liver failure. The organ works by taking in blood from the patient’s central venous line, and then filtering it into four foot-long tubes. These tubes are embedded with artificially produced liver cells, which perform the same functions as the normal human liver. The processed blood is then returned to the patient through the central line.

4. Kidney

The “Kidney Project” is a joint-research endeavor by the University of California and the Cleveland Clinic to create a bio-artificial kidney. This kidney works by first drawing waste particles and other molecules through a silicon membrane. The waste then enters a bioreactor, containing live kidney cells which send water and salts from the waste back into the bloodstream. The wastes are then drained directly into the bladder as urine.

5. Heart

Similar to artificial tracheas, artificial heart valves are first crafted out of collagen, which acts as a scaffold on which the patient’s own cells can grow. The patient’s cells are collected, cultivated, and are allowed to grow on the scaffolding, eventually breaking down and replacing the collagen and leaving a new heart valve.

6. Urinary Bladder

A new procedure created by Dr. Joseph A. Smith and Professor William A. Bray is able to create a new bladder from the patient’s own intestines. The procedure involves the removing 35-40 inches of the patient’s small intestine, and shaping this tissue into a sphere. This artificial bladder is then connected to the patient’s kidneys and urethra, allowing it to function as a normal bladder.

7. Ear

Researchers at Cornell University have recently found a way to create an artificial ear from a patient’s own cells using 3D printing. First, a 3D model of the patient’s ear is digitally produced. This model is used to 3D print a mold, which collagen is then injected into. This creates a biological scaffold onto which cells harvested from the patient can grow, eventually taking the shape of a human ear.

8. Cartilage

Research headed by Jennifer Elisseeff has led to the development of a technique which uses engineered cells to replace lost cartilage in a patient’s joints. This treatment involves injecting a light-sensitive polymer solution carrying a payload of engineered cells and nutrients directly under the skin. Exposure to ultraviolet light will cause the polymer to harden into a gel-like scaffold, on which the engineered cells will safely be able to grow.

9. Bone

Researcher Ramille N. Shah has developed substance which stimulates rapid regeneration in bones. This substance is a mixture of hydroxyapatite (a calcium-based mineral found in human bones) and a specially designed biodegradable polymer commonly used in sutures. This mixture is used to 3D print a biological scaffolding, onto which bone tissue will naturally grow.

10. Lungs

Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School have recently developed a potential way of growing lung tissue in a lab. This was done by first creating a small tube out of a biodegradable material called PLG, filling it with stem cells, and attaching it to a lab mouse for eight weeks. Afterwards, the tube was recovered and was found to have been filled with lung tissue, which appeared to have developed tube-shaped airway structures similar to those found in adult lungs.


“Can We Grow Replacement Organs? A Survey of Current Literature.” Can We Grow Replacement Organs? A Survey of Current Literature | The People, Ideas, and Things (PIT) Journal, Office, Anne Trafton MIT News.

“Tissue Engineering: Growing New Organs, and More.” MIT News, 14 Dec. 2012,

“Understanding the Organ Transplant Waiting List.” Gift of Life Donor Program,

“Custom-Made Body Parts: Advances in Tissue Engineering.” Science in the News, 16 Mar. 2015,

“Skin Culture.” Biotech Hobbyist Magazine, Suzuki , Teruhisa et al. Regeneration of the Trachea Using a Bioengineered Scaffold With Adipose-Derived Stem Cells. Annals Publishing Company, 2008,

“Researchers Testing Artificial Liver as Potential Therapy for Patients with Alcohol-Related Organ Failure.” Cedars-Sinai, Posted 24 Jun 2016 | 12:55 GMT By Eliza Strickland.

“Three Ways to Build an Artificial Kidney.” IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News, 24 June 2016,

Colleen Walsh, Harvard Staff Writer |, et al. “Stem Cells Make New Heart Valves.” Harvard Gazette, 13 Sept. 2007,

“Procedure Creates New Bladder from Patients' Own Intestines (04/21/00).” Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 21 Apr. 2000,, 2013 February.

