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Courtesy Danielle Hacet(NEW YORK) -- The first clue that something was wrong with Danielle Hacet's brain was when she thought she smelled smoke everywhere.

"At 26, I started smelling fire in random places -- I would be on an airplane, I would be outside," Hacet told ABC News. "Anywhere you could think of I would randomly smell fire."

Hacet initially thought she had a psychological problem, but a neurologist quickly discovered she was having "olefactory hallucinations" and a nerve cell disorder that caused "partial focal seizures." These seizures were virtually undetectable to anyone else, but it meant that Hacet could not drive and could "zone out" at any moment.

Scans revealed scar tissue in her brain, likely the result of a bacterial meningitis infection she contracted as an infant. Hacet's infection caused her to be hearing impaired, but she did not have seizures before.

"As soon as the doctors heard I had meningitis," Hacet told ABC News, "they said ‘Bingo, we know where this is from.’"

Doctors put her on seizure medication, but nothing seemed to help. Hacet found herself frustrated by the effects of the medications. An avid runner, Hacet, of New York City, found her start times slow.

"I had been interested in surgery from day one," Hacet said. "I didn't like the idea of being on medication for the rest of my life."

In July of last year, after spending years without significant improvement from her medications, Hacet decided to have brain surgery to remove old scar tissue from her brain. Though she was anxious to have the operation, she was unprepared for the aftermath.

"I was incredibly helpless," Hacet recalled, "having to rely on my mom and everyone else. It was difficult."

Immediately after the operation, Hacet suffered double vision and an impaired ability to walk, much less run.

"I couldn't walk very well, it was very embarrassing to me to have to be in a wheelchair," said Hacet.

While she was recovering, she returned to her parent's home in Louisville, Kentucky. After weeks of work on regaining her balance, Hacet was delighted to put her running shoes back on for a short two-mile run late last year.

"I only ran like 2 miles or so and I remember being so excited and it was so amazing to be back," said Hacet.

Initially, Hacet's goal was simply to get her health back and said running helped her with her recovery.

"It's a release and it's cathartic," she said.

In January of this year, Hacet had recovered enough from the surgery to run a half-marathon with a friend. After the race, her friend pushed her to do more.

"She told me she was running the New York City Marathon [and] she asked me if i wanted to do it with her," said Hacet.

Despite having brain surgery just months earlier, Hacet said she knew she wanted to run New York City’s marathon again. The first time she ran the marathon in 2013, she had been heavily medicated for her seizures. Now, since she had the surgery to stop the seizures and was not as medicated, she felt she was in a better position to train and race.

"I wanted to challenge myself again," Hacet said. "Running is so important to me and has always been a part of my life."

Hacet has been diligently training for the upcoming TCS New York Marathon next month. Since her doctors are weaning her off her seizure medications, her times have already started to improve. Hacet said after the ordeal of the last few years, she is excited to simply complete the race.

Personal fulfillment is the main goal now.

"Honestly, [it’s about] just crossing the finish line and proving that I can do it again," she said.

Hacet said she and her friend are working hard to prepare and know it will be worth it.

"We're both just looking forward to cheering when it's over and celebrating right after," she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Germaphobes, listen up: A new book is encouraging parents to let their kids get dirty.

You may have already heard some say that germs can build children’s immune systems and keep them healthy. The author of Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World adds that keeping kids too clean puts them at risk for asthma, diabetes and even obesity.

The book recommends washing hands after using the bathroom, before eating, after being with a sick person or in crowds like a mall or subway, but not after just coming in from playing outside.

Here's my prescription: Germs are everywhere, and bacteria aren’t always bad for us. Having diverse bacterial environments on and inside our bodies is actually good for us.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For so many Americans, access to high quality and personalized healthcare isn’t always a given. Anika Robinson knows that all too well.

On Nov. 13, 2015, Robinson, 40, got a phone call from her doctor that immediately changed her life.

