UAB Magazine Online Features
Treating Chronic Migraine with Botox
By Matt Windsor
You’ve probably already heard about the latest migraine treatment—in a slightly different context. In October 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Allergan’s anti-wrinkle drug Botox-A—properly known as onabotulinumtoxin-A—for the prevention of chronic migraine. As opposed to the more familiar episodic form, chronic migraine implies that the afflicted individual has experienced at least 15 days of headache per month for at least three consecutive months. That makes Botox-A the only FDA-approved treatment for a condition that affects as many as 6 million Americans and is the most common reason for referral to a specialized headache clinic, says neurologist John F. Rothrock, M.D., director of the UAB Headache Treatment and Research Program.
Story continues after video
In this video, UAB neurologist John Rothrock explains how Botox injections can treat migraine—and two of his patients discuss their experiences. Watch larger version of video.
In studies conducted while he was on the faculty at the University of South Alabama and now at UAB, Rothrock helped to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of Botox-A as a preventive therapy for chronic migraine. This effort complements his work performed more than two decades ago, when he assisted in the development of self-administered injectable sumatriptan (marketed commercially as Imitrex, Sumavel, or their generic equivalent). Injectable sumatriptan is a safe and highly effective therapy for acute, severe migraine headache, Rothrock says, and its introduction has empowered millions of individuals with migraine to terminate migraine attacks that otherwise would have required a visit to an emergency room (ER) or simply “suffering in silence” at home.
Hitting the Airwaves When Disaster Strikes
By Matt Windsor
Using the latest radio gear and a repeater antenna mounted atop UAB Hospital's Jefferson Tower, J. Vann Martin and other members of the UAB-based Healthcare Community Amateur Radio Club can keep the lines of communication flowing in the event of a disaster.
From the roof of Jefferson Tower, 17 stories and more than 280 feet high, you can see for miles in all directions. For decades, the building has been the signature piece of the UAB Hospital campus and a landmark visible all around Birmingham. It now houses medical offices rather than patients, but in the aftermath of the catastrophic storms that swept through Alabama in April, the old veteran made another significant contribution to Birmingham health care—as an antenna.
This radio drama begins with another natural disaster and an amateur radio enthusiast known as W4JVM. “After Hurricane Katrina, responders such as the police, fire and rescue, and EMA [emergency management agencies] were severely handicapped because they couldn’t communicate,” says J. Vann Martin, director of facilities and capital projects for the UAB Health System. “In a disaster situation, particularly a natural disaster, landlines and cell phones often stop working.”
Martin, better known in the world of amateur radio, or “ham” radio, by his call sign, W4JVM, is the president of the Healthcare Community Amateur Radio Club (HCARC). The newly formed club has established a command center in UAB Hospital that can coordinate care at all major hospitals in the Birmingham area using rooftop antennas on Jefferson Tower and other locations.
Could Higher Costs Lower Auto Fatalities?
By Nicole Wyatt
The high price of cheap gas: Research by UAB's Michael Morrisey and others found that gas prices and auto fatalities seem to be inversely proportional. That is, as the price of gas rises, fewer people die on the roads.
As gas prices rise, so do the tempers of many drivers. This spring, the average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline rose nearly a dollar compared to a year ago. And even though prices have fallen slightly in the past few weeks, they are still close to record highs.
The news isn’t all bad, however. While the rising prices may make saving money difficult, they could help save lives by reducing the number of motor-vehicle fatalities. Michael Morrisey, Ph.D., director of UAB’s Lister Hill Center for Health Policy, helped shed light on the silver lining in a study with the UAB Injury Control Research Center. Just a ten-cent sustained increase in gas prices reduced motor-vehicle fatalities per capita by a total of 2.3 percent over two years, he says.
Less Blood on the Highway
“As careful as the enforcement of speeding and drunk-driving laws is, one thing that has changed over the last few years is that gas prices are higher,” Morrisey explains. “In turn, fewer people are on the roads, and drivers are combining trips. As a consequence, there’s less opportunity to have a crash and die.”
The opposite seemed to be true when Morrisey and his fellow researchers began studying gasoline prices. “We had seen evidence that many public-policy interventions were effective in reducing fatalities, but the trend in fatalities per capita wasn’t falling,” he says. “As economists, we looked for reasons that could explain that, and declining real gas prices in the late 1990s and early 2000s were an obvious candidate.”
The Secrets of Teaching Foreign Tongues
By Shelley Stewart
Carli Lindley-Hamlin, who teaches at Thompson High School in Alabaster, won the 2011 Promising New Foreign Language Teacher Award from the Alabama Association of Foreign Language Teachers (AAFLT). She stresses the practical advantages to being fluent in more than one language.
Three of Alabama’s top foreign-language teachers share something in common—besides a proficiency in Spanish. All three began their careers as undergraduate students in UAB’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
Malinda O’Leary, Ph.D., now an assistant professor at UAB, and teachers Breanne Holland and Charli Lindley-Hamlin have each won a statewide award for excellence from the Alabama Association of Foreign Language Teachers (AAFLT) in 2011. In fact, UAB-connected teachers have swept the category for the past three years. So what is UAB’s secret to teaching foreign languages so effectively?
Immersing students in a different culture is essential, says Sheri Spaine Long, Ph.D., UAB professor of foreign languages. “Language is only the starting point for discovering the music, the books, the people.” Indeed, the department requires its students to participate in UAB’s Study Away program to help instill the love and use of language. “We help each student arrange a trip that meets his or her time and financial requirements because there’s no substitute for speaking the language day to day,” Spaine Long says.
The high level of fluency that students acquire enables them to converse with ease—and gain confidence. The three award-winning teachers demonstrate their confidence by advocating for foreign-language education with parents and local communities, Spaine Long says. “Good teachers tend to be leaders,” she notes.