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Director's Comments Transcript: NIH MedlinePlus Magazine 01/26/2009

Picture of Dr. Lindberg

Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine substituting this week for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National of Medicine.

Here is what's new this week in MedlinePlus.

To listen to Dr. Lindberg's comments, click herelisten

The new edition of NIH MedlinePlus magazine features a profile of the health challenges facing the family of broadcast journalists Lee and Bob Woodruff -- plus a section about how to protect the health of your skin.

In the cover story, Lee Woodruff, the wife of ABC television journalist Bob Woodruff, discusses their daughter Nora's severe hearing loss and family efforts to cope with the traumatic brain injury he suffered while covering the Iraq war.

About 1.4 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury annually -- usually from falls, motor vehicle accidents, personal assaults, or a non-assault hit in the head. NIH MedlinePlus magazine notes about 50,000 Americans die and 235,000 are hospitalized with traumatic brain injury annually.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars resulted in increases in traumatic brain injuries among U.S. and other soldiers often caused by improvised explosive devices.

Bob Woodruff notes his good fortune in his ongoing recovery from a traumatic brain injury. In the article, Lee Woodruff, also an ABC television journalist discusses her coping strategies especially during the initial days when her husband returned to the U.S. and was under acute hospital care. She explains she learned to cope with hour to hour adjustments and challenges.

More positively, Bob Woodruff now is well and travels and writes. He and his wife are the authors of In An Instant: A Family's Journey of Love & Healing, a book about their family's challenges, and Lee Woodruff is the author of Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress, that will be available next spring.

The NIH MedlinePlus magazine article also provides some common symptoms of traumatic brain injury, and information about its diagnosis and treatment plus prevention tips.

An accompanying series of articles discuss hearing loss and explains some of the communication adjustments among the families of affected youngsters. Nora Woodruff, who has a twin sister plus a brother and another sister without hearing impairments, was diagnosed with hearing loss when she was nine months old.

NIH MedlinePlus magazine notes about 15 percent, or 32.5 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss.

Some persons experience hearing loss without realizing it. Besides difficulty hearing, other symptoms include: an earache, a feeling of fullness or fluid in the ear, and ringing in your ears.

A series of prevention tips encourages readers to be wary of excessive noise that can damage your hearing. NIH MedlinePlus magazine reports excessive noise begins at about 85 decibels, which is about the racket level of heavy city traffic. By comparison chainsaws and hammers are more than 100 decibels while on the quieter side, normal conversation is about 60 decibels, and a refrigerator humming is around 40 decibels.

NIH MedlinePlus magazine encourages you to use ear plugs or special earmuffs to prevent hearing loss when exposed to dangerously high noise levels.

The magazine salutes the 20th anniversary of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, which has enhanced hearing aid technologies and led research about how to treat language disorders among adults and children.

A section within NIH MedlinePlus magazine also details how you can boost the health of your skin. Among other tips, you are encouraged to stay out of the sun, use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and check your skin frequently for any changes.

An accompanying article helps you identify several different types of skin disease by including some photographs and basic information.

Currently, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. But not all skin disorders are cancer related. For example, NIH MedlinePlus reports that in 2006 more than 30 million Americans saw a health care provider for skin rashes.

Additional articles in the current NIH MedlinePlus magazine include:

  • Understanding, treating and preventing sexually transmitted diseases
  • How the basic research of two scientists at the National Cancer Institute led to the development of a widely used cervical cancer vaccine, which we have discussed in previous podcasts.
  • And a tribute to the late U.S. Representative Paul G. Rogers, whose significant contributions to health care we discussed in a recent podcast.

NIH MedlinePlus magazine is distributed to physician's offices nationwide by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the friends of the National Library of Medicine. You can subscribe or find the latest edition online by clicking on 'NIH MedlinePlus Magazine,' which is on the bottom right side of's home page. Previous editions of the magazine are available at the same site.

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