“I'm just out for the day enjoying my day. And I get this call that there's a situation, that it's problematic. And I'm like, 'What do you mean it's problematic?'" she said.

The doctor's reply floored her.

"’You have breast cancer. And it's problematic because it's both breasts,’" she said, recalling the doctor telling her that she had stage 3 breast cancer.

“It was just devastating news. And I said ’Why would he call me? Why wouldn't he call me earlier in the day to come in? It's a Friday night,’” the Bronx resident said.

The doctor was unavailable over the weekend, Robinson said. Facing many unanswered questions, Robinson went online to research treatment centers in her area and she discovered Dr. Gina Villani and the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care in Harlem. Robinson said she immediately found solace in the welcoming environment at the center.

“When I met Dr. Villani and she gave me a hug and told me to step into her office,” Robinson said. “And when she said, ‘You're going to be all right. You're going to be cured’ ... I just cried.”

Robinson underwent chemotherapy at the center. She is now in remission and is very grateful for the care and treatment she experienced.

“It's really important to us that when somebody walks in the door, they understand that we're going to take care of them,” Villani said.

GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts sat down with David Lauren, the executive vice president of the center’s Board of Trustees, to learn more about the Lauren family's commitment to fighting health disparities and raising awareness about breast cancer research. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Lauren said there was a “huge disparity” in cancer treatment between wealthy and poor communities.

Every year, the center receives more than 12,000 patients -- 80 percent of whom count on Medicaid or Medicare for their health care needs, according to the center.

Founded in 2003 as a joint venture with the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care was established after a meeting between Ralph Lauren and Dr. Harold Freeman.

“The story that Dr. Freeman tells is he expected to leave and wait for weeks or months for Ralph Lauren to respond. And at the end of the meeting, my dad just turned to him and said, ‘I'm in. What do you need? How much?’ and Dr. Freeman gave him a number, and my father said, ‘Great, we're going to support it,’ and he has ever since,” David Lauren said.

Today, Ralph Lauren is synonymous with the Pink Pony Fund, the company’s worldwide initiative in the fight against cancer. Sales of products bearing the pink pony logo support programs for screening, early diagnosis, treatment, research and patient navigation.

“When Ralph Lauren started to take the logo and turn it pink, it was the beginning of companies really making it part of their corporate culture. It was the start of what is not commonplace,” David Lauren said. “Today, the goals are to build on that, to really grow the Ralph Lauren Cancer Center into something that the community knows about, and that they trust. But also get involved with cancer all around the world.”

Lauren added that the Ralph Lauren Corporation’s employees and customers also raise money for other international cancer-fighting campaigns across the nation and the world.

“I mean, no matter where you live, cancer is affecting men and women, and children, and families. And so, our goal is to fight it,” Lauren said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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JimHumbleLive / YouTube(NEW YORK) — A supposed “miracle cure” for autism is really a kind of industrial bleach, federal prosecutors say, but that hasn’t stopped people claiming to be archbishops of a church from urging desperate parents to use it on their autistic children.

“This is a poison. This is a high-strength industrial bleach,” said Dr. Paul Wang, senior vice president of Autism Speaks.

Yet, under the guise of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, it's estimated that the “miracle cure” has attracted thousands of desperate American parents who have given it to their autistic children.

“It really scares me that people would give this to their kids because it is a poison,” said Wang, in an interview to be broadcast Friday on ABC News' 20/20.

The church leaders say people who take the "cure" should not worry if they suffer side effects of bouts of diarrhea and nausea. They say it is a sign it's working and that a few drops will not cause any harm.

Wang said it is no different that torturing autistic children.

“A lot of kids with autism do not have good communication skills,” he said. “So they can’t say that it’s hurting them.”

Like many parents of autistic children, Roland Eggers looked into the claims being made for the “miracle cure.”

“You thrive on this illusion that you’re going to somehow fix your kid or that one day you’re gonna unautismize your child,” he told ABC News.

But after checking online, Eggers quickly concluded he would not use it for his 12-year-old son Mitchell.

