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Walt Whitman High School's Caroline Schweitzer runs through a host of Severna Park High School defenders during a semifinal game in Maryland's Class 4A/3A lacrosse tournament in May. (The Washington Post/Getty Images)

As High School Lacrosse Surges In Popularity, So Does Injury Focus

by Scott Hensley
Jul 22, 2014

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Sometimes called the fastest game on two feet, lacrosse is also one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S.

Between 2008 and 2012, kids' participation in lacrosse climbed 158 percent to a little more than three-quarters of a million, according to a survey conducted by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association/Physical Activity Council. At the same time participation in baseball, basketball, football and soccer has either stagnated or declined.

Kids who play lacrosse will tell you there's lots of action. Now, there's an analysis of injuries sustained by high school lacrosse players that quantifies the risks. Researchers analyzed a database of reports compiled by athletic trainers at high schools across the country.

Overall, there are about 2 injuries for every 1,000 exposures to the game, according to researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health and the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Cincinnati. An exposure was defined as one athlete taking part in a school-sanctioned game or practice.

The most common injuries were strains and sprains, accounting for about 38 percent of those recorded. Concussions were second, at about 22 percent of injuries. Injuries were three times more likely to occur in games than practice. Boys were 1.5 times more likely to be injured than girls.

Boys, in particular, were more likely to sustain concussions than girls — 0.5 concussions per 1,000 exposures for boys compared with 0.35 per 1,000 for girls. The rate of concussions for boys in games was seven times their rate in practice.

How the male and female athletes sustained concussions also differed. "Among boys nearly 75 percent of concussions were the direct result of contact with another player," said Dawn Comstock, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Colorado School of Public Health and senior author of the paper. "In girls, over 60 percent of the concussions occurred when they were struck by the ball or stick."

In boys lacrosse, full-body contact is allowed and helmets are mandatory. In girls lacrosse, full-body contract is forbidden and helmets aren't typically worn. There's been talk about making helmets part of the girls' game. "The data does seem to support the call to put helmets on girl lacrosse players," Comstock said.

Boys lacrosse has injury rates very similar to football and hockey, Comstock said, while injuries in girls lacrosse are in line with those for soccer, basketball and field hockey.

The results were published online Tuesday by the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

While there are risks from playing lacrosse, there are also benefits. "We don't want any parent who hears about this study to be afraid to allow their child to begin playing lacrosse or to continue playing lacrosse," Comstock said. The side effects of an inactive lifestyle are more of a concern, she said, than the very small risk that any young athlete will sustain a serious injury playing lacrosse.

In late 2013, NPR and Truven Health Analytics surveyed Americans about the risk of sport-related concussions for kids, though we didn't ask about lacrosse. Almost all respondents were fine with idea of kids playing basketball or soccer. Three-quarters were OK with football and about two-thirds approved of hockey.

"Parents are very, very interested in their kids being active in sports," Gerald Gioia, a neuropsychologist at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C., told Shots in February. "We have to make sure that all sports that kids are involved in are understood in terms of the risks — that we are educating and preparing the coaches and the parents and the kids around those risks."

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Eerie protective suits and shiny body bags have fueled rumors about the origins of Ebola. In this photo, a burial team removes the body of a person suspected to have died from the virus in the village of Pendembu, Sierra Leone. (Tommy Trenchard for NPR)

Rumor Patrol: No, A Snake In A Bag Did Not Cause Ebola

Jul 22, 2014

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"A lady had a snake in a bag, when somebody opened the bag, that made the lady die."

That's the beginning of a story that Temba Morris often hears about the origins of Ebola. Morris runs a government health clinic in a remote village near Sierra Leone's border with Guinea. According to the story, then somebody else went and looked inside the bag.

"And the one who opened the bag also died," is what Morris hears next. The snake escaped into the Sierra Leone bush.

So there you have it: Ebola is an evil snake that will kill you if you look at it.

The striking thing about this story, which is told and retold, is that Ebola really did come here from Guinea and it currently is out of the bag.

But narratives like this are a dangerous distraction when health officials are dealing with a virus that spreads by human to human contact — and a lack of knowledge about how to stay safe.

