Trending News Today: Reflex Hammer Still Critical Diagnosing Nervous, Muscular Diseases

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Despite advancements in technology, the reflex hammer still plays a critical role in diagnosing certain diseases. According to NPR, the device can be invaluable in diagnosing nervous and muscular disorders, as well as determining where a patient’s pathology lies. Furthermore, it can help curtail unnecessary spend by preventing the need for expensive testing. “Technology is glorious, and [it] will teach us things about patients that we could never have known or imagined,” multiple sclerosis expert Dr. Stephen Krieger told NPR at the American Academy of Neurology conference. “But the simple, elegant, inexpensive almost plebian swing of the reflex hammer has a cost/benefit ratio that I think no advanced technology will likely ever match.”

Earlier this year, a World Health Organization advisory group endorsed a 6-question screening test that could reliably identify adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but experts warn that ADHD can be difficult to diagnose, and that this simple test cannot diagnose adults with this disorder. Dr David Goodman, ADHD specialist at Johns Hopkins University, told NPR that not every individual who experiences symptoms of ADHD necessarily suffer from the disorder, and that a simple test cannot diagnose it. However, Goodman said that there is evidence of a significant population of adults whose lives are impacted by ADHD and who remain undiagnosed. A simple screening test could be helpful to identify the undiagnosed population and encourage them to see a specialist, NPR reported.

A specific genetic mutation increases the risk of rheumatic heart disease, according to The New York Times. In a recent study, investigators examined individuals from Fiji, New Caledonia, and other South Pacific Islands because this disease is among the top reasons young people in these areas die. The findings showed that individuals who inherited a certain genetic mutation from 1 parent were approximately 40% more likely to develop valve damage if a strep infection remained uncured. Those who received the mutation from both parents were nearly twice as likely to end up with damaged heart valves. The investigators believe the damage is caused by antibodies and the lethal white blood cells they attract, the NY Times reported. This mutation is found in approximately 15% of Europeans and Asians, and in more than 20% of Pacific Islanders, according to reports.