“They’ve got their own Facebook group. There are people admitting to using this stuff on their children. Children are experiencing symptoms,” Eggers said he found. “You are doing it at the expense of these defenseless children. How, how, how can you not call that evil?”

The man who says he discovered the miracle cure and founded the Genesis II church is a one-time gold prospector from Nevada, Jim Humble, who calls himself an archbishop and claims he came to Earth from another galaxy.

But as wacky as he may sound, it appears that Archbishop Humble and other church leaders have prospered, using slick internet videos promoting the “miracle cure” called MMS, and calling it a church sacrament available for anyone offering "donations." One website offered five sets of chemicals to make MMS for “donations” of $95.99.

Tests conducted for ABC News show the “miracle cure” is little more than a chemical that when mixed with citric acid produces chlorine dioxide.

Federal prosecutors said it would be useful to clean swimming pools or kitchen countertops, but does not cure autism or anything else.

“They might as well be selling Clorox,” said Ben Mizer of the U.S. Department of Justice, who has overseen the prosecution of at least one person selling the "miracle cure."

“You wouldn’t drink Clorox so there is no reason you should drink MMS," he said.

And, Mizer said, Humble and others are wrong if they think forming a church protects them from possible prosecution.

“They can be prosecuted, yes, if they are selling it in order to cure diseases and are telling people that it will cure diseases,” Mizer said.

Now under scrutiny by U.S. authorities, Humble has lived in Mexico for the last few years, where ABC News tracked him down earlier this month.

He reaffirmed his advice that autistic children should be treated with a few drops of the MMS cure.

“I do, yes," he said.

And when asked if he was a con man, Humble said, “It’s ain’t true.”

Dr. Wang of Autism Speaks said Humble and his followers are taking advantage of vulnerable parents.

“Unfortunately, there’s no cure. There are a lot of things that can help kids with autism and adults with autism, too, but there’s not cure for it,” Wang said. "You can’t blame any parent for wanting to help their child. In this case, we just want to make sure everybody understands MMS is not a cure."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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moodboard/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration acknowledged on Monday that premiums for its popular health care plans will rise substantially next year, another hiccup for the president’s signature law, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Insurers are set to raise the premiums for plans sold through by an average 22 percent in 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a report. This is approximately triple the percentage increase from 2015 to 2016, when premiums increased by 7.5 percent.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell cautioned that issuers are “continuing to adapt” to a market that looks very different than it did before Obamacare, one in which they are trying to compete for costumers “based on price and quality,” and not necessarily by “finding the healthiest customers.”

Premiums are also impacted by efforts to undermine the health-care law, Burwell said in a statement Monday, including certain states’ decisions not to expand Medicaid and actions taken by a Republican-led Congress to block funding for the law.

“I encourage anyone who might need 2017 coverage to visit and check out this year’s options for yourself,” Burwell said.

While some may want to blame the health insurance companies and stockholders, there are economic and financial reasons that explain the increase.

As the industry rolls out premium increases in 2017, where will consumers feel the most pain? Here's a look at the premium hikes and what it means for those individuals with plans created under Obamacare, and for those looking to sign up for new coverage plans:

What to Know About the Enrollment Period for 2017

The Affordable Care Act mandated that insurance companies cannot deny insurance to people with pre-existing conditions for plans in the marketplace. While this allows everyone to access health care, some patients have chronic medical conditions that are known to significantly increase the amount that insurance companies will have to pay out in claims.

The enrollment opens Nov. 1 and plans are available on and most state-run exchanges for millions of Americans. Even though average premiums on some plans will increase, HHS says that more than 70 percent of those purchasing insurance through the marketplaces are eligible to get a health plan for less than $75 a month for 2017.

To access coverage effective on Jan.1, consumers must decide on a plan in the coming weeks, and it is expected that the last day to register for a 2017 health plan is Jan. 31, 2017. For those looking for better deals while shopping for coverage, the administration recommends a low-cost plan that will often have more limited benefits. The administration also says some consumers may find lower-cost plans by switching out of their current ACA plan.