In the remote northeastern corner of Sierra Leone dozens of new Ebola cases are being reported each week. As the virus spreads, so do rumors about the terrifying disease.

The first is that Ebola doesn't exist. Some say it's a ploy to extract money from the international aid agencies. Others say the people aren't dying from Ebola, they're dying from a curse.

Then there are people who accept that it exists but have unorthodox ideas about how it got there.

In the initial days some people said it could spread through drinking water and mosquitoes.

Given that it kills the majority of the people who get infected, Ebola is scary enough. If you believe it's water or mosquito-borne, it becomes almost overwhelmingly frightening.

The other central theme that pops up in many of the rumors about Ebola is that the white people brought it.

A plague hits and then a bunch of foreigners in space suits come and whisk away the corpses in shiny. white body bags. There've been stories that this all a scheme to harvest organs from the locals.

So when some people got sick, they fled to the forest or hid with relatives. Making it more likely they'll infect others. Some towns in Guinea have refused to allow any foreign health workers to enter at all.

Dr. Tim Jagatic of Doctors Without Borders says the misperceptions are understandable: "We created a hospital and a lot of people started to get sick and die. It's very difficult for them to make a connection that we are here to help."

Winning the communications battle is critical, he says: "The most effective way for us to end this epidemic is to focus on public health measures, learning how this disease is transmitted. Increasing the level of Hygiene amongst the people in the villages. Demystify and destigmatizing this disease."

Five months after this outbreak started, efforts are underway to try to do that. Posters from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health listing the symptoms are plastered in markets and on public buildings.

Community elders are being recruited and trained to hold Ebola information sessions in their villages.

This group of teens from the local Red Cross have written several songs explaining the basics of Ebola. One starts with a basic assertion: "Ebola is real."

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Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh was publicly censured by the state Supreme Court Tuesday. The judge apologized for remarks he made about a rape victim last year. (AP)

Montana Judge Is Publicly Censured Over 30-Day Sentence For Rape

Jul 22, 2014

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Less than a year after his lenient jail sentence for an admitted rapist stirred outrage, a Montana judge was publicly reprimanded today. In giving a former high school teacher only a 30-day jail sentence, District Judge G. Todd Baugh said the man's victim, a student, seemed older than her age, 14.

The case drew national attention last fall. After a public outcry, the judge acknowledged making mistakes in the case, and he attempted to change his punishment - but that effort was complicated in part by the state's appeal in the case in September.

From Montana Public Radio, Edward O'Brien reports:

"District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings gave Stacey Rambold just 30 days in prison after suggesting the victim also shared responsibility for the 2007 rape.
"Rambold was a 47-year-old business teacher. The victim was one of his students. The girl committed suicide before the case went to trial.
"Baugh is scheduled to appear before the Montana high court in Helena this afternoon, where he'll be publicly reprimanded for conduct dishonoring the position and the court's judicial system."

During today's proceeding, Judge Baugh was called to the rostrum and told that his statements during the case had "eroded public confidence in the judiciary" and created the impression of impropriety.

Baugh did not speak during the proceeding. When the Supreme Court's finding had been read aloud, he stood motionless at the rostrum for a moment before leaving the courtroom.

As The Missoulian reports, "Baugh... is the son of former Washington Redskins quarterback 'Slingin" Sammy Baugh." The newspaper adds that he plans to retire when his term expires in December.

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Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh was publicly censured by the state Supreme Court Tuesday. The judge apologized for remarks he made about a rape victim last year. (AP)

Music From The Show

Jul 22, 2014 (Here & Now / WBUR-FM)

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Sea and Cake, “Colony Room”

Ken Wakan, “Moving On”

Nosaj Thing, “Distance”

And So I Watch From Away, ” Eunoia”

Tortoise, “Glass Museum”

Tortoise, “Eros”

Glass Animals, “Walla Walla”

The Daniel Pemberton TV Orchestra “Cuban Peacock”

Isan, “Cathart”

These New Puritans, “Fragment Two”

Kodomo, “Concept 16″

The Walkmen, “We’ve Been Had”

Calexico, “Whipping The Horses’ Eye”

Parquet Courts, “Black and White”

Craft Spells, “Party Talk”

Microphones, “Instrumental”

Live Coach, “Alpha Wave”

Question, “Osanha”

Wife, “Bodies”

The Vacant Lots, “Mad Mary Jones”

North Cheyenne honor song

Copyright 2014 WBUR-FM. To see more, visit

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Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
If you were a cricket, this little fly would make you very nervous. (Courtesy of Louisiana State Arthropod Museum)

How A Tiny Fly's Ears Could Help You Hear Better

by Kara Manke
Jul 22, 2014 (WBUR-FM)

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This microphone prototype designed by Neal Hall at the University of Texas is about the size of a fingernail.