“Cornell Chronicle.” Bioengineers, Physicians 3-D Print Ears That Look, Act Real,

Beaudouin, Dave. “BIOENGINEERING A CURE: One Tissue at a Time.” JHU Engineering Magazine, 15 Dec. 2014,

“Promising Biomaterial to Build Better Bones with 3-D Printing.” Northwestern Engineering,

Gabe Cherry Michigan EngineeringJuly 28, 2017. “Lab-Grown Lung Tissue Could Lead to New Cancer, Asthma Treatments.” Michigan Engineering,

Alcohol: Can it be good for you?

From ancient Babylon to present day, human beings have enjoyed alcohol and other fermented drinks. Only in recent years have people begun to debate whether alcohol is completely bad for health or if it has any added health benefits. Without any research most people can tell you firsthand that drinking every weekend is not going to make you feel great, either mentally or physically. However, there have been limited studies that suggest alcohol in moderation, can provide some health benefits. You probably will no’t be hearing your doctor advise you to drink more, anytime soon, but maybe that glass of wine with dinner is not as bad for you as it seems. Before you take that to heart, there are a few things to understand.

Depending on one’s age and background, one’s idea of “drinking” can range from a beer or two to having multiple drinks per hour. Yet, all the studies that suggest alcohol may have some health benefits agree that the effects are only observed when alcohol is consumed in moderation. So what is “moderate” and what constitutes a “drink”? There are no concrete definitions as of yet, since “moderate” depends largely on an individual’s body makeup and type and “a drink” depends on the type of alcohol and perhaps the region of the world you live in.

Similarly, in some studies, “moderate drinking” may refer to less than one drink per day, while in others it means three to four drinks per day. For the purposes of the studies to be discussed, the definition of “moderate drinking” will be the point at which the health benefits of alcohol clearly outweigh the risks. The latest definition used by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans places this point at no more than one to two drinks per day for men, and no more than one drink per day for women.

The argument you may have heard the most and the one that alcohol enthusiasts like to cite most often, is that alcohol is good for your heart. In specific cases, there is some truth to this. Many studies have shown an inverse relationship between moderate drinking and the risk of heart disease (~40% reduction). Alcohol has been shown to raise levels of high-density lipoprotein, also known as good cholesterol, which in turn is linked to protection against heart disease. Drinking alcohol has also been linked to a range of benefits from producing better sensitivity to insulin as well improving factors that influence blood clotting. So, a glass of wine or beer once in awhile may actually benefit those who are at risk of heart disease.

Additionally, the potential benefits of alcohol extend beyond the heart. Research performed by the Nurses’ Health Study suggest that the risk of gallstones was lower in moderate drinkers than in non-drinkers. Again, the results placed an emphasis on moderate drinking as there was no benefit observed from those that drank more than four drinks a day. Another Dutch study showed that healthy adults who drank one to two glasses per day had a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes compared to teetotalers. Moderate alcohol consumption has even shown signs of preventing the common cold. In 2002, the New York Times published the results of Spanish researchers which found that drinking eight to fourteen glasses of wine per week (especially red wine) showed around a 60 percent reduction in the risk of developing a cold. The researchers attributed this result to the antioxidant properties of wine.

Furthermore, the way you drink is seemingly more important than what you choose to drink. Drinking heavily one day of the week and not drinking the rest of the week is not the same as having a drink per day. This is not to say that one should strictly adhere to having a drink every night of the week, but if you particularly enjoy having a drink with dinner or at the end of a long day, the emphasis should again be on moderation.

None of this is to say that you should or need to drink and if you currently do not drink, you do not have to start drinking for the possible health benefits. Conclusive evidence about health benefits of alcohol is not certain, and alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks. In fact, it is possible that those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have other behavioral tendencies that lead to healthier living than those that abstain completely or drink excessively. That being said, moderate consumption of alcohol may be of most benefit if you have existing risk factors for heart disease. However, there are a plethora of other steps you can take to improve your heart health besides drinking. For instance, eating a healthy diet and exercising have much more robust research behind them and are a much better alternative to hitting the bottle.

Richard Yoon
Staying Hydrated And The Dangers Of Dehydration

“Stay hydrated.” We’ve all heard the advice before, as well as all the promises and complications that come with it. Drink water to lose weight. Drink water for clearer skin. Coffee doesn’t count. It gets difficult to keep track of it all, especially when it is not always easy to distinguish fact from fiction. But proper hydration is nothing to be pushed aside, as it is integral to the body’s proper function. It is a good idea to know the basics of how much water to drink and why, so that everyone can accurately meet their body’s needs.