Predictions Were Wrong

When Obamacare was first implemented, many insurance companies did not have information on their new subscribers, who might not have had health insurance previously.

A 2015 report from health care consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that insurance companies lost $2.7 billion on the individual market, in part due to more claims than expected.

Complicating these forecasts is the fact that patients who are in the top 5 percent of health care spending account for 49 percent of all health care expenditures, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Additionally, when people with illnesses know that they will use more health care, they have a tendency to buy more comprehensive health insurance.

While the government has several programs to help redistribute insurance risk, not all companies have benefited, resulting in continued losses.

The disparity between what was predicted on costs and what the reality is for insurers means some insurers are making less money than predicted from an Obamacare program.

Insurance Companies Leaving the Marketplace

In many markets, insurance companies that currently offer money-losing plans are planning to discontinue offering those options to consumers.

UnitedHealthcare and Aetna have both signaled their intention to leave many markets. This leaves less competition. In five states -- Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming -- there will be only a single company offering plans on the marketplace, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The average number of insurers participating in the marketplace in states that use will be 3.9 in 2017, which is down from 2016 when there was an average of 5.4 insurers per state, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A single plan on the marketplace means there is no competition between companies that could help drive down prices for consumers.

Health Care Is Expensive

The cost of medical care and drugs is high, and increasing. While increased prices for EpiPens and other drugs have grabbed headlines, overall health expenditures have grown at lower rates in recent years (around 5 percent a year) but the Kaiser Family Foundation says there's evidence these numbers could again increase.

New medical treatments and drugs, especially for conditions like cancer, are especially pricey. As more sick people have insurance, they can get more expensive treatments that previously they could not afford or paid out of pocket. These expensive procedures can drive up premiums for the entire pool of insurance customers.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Arctic-Images/Getty Images(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- An Olympic gold medalist took to social media recently to thank a fan for drawing attention to a suspicious mole on his chest, saying initially he'd been "blasé" about having it checked out himself.

On Friday, Australian swimmer Mack Horton, 20, of Melbourne, posted a picture of himself giving a thumbs-up, with a bandage taped to his chest.

"Shout out to the person that emailed the swim team doctor and told me to get my mole checked out," Horton wrote in a caption. "Good call. Very good call."

In his Olympic debut, Horton won the gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

According to Australia's Herald Sun, Horton had the mole removed Thursday. Test results were not immediately known.

Horton told the news outlet that someone had emailed his team's doctors, encouraging him to have the mole examined. He said team doctors gave him a referral to see a specialist but he didn't make the appointment till weeks later.

"They [doctors] just looked at it and said, 'Let's take it out now,'" Horton told the Herald Sun. "Sometimes I was blasé and sometimes I'd see it in the mirror and say 'I probably should get this one checked out' because I had noticed it had been changing a little bit, but I guess this person calling me out on it made me finally go and do it, which was a good thing."

He added: "It's a good little reminder for everyone out there to go and get their skin checked."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., and the American Cancer Society notes that more than 5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed each year.

Doctors say everyone should check their own bodies at least once a month and see a dermatologist annually. Moles that are considered normal will appear round, even-colored and contain no irregularities on the edges, they say. To prevent skin cancer, they also suggest wearing sunscreen year-round, hats and anything that helps protect against sun exposure.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Getting a crying infant back to sleep can be an immense relief for exhausted parents. But doing so the right way can save a baby's life.

An estimated 3,500 infants die every year from unexplained deaths, including cases of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and medical experts believe that good sleeping habits for infants can help save lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics released updated guidelines on Monday on safe sleeping habits for parents and infants to help decrease the chances of SIDS.

Here are the key facts to know.

Sleep in the Same Room, But Not in the Same Bed

The AAP still advises parents to keep their infants in the same bedroom, but now recommends that infants should stay there for at least 6 months, and ideally one year. This can lower the risk of SIDS by up to 50 percent, according to the AAP.

