The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE students instruct classmates about skeletal problems, injuries

By Barbie Farley/reporter

Several NE radiology students finished their eight-week term before spring break by educating their fellow classmates on various medical conditions regarding the skeletal system and trauma.

The topics ranged from basic fractures to uncommon diseases.

Nila Cox spoke about leprosy and dispelled a common misconception about the disease.

“Leprosy does not cause parts of your body to fall off,” she said.

Instead, Cox said, leprosy causes parts of extremities to go numb, making it easier to cut or burn oneself without being aware of the damage.

“Ninety-five percent of the population has a natural immunity to the disease,” she said.

The students learned that men are twice as likely to contract the disease as women, but leprosy can be cured in 12 months with multi-drug therapy if caught in time.

Anthony Taylor focused on an issue that hit close to home. He presented a case study on osteochondroma, a disease that affects one of his family members.

Taylor described osteochondroma as an “overgrowth of cartilage of bones around the growth plate” that appear as hard masses under the skin — sometimes the size of golf balls. He said these conditions may arise spontaneously or from fractures.

These masses can be diagnosed with a simple X-ray and can be removed with surgery. Taylor’s family member has had several surgeries to correct his bones over the years and is currently living a normal and pain-free life.

Several members of the group gasped and said “whoa” when Taylor revealed that 1 in 200 children are affected by the disease.

Teresa Nguyen’s presentation covered scoliosis.

“Scoliosis is the lateral curvature of the spine from side to   side,” she explained.

Eighty percent of scoliosis cases stem from unknown causes while the other 20 percent result from birth defects, neurological system disorders and degenerative conditions from old age, Nguyen said.

Back braces or surgery can be used to treat scoliosis, she said, depending on the severity of the curve.

“Back braces are designed to stop the progression of the curve,” she said.

In terms of the surgery, screws, rods and hooks can be inserted to help keep the spine straight.

Osteoporosis is a more familiar disease.

“Osteoporosis affects 20 million Americans,” Hung Nguyen said.

Osteoporosis has many causes including lack of calcium and vitamin D, but there are also less obvious causes, Nguyen said. Tobacco smoking and excessive drinking can encourage bone loss.

“Some medications, like steroids, are linked to osteoporosis,” he said.

Because bone loss cannot be measured by an X-ray, doctors have developed machines called densitometers to help determine bone density.

“Maximum bone strength occurs between ages 25 to 30,” he said.

While there are medications to treat osteoporosis, Nguyen recommended adapting healthy lifestyle habits consisting of a good diet, plenty of exercise and no smoking.

Deborah Means discussed multiple myeloma with her classmates. She chose that particular disease because she had seen it on medical information sheets during her hospital rotations.

“Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow and is currently incurable,” she said. “An estimated 20,580 people were diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2009.”

Symptoms of this disease include bone pain, weight loss, shingles, renal failure and bone fractures.

The treatments for this disease are currently limited. Chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplants are the most viable options, she said.

“A support system is crucial,” Means said about dealing with a potentially fatal disease such as cancer. “Fighting is the way to go.”

Lindsay McMurtre’s presentation covered the debilitating effects of rickets on the skeletal system.

McMurtre said rickets is a softening on the bones caused by excessive cartilage cell formation. Vitamin D deficiencies and poor nutrition can cause rickets in children. Additionally, the health of the mother while pregnant can lead to rickets in her child.

“Rickets generally appear around 6 to 24 months of age,” she said.

Children with rickets are slow to walk, stand and crawl, McMurtre said.

Rickets cases are increasing in the United States, McMurtre said, crediting children not playing outside as often as they once did.

Merely sitting by a window is not enough to get the vitamin D a person needs, she said as she stressed the importance of going outside.

Rickets can be treated with surgery and body braces, McMurtre said.

Kaye-Lani Mariani covered basic bone fractures, detailing in pictures what many fractures look like on X-rays and in real-life scenarios.

“The average person has two bone fractures in their lifetime,” Mariani said.

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