Eight glasses of water a day. When it comes to the amount of water we’re supposed to drink in a day, this seems to be the cardinal number. But how accurate is it really? The answer may not be as straightforward as it seems. For a long time, health specialists and scientists alike used the 8 ounce-8 glass rule as a guideline for how much to drink. This number originates from the year 1945, when the US Food and Nutrition Board recommended that for every calorie a person consumes, they also consume one milliliter of water. When put into context of the average person’s recommended daily intake, this rule of thumb yields (approximately) 64 oz of water a day, which is where the rule originates. However, this statement was widely misinterpreted, because many failed to note an important distinction; a great deal of this water is taken in through food, anyway. Though this may seem like an obvious mistake, the “8 by 8” rule stayed intact for a very long time, and is even still preached by some today. However, new research has recently been arising to further debunk this myth. For instance, Monash University in Australia conducted an experiment in 2016 which ultimately revealed that the body has a mechanism for controlling our water intake. Essentially, the experiment showed that when one is hydrated enough it becomes physically more difficult to swallow water. This finding called into question the 8x8 rule, as it showed the body is more than capable of knowing how much water to drink. Overall, there has been a shift towards this direction of thinking, and a good deal of experts now use the mantra of “just drink when you’re thirsty.” It is still recommended to drink throughout the day to stay hydrated, but every individual should simply listen to their body to determine what is healthy for themselves.

Now that we know how much water to drink, we come to perhaps the most important question: why stay hydrated? The obvious answer is that we cannot survive without water, but the question goes beyond this. Why is it that experts put emphasis on drinking more than enough water, rather than just what we would need to get by? There are a vast number of reasons for this, and far more than can be discussed here, but it is worth it to examine and understand some of the most important ones. For one, because water makes up a large portion of our blood, it is vital for the proper transport of oxygen and various other nutrients around our body. It plays roles in regulating the amount of sodium in the blood, as well as stabilizing blood pressure and heartbeat, to name just a few functions. If one does not drink a sufficient amount of water, these functions become much harder for the body to carry out properly.

For many people, though, staying hydrated is not so easy. And when water deficiency is very great, it is possible to enter the dangerous territory of dehydration. The National Institutes of Health defines dehydration as the state in which the body “doesn’t have enough fluid and electrolytes to work properly.” And while it may seem obvious that dehydration is caused by a lack of sufficient water, there are a variety of different factors that can lead to dehydration’s onset. For instance, people with Type 2 Diabetes are more prone to dehydration than the rest of the population. Their bodies try to flush out excess blood glucose through urine, which in turn leads to a quicker onset to dehydration if not careful. For women on their periods, hormone fluctuations may also lead to a greater required water intake, and for anyone that works out intensely, dehydration can become a danger quickly if water lost through sweat is not adequately replenished.

A variety of symptoms will warn a person if they are reaching the threshold of dehydration. First and foremost, they will experience a very prominent thirst. If one is on the verge of being dehydrated, though, it is important to drink slowly and over a period of time to regain water, as drinking excessively all at once can cause vomiting. A person’s urine can also indicate their level of hydration. Dark colored urine is more concentrated, indicating that a person’s water intake may be too low. Fatigue, headache, dry skin, and dizziness are also all possible side effects of dehydration. If you experience any of these and suspect that you may be dehydrated, it is important to slowly increase water intake, stop any physical activity, and avoid consuming anything that may have a diuretic effect.

Water is one of the of the human body’s greatest needs, but also one that we tend to disregard. Staying properly hydrated is central to our ability to function daily, and without proper water intake we risk dehydration and, in the long run, potentially severe damage to our bodies.

So, let’s raise a glass (of water!) to proper hydration.

What is the healthiest cuisine?