Just be sure the baby has their own crib so that there is no chance of suffocation or impaired breathing.

However, Stay on the Bed If You're Tired and Feeding Your Baby

Tired parents up for a late-night feeding might think that moving to the couch is safer, but the AAP warns a couch is a more dangerous surface if a parent falls asleep during the feeding. While the AAP does not advise having the infant sleep in the same bed as the parent, it acknowledges that sleepy parents may unintentionally fall asleep during feeding and that a bed is safer compared to the soft cushions on a couch that can block a baby's breathing.

"We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep," Dr. Rachel Moon, lead author of the report, said in a statement. "Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous."

Avoid Putting Pillows, Blankets or Toys in the Crib

An infant's crib should not contain anything that could block their breathing, meaning that blankets, pillows and other bed items should be avoided, according to the AAP. The safest option is to put a baby to sleep on their back on top of a tight-fitting sheet on a firm mattress, according to the report.

"There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant's breathing or cause overheating," Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, member of the Task Force on SIDS and co-author of the report, said in a statement.

A full list of recommendations can be found here.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Doctors have good news for people who suffer from joint pain caused by conditions like osteoarthritis. Although physicians can’t always predict who will get osteoarthritis, they say exercise can strengthen the body and help avoid invasive operations.

Todd Wilkowski, the physical therapist who treats Good Morning America co-anchor Lara Spencer, visited the show Tuesday to discuss the benefits of pre-emptive exercise.

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Every second of every day in the United States an older adult falls, making falls the number one cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans.

According to a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014 alone, older Americans experienced almost 30 million falls. And with more than 10,000 older Americans turning 65 every day, the number of fall-related injuries and deaths is expected to surge.

Here’s my prescription:

  • Prevention is key, starting from increasing agility, strength and balance.
  • Take up all loose rugs and carpets that could be tripping hazards.
  • Have an emergency plan for elders just in case they fall -- this way, they'll know what to do.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Early risers may say facetiously that they can't see straight in the morning without that first cuppa joe, but U.K. researchers are lending some credence to that.

That is to say, scientists say caffeine in strong coffee could have a protective effect on your eyes.

According to the study, a component of the so-called Mediterranean Diet -- that is a diet full of healthy fats, as well as fruit and fish, as is common in certain places in Europe -- is strong coffee.

Scientists claim that coffee consumption can stave off age-related macular degeneration, a vision-robbing condition that affects the elderly. The study, according to The Express, looked at a Portuguese population as their test subjects.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed, Fla.) -- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump jumped on news that average premiums under Obamacare will jump sharply -- by 25 percent in popular plans before taxpayer subsidies kick in.

"It's over for Obamacare," Trump said at a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, Monday night.

Americans are going to experience "double-digit increases" in premium costs under the plan, he said.

"Hillary Clinton wants to double down and make it more expensive and it's not going to work," Trump said. "Our country can't afford it, you can't afford it."

The GOP nominee said that his plan includes "repealing and replacing Obamacare" and would deliver "great health care at a fraction of the cost."

"Headline rates are generally rising faster than in previous years," said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Kevin Griffis. But for most consumers, "headline rates are not what they pay."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers have found evidence that even a single season of football may affect certain aspects of a young athlete's brain, according to a small study published Monday in the medical journal Radiology.

The study suggests that the cumulative effects of sub-concussive head impacts -- those that are not sufficiently forceful to cause a concussion -- might lead to detrimental brain changes in young players.

Researchers from multiple institutions, including Wake Forest School of Medicine, examined the brains of 25 participants in a youth football league to see if they could find any disruption in the brain after a single football season.

The long-term effects of head trauma are increasingly being studied by researchers as more and more former professional athletes have been found after their deaths to exhibit signs of CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a degenerative disease that involves a buildup of the abnormal protein called tao, which is also found in dementia patients and is associated with a breakdown of brain tissue.

