Health Highlights: May 10, 2011

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Popular Football Helmets May Not Protect Against Concussion

Two models of football helmets popular with teen players may not provide adequate protection against concussion, according to researchers.

Using a new test designed to estimate concussion risk, the Virginia Tech group assessed helmets designed for players of high school age and older. The lowest ranked models were the Adams A2000 and the Riddell VSR-4, which was recently discontinued but is worn by about 75,000 high school and college players, The New York Times reported.

The results, to be posted on a Virginia Tech website, would be the first publicly available impartial data on football helmet performance. Currently, the only standardized test for helmets focuses on the risk of skull fracture, not a less serious injury such as concussion. The test is supervised by a group that includes manufacturers.

"Currently, if you go to buy a helmet, all you're looking at are aesthetics and price, and whatever the manufacturer tells you to try to convince you it's good," Stefan Duma, Virginia Techs lead biomedical engineer on the project, told The Times. "We wanted to develop a system to quantify which helmets perform better specifically with risk of concussion."

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Patient Says Full Face Transplant Feels Natural

At his first public appearance, the first U.S. recipient of a full face transplant said it "feels natural."

Dallas Wiens, 25, received a new nose, lips, skin, muscle and nerves during a 15-hour procedure in March. The resident of Fort Worth, Texas had suffered severe facial injuries in November 2008 when he hit a power line while painting a church, the Associated Press reported.

In his appearance Monday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Wiens said the first thing his young daughter told him after the transplant was "Daddy, you're so handsome."

Wiens was left blind as a result of his accident and the transplant did not restore his sight, the AP reported.

His operation was paid for by the U.S. military, which wants to find ways to help soldiers who suffer major facial wounds. The Department of Defense gave Brigham and Women's a $3.4 million research grant for five face transplants.

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Shortage of Generic ADHD Drug Continues

Companies that make a generic form of the attention-deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug Adderall XR say they don't know when a U.S.-wide shortage of the drug will end.

Many adult patients and parents of children with ADHD have been going from pharmacy to pharmacy trying to find the generic version, called mixed amphetamine salts, ABC News reported.

The scarcity of the drug is due to supply problems and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration restrictions on the supply of amphetamines, according to companies that make the drug. The DEA denies any responsibility for the shortage.

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Health Care Law Battle Moves to Appeals Courts

A hearing Tuesday marks the start of a five-week stretch of federal appellate hearings on the constitutionality of the new U.S. health care law.

Tuesday's hearing involves the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit considering two contradictory rulings made by lower courts, The New York Times reported.

In one case, a federal district judge in Richmond, Va. ruled that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring nearly all Americans to obtain health insurance. In the other case, a district judge in Lynchburg, Va. upheld the insurance requirement.

The issue of the health law's constitutionality could end up in the Supreme Court in the next term, which opens in October, and those opposed and in favor of the new health care law each hope to notch a series of victories in the Courts of Appeals.

"We want to win as many of these as we can," Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II of Virginia, a Republican, told The Times. "If we have nothing but wins all the way up to the Supreme Court, there is an element of momentum, I think, where the justices consider what has gone on before the case came to them."

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Posted: May 2011


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