The 2017 World Health Index (1) released earlier this year, which graded 163 countries based on variables such as life expectancy, causes of death and health risks such as high blood pressure, malnutrition, the availability of clean water and tobacco use, resulted in Italy having the highest health index of 93.11. Over a third of the adults in USA are obese and the number is not dropping. This is a stark contrast especially with countries like Japan and India where the obesity rates are below 5% (2) . For a rich nation, Japan has extraordinarily low obesity. Apart from local culture, living environment and lifestyle, is the local diet an important factor to achieving such a high health index? The double-cheese pizza or the gooey lasagna, which are loaded with calories and fat can certainly not lead to the formation of what we can term as “the healthiest cuisine”. What makes a cuisine healthy or unhealthy? It is interesting to note how different cuisines are linked by similar ingredients and how specific ingredients help define certain cuisines, and how foods influence our health.

The Italian tradition of enjoying a leisurely meal is good for digestion. The star ingredients of this cuisine: tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, oregano, parsley and basil are what make it extremely healthy. Lycopene in tomatoes may be a protective agent for breast cancer. Garlic and traditional Italian herbs provide vitamins A and C, and olive oil helps lower cholesterol, fight heart disease and burn belly fat.

The distinctive flavors in Indian food from its array of aromatic spices are actually protective against some cancers. Turmeric and ginger help fight Alzheimer’s disease. The rates of Alzheimer’s in India are four times lower than in America. Turmeric, a main ingredient in curry, has anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Yogurt and lentils, which are commonly used in the Indian cuisine, have significant amounts of folate and magnesium, and may help stabilize blood sugar.

The Thai Tom Yung Gung soup made with shrimp, coriander, lemongrass, ginger, and other herbs and spices, possesses properties 100 times more effective than other antioxidants in inhibiting cancerous-tumor growth. The incidence of digestive tract and other cancers is lower in Thailand than in other countries. Thai spices like ginger aids in digestion, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and lemongrass has long been used in Asian medicine to help treat colds and ease tummy troubles.

The culinarily diverse South America’s traditional diet of fresh fruits and vegetables (including legumes) along with high-protein grains like quinoa. In fact, a typical South American meal of rice and beans creates a perfect protein.

The Mediterranean diet consisting of traditional Greek foods like dark leafy veggies, fresh fruit, high-fiber beans, lentils, grains, olive oil, and omega-3-rich fish provide lots of immune-boosting and cancer-fighting ingredients that cut the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases. A traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with a 25% reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, apart from losing more weight and feeling fuller on this type of diet, which is rich in healthy fats, than on a traditional low-fat diet. This cuisine also ranks high in terms of health benefits because of how it is eaten. The Greeks often share small plates of food called ‘meze’. Spanish tradition of eating the ‘tapas’ (small plates of food) is similar. The Spanish cuisine consists of lots of fresh seafood, vegetables and olive oil, all of which aid in better health.

Fresh herbs, lots of vegetables and seafood, and cooking techniques that use water or broth instead of oils, are the standout qualities of traditional Vietnamese food. This cuisine relies more on herbs than on frying or heavy coconut-based sauces for flavor, which makes it lower in calories. Traditional Vietnamese additives including mint, Thai basil, and red chili have long been used as alternative remedies for all sorts of ailments, while cilantro and star anise have actually been shown to aid digestion and fight disease-causing inflammation.

The traditional Japanese cuisine, especially the version eaten on the island of Okinawa where people often live to 100-plus years, is rich in antioxidant-rich yams and green tea, cruciferous and calcium-rich veggies like bok choy, iodine-rich seaweed (good for thyroid), omega-3-rich seafood, shiitake mushrooms (a source of iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and folate) and whole-soy foods. They prepare these in the healthiest way possible, with a light steam or a quick stir-fry. They also practice Hara Hachi Bu (eat until you are eight parts or 80 percent full). These simple diet rules may be why people in Japan are far less likely than Americans to get breast or colon cancer.

Authentic Mexican cuisine’s emphasis on slowly digested foods like beans and fresh ground corn may provide protection from type 2 diabetes apart from being heart-healthy and even slimming. A Mexican diet of beans, soups, and tomato-based sauces helped lower women’s risk of breast cancer, a study from the University of Utah found.

