Breakthroughs | KERA News

Breakthroughs

Breakthroughs is a weekly series devoted to the latest innovations in health, science and technology — with a North Texas accent.

Explore special Breakthroughs multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you’re nearing the age of 65, and hoping to live a long, healthy life, Minnesota, Idaho, and Washington are looking a lot better than Texas.

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U.S. News & World Report has released its annual hospital rankings, and several North Texas systems can boast nationally recognized specialties. But Children’s Medical Center in Dallas has something special to brag about, a number one ranking in pediatric orthopedics.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

You already search online for deals on things like plane tickets and hotels -- so why not an MRI or sonagram? That’s the premise of DealWell.com, a site that’s created a marketplace for health and wellness services.

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Since health savings accounts (HSAs) were authorized by congress ten years ago, they’ve been a hit with both employers and employees. The accounts, which are always paired with a high-deductible health plan, allow consumers to put away money for medical expenses without paying income tax on their savings.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

For someone who has Parkinson’s disease, movement can be the greatest challenge. That’s why doctors are urging Parkinson’s patients to hit the dance floor.

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Health insurance companies aren’t the only ones competing for your money as the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate deadline approaches. Scammers are also trying to get in on the confusion. According to Jim Quiggle, a national spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. There are a variety of tricks con artists use to get sensitive information – most often they’ll pose as representatives of government agencies.

Connor Industries

The Obama Administration is delaying part of the health-care reform law that requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance.  That's good news for Fort Worth small business owner Grady Payne, CEO of Connor Industries.

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The number of prescription painkiller overdose deaths in women increased 400 percent between 1999 and 2010, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden says he’s never seen such a big increase. It’s nearly double the rise in overdose deaths among men during that time.

Stella Chavez / KERA News

It would be nice if triple digits were limited to paychecks, area codes, and padlocks. But that’s not the case in Dallas-Fort Worth. The summer’s first triple-digit temperature made an early arrival this week, and Friday was even hotter. Here are four tips to beat the heat.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Hundreds of mental health specialists from across the state are gathered today in Downtown Dallas for the 28th Annual Texas Council of Mental Health Centers Conference.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

The leading cause of blindness in adults in is age-related macular degeneration. More than a million Americans have it. And while there are some ways to keep the disease from getting worse, there’s no way to restore sight once it’s been lost. As part of KERA’s Breakthroughs project, Lauren Silverman reports on one North Texas woman who is among the first in the nation to have a new procedure that’s made it possible for her to see details she thought were lost forever.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unveiled its new HealthCare.gov website, featuring a 24/7 educational hotline for information about the health insurance marketplace set to open on October 1st. 

Illustration by Karen Carr

One hole in the ground of Alaska has revealed a second great surprise. Paleontologists from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas have uncovered a baby dinosaur in the same spot they uncovered a new species of dinosaur years ago.

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There are few things less popular than a colonoscopy. So it comes as welcome news to many that a new blood test might be able to detect colon cancer before it develops.

BJ Austin / KERA News

Government officials are at Parkland Hospital for a critical review that will determine if the Dallas County public hospital keeps federal funding, which accounts for nearly half of Parkland’s annual budget.

Torax Medical Inc.

Millions of Americans know the symptoms: a burning feeling in the chest, an acidic aftertaste, a sore throat. Acid Reflux, or gastro esophageal reflux, can typically be managed with over the counter pills or prescription medicine. But for some people, that’s not enough. Now, there's a new device called the LINX that’s helping some people in North Texas put away the pills by putting on a bracelet.

Courtesy of Cindy Johnson

One of the toughest things about dealing with depression can be finding the right medication. It can take months, even years. As part of KERA’s Breakthroughs project, here’s a look at one woman’s struggle and the North Texas doctor who hopes to make the medication matching process less like trial and error.

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Phony falls in basketball just got serious. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has teamed up with biomechanics experts at Southern Methodist University to study "flopping" -- when a player deliberately falls to deceive referees into thinking there's been a foul. 

BJ Austin / KERA News

A technology with roots in World War II is now enabling amputees to program their prosthetic hands.  It’s RFID, radio frequency identification. 

Lauren Silverman

There is a serious doctor shortage in Texas. Nationwide, the state ranks near the bottom when it comes to doctor-patient ratios, and that’s only expected to get worse as more people gain access to insurance with the Affordable Care Act. For decades, nurse practitioners have argued they can help fill the gaps in primary care – if only there were fewer restrictions. Now, legislation giving nurses more autonomy has been signed into law.

dallasisd.org

Dallas County Health officials are investigating a suspected case of tuberculosis at Thomas Edison Middle Learning Center.  County Health director Zach Thompson says a hospital notified officials of the suspected case in a student.

Sanofil Pasteur / flickr.com

State health officials are warning consumers not to eat Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen mixed berries. They may be contaminated with hepatitis A.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Souce: Dartmouth Atlas Project at The Dartmouth Institute For Health Policy And Clinical Practices.

When you’re leaving the hospital, the last thing you want to think about is being readmitted in a couple weeks. The odds of that happening are surprisingly high. Starting in October, as part of the Affordable Care Act, more than 2,000 hospitals will be penalized for high readmission rates. Two hospitals in North Texas are trying to tackle the problem of high readmissions, with technology.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

North Texas women are grateful Angelina Jolie shone a light on genetic cancer risk and now they hope local ladies will tap into that knowledge.

The Dallas area chapter of the group FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) meets tonight a 6 p.m. at Medical City in Suite A100. The meeting is completely open, so anyone with questions is encouraged to attend.

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Researchers have known that having diabetes raises a person's risk of dying, but now there is a simple tool to calculate which diabetic patients are at the greatest risk.

Vital Art and Science Incorporated

You can use your iPhone to play games, find restaurants, even friends. Now, some people in North Texas are using their iPhones to prevent blindness.

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North Texas hospitals are already doing the kind of genetic testing Angelina Jolie is bringing to light in a very personal New York Times editorial.

Jolie revealed that she got a double mastectomy earlier this year as a preventative measure. She has a mutation in her BRCA1 gene that makes her breast cancer risk over 80 percent and her chance of ovarian cancer about 50/50.

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May 12th through May 18th is National Women’s Health Week. And it’s a good time to clarify how the Affordable Care Act impacts women.

BJ Austin / KERA News

The number of wounded amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan prompted the Pentagon to do the first sweeping overhaul of prosthetics since the 1940’s. And, it’s not only wounded veterans who are benefiting. A  “Battlefield Breakthrough” is making it possible for one  young North Texan to conquer dental school with a state-of-the-art prosthetic arm.

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Who says you can’t have fun and a get a mammogram? This week is National Women’s Health Week, and you can celebrate here in North Texas a few ways:

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