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Mercy Ships has returned to Benin, Africa, after a lengthy delay due to the 2014 Ebola outbreak. During the Africa Mercy's 10-month stay in Cotonou, Mercy Ships personnel plans to provide 1,700 life-changing surgeries for adult and pediatric patients onboard and treat 8,000 at a land-based dental clinic.


Mercy Ships has been serving West Africa for 25 years. During the arrival ceremony, Madame Claudine Gbenagnon Talon, First Lady of the Republic of Benin, addressed the crew, saying, "Behind all statistics, there is a story, a life, a person who needs new hope, a treatment, or a cure. I wish that this enriching collaboration of Benin with Mercy Ships will continue to grow year after year for the well-being of the population." The Mercy Ships staff also provide medical training to Beninese healthcare professionals in an effort to improve the country's healthcare system.


The free surgeries provided by Mercy Ships volunteer healthcare professionals include removing life-threatening tumors, repair of cleft lips and palates, obstetric fistulas, hernias, severe burn-related injuries, and correction of pediatric orthopedic deformities.-Mercy Ships Press Release, 8/22/2016



Parenting a child with the symptoms associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is challenging. Children and teenagers with ADHD don't listen, or don't seem to listen, often fail to complete tasks, are impulsive, and may lash out when frustrated. It's a hard row for children and their parents.


"Irritated by repeated undesirable behaviors, mothers and fathers may lash out, dealing more harshly with infractions than they should. Later, feeling guilty because of their overreaction, the parents may allow the child to get away with other misbehaviors. Then tension builds again, until once more the peeved parents explode and begin feeling guilty about their reactions all over again. 'It's important to break that cycle of guilt when dealing with the ADHD child. The best way to do that is to deal with difficult behavior whenever it occurs and not allowing the tension to build up. Retraining difficult behavior patterns is an essential part of the treatment for ADD,' says Daniel Amen, M.D., a clinical neuroscientist and brain-imaging expert."


Amen suggests these steps toward shaping positive behavior in a child with ADD/ADHD:


Defining the desired and undesirable behaviors. Be clear on what behaviors you do and do not want.


Establishing how often negative or positive behavior occurs. Track behavior for 7 to 30 days. A baseline allows parents to know whether the interventions are having an effect.


Communicate rules and expectations clearly. When children know what is expected of them, they are much more likely to do it. Too often, parents believe children should know how to act, without the rules being clearly communicated.


Reward desired behavior. Once clear expectations are given, reward the behavior that meets expectations. Rewards can be verbal praise, a hug, a small present, a trip to the library or park.


Administer clear, unemotional consequences for negative behavior. Be in control of your emotions, don't nag or belittle the child, and use logical consequences. For example, if a child refuses to put away his or her toys, the toys could be taken away for a few days.


"'Having a good relationship with the child is perhaps the most important factor. With a good parent-child relationship, almost any form of discipline will work. With a poor parent-child relationship, any form of discipline will probably fail. Relationships require two things: time and a willingness to listen,' notes Amen.-News and Experts News Release, 8/11/2016



Medical marijuana is legal in 25 states and the District of Columbia. One in eight adults say they smoke marijuana. Patients want to know if cannabis will help with a variety of conditions and pain. Many physicians report they are unprepared when counseling sick patients about whether the drug could benefit them.


Providers don't "know whether marijuana is the right way to treat an ailment, what amount is an appropriate dose, or whether a patient should smoke it, eat it, rub it through an oil, or vaporize it. Most physicians have never trained to have these discussions. And, because the topic still is not usually covered in medical school, seasoned physicians, as well as younger ones, often consider themselves ill-equipped. 'We just don't know what we don't know. And that's a concern,' said Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. This medical uncertainty is complicated by confusion over how to navigate often contradictory laws.


"The Federation of State Medical Boards has tried to add clarity. In an Aug. 9 JAMA editorial, leaders noted that federal law technically prohibits prescribing marijuana and tasks states that allow it for medical use to 'implement strong and effective ... enforcement systems to address any threat those laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other interests.' If state regulation is deemed insufficient, the federal government can step in. And, that's why many providers say they feel caught in the middle, not completely sure of where the line is now drawn between legal medical practice and what could get them in trouble."


"'Education is essential, given the complexity of how marijuana interacts with the body and how little physicians know,' said Stephen Corn, an associate professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine at Harvard Medical School. Corn also co-founded The Answer Page, a medical information website that provides educational content to the New York program, as well as a similar Florida initiative." Some states are beginning to require providers to take continuing medical education courses that detail how marijuana interacts with the nervous system and other medications, as well as its side effects.


Training or not, many providers struggle to figure out how marijuana can fit into safe and compassionate medicine.- 10/19/2016



Some things are a pain in the neck. "Chances are you're reading this while leaning over a table or slumped back in a chair. Your head is tilted forward; your shoulders are curved. If you're on a mobile device, your arms are bent by your side and your back hunch is even more profound. The position you're in is probably causing you pain. Physical therapists have a diagnosis for the headaches, neck cricks, and achy shoulders. They call it 'Text Neck'."


Text Neck applies across electronic devises. Dr. Dean Fishman coined the term in 2008, while examining a 17-year-old patient. The teen presented with complaints of headaches and neck pain. Fishman knew he was on to something when he noted the teen's posture while she was texting.


A study by New York spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj notes that bending one's head to look at a handheld mobile device can add 60 lb. of pressure to one's neck. "Hansraj's study includes illustrations of what happens when mobile users bend their heads at 15, 30, 45 and 90 degrees to look at their devices. 'You want to be careful that your head is straight up when you're using a smart device,' states Hansraj. Staying in what experts call the forward head posture can lead to muscle strain, disc herniations and pinched nerves."


Tips for smart device usage include keeping feet flat on the floor, rolling your shoulders back, and keeping your ears directly over your shoulders to prevent your head from tilting forward, and using a headset. Most important, take frequent breaks. Get up and move every 20 minutes, stand up, roll your shoulders and neck, or go for a brief walk to improve blood flow. - Accessed 10/2016



"A survey of the various biblical approaches to suffering makes it clear that the biblical authors seek to do more than help us understand the why of suffering. In fact, in many instances answering the question Why? seems to be of secondary concern to the biblical authors. Rather, the focus seems to lie on God's various responses to suffering. What is God doing through suffering? What is God doing to address suffering? What is God doing to defeat suffering? If these are the points of emphasis in the Bible, we would be wise to pay attention to them. The reality is that the Bible doesn't tell us everything we might wish to know about suffering, but it doesn't set us adrift either. The Bible simply keeps God front and center. God knows about suffering. God cares about suffering. God is at work against suffering. God reigns over suffering. God suffers. God will one day declare final victory over suffering."-From What Does the Bible Say About Suffering? by Brian Han Gregg, 2016, IVP Academic, Downers Grove, IL.


-PulseBeats compiled by Cathy Walker