It turns out that countries with big immigrant populations like the US and Australia tend to have the greatest culinary diversity, the greatest number of ingredients and the biggest variation between dishes. This is mainly due to immigrants bringing their native culinary culture with them, which in turn makes the cuisines of their target country richer. It would be only just to conclude that no cuisine ranks above the other in terms of being healthy, but there are common elements across eating patterns that are proven to be beneficial to health. A diet of minimally processed foods closer to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention. Globalization (3) has played a crucial role to help enjoy global cuisines in their purest state while also consuming meals that are light, nutritious, and incredibly healthy.


1. 2017 healthiest country index. Kelowna Now Web site.

2. Bite" BW, "First. How the japanese diet became associated with a healthy lifestyle. Business Insider Web site.

3. Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL. Modern nutrition in health and disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health; 2012:1-3.

Sports Related Injuries in Pediatrics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 38 million children participate in sports in the United States. Of these children, more than 2.6 million adolescents (aged 19 years or younger) are treated in emergency departments annually from sports related injuries. These types of injuries are the most common cause of musculoskeletal injuries in children treated in emergency departments. While the most frequent types of injuries are strains or sprains, other commonly encountered injuries range from scrapes and bruises to serious brain and spinal cord injuries such as concussions. Sports related injuries among adolescents is an especially important topic that deserves special attention due to the specific risk factors that are associated with their younger age.

Sprains and strains are the most common injuries that are encountered in children who participate in some type of sport. Sprains are a result of an injury to a ligament, the bands of fibrous tissues that connect bones at a joint. These injuries can occur when one lands on the side of their foot or twists their knee when the foot is still planted, or for a variety of other reasons. The other type of common injury is a strain which involves an injury to either a muscle or tendon, which is the tissue that connects muscle to bone. Strained muscles might occur when one returns to a sport after having taken a long time off or can be caused by injuries such as twisting one’s ankle for example. While sprains and strains are by far the most common types of injuries seen among young athletes, they are in most cases the simplest to treat.

On the other hand, growth plate injuries as a result of sports accidents are considered more serious and are a unique risk factor that is specifically associated with younger athletes. Growth plates are areas of developing tissues at the end of long bones that are present in growing children and adolescents. As children age, the growth plate is gradually replaced by solid bone.  If any of these associated areas become injured, it can lead to misshapen bones or limbs in the most extreme cases. Fortunately, these are rare and in most cases with the right attention and treatment, growth plate injuries can be treated with no permanent damage. Still, before growth is complete, the growth plates are at risk of fractures which pose a larger risk to children than to adults, whose bones have finished growing.

The most serious sports related injuries are injuries to the brain or spinal cord and should be paid the closest attention. Concussions are a common example in sports, especially contact sports such as football or even soccer. A concussion is an injury to the brain that changes its functioning, usually temporarily. Symptoms manifest in the athlete showing signs of confusion, dizziness, headaches, unsteadiness, and nausea following the accident. While these injuries are most commonly associated with blows to the head, it can also result from the head and upper body being violently shaken. Furthermore, concussions in kids are different than concussions sustained by adults. While in most cases injuries heal faster in kids than adults, studies show that healing rates for concussions sustained by kids are slower than those of adults. Also, children are at a greater risk of suffering a second, more serious injury if the first concussion isn’t fully allowed to heal and can sustain a second concussion from a lesser impact than is generally required to produce one. Repetitive brain trauma, especially starting from an early age can lead to more serious issues later in life. While most mild concussions should heal on their own over time, the biggest mistake made by young athletes, coaches, or parents is trying to return to activity too soon. Thus, with these types of injuries it is best to be especially cautious and to routinely consult with a medical professional.

Sports related injuries in adolescents is common and luckily younger athletes tend to bounce back from mild injuries more quickly than the average adult. However, preventing sports injuries are just as, if not more, important than treating them. There are many ways children can participate in sports in a safe and exciting environment and perhaps avoid any injury. For one, it is advised that children be in enrolled in organized sports through schools or community clubs that are properly maintained and staffed. In addition, it is important that young athletes make sure to use proper equipment, make a habit of warming-up and cooling-down as well as stay hydrated at all times. Conditioning and strengthening muscles is also a good preventative measure to keep your body ready for intense physical activity. Learning the proper technique and fundamentals for any given sport is also recommended to prevent any injuries. However, at times it might not be possible to prevent an injury from happening as any sport carries some potential for injury. Thus, if an accident does occur, it is imperative that athletes do not try to play through the pain. For soft tissue injuries such as a sprain or strain, athletes may follow the R.I.C.E procedure (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). First, reduce use of the injured area for at least 48 hours. Next, ice the area for 20 minutes at a time about 4 to 8 times a day. Use elastic wraps, casts, or splints that can be used to compress an injured area which will reduce swelling. Finally, keep the area elevated above the level of the heart to decrease swelling. For more severe injuries it may be necessary to seek professional treatment.

