Category Archives: Health & Medicine

Focus on research: Solitary confinement is bad for the brain

by Jordan Gaines Lewis

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared on The Conversation on July 2, 2015. The fourth season of Orange is the New Black was released on Friday, June 17, 2016. 

The inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary, the fictional setting for the Netflix TV series Orange is the New Black, are not shy women.

They’ve landed in prison for murder, fraud, stalking, drug-smuggling, theft, and political activism. They do illegal activities behind the officers’ backs. They make their opinions known loud and clear to one another. And they’re not opposed to throwing a few punches, if duty calls.

But all will cease if you threaten to send them to the SHU. Why?

Continue reading Focus on research: Solitary confinement is bad for the brain

‘We can still contain this superbug’

“Don’t freak out, wash your hands, be careful in health care settings to observe all infection control requirements.”
– Andrew Read, director of Penn State’s Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics

Late last week, researchers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center published a paper revealing that a woman in Pennsylvania was infected with a strain of antibiotic resistant E. coli, the first known incident in the United States. Although the patient in this case recovered, the finding raises the possibility of a “superbug” that could cause untreatable infections.

In the videos below, Penn State infectious disease experts offer comment.

“…this sort of thing we fear, this superbug, we can still contain it. So long as we start doing things sensibly, start looking for alternative solutions, start getting this hygiene right, making sure we’re using the drugs only when we need to.”
-Andrew Read

Continue reading ‘We can still contain this superbug’

Minding mental health


Mental health has long been a taboo topic, but with the help of education and awareness efforts the stigma is beginning to fade.

More and more college students are seeking out their campus counseling centers, as Brian Locke, executive director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, wrote in this week’s Focus on Research column.

Continue reading Minding mental health

Focus on research: More college students seeking mental health help

By Ben Locke

Beginning in 1949, a week in May was promoted as Mental Health Awareness Week — which eventually became Mental Health Awareness Month. The goal was — and still is — to educate the public about the signs, symptoms and treatments as well as the positive lifestyle choices that lead to mental health.

An estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. And the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation shows that when compared to other health risks, mental illness is responsible for approximately 30 percent of all lost life and productivity for Americans aged 15 to 24, an age range that includes the majority of U.S. college students.

Continue reading Focus on research: More college students seeking mental health help

Establishing a baseline

Did you know that Penn State’s Center for Concussion Research and Service offers baseline concussion testing?

Student athlete performing a baseline concussion test. Photo by Patrick Mansell.

Many contact sports leagues — from junior high and high school sports teams to the NFL — require their athletes to undergo baseline testing before the season begins. Establishing a baseline is important so that doctors can test against it should the athlete experience a traumatic brain injury, or concussion, during the season. Concussion testing can be mentally draining, whether a person is concussed or not.  Continue reading Establishing a baseline