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By: Debbie | March 19 2012 | Category: Science News, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Photo of Elizabeth GriceElizabeth Grice studies the bacteria that live on human skin. Her research sheds light on why chronic wounds don't heal and might point to new treatments for diabetic foot ulcers and other skin conditions. 

Read more about Elizabeth Grice in the latest issue of Findings, a publication of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Gina | September 4 2009 | Category: Research & Technology

NASA Hyperbaric ChamberWhen we’re healthy, there’s plenty of oxygen in the air to keep us happy and active (unless, of course, we’re at the top of Mount Everest). But after some injuries, a boost of oxygen in our tissues can be very helpful. That’s where HBOT comes in.

HBOT, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, is the delivery of oxygen under high pressure. In HBOT, patients are placed in a chamber where the pressure is a few times that found at sea level. They then breathe oxygen-enriched air that’s either in the chamber or supplied through a mask. HBOT therapy is coming back into vogue in large part because we have the technology to build better and much safer chambers.  (They used to have a tendency to explode.)  HBOT chambers are being used in clinics all over the country.

The first use of HBOT was to treat scuba divers with “the bends.” The bends happens when divers surface too quickly. The high pressure underwater allows more gas to dissolve in the blood and tissues than can on land.  As divers return to the surface from below, the gas comes out of solution. When divers surface slowly, the gas is released gradually, but if they come up too quickly, it’s released suddenly, sort of like what happens when we open a can of soda pop. Air bubbles form in tissues, which is painful and sometimes even deadly. So, divers with the bends are usually rushed to hyperbaric chambers, where their blood and tissues can reabsorb the gas temporarily. The pressure in the chamber is then decreased gradually, just like it is when divers surface slowly.

OK, but what does this have to do with healing? Well, many wounds — especially in people with diabetes and skin grafts — don’t have a good blood supply. That means the tissue lacks oxygen, and oxygen is needed for good healing. One way to increase tissue oxygen is to send patients scuba diving, but I’m not sure my grandmother with diabetes would be keen on that. Instead, doctors use HBOT. Patients hang out in an HBOT chamber for a few hours at a time to get extra oxygen into their tissues to help their wounds heal. 

There are numerous other clinical indications for HBOT therapy External Web Site Policy that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. A number of clinical trials looking at HBOT use for traumatic brain injury, diabetic ulcers, and burns are now underway.
By: Bonnie | August 14 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers


New and innovative kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum units – Diabetes-based Education for Tribal Schools (DETS):  Health is Life in Balance – are now available for schools across the country! The curricula results from a unique collaboration of eight tribal colleges and universities with funding by the National Institutes of Health, the Indian Health Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The curricula integrates science and Native American traditions to educate students about science, diabetes and its risk factors, and the importance of nutrition and physical activity for maintaining a healthy balanced life. Their inquiry-based approach builds research skills in observation, measurement, prediction, experimentation, and communication. They incorporate healthy lifestyle messages and engaging science activities for all students. Each unit is aligned with national science, health, and social studies education standards making it easier to incorporate into an established curriculum. 

The units were designed and extensively tested by staff from the eight tribal colleges and universities, who worked with 63 teachers and 1,500 students in schools across 14 states from Alaska to Florida. Both American Indian and Alaska Native and non-American Indian and Alaska Native teachers and students participated.

Curriculum evaluations revealed:

  • Pre-to-post student achievement gains at all three grade-level bands (elementary, middle, and high school)
  • Teachers found that the curriculum was easy to use, more engaging than similar curricula, and had strong Native American content
  • Students thought the curriculum was "just right": not too hard but not too easy

Read more about recent professional development activities related to these units in this Salt Lake Tribune articleExternal Web Site Policy.
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