It's believed to be caused by repetitive trauma to the brain, especially concussions, according to the CTE Center at Boston University, and symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety and progressive dementia.

In this study, researchers did not focus on CTE risk and instead looked for differences in the brain before and after a football season. All of the participants were male, between the ages of 8 to 13, and none had a concussion diagnosis during the study period.

The athletes used a special helmet with sensors that helped researchers determine the kind of force the players were exposed to during the season. Both practices and games were videotaped so that researchers could verify the force documented by the helmet sensors.

The players also underwent a neurological examination both before and after their football season using special MRI screening.

Using the advanced MRI screening called diffusion tensor imaging, the researchers looked for changes in the brain's white matter that would indicate a disruption in the brain. The imaging works by looking at how water molecules move in the brain along axons -- the nerve fibers that extend out of neurons -- and producing a measurement called fractional ansiotropy (FA). Healthy white matter will generally have more regular water movement, resulting in a higher FA score. If the water movement in the brain appears more random, the FA is lower, indicating disruptions in the brain, according to researchers.

The study found that the more a player was exposed to force during the football season, the more likely that person had a lower FA score, which has been associated with brain abnormalities in some studies.

"These changes had a strong relationship with the amount of exposure," said Dr. Christopher Whitlow, co-author of the study and chief of neuroradiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "And players with biggest change [in FA score] had the most exposure."

The study authors noted that the study is small and that more research needs to be done to verify the results. Additionally, a diminished FA score doesn't necessarily mean that a player will have any noticeable symptoms.

"There is more we don’t know about these changes than we do know," Whitlow told ABC News.

Whitlow said he and other researchers plan to follow players for a longer duration to see if these disruptions persist in the months to years after a person stops playing football.

Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist in the Neurologic Institute at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, said that even though this study is small, it will be key to helping researchers understand the effects of football on the brain in coming years.

"Why do the study? Because you've got to start somewhere," Wiznitzer, who was not involved in this study, told ABC News. "You have to follow [players] over time and see where the data leads you."

Wiznitzer pointed out that it will be imperative to follow these athletes in the future to see if the imaging continues to show the diminished FA score.

"When you play football, there's going to be some trauma to the brain whether it's sub-clinical or clinical," Wiznitzer said, meaning whether it's able to be diagnosed or not. "We don't know if [these changes] go away the following year."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Courtesy Make-A-Wish(WINDSOR, Conn.) -- Thomas Hastings, who has Duchenne Muscular dystrophy and congenital scoliosis, knew exactly what he wanted when the wish granters from Make-A-Wish said he could have his biggest dream granted.

Thomas, 10, of Windsor, Conn., wanted a baseball field built in his backyard so he could play ball with his friends. When Make-A-Wish found out Thomas is an avid Boston Red Sox fan, they worked with more than 40 vendors in his hometown to build a "Fantasy Fenway Park" in Thomas's backyard in just 34 days.

“Everything happened almost like magic,” Thomas’s father, Brad Hastings, told ABC News. “It’s really insane.”

The boy wanted his own baseball field because he does not have the energy or physical ability any longer to play on a Little League team. He spends nearly 50 percent of his time in a motorized wheelchair.

“That’s one of the things that was so great about his wish, it’s giving him back the ability to compete,” Hastings said. “His love for baseball is deep.”

Thomas, who falls asleep listening to baseball games, attended his first Red Sox game at Fenway at age three and threw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game in 2014. He is an honorary member of the nearby University of Hartford’s baseball team. The team donated the bleachers that sit out in the outfield of Thomas's Fenway Park.

The head groundskeeper at Fenway Park, Dave Mellor, visited Thomas, with his World Series rings, and helped arrange details like having the sod used in Thomas’s field be donated from the same New Jersey farm that makes sod for the Red Sox.

'Nothing Here That Thomas Cannot Do'

Thomas drew up the plans himself, specifying that he wanted a completely flat field, with no raised bases or a pitcher’s mound.

