Patti Neighmond

Award-winning journalist Patti Neighmond is NPR's health policy correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

Based in Los Angeles, Neighmond has covered health care policy since April 1987. She joined NPR's staff in 1981, covering local New York City news as well as the United Nations. In 1984, she became a producer for NPR's science unit and specialized in science and environmental issues.

Neighmond has earned a broad array of awards for her reporting. In 1993, she received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of health reform. That same year she received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for a story on a young quadriplegic who convinced Georgia officials that she could live at home less expensively and more happily than in a nursing home. In 1990 she won the World Hunger Award for a story about healthcare and low-income children. Neighmond received two awards in 1989: a George Polk Award for her powerful ten-part series on AIDS patient Archie Harrison, who was taking the anti-viral drug AZT; and a Major Armstrong Award for her series on the Canadian health care system. The Population Institute, based in Washington, DC, has presented its radio documentary award to Neighmond twice: in 1988 for "Family Planning in India" and in 1984 for her coverage of overpopulation in Mexico. Her 1987 report "AIDS and Doctors" won the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism, and her two-part series on the aquaculture industry earned the 1986 American Association for the Advancement of Science Award.

Neighmond began her career in journalism in 1978, at the Pacifica Foundation's Washington D.C. bureau, where she covered Capitol Hill and the White House. She began freelance reporting for NPR from New York City in 1980. Neighmond earned her bachelor's degree in English and drama from the University of Maryland, and now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

Kaley Jones didn't know what hit her. She was just 17, sitting in her history class, when she realized she suddenly couldn't read what was written on the white board. Nor could she make out the faces of her classmates.

"It was really scary," she says, "It was kind of like looking through plastic wrap. I could see color, but no real detail." Jones later learned she had suffered a rupture of the inner layer of her cornea, a complication of an eye disorder known as keratoconus.

Low back pain is second only to cold symptoms when it comes to complaints that send people to the doctor. Sooner or later, back pain seems to get most of us.

Now, a study in the July 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that massage is an effective treatment for lower back pain. In some cases, researchers report, the benefits of massage lasted for six months or longer.

The Food and Drug Administration has told companies that make "metal on metal" artificial hips to take a closer look at how patients fare after their hip replacement surgery. The request involves about 20 manufacturers.

Tattoo history reaches back thousands of years, to Egyptian mummies and even ancient ice men. Interest has waxed and waned over centuries, but now, it's fair to say, tattoo body art has reached a pinnacle. By some estimates, nearly half of all adults younger than 40 sport at least one tattoo.

But federal health officials are concerned that not all inks are safe. And they worry that some tattoo salons are mixing their inks with other, unsafe products.

Yes, exercise is good for you. This we know. Heaps of evidence point to the countless benefits of regular physical activity. Federal health officials recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like brisk walking, every day.

Yes, it's true: Jogging, long thought to hurt knees with all that pounding and rattling around, may actually be beneficial for the complex and critical joint. There are caveats, though, especially for people who have suffered significant knee injury or are overweight. But for the most part, researchers say, jogging for your health seems like a good idea.

If you're 60 or older, there's another health issue you might want to put on your worry list: crossing the street.

Now there are streets, particularly busy streets that we have to cross every day. And, if, like most Americans, you're doing "something else" while crossing, like listening to music on your iPod for example, or talking on your cell phone, you should be especially careful.

If you smoked back in the early days, there's a good chance you smoked a pack a day. That's 20 cigarettes, for you nonsmokers.

Lots of people smoked more, but it seems like everyone who smoked was in for at least a pack. I even remember people talking about how so-and-so smoked three or four packs a day. Not sure when they had time to do much else.

Of course, with smoking like that, lung cancer and heart disease related deaths soared accordingly.

At 32, it just didn't make sense that Daniel Sheiner was exhausted literally from the moment he woke up. "It didn't get any better over the course of the day, and I knew that was not normal," Sheiner says.

Sheiner is a software designer and programmer. His job suffered as a result of his fatigue.

"I would miss conversations," Sheiner says. "I would ask a question that had already been answered."

Researchers in Florida report that surgeons are performing many more invasive breast biopsies than needed. Another recent study finds similar rates of unnecessary biopsies in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

But, at the same time, that study offers good news: Nationwide, doctors in most states are adhering to guidelines and performing surgery for only 10-15 percent of biopsies for breast cancer. And the national average for so-called "open surgical biopsies" has declined dramatically in recent years.

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