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Today's Geriatric Medicine
E-Newsletter    September 2022
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Editor's E-Note

A new pain management approach may offer an alternative to the use of opioids and other addictive drugs. A team led by Northwestern University researchers has developed a soft, flexible implant that quiets pain signals by cooling nerves and is absorbed by the body when it’s no longer necessary. They anticipate surgeons will be able to implant the device during surgery to control post-operative pain. A study about its efficacy was published in the July 1 issue of the journal Science.

In addition to reading our e-newsletter, be sure to visit Today’s Geriatric Medicine’s website at www.TodaysGeriatricMedicine.com, where you’ll find news and information that’s relevant and reliable. We welcome your feedback at TGMeditor@gvpub.com. Follow Today’s Geriatric Medicine on Facebook and Twitter, too.

— Kate Jackson, editor
In This E-Newsletter
E-News Exclusive

A Drug-Free Pain Strategy

A Northwestern University-led team of researchers has developed a small, soft, flexible implant that relieves pain on demand and without the use of drugs. The first-of-its-kind device could provide a much-needed alternative to opioids and other highly addictive medications.

The biocompatible, water-soluble device works by softly wrapping around nerves to deliver precise, targeted cooling, which numbs nerves and blocks pain signals to the brain. An external pump enables the user to remotely activate the device and then increase or decrease its intensity. After the device is no longer needed, it naturally absorbs into the body—bypassing the need for surgical extraction.

The researchers believe the device will be most valuable for patients who undergo routine surgeries or even amputations that commonly require postoperative medications. Surgeons could implant the device during the procedure to help manage the patient’s postoperative pain.

The study was published in the July 1 issue of the journal Science. The paper describes the device’s design and demonstrates its efficacy in an animal model.

Other Geriatric News
Vanishing Y Chromosomes and Heart Risks
Researchers have shown that there are consequences when men lose Y chromosomes as they get older. They genetically engineered male mice to lose their Y chromosomes and discovered that the loss was associated with a build-up of scar tissue in the heart. As The New York Times reports, other studies have linked the loss to a greater risk of chronic diseases and suggest this shedding of Y chromosomes may be the reason men live shorter lifespans than women.

Adult Failure to Thrive
It’s a term that appears in medical charts of older adults and on death certificates, but what does it really mean? Geriatrician Martha Spencer suggests it’s ageist, derogatory, and patient-blaming. STAT reports on the way in which she and other physicians have sought to make it a term of the past.

The Complex Role of Diet in Dementia
Headlines tell us that a good diet can help stave off dementia, and a bad diet can lead to cognitive decline. But the reality is more complex. In Science News, Cassandra Willyard discusses the dearth of evidence supporting the claims.

How to Respond to Surgical Errors
In an opinion piece in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jason Han, a cardiac surgery resident, makes the case that how one responds to an error is a key to becoming a better surgeon.
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