Health

On your health from KUNC, Shots Health Blog, NPR & our health and medical coverage partners. Covering health, medical, insurance, and pharmaceutical issues.

When mentally ill inmates in New York City's Rikers Island jail become too sick, violent, delusional or suicidal for the jail to handle, they're sent to Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward for treatment.

The inmates in Bellevue are awaiting trial for a variety of offenses, ranging from sleeping on the subway to murder. But for Dr. Elizabeth Ford, a psychiatrist who treats them, the charges against her patients are secondary.

Scientists have created an "artificial womb" in the hopes of someday using the device to save babies born extremely prematurely.

So far the device has only been tested on fetal lambs. A study published Tuesday involving eight animals found the device appears effective at enabling very premature fetuses to develop normally for about a month.

Four out of five older Americans with hearing loss just ignore it, in part because a hearing aid is an unwelcome sign of aging. But what if hearing aids looked like stylish fashion accessories and could be bought at your local pharmacy like reading glasses?

That's the vision of Kristen "KR" Liu, who's the director of accessibility and advocacy for Doppler Labs, a company marketing one of these devices. She thinks a hearing aid could be "something that's hip and cool and people have multiple pairs and it's fashionable."

Recovering alcoholics tend to avoid the bar. But when the bar is your office, that's not so easy. New Orleans bluesman Anders Osborne figured out how to get back to work despite the temptations, and now he's trying to help others.

Drugs and alcohol nearly destroyed Osborne's career, and his family. The guitarist and singer-songwriter was showing up for tour dates unable to perform. At his worst, he was spending nights on a park bench.

People with a brain injury or dementia often struggle to remember simple things, like names or places. In research published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, scientists have shown it may be possible to improve this sort of memory using tiny pulses of electricity — if they're properly timed.

A typical person's ability to remember things tends to vary a lot, says Michael Kahana, who directs the computational memory lab at the University of Pennsylvania.

Decades ago, scientists surgically attached pairs of rats to each other and noticed that old rats tended to live longer if they shared a bloodstream with young rats.

It was the beginning of a peculiar and ambitious scientific endeavor to understand how certain materials from young bodies, when transplanted into older ones, can sometimes improve or rejuvenate them.

Hannah Berkowitz is 20 years old. When she was a senior in high school her life flew off the rails.

She was getting high on whatever drugs she could get her hands on. She was suicidal. Berkowitz moved into a therapeutic boarding school to get sober, but could only stay sober while she was on campus during the week.

"I'd come home and try to stay sober really hard — really, really hard," says Berkowitz. "Sometimes I'd make it through the weekend, and sometimes I just couldn't make it. It was white-knuckling it, just holding on."

For more than 40 years, Oliver O'Reilly's shoelaces have been coming untied pretty much every day. And for most of those 40 years O'Reilly didn't think too much about it.

But then, about a decade ago, his daughter Anna was learning to tie her shoes, and O'Reilly decided his shoelace problem wasn't worth passing on to another generation.

In Indian Country, a gym membership is not a cultural norm and the incidence of heart disease and obesity are high. Native Americans are 60 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites. The Coeur D'Alene tribe, whose headquarters is in northern Idaho, is trying to combat the problem by incorporating culture into fitness programs.

Your federal income taxes are due April 18 this year, and — for perhaps several million people — a fine for failing to get health insurance is due that day, too.

Despite a lengthy debate, Congress has not yet acted on a bill to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act. That means the law and almost all of its regulations remain in force, at least for now.

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