The nature of sports makes injuries inevitable at times, but that should not stop you from enrolling your child in sports or encouraging them to pursue an active lifestyle. The effects of exercise range far and wide and have been shown to reduce chances of obesity and diabetes as well as helping children build social skills. It also acts as an early step towards teaching kids how to work in teams and can provide many life skills that they can carry with them into their adult lives. By taking the preventative measures mentioned above and teaching young athletes safe habits prior to, during, and post training, injuries can be kept to a minimum as they enjoy leading an active lifestyle.

Motivation for Headaches

In daily life, it is typical for people to experience facial pain or headaches and come to the immediate conclusion that they are experiencing a headache. They are bothersome and can disturb daily function and impact our attention and focus. However, many of us are experiencing headaches at different locations of the head, with different intensities, and from different causes.  People that experience the common headache feel pain that is dull and located on both sides of the head.

Primary headaches are those that occur independently, coming from structures such as blood vessels, muscles, and nerves or differences in chemical activity in the brain. Secondary headaches, on the other hand, occur due to the patient’s supplementary conditions. The most common primary headache is a tension-type headache which is a squeezing feeling on the head or neck due to the tightening of muscles often caused by stress, anxiety, and fatigue. The mild discomfort is usually on both sides of the head. The duration can vary from minutes to several days but vision, balance, and strength are not affected, which makes tension-type headaches distinct from migraines, another primary headache. Migraines are associated with a throbbing pain on a particular side of the head. They can affect vision, induce light-headedness, and cause nausea. They can last at least a couple hours or a maximum of 2 to 3 days. Another primary headache, the cluster headache, affects one side of the head as well but the pain tends to be sharper. Cluster headaches have more physical attributes such as swelling in eyelid or forehead, drooping eyelids and small pupils, and a runny and stuffy nose. They can occur several times a day.

Secondary headaches on the other hand have a further cause to the pain induced on the nerves of the head. Examples of such causes are alcohol intake, blood clots, concussion, taking pain medication, and panic attacks.

Depending on the severity and recurrence of the headache different approaches may be taken to relieve pain. Professional help may not necessarily be needed as home remedies may be sufficient enough to alleviate the pain.  One can use a heat pack or ice pack for the head or neck. Health meals that do not lead to high blood sugar and regular exercise are encouraged. Because stress is one of the leading causes of primary headache, it is imperative that additional stressors are avoided and that one rests more. To diagnose a headache and prevent further complications, blood tests, sinus x-rays, and brain scans (CT and MRI) are utilized and typically medication is prescribed by the doctor. Different mediation includes abortive (those that target receptors in nerves), rescue medicines (pain relievers), and preventive medicines (help deal with the initial point of headaches.) Typical types of medication to help with pain relief are tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin receptor agonists, anti-epileptic drugs, and beta-blockers.

Not everyone experiences the same kind of headaches – some can become severe, some can become chronic. Although it may be “just a headache,” you needn’t suffer through the pain. It is imperative that a headache-sufferer looks into their options. Once you rid yourself of the pain, you’d be surprised at how much more of your life you can enjoy.


Rachanne Nabong
Insurance Hardball

Despite all the effort and commotion in Washington, D.C. over the last few months, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – or “Obamacare” – is still in place. This is not to say, however, that coverage under the ACA will remain the same going forward. In the absence of necessary reform and amidst general uncertainty regarding legislation and budgeting, states and insurers are playing hardball with health insurance. What does that mean for the rest of us? Today, we’ll review some of these recent developments in the ACA marketplace to better prepare for what may lie ahead.