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Ormia ochracea is not a very likeable creature, even by fly standards.

This parasitic fly likes to leave its larvae on the backs of crickets. The larvae burrow inside the cricket and then proceed to eat the cricket alive.

But humans who have struggled with hearing loss might soon be thankful for one at least small part of this fly - its ears.

Ormia ochracea has developed very specialized ears that let it locate crickets by following the sound of their chirp. Scientists are using these ears as inspiration in developing microphones for the next generation of directional hearing aids.

"The thing that makes it very special is that the fly ear is so small," says Neal Hall, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas. Hall and his team have developed a prototype of a microphone inspired by the Ormia ochracea ear, which was published Tuesday in Applied Physics Letters.

Humans have large noggins, says Hall, and these big heads of ours to help us figure out which direction a sound is coming from.

"We have a significant separation between our ears," he explains, "so sound arrives at one ear just a split second before the other. Our brain ... looks at those very minute differences in time of arrival to locate the object."

But the fly head is tiny - its ears are separated by only a millimeter, which is about the thickness of the average fingernail - so sound arrives at both ears at almost the exact same time.

To overcome the limits of its itsy-bitsy head, the fly has evolved a special way of hearing: Its two eardrums are connected by a small rigid structure that behaves like a teeter-totter, and this teeter-totter amplifies very small differences in the arrival time of sound.

"It's like having two microphones in one that are linked together by this teeter-totter," says Hall.

The teeter-totter mechanism in the fly ear was first explained by mechanical engineer Ronald Miles and neurobiologist Ronald Hoy in 1995 - NPR's Morning Edition even featured a segment on the discovery way back in 1999.

Since then, a number of scientists have strived to create tiny, man-made microphones that mimic the teeter-totter mechanism in the fly ear. Within the past year, teams lead by Ronald Miles at Binghampton University and Miao Yu at the University of Maryland have also published directional microphone prototypes inspired by the Ormia ochracea.

Hall says that in his microphone, the motion of the teeter-totter is detected using a special type of material that emits an electrical signal when it changes shape. This approach is not as sensitive to direction as some of the other approaches, but it may be simpler and more energy efficient.

"We've made a big leap forward in terms of reducing power consumption and the readiness of the technology to make an impact," he says.

Of course, most people aren't interested in chasing down crickets to feed to their kids for dinner. But these fly-inspired microphones could be applied to a number of more human endeavors - smartphones, defense tracking - or directional hearing aids.

"The number one complaint of hearing aid users is that they cannot hear in noise," says Ruth Bentler, who studies the effectiveness of directional hearing aids at the University of Iowa. "As soon as you have any degree of hearing loss and you walk into a crowded restaurant, it becomes difficult to hear speech."

Bentler says the solution for many is directional hearing aids, which use one or more microphones to cancel out noise coming from the side or from the back of the head. These hearing aids are "designed to be more sensitive to noises coming from the 'look' direction," she says.

"The teetering mechanism has some significant design advantages over how one would normally try to implement a directional hearing system," says Hall. Using a single teeter-totter mechanism could reduce power consumption - which is always an issue in battery-powered hearing aids - and help them maintain calibration over time.

But even though scientists are getting close to replicating the capabilities of Ormia ochracea's ears, Hall says he's still impressed at the capability of this little fly.

"It is the equivalent of if you were just standing on the ground and all of a sudden the ground starts shaking because there was an earthquake, and I told you I can tell just by my feet that the epicenter of the earthquake was in Costa Rica," Hall says. "The fly does something equally remarkable in locating sound given the proximity of its ears."

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