Spinal Cord Injuries on the Rise

Falling down—not car accidents—is the culprit

The biggest cause of spinal injuries in the United States used to be car accidents, but a new study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that for people 65 and older, most traumatic spinal injuries occur from falling down.

What’s worse, researchers found that older adults with spinal cord injuries are four times more likely than younger adults to die in the emergency room from such an injury.

The study, originally published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, analyzed 43,137 adults in hospital emergency rooms for spinal cord injuries in the United States between 2007 and 2009. The incidence per million in those who were 65 and older increased from 79.4 to 87.7 during the two-year span.

Shalini Selvarajah, the leader of the study, suggests that if we spent more time preventing falls by the elderly, the number of spinal injuries would go down.

“It’s an area that is ripe for prevention,” she says.


gassy cows methane explosion cows german dairy farm gas farting

A Swiss Braunvieh cow at rest.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Flatulent Cows Detonate Dairy Farm

High concentration of methane gas

A group of 90 highly flatulent cows brought down the house at a German dairy farm Monday when the concentrated methane gas emanating from their bodies exploded, damaging the roof of the farm's shed and injuring one cow.

According to police, high levels of methane gas had built up in the structure before a static electric charge caused the gas to detonate. The injured cow was treated for burns but is expected to make a full recovery.

It remains unclear how so much gas built up in the shed, but according to some experts, some cows can produce up to 500 liters of methane each day through farts and belches.


Runners try to stay ahead of the bulls during the Great Bull Run at Royal Purple Raceway, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Baytown, Texas.     Photo: AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Michael Paulsen

Bull Running Comes to the U.S.

Because Pamplona is too far for some

"We don't want people to die, but it may someday happen."

That's what Rob Dickens said about the Great Bull Run, which took place at the Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas, on Saturday. According to the Houston Chronicle, 3,500 participants attended the event.

Dickens and his associate, Brad Scudder, created the Great Bull Run after having difficulties attending the Pamplona version. Participants paid $70 to stand on a track for two minutes as bulls raced toward them.

The Baytown event followed stops in Virginia and Georgia. Between the three races, only four people were hospitalized for concussions and broken bones. To help with safety, organizers keep ambulances, paramedics, and doctors on site. 

Animal well-being is a concern as well. The Humane Society raised red flags about the safety of the 48 participating bulls and requested a USDA investigation.


About 75 percent of African elephants in U.S. zoos are overweight, according to a new study.    

Elephant Fat Farm to Open in CA

For very overweight animals

Even the elephants in this country can’t escape obesity.

A study published last October found that about 75 percent of elephants in U.S. zoos are overweight. Now a Californian foundation wants to create a farm where the fat animals can diet and get in shape. 

Plans are already underway for a 4,900-acre preserve in Northern California that would get the African elephants healthy and breeding. Part farm, part laboratory, the preserve would start with up to five elephants, a "near-wild" herd the developers hope to triple in two decades.  

The overweight elephants would be fed fiber-rich plants and be allowed to roam a large territory, just like their wild relatives. The initiative is part of a broader trend to provide more space to captive animals.

"The general public are familiar with Disney and the tale of Dumbo," Deborah Olson, executive director of the International Elephant Foundation, told The Wall Street Journal. "They're drawn as round creatures, so the general public has this conception that they're round instead of what they truly look like in the wild." 

For now, the large mammals must cope with the zoo’s confined space. County officials in Northern California haven’t yet approved the project.



News Outside Online

USA's four-man bobsled team took gold in 2010     Photo: familymwr/Flickr

Record Number of U.S. Athletes in Sochi

230 American athletes descend on Winter Games

Next week, 230 American athletes will set the record for the largest delegation at a Winter Olympic Games. With 106 returning Olympians—who have 49 medals between them—fans will be hard-pressed to find an event without a member of Team USA.

The team will be led by veterans such as six-time Nordic combined Olympian Todd Lodwick and skier Bode Miller, who will be competing in his fifth games. Miller will need three podium finishes to tie record-holder Apolo Ohno with eight Winter Olympic medals for the red, white, and blue.

The U.S. Olympic Committee announced on Monday that the youngest American athlete is 15-year-old freeskier Maggie Voisin, and the oldest is Ann Swishelm, a 45-year-old curler.

The U.S. ski and snowboard teams will fill out 94 of the 230 American spots. No matter the sport, however, every American athlete will be wearing these Opening Ceremony uniforms as the games begin on February 7.

Watch U.S. ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson's latest training techniques.


Sevengill shark Notorynchus cepedianus

Broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus)     Photo: José María Pérez Nuñez/Wikimedia

Doctor Fights Off Shark with Knife

Stitches up bite wounds and grabs a beer

James Grant, a 24-year-old doctor from New Zealand, was spearfishing off the country's South Island on Saturday. In about six feet of murky water, he felt a tug on his foot. He thought it was a friend playing a prank, but it was a sevengill shark having a taste.

"[I thought] bugger, now I have to try and get this thing off my leg," Grant told the Sydney Morning Herald. With his diving knife already in hand, he stabbed at the shark. "I am not sure how effective it was. I guess it let go, so something must have happened. [I] put a few nicks in it."

Grant then swam to shore and saw several bite wounds in his leg. Using a first-aid kit from his vehicle, the young doctor administered his own stitches with a needle and thread. Before heading to the hospital, he and his friends went to the Colac Bay Tavern, where Grant was given a beer—and a few bandages, because blood was dripping on the floor.

"I am pretty grateful to have my leg still," he told Stuff.co.nz. "When the stitches come out, I will be back in the water."