The field contains regulation bases in addition to a 15-foot baseline that the boy is able to run on his own so he can play along with his friends and University of Hartford teammates.

Volunteers from the Windsor community also built a Green Monster with a 52-foot long deck and ramp for Thomas. There is also a bullpen in right field, scoreboard, stadium lights, press box, foul poles and even the Citgo sign that Red Sox fans well know.

“This is the coolest, most impractical thing I’ve ever seen," Hastings said of the finished project. "There is nothing here that other people can do that Thomas cannot do."

Opening Day

The Hastings held the opening game at their "Fantasy Fenway Park" on Saturday with hundreds of friends, family, neighbors, the University of Hartford baseball team and the contractors who built the field in attendance.

Thomas threw out the opening pitch and when he went up to bat, performed the same pre-bat routine as his favorite player, "Big Papi" David Ortiz.

“He was 100 percent in his element,” said Hastings of Thomas, who spent the entire weekend on the field. “Here’s a kid who gets so tired out and so worn down so easily and he was just running on pure adrenaline, so full of energy.”

Police from the town of Windsor volunteered their time on Saturday to do traffic control and drive shuttles that brought fans to the Hastings' home. Hastings said his home is in a "typical suburban neighborhood" that now stands out.

Hastings, a Windsor native, and Make-A-Wish Connecticut President & CEO Pamela Keough both said it was the generosity of Windsor that got the field built.

"I’ve never been through anything like this before with Make-A-Wish," Keough told ABC News. "We decided to reach out to the local community and that’s when it really started to snowball."

Thomas, a fifth grader, even found it hard to go to school Monday, still brimming with excitement from his new backyard.

“This morning he said, ‘Dad, I just can’t go to school knowing that there’s a Fenway Park in my backyard,’” Hastings recalled.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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AID/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When a doctor told GMA co-anchor Lara Spencer that she needed a hip replacement, Spencer — an active woman in her 40s — was shocked.

"It was so upsetting. I was like 'what?'" she said, recalling her reaction to the news last year.

Spencer was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, also known as developmental dysplasia of the hip, or DDH, which led to painful arthritis. Her doctors told her that she had probably had DDH since birth.

About 10 percent of all hip replacements are due to DDH, according to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Advances in medicine though are making hip replacements due to the condition rarer.

Today, every baby is screened for DDH. If it's detected, early intervention helps avoid surgery later in life.

"Hip dysplasia is one of the more common congenital things that children are born with ... so, it is an important part of the newborn exam. And there's a lot more awareness and discussion of it for pediatricians and orthopedic surgeons, because it is treatable," said Dr. Ernie Sink, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Some newborns are at higher risk for the condition, including those with a family history of DDH, babies who are born breech – that is, buttocks or feet first -- or those born with a dislocated or loose hip. An ultrasound can reveal the problem.

About one to two babies per 1,000 are born with DDH in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Emily Mench was born breech and diagnosed at birth with DDH.

"The doctor at the hospital was checking (her) legs and felt like he was able to pop it out," Sara Kim, the mother of the 1-year-old girl, told ABC News, adding: "He described it as a shallow hip socket."

Emily was fitted with a Pavlik harness when she was just two days old. She wore it around the clock for two months to reposition her hips correctly. Doctors say she's now on track.

"She's got a clean bill of health," Kim said, adding that the child's doctor doesn't expect Emily to have any future problems related to the DDH. "She's not going to have any hindrances, which is a great outcome."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Fall means ragweed season, and this year it’s predicted to be brutal. A single plant can produce one billion pollen grains per season. It grows abundantly throughout the South, North and the Midwest, and its lightweight pollen grains can travel up to 400 miles in the wind.

So what’s the best way for a person to manage allergens?

Here’s my prescription:

  • Ask your doctor about prescription allergy medication. One called Singulair, which also comes in generic form, can prevent allergy symptoms before they start.
  • Keep those windows up and the air-conditioning on.
  • And shower before bed as pollen can settle on your hair and then get carried to your pillow making symptoms worse.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.








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