Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Health Notes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Health Notes

Article excerpt

Exercycle: A stationary bicycle usable by people with leg paralysis was recently unveiled at the Crestwood Community Center.

St. John's Mercy Rehabilitation Center donated the $18,000 exercycle to the center so that paralyzed persons could benefit from a workout without going to a hospital or clinic. It is the only such exercycle available in a public place in St. Louis, although others are planned.

"The idea behind placing the bike in a community center setting is to allow people to exercise along with the rest of the community," said Elizabeth Freeman, a spokeswoman for St. John's. "Crestwood is a very aware community when it comes to the issues of the disabled."

The exercycle, formally known as the Computerized Functional Electrical Stimulation Program, was recently developed by researchers to provide the health benefits of leg exercise to people who have lost the use of their legs from spinal cord injury.

Electrodes are attached to the muscles of the leg and electrical impulses stimulate the muscles to contract, pedaling the wheels of the exercycle.

Regular use of the exercycle improves cardiovascular and respiratory condition, increases stamina, prevents atrophy of leg muscles, widens the range of leg motion and reduces the overall medical complications associated with spinal cord injury.

Users must train for about three months at St. John's before using the exercycle. For more information, call 569-6040.

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Vitamins and birth defect: Women who take over-the-counter multivitamin pills early in pregnancy sharply reduce the risk of having a baby with a type of serious neurological defect, a new study says.

The birth defects, known as neural tube defects, are among the most common and most devastating and can cause paralysis or death.

They affect 4,000 babies a year, or 1 to 2 in 1,000.

In the study of about 23,000 pregnant women, about half said they had taken multivitamin pills containing folic acid in the first six weeks of pregnancy.

The incidence of neural tube defects in babies born to those who took the pills was about one-fourth that in babies whose mothers did not. The study, the largest on the subject so far, was published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association. …

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