You may have seen headlines here and there: “Major Obamacare insurer pulls out of Ohio,” “From Anthem to Aetna, major health insurers are leaving ObamaCare,” “These 5 places will be hardest hit by those leaving the ACA,” and so on. The reason these companies are leaving state ACA marketplaces is simple. They aren’t making as much money on their investments as they could be elsewhere, and in some cases they aren’t making money at all. One such case can be seen in Alabama, where Blue Cross Blue Shield is spending $1.20 for every $1.00 it collects in premiums. Obviously, this is an unsustainable model. Yet the threats to insurers’ bottom lines continue: cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), a type of federal reimbursement that effectively allows insurance providers to reduce medical expenses for people with lower incomes, are on thin legal ice that the recent presidential administration could break at any time. If funds for CSRs disappear, providers will have even less incentive to insure those with lower incomes. Even providers that profit in the ACA marketplace under the current system would stand to lose a great deal of money due to the importance of CSRs. Faced with this potential scenario, many companies are raising their premiums while others are packing up and abandoning the ACA marketplace in favor of more profitable ventures.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has made his stance on this type of behavior very clear. In June, he announced that any providers that withdraw from the ACA marketplace will be banned from all other state health programs, such as Child Health Plus and Medicaid. In making this announcement, Governor Cuomo signaled that he was willing to play hardball with insurance providers by speaking their language – money. Banning providers from all programs if they withdraw from one may seem more like a petty swipe than a calculated strategy, but it is important to understand that those other state health programs are generally very profitable for the companies involved. So profitable, in fact, that companies complaining about ACA unsustainability often turn around and beg to service Medicaid in the same breath. By threatening their access to the massive profit to be had in serving New York residents, Governor Cuomo was able to effectively rein in any providers considering leaving the ACA marketplace. In his announcement, he asserted that “the people of New York will not have to worry about losing access to the quality medical care they need and deserve,” and he was correct. Compared to other states, the New York ACA exchange has been more stable and seen fewer insurer dropouts. Note, of course, that he made no such promise about preventing premiums from increasing. Such is the nature of insurance hardball.

So what should we expect going forward? Unfortunately, there are likely to be hefty premium increases across the board in our future. While the ultimate fate of CSRs remains in question, the legal case has been put on hold, effectively maintaining the status quo until the end of the year. Until a reasonable and fiscally sound alternative to the ACA is proposed and passed, uncertainty among providers could leave more counties “bare” (without any insurance plans available on the ACA marketplace) as they withdraw in increasing numbers. For this reason, it is important that you look over your health insurance plan and ensure that you are adequately covered, or begin looking into alternatives immediately if you are in an affected area. Below, you can see a list of companies that are known to be withdrawing or are publicly considering withdrawing from the ACA marketplace in some capacity. As we are currently in the season where providers are announcing whether they plan to participate in the ACA exchange, this list may not be complete or fully up-to-date. Speak with a representative from your provider if you are unsure.

  • Aetna

  • Anthem

  • Humana

  • Medica

  • Minuteman Health

  • Molina Healthcare

  • Harken Health Insurance

  • Wellmark

NYC Pain Specialists offers full out-of-network insurance benefits, and most policies reimburse patients for most of the cost of surgery. Our surgical coordinator will be happy to help you with a quote. Similarly, our patient coordinator can explain our financing plans and help you apply. We offer financing through Advance Care Card, and often can have an answer from the financing company by the time you complete your consultation with our medical staff.

Jonathan Arthur
Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries are a common type of shoulder injury, especially among athletes or those with jobs that require physical labor. Chances are, you know someone who has experienced a rotator cuff injury--you may have experienced it yourself to some degree.

If you are a sports fan, you may have heard of your favorite player being taken out of the season due to a rotator cuff injury. While they can certainly be severe in nature, rotator cuff injuries can also be minor and can occur due to a variety of reasons both on and off the field. For instance, one can sustain a rotator cuff injury from playing football for many years or even due to reaching out to break a fall and landing on one’s arm. The major cause for rotator cuff injury, however, is simple wear and tear of over years of use or repetitive movement involving the shoulder. In any case, the first step to the path of recovery is to understand the rotator cuff itself. The next step, not any less important, is to employ the good habits learned in physical therapy as a means to recover and maintain a healthy shoulder.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. It plays a stabilizing role for the shoulder joint and is responsible for the lifting and rotation of your arms. Oftentimes doctors may tell you to imagine the head of the upper arm bone as a golf ball and the shoulder blade as a golf tee. This should help you visualize the versatility that the shoulder joint is capable of handling. In addition, the rotator cuff acts as a sleeve of sorts, as it can enable the “ball” to spin and roll while remaining attached to the tee.

