If one arm temporarily immobilized due to injury, people still can increase the muscle strength and reduce muscle loss without touching it by doing exercise in the opposite one, Australian researchers reported on Thursday.
The study conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia and their international colleagues could lead to a new way of rehabilitation and improve outcomes for post-injury and stroke patients.
During the study, researchers made experiments on 30 participants who had one arm immobilized for a minimum of 8 hours a day for four weeks.
Some of them were instructed to do a mix of eccentric and concentric exercises, some with eccentric exercise only and the rest of them had no excise at all.
In eccentric exercises, the contracting muscle is lengthening, such as when lowering a dumbbell in bicep curls, sitting on a chair slowly or walking downstairs. While in concentric exercises, muscles are shortening such as when lifting a dumbbell or walking upstairs.
A researcher, Prof. Ken Nosaka from ECU's School of Medical and Health Sciences said the group that only performed the eccentric exercise on their active arm showed an increase in strength and a decrease in muscle wastage, in their immobilized arm.
"Participants who did eccentric exercise had the biggest increase in strength in both arms, so it has a very powerful cross-transfer effect," Nosaka said.
"I think this could change the way we approach rehabilitation for people who have temporarily lost the use of one arm or one leg," he added.
"By starting rehab and exercise in the uninjured limb right away, we can prevent muscle damage induced by exercise in the other limb and also build strength without moving it at all," he noted.
Nosaka said he is hopeful their findings could also help a wider range of people with immobility problems due to injury or sickness.
"In the future, we hope to look at how eccentric exercise can help improve motor function, movement and fine muscle control, which is particularly important for stroke and rehabilitation patients," he said.
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The British government's science advisers have warned that reinfections with COVID-19 are "to be expected" as the virus continues to spread in the country.
The conclusion by researchers on the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium is based on what is known about people's immunity to other coronaviruses that cause the common cold, according to a report by The Guardian newspaper on Saturday.
It was unclear how soon people who had recovered from COVID-19 could become vulnerable to reinfection, but emerging reports showed the timeframe was "relatively short", said the report.
Currently, there are seven types of coronavirus that infect humans. Among them, Sars, Mers and Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 are considered the deadliest. The four others cause common colds and can reinfect people six months after they have recovered from the same virus, according to the report.
Nearly two dozen cases of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 reinfections emerged across the globe, but the real number is thought to be far higher, since most reinfections are not recorded, said the report.
Another 16,171 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 705,428, according to official figures released Saturday.
The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 150 to 43,579, the data showed.
Britain's coronavirus reproduction number, also known as the R number, has edged up slightly, the latest government figures showed Friday.
The government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said the R number is now between 1.3 and 1.5, up from last week which was between 1.2 and 1.5. If the R number is above one, it means the number of cases will increase exponentially.
To bring life back to normal, countries, such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has the capacity to affect brain tissue and the structure of the cortex, a region of the brain responsible for functions such as memory, consciousness, and language, according to a Brazilian study released on Thursday.
According to the study, the coronavirus can affect astrocytes, the most abundant cells in the central nervous system, which perform functions such as providing support and nutrients for neurons and regulating the concentration of neurotransmitters and other substances, such as potassium.
"We demonstrated for the first time that the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects and replicates in astrocytes and this can decrease the viability of neurons," said Daniel Martins de Souza, a professor at the Institute of Biology at the University of Campinas (Unicamp).
"The infection of this cell type was confirmed through experiments done with brain tissue from 26 patients who died from COVID-19," the study said.
According to Martins de Souza, scientists used a technique known as immunohistochemistry, which involves using antibodies to detect certain antigens in a tissue sample.
The presence of the virus was confirmed in 26 of the samples studied, and in five of them, certain alterations were found that suggested possible damage to the central nervous system.
Eighty-one other patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms were also studied. The results showed a third of them exhibiting neurological or neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as memory impairment, fatigue, headache, anxiety, and others, 60 days after acquiring the disease.
The study was conducted by scientists from Unicamp and the University of Sao Paulo (USP), with collaboration from scientists at the National Laboratory of Biosciences, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and the D'Or Institute.
Forty percent of the world’s population – or 3 billion people – do not have a handwashing facility with water and soap at home, according to new estimates from UNICEF.
The number is much higher in least developed countries, where nearly three-quarters of the population lack such facilities although the pandemic has highlighted the critical role of hand hygiene in disease prevention.
Kelly Ann Naylor, Associate Director of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at UNICEF, said that it is “unacceptable” that the most vulnerable communities are unable to use the simplest of methods to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“The pandemic has highlighted the critical role of hand hygiene in disease prevention. It has also stressed a pre-existing problem for many: Handwashing with soap remains out of reach for millions of children where they’re born, live and learn.”
“We must take immediate action to make handwashing with soap accessible to everyone, everywhere – now and in the future,” she urged.
The situation is also alarming at schools: 43 per cent of schools globally (70 per cent in least developed countries) lack a handwashing facility with water and soap, affecting hundreds of millions of school-age children, according to the estimates.
‘Hand Hygiene for All’
Against this backdrop, UNICEF, along with the UN World Health Organization launched the “Hand Hygiene for All” initiative to support the development of national roadmaps to accelerate and sustain progress towards making hand hygiene a mainstay in public health interventions.
This means rapidly improving access to handwashing facilities, water, soap and hand sanitizer in all settings, as well as promoting behavioural change interventions for optimal hand hygiene practices, said UNICEF.
The initiative brings together international, national, and local partners, to ensure affordable products and services are available and sustainable, especially in vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.
The estimates were released on Thursday, coinciding with Global Handwashing Day, which serves as a platform to raise awareness on the importance of handwashing with soap.
Despite steady progress in tackling tuberculosis (TB) in recent years, global targets for prevention and treatment will likely be missed largely due to insufficient funding and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to a latest report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.
According to WHO's Global Tuberculosis Report 2020, the years between 2015 and 2019 have seen a nine-percent reduction in TB incidence and a 14-percent drop in deaths, together with high-level political commitments at global and national levels delivering results.
However, about 14 million people were treated for TB in the period 2018-2019, just over one-third of the way towards the five-year target of 40 million for 2018-2022. WHO's End TB Strategy, which has been adopted by all its members, aims for a 90-percent reduction in TB deaths and an 80-percent reduction in the TB incidence rate by 2030, compared to the 2015 baseline. Milestones for 2020 include a 20-percent reduction in the TB incidence rate and a 35-percent reduction in TB deaths.
Funding is a major issue, according to the report. In 2020, funding for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care reached 6.5 billion U.S. dollars, representing only half of the 13 billion target agreed by world leaders in the UN political declaration on TB.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to further setbacks on access to TB service, as in many countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from TB to the COVID-19 response.
Data collated from over 200 countries has shown significant reductions in TB case notifications, with 25 to 30 percent drops reported in three high burden countries, namely India, Indonesia, the Philippines, between January and June 2020, compared to the same six-month period in 2019, the report said. These reductions in case notifications could lead to a dramatic increase in additional TB deaths, according to WHO modeling.
According to WHO statistics, as in previous years, about 85 percent of TB funding in 2020 came from domestic sources, with Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa providing 57 percent of the global total.
WHO has called for urgent action and investments to meet the global TB targets. "Equitable access to quality and timely diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care remains a challenge. Accelerated action is urgently needed worldwide if we are to meet our targets by 2022," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
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