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Vital Signs

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Boarder Patrol Initiative
This winter, don't get annoyed when some out-of-control snowboarding teenager just misses crossing your skis—he or she may be advancing medical knowledge. For the past two years, Susan Durham, M.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon at DMS, has drafted young riders to take part in a study of why snowboarders suffer more (and more serious) head injuries than skiers. The volunteers wear a plain black helmet fitted with devices that measure the force and location of head trauma when they fall. The data is transmitted to a computer and then analyzed by Durham.

Some findings are unexpected: unlike skiers, snowboarders are more likely to hit the front of their head than the back. Other results are less surprising: male snowboarders take harder falls than females. Durham will return to the slopes this winter for another year of study. So far, it hasn't been difficult to get recruits. In fact, Durham says, "the kids think it's kind of cool." Their only complaint? "They want a more stylish helmet."


No Butts About It At DHMC
It's nice not having to walk through a cloud of smoke at the DHMC main entrance, where one of the facility's few smoking areas used to be located: that's just one of many positive comments that Ellen Prior, DHMC's tobacco treatment coordinator, received after the Medical Center's smoke-free and tobacco- free policy was instituted in July 2008. Since then, smoking has not been allowed anywhere on the DHMC campus. (People may smoke only in their own car, if the car is not in the parking garage.)

Compassion and education, not just compliance, have been key, says Prior. For example, DHMC offers free nicotine lozenges to family members or visitors 18 years old or over; they're available in "comfort kits" at the main information desks, in the critical-care waiting areas, and in inpatient units. Free one-on-one tobacco dependence counseling and treatment clinics are also available—to anyone—twice a week at the Health Education Center. For employees, DHMC offers full insurance coverage for tobacco cessation medications and a weekly support group for those who've quit. Compliance with the policy is at about 95%, says Prior, but the goal is 100%, "with continuous reassessment and education."


Going For The Goal: Dr. Tommy Clark, DC '92 and DMS '01, was the main speaker at this year's Dartmouth Convocation. He founded Grassroot Soccer, a nonprofit that uses professional soccer players to help prevent AIDS among children in Africa.

Sight For Sore Eyes: Over 100 Dartmouth medical students volunteered at 14 area nonprofit organizations on DMS's fourth annual Common Good Day in October—doing school vision tests, clearing trails, singing at a local senior home, and much more.

One Flu Over: DHMC's Dr. Henry Bernstein served on the American Academy of Pediatrics panel that just advised that kids older than six months get a flu vaccine. "Children under five are among the most vulnerable to the flu," he observes.

Taken For Granite: In November, Dartmouth's Rural Health Scholars Program hosted 17 undergraduates from Granite State colleges at Medical Student for a Day. The program's goal is to support premeds likely to practice in underserved rural areas.

Making The Grade: In a ranking by the nonprofit National Palliative Care Research Center, New Hampshire was one of only three states to receive an A for its palliative-care services; the other two top-ranked states were Vermont and Montana.

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