Two main type of rotator cuff injuries exist: impingements and tears. The main difference is that while a tear is due to an actual tear to the muscle itself, an impingement is due to the rotator cuff muscle swelling and causing pinching between the arm and shoulder bones. These types of injuries can alternatively be classified as acute or chronic. An acute injury is classified as a tear or strain in the rotator cuff that results from a single event such as falling, while a chronic injury is the result of overuse and fatigue, often seen in elderly patients and athletes. Acute injuries are more likely to recover in a shorter time period when given sufficient rest and treatment, though chronic injuries are a bit longer-lasting. Nonetheless, both tears and impingement, acute or chronic, can be treated with a combination of rest, rehabilitation, and physical therapy.

The most common symptoms of an injury to the rotator cuff present as stiffness, weakness, loss of range of motion, and/or varying levels of shoulder pain. Most patients may mention heightened pain in the shoulder at night and a stiffness in the morning when they get out of bed. In addition, lifting the arm overhead or away from you may be difficult and painful. If you are experiencing any or a combination of these symptoms, it may be time to visit a medical professional. In a typical doctor’s appointment, the doctor will typically take a patient background and perform a physical exam in which they physically examine the rotator cuff with stress maneuvers. Such tests may involve asking the patient to hold their arms out in various degrees and applying a downwards force to isolate the origin of the pain. In more severe cases X-rays, MRIs or ultrasounds may be necessary to pinpoint where the injury or pain is coming from.

Once a medical professional has confirmed that a patient is indeed dealing with a rotator cuff injury and not something else, there are a wide range of potential treatment options. Depending on the severity and cause of the original injury, less severe rotator cuff injuries often respond well to rest and rehabilitation. If these options do not work, injections or surgery may be recommended, although the latter is typically reserved for patients with full tears of the rotator cuff muscle. However, for most patients there is a typical order to which recovery takes place. The first step involves pain control and allowing your muscles to rest, achieved through the use of anti-inflammatory medications and wearing a brace that limits shoulder movement. It may be important to note, however, that extensive immobilization is not generally recommended as it may further complicate the injury. The next step is to restore the strength of the muscles with some sort of physical therapy in which therapists will aim to help return the rotator cuff to its original strength and flexibility, as well as addressing any muscle imbalances that may have occurred as a result. In the last step, the patient gradually returns to his/her normal daily activities while incorporating small changes that aim to prevent further distress. For athletes this might be a different throwing motion or lifting motion with an additional stress on correct form.

Rotator cuff injuries can be long and unpleasant since we use and rotate our shoulders in almost everything we do. Not only is it an uncomfortable process to recovery, but it is also an especially inconvenient one. There are many steps you can take in your daily lives to prevent injury and ensure long-lasting, pain-free shoulders. One approach is to view the rotator cuff and the shoulder as part of a comprehensive, not isolated, system. It may not be the best approach to simply focus on strengthening the shoulders to prevent injury. In fact, overdoing it in training or lifting may be putting you back on the path to injury. Instead, consider that the shoulder, shoulder blade, the back, and the hips are all connected, and isolating one part may cause imbalances in other areas. All in all, do not hesitate to consult a professional if you are feeling discomfort or pain in the shoulder. A physical therapist or an experienced trainer will be able to properly address areas of concern and suggest a healthy exercise program. After all, the shoulder joint is involved in almost everything we do. We should undoubtedly want to ensure the longevity of such an important part of our body.


  1. "Rotator Cuff Injuries | MedlinePlus." MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You. MedlinePlus, n.d. Web.

  2. "Rotator Cuff Injury." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 12 Aug. 2017. Web.

  3. "Rotator Cuff Tear." Virtual Sports Injury Clinic. Sportsinjuryclinic, n.d. Web.

  4. "What Is a Rotator Cuff Tear?" WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